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Kelley Joins Our Family

by Renee McEvilly 22. October 2014

The word “labor” by definition means; work, especially hard physical work. When it comes to childbirth, there could not be a more fitting word. However, for the most part, at the end of that hard physical work comes a great reward.

At 41 weeks and 1 day, my fluid was low and my placenta was getting old. After four days of non-stress tests and biophysical profiles for monitoring, it was decided that the safest option would be an induction. Unfortunately, I had endured the cervidil and pitocin for 24 hours without result. I decided to stop for a little while and then try again in the morning. I ended up getting into the jet tub for a little while, walking around a bit, Ronnie massaged my back and I did a few yoga positions to help our baby drop a little lower. I am guessing that is all my body needed, because a few hours later, the baby decided that it was indeed their time!

It was 3:30 AM and I was finally 5 cm dilated, I opted for the epidural. The anesthesiologist came into my room and prepped me for an epidural. We had spoken earlier in the day and because I have a spinal fusion, and the epidural did not take with Clara, he wanted to make sure that I was as comfortable as possible so he topped it off with a spinal block. After a rather rough day, the comfort from the combination was welcomed and finally, I began to relax.

By 7 AM, I could feel that this baby was very close to being ready to come out; my contractions were getting stronger and closer. When Linda, the midwife arrived, I was ready to push. She guided my husband on how to catch and he guided me through my breathing and pushing. She was explaining that 'he' was sunny side up so 'he' would turn when 'he' came out. Ronnie said it was the most amazing thing to watch. She instructed him once the head was out the arms would follow and he was to take 'him' and place 'him' on my chest. He did exactly that and placed a towel over me. Here I was lying with this beautiful person crying in my face and I did not know if I were holding Ronald or Kelley. It was almost 30 seconds before we all realized that Ronnie never looked, I will never forget when he looked under the blanket and said "IT'S A GIRL"!

While I was marveling at Kelley, Linda was explaining the fourth stage of labor to my husband. She explained the reasoning as the cord stopped pulsating, to wait to cut it. She also explained to us the reasoning as to why the placenta was slowing down.

Everyone who helped in our birth was exceptional. It is so hard to feel in control in such an out of control situation. I appreciated the fact that I was always handed options and was never told what had to be done. I appreciated the attitudes of the nurses when mine was low and discouraged after a failed induction. Most of all I appreciated the inclusion of my husband. There are very few physical things that a man can do in labor aside from comfort. Being able to catch his daughter was one of the most amazing experiences in his life and being able to provide the opportunity was equally so.

So after 41 weeks and 3 days, Kelley, came into this world making Clara, the proudest big sister, completing our family with her presence.

 

Parenting Styles

by Renee McEvilly 30. September 2014

There are so many “parenting styles” out there, it is almost as if you are supposed to fit into one category and follow it exactly. When it came to parenting Clara, we just did what felt right and that is what we continue to do. Though there are some things I am overly conscious about for very personal reasons. 

I lost my father to cancer in April 2011. As we knew that time was limited, we had many conversations, some conversations I would not have taken the chance to talk about under different circumstances. One of the things we spoke about was the way he parented and what advice he would have for me and my children. It was not an easy conversation, because it was pretty clear that he wouldn't be here to help me, though as one of our last I remember it practically verbatim.

We were at our usual spot, Ted's Fish Fry; I asked him if he could do anything differently, and what that would have been. He said he wish he had waited a bit before he had children, not getting married so young and starting a family. The balance of a new marriage and children was a stressful one. He told me that as he had gotten older, he had developed patience, the kind he wished he had when my brother and I were younger. Though Ron and I are coming up on nine years of marriage, we were married seven years before we had Clara, a lot happened in those seven years which strengthened our marriage. I know I would have parented different at 22 than at 29. I am conscious not to yell at Clara and I try to be conscious of her abilities and my requests, yelling has never gotten me anywhere, anyhow, though I know I have my father to honor in that way. 

It was another visit, my very last at his house, when he asked me if I was truly happy. We were cuddled up on the couch, I told him that I was absolutely happy, though we had married quick, my husband has been a dream maker, my biggest supporter and my protector, the only thing missing from the life that Ron and I were building was a child. By that time we had been trying for more than two years and were looking into fertility. My dad knew our struggle and we spoke about it a bit more.

One last time, my father was passing, I whispered in his ear, "When you get to heaven and meet your grandchildren, please tell them how cool their mother is, but, please do not keep them for too long, you know how bad we want them." I know he heard me. In May of 2011, we learned that March 2012 our lives were about to begin again.

I could not call him to tell him we were expecting, nor could I share any part physically with him, though I am thankful for the gift of our sweet time and opportunity to speak freely about our lives, what was to come, and what he may not be here for. Though as time goes on, I see my father in Clara, I know he is having his hand in raising her. His words ring in my heart. I know he heard me that day and like any father, wanted to make sure he did anything within his power to make sure his little girl was happy and had everything she ever wanted. Now with “Blue” on the way, our lives will be complete. 

My Family is Pregnant

by Renee McEvilly 7. September 2014

A story surfaced not too long ago about an actress, who is currently pregnant, stating that she wanted the men to stop saying "We're pregnant."  During the same time, another article surfaced on the internet about women feeling like they have “lost their village.” The two concepts seem to contradict each other. 

As a woman, I am carrying this child, feeling the movement, bearing with the body changes, and the discomfort. Though this seems to fall on me, my family is certainly affected. One pregnancy is like a spider web. In a single moment people exist as the same people, just in different roles. Women become mothers, men become fathers, sisters become aunts, brothers become uncles, sisters and brothers are made as well as cousins and grandparents.

It was when we were having our maternity pictures taken that I was really able to stop and see the effect of our current state on my husband and our daughter, Clara. If you are thinking about capturing this time on film I highly recommend that you do. Once the baby comes, it will be harder to capture special moments. I know I have taken over 7,000 pictures in Clara's two and a half years; though 75% of them are of just her or of she and my husband.

We recently had our maternity pictures done at Colonie Town Park on a beautiful sunny Saturday. It was in looking at these pictures that I really realized that my family is pregnant. My husband is adding another child into his heart, Clara's role and title is changing into sister and this concept was beautifully captured on film. I am grateful the photographer was able to capture in an image, what I was feeling..  I will be able to share this gift within myself and know what an honor it is to add to our family. So as I may e carrying, growing, and birthing this new life, my family has been carrying me throughout this pregnancy.

If it is your prerogative to believe that there is currently one person in your house who is going through change I believe it is easier to accept the village concept. As women may bear the load, everyone is going through their own change.  I believe the pictures say it all!

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Indoor Activities for Kids

by Renee McEvilly 28. August 2014

I have to be honest and you may not like what I am about to say, though I believe you are worth the truth. Ready? This beautiful summer we are having, sadly, will not last forever and in upstate New York our colder weather comes much too soon.

The Fall transition in between can send us a few days which are less than desirable for outside play and children need their idle hands to be filled with something. Scratch that, anything!

Fortunately there a few things you can keep in your house to beat boredom, monopolize a teaching moment, and keep your kids busy.  A little list that I like to keep in stock is as follows:

  • Flour
  • Baby Oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Food coloring
  • Corn Starch
  • Hair Conditioner

Here are our favorite recipes for homemade play doh, finger paints and moon sand. I love making these with Clara instead of buying it in the store because it can turn into a whole afternoon of learning. Measuring, mixing and guessing the outcome and when it comes time to use the stove, safety lessons. Also, a part of me likes the idea of making and throwing away. As cold season approaches, germs are not welcome in the home!

Play-Doh
2 C corn flour, 1 C hair conditioner, food coloring
Place the conditioner in a medium bowl and add desired coloring. Mix them together until the color is through the conditioner. Add one cup of corn flour and stir, then add the last cup of corn flour to the mixture constantly mixing until it becomes firm.
If the dough is sticky add more corn flour.

This may be two fold for parents and children as the conditioner does help soften your hands as well!

Finger Paints
2 T of sugar,1/3 cup of flour, 2 cups of water, plastic containers
Add 2T of sugar, 1/3 cup of flour, and 2 cups of water into a sauce pan and whisk until smooth. Turn the heat on and stir continually until the mixture thickens. Cut the mixture between the plastic containers and add desired coloring mixing until completely dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool completely and then enjoy!

Moon Sand
4 C flour, 1/2 C Baby oil
Mix 4 C of flour and 1/2C Baby oil thoroughly.
I like to put this in a baking dish for indoor play. 

With a few ingredients on a rainy day you can beat the boredom, monopolize on a teaching moment, and create memories!

Positive Attitude

by Renee McEvilly 6. August 2014

32 Week Ultrasound

You hear a lot of things about your appearance when you are pregnant. It seems like all bets are off and you can tell a woman how you feel she looks. Big, small, tired, sore, nervous - pretty much anything that is descriptive. Though it is not usually ill intended, sometimes it is better to keep those thoughts inside.

I had an experience, not too long ago, which was actually very uplifting. Nothing about my looks, energy level, or size. Something I had never really given much thought to - my attitude. He said that he had never met someone so positive about being pregnant. It was quite possibly the most meaningful comment I have heard in my combined 73 weeks of pregnancy.

His feeling was that it is summertime, it is hot, it is hard having another child to run after and it is hard keeping that energy level up. I came back with “it is what it is!” Which truthfully is what brings me though it. Regardless of what is going on right nowm I owe it to myself to stay positive regardless of the situation. It is control in an uncontrollable situation.

Pregnancy means giving up a lot of control and trusting your body to know what it needs to do. In 32 weeks I have lost view of my feet, felt completely nauseated by my favorite foods,  craved and eaten the craziest combinations, watched my skin go from clear to unnoticeable, amongst other things, and I am not even close to labor yet!

Through all of it, I have chosen to remain in as much control as possible by the only way I know how; looking at the positives. All of those ailments are present now. They are not forever, I know, with this being our last pregnancy, which I will look back one day and realize how amazing everything was.

Some days are challenging and chaotic, some moments stop me in my tracks though I only stay as long as it is relevant. I firmly believe the energy you put into something is the energy you get out of it. The only control I have over this 40+/- week journey is my attitude and outlook. To be chosen to give birth to this person, and to be their mother is one of the biggest privileges I can ever hold. I trust my body to know that it is in control of the makings, and I trust myself to be in control of the outlook.

Photo: My 32 Week Ultrasound!

My Birth Story

by Krista Jevons 1. August 2014

As soon as I was pregnant I began visualizing my child’s birth in order to prepare myself. I researched birth plans and spoke to my doctors. I envisioned a relatively short labor with my husband by my side; our playlist of music on and dim lighting to help me relax. We bought a scent from Yankee candle to make the room more homey. I even had a stack of “wishes for the baby cards” from my shower that I had planned to read during labor to give me motivation. I was prepared- mentally and physically.

Then we found out that the baby was breech and the doctor recommended a Cesarean Section. I was devastated. I cried. The idea of surgery terrified me. I would never choose to have surgery- it would be a last resort.  My poor doctor was down on one knee consoling me, explaining the procedure and why it was the safest choice in this situation. I was crying so hard she had to get me tissues. I felt so stupid in there but I was so scared of having surgery and worried about the pain killers not working. We scheduled for a Tuesday and I went home and tried to mentally prepare myself. It felt odd to have scheduled the birth date and time. Wasn’t that supposed to be left up to chance? Had I chosen a good day? I wished that it had been left up to fate to decide, not me.  There was still time and I hoped the baby might move into position.

Saturday night was a full moon- a “super moon.” My husband and I went outside to watch and jokingly told the baby that if he wanted to see it he would have to be born! I still held out the hope that he would turn and had been doing exercises I found on the internet to help the baby get into position. I even had an appointment with an acupuncturist the next day to try and turn him. I was determined that surgery would be a last resort, and in my mind, wanted to exhaust all options.

At 2 AM, my husband and I went outside for one last look at the moon before sunrise. About 2 hours later, my contractions were consistent and getting stronger and my water had broken. My doctor wanted me to come in to the hospital. I still had hope the baby would turn.

We arrived to a calm and quiet labor and delivery floor. The nurse got me settled right away and checked to see the baby’s position. Still breech.  I was progressing fairly quickly and the nurse informed me the doctor would be over soon.

Preparations were made for surgery.  Internally I was freaking out about having surgery and was thinking of insisting on being put totally out. I was so terrified of surgery while awake- it sounded so painful. My doctor and the anesthesiologist came to speak to me and put me at ease.  I asked for one last check to make sure the baby was still breech before we went through with surgery- he was.

Everything happened fast after that and it was more smooth and painless than I could have imagined. The doctors and nurses had prepared me well enough that I was calm and knew what to expect at every moment. My husband was there for support. The procedure was completely painless. Hearing my son’s cry for the first time was one of the most emotional moments of my life. I was immediately thrilled that I was awake for the moment of his birth and able to share this experience with my husband. What many had told me I found to be true, though it was not reassuring at the time, that it did not matter how he had been born, but that he had been born.

I was able to spend my time in the recovery room holding my baby and I’ll never forget the first time I really looked into his eyes. We were truly impressed at the wonderful experience we had at Bellevue. The doctors, nurses and other staff were incredibly kind, caring, knowledgeable and helpful. The care we received was top of the line. In the end I could not have asked for a better birth experience. I had tried to plan my birth experience, but in the end it was more than I had hoped. I was able to experience what labor was like before ultimately having the C section. When we left the hospital it was like leaving a second home. We went to the nurses’ station to say goodbye to all of the people we had gotten to know. While it was not what I had planned, it was a great experience nonetheless. I am grateful to have a happy, healthy son and be well on my way to recovery.

Clara's New Room

by Renee McEvilly 30. July 2014

When I was pregnant with Clara, we chose to be surprised. The nursery is green with outdoorsy bedding which would fit either sex. The only thing we held out on was curtains and a rug. Purple or blue were the choices and worth the wait!

This time, since we are waiting again, Clara is getting a new room! She definitely knows what she likes and we are having a lot of fun picking out the theme and decorations for her new room! Doc McStuffins looks great within those Banana Split walls! I am so proud of her for looking out for what she likes and voicing what she does not care for and that little "Thank You" when we make something to her liking. Sometimes I need to remind myself that she is two!

The true movement that gets my heart is going through her drawers and switching her clothes and little nick-nacks from one room to the next. It is one physical act that signifies that she is growing up. She had no voice in her first room and now here she is, moving into a new space that is to her own liking. I only imagine how the college years are going to be!

In the same swift movement, I have been going through my gender neutral clothing. Some things I can recall the memories that are with them, mostly not being able to believe that Clara was that small!! I am looking forward to picture comparisons so she can see it too!

Physically and mentally, each pregnancy is different. I know the cliche is that 'they grow up so quickly.' The growth I have observed in our Clara has been on warp speed these past few months. No longer a baby, always my baby, the born leader, Clara Louise.

Pregnancy Life Hacks

by Krista Jevons 14. July 2014

I am very close to the end of my pregnancy, which is both exciting and sad. I thought now would be a good time to make a list of pregnancy tips and things I’ve learned along the way.

  • To avoid bending down, pick up and move as many items as possible with your feet.
  • Wear slip on shoes. Always.
  • Get a pedicure. Or several of them.
  • Let someone else carry everything. After all, you will probably drop it.
  • Stash. Tums. everywhere. You should probably just buy them in bulk at a whole sale club. Ditto for ginger candy in trimester one.
  • Blame things on the baby, for example, “I want to cook dinner but standing on front of the stove on a humid July evening is just too hot for the baby.” This helps you to avoid feeling lazy while giving the other person a sense of helpfulness- who would want a baby to spend time in front of a hot stove?
  • Instead of carrying things downstairs, just toss them over the banister. You need your hands to hold the railing while going down anyway.
  • Plan out errands with bathrooms in mind.
  • Speaking of bathrooms, knowing which public places have the cleanest bathrooms will help you plan out your route.
  • Always carry water and a snack. Better yet, have someone else carry them!
  • Your belly is way too big to clean the shower. This is now your husband’s job.
  • If someone else offers to drive, let them.
  • Keep a camp chair in your car. You never know when you might need it.
  • “I’m 9 months pregnant” is a valid excuse for almost anything.

 

What’s in your hospital bag?

by Krista Jevons 4. July 2014

As my due date is quickly approaching (it’s his birth month already! July 18th is so close!) I started to become concerned with packing my hospital bag. First off, staying multiple nights in a hospital is not typically something I look forward to. I’ve done it a few times and it has yet to be fun. Maybe this time will be better since there is a reward- my son! Second, this time would be different, as I’ve never given birth before and I’ve never been to this hospital. I, of course, in my desire to acquire wisdom on this topic made the mistake of searching the web for a list of items to bring with me when I go for delivery. 

After reading through several lists I was confused- and concerned that my backpack was much too small. Do people really break out their large rolling suitcases for their hospital stay? The lists I had found were truly lengthy- and costly. 3 pairs of nursing pajamas, pillows, delivery gown, magazines, bikini, slippers, socks, bathrobe, makeup, tissues, toilet paper, hot packs, cold packs- just to name a few, and we have not even gotten to the baby’s things yet! The baby would need blankets, clothing, diapers, wipes, pacifiers, socks, baby oil, petroleum jelly and of course a car seat.  Then there are all the things Dad will need…..

I couldn’t help but wonder about some of this stuff. What hospital in America does not supply a newborn with diapers? Or petroleum jelly? And toilet paper? Come on, who brings their own toilet paper with them to the hospital? Some lists also included extravagances such as champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. At least I can see the logic here- hospitals probably don’t have these items; the birth of a baby is a celebration and well, chocolate covered strawberries are always welcome! 

Some of the lists provided conflicting information as well. I decided to take matters into my own hands and tap into a source of infinite wisdom and years of combined child birthing experience. I asked Facebook. Good news! No conflicting information here; a few hygiene products for me plus some clothes. The baby needs almost nothing except a car seat. No one mentioned diapers or toilet paper so they must feel very confident about the presence of these essentials. As for dad? Let him worry about himself! He’ll be fine with nothing, anyway. His job is to worry about me and he’ll be there to run out and get anything I forgot. My post even received several comments that since I would be at Bellevue, I’d truly have a great experience!  

Thanks to the advice I received my bag is now fully packed. It consists of one backpack for me and the baby, and true to my past I’ve still probably over packed. It is light and small and eagerly waiting to be thrown into the trunk very soon! Preferably before July 18th. My husband is on his own. Oh, and as for the chocolate covered strawberries and champagne- I was told family members are supposed to supply those essentials, not me! 

Breastfeeding Choices

by Renee McEvilly 1. July 2014

Roughly 20 months 10 days and 12 hours. That is how long I nursed for, until Clara self weaned. During that time, I learned more about myself and my body than I had in my 30 years of prior existence. 

I have had major surgeries, at 22 I had a laminectomy which left me with extensive nerve damage then again at 26, I had a spinal fusion which has repaired my Lumbar spine to the best of its ability. The 8-year struggle against my body left me very weary to trust it, though I was determined to breastfeed.

There is much debate about how to feed a child. The constant repeat of 'Breast is Best' is daunting. I personally do not believe that breast is best, I believe that breast is normal. The 'best' is family specific. Whatever works for your family is best whether it is a mother's milk, donated milk or formula. It matters that a child is fed with love and the family is supported.

In our case, we chose to breastfeed. It was not an easy start, there was so much to learn about this new relationship though I knew with my husbands support, there was really nothing that would stop us. Through mastitis, low supply, societal norms, we really were able to persevere. 

I feel during this time I truly reclaimed my body and gained a greater respect for everything that it can do. It was not towards the end that I realized that, to me my 'broken body', had grown, birthed and nourished a child! 

I believe that experience makes this pregnancy different in that I learned to trust my body. Clara was late, because she needed some extra time. She nursed into early toddlerhood because she needed it. Currently, Blue is growing on track, passing all of the tests and moving all around, because of my amazing body's ability to do so.

Learning to let go and trust was not an easy road though by doing so, I can now actually enjoy this pregnancy! I am looking forward to what this one will teach me bringing my previous experience into it.