Thursday, December 29, 2016

I'm Back...

I am so very excited to be able to blog again! My computer died on me several months ago...okay many months ago and I resorted to blogging on my IPhone but after one of their fabulous software updates, my blogger app no longer allowed me to post.

I have been so bummed, I have some catching up to do. Santa Claus was excellent to this Mama and built me a fancy Lenovo Yoga. Now I can blog my little heart out...hopefully you will be seeing an overflow of posts as I try to get current.

So be prepared for many more pictures of my cuties!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Baby Products, My Favorites

As you might expect, we have had our fair share of good and bad baby product purchases. I get asked quite often, what I recommend to new moms and even some seasoned ones. I wish I was one of those lucky bloggers who gets all these free products to demo and review, but that's not my fate. Since these posts are only shared on my private Facebook page, these reviews are for all my fabulous mommy and daddy friends who are wondering, "Is that really worth the money?"

I can tell you from experience, that every child is indeed unique and what may thrill your firstborn may bore your second and vice versa! So, keep that in mind when purchasing baby items or reusing something you thought was magnificent. 

1.) Zooby Car & House Baby Monitor

This product is fairly new and I didn't learn about it until my fourth baby. It is mostly meant to use in the car to have a live view of your little one. It can also be used in the house as well but I have not tried that yet. I love it! I have used plenty of baby mirrors and weird attachments with my other children, only to have them shift positions, fall or not fit at all. Most mirrors also have a very distorted reflection and don't really give you a good enough view to tell if the baby really needs intervention. This doll, easily attached to the headrest and bends to any angle you need. It has a flexible tube inside so it stays wherever you move it to. The video picture is very clear and really gives you a perfect view of your child. It can tell when he is spitting up or has pulled a blanket to close to his face. It also works AT NIGHT, you get a perfect view even in the pitch black. This is certainly not a cheap product but was worth the money for my needs. 

2.) Owlet Heart Rate & Oxygen Monitor

Similar to the Zooby, this wonderful product was not available until recently (or I didn't know about it). I went back and forth for quite awhile on whether or not to purchase the Owlet, mostly due to the high price tag...$249.99. I also had all the other typical big item questions; "Do we really need it? Does it really work? Am I just being ridiculous?" I was thorough in my research of how it worked, what it would help, read all the customer reviews and researched what it was trying to prevent, SIDS.

What finally made me push the 'Confirm Purchase' button? baby's life! We buy car seats at $200, $300+ for the safety of our children and the CHANCE that we will be in a car accident but, car accidents are not the leading cause of death in infants under a year, SIDS is. I was sitting in the PICU with my six day old son thinking how much I would regret not spending that $249.99 if he happened to be one of those infants who suddenly stopped breathing during the night. Suddenly, $249.99 didn't matter to me, I didn't want to take the chance. Lincoln, our youngest little man, was/is notorious for taking very long pauses between breaths, especially while sleeping. He set off his monitors several times while in the PICU, the doctor said it was a normal trait of babies his age and just to keep a close eye on him. How do you keep a close eye while you are sleeping? You don't sleep!

I know the Owlet cannot guarantee my child will not be affected by SIDS, but it can help. We have been using the sock to monitor Lincoln every single night since it arrived. There are three different types of alarms: yellow, blue and red. A yellow alarm indicates the sock is not on correctly or has fallen off. A blue alarm warns that the internet has failed or the sock has been taken too far away from the base station. The red alarm alerts you when your child's oxygen and/or heart rate levels are in a dangerous range. It is pretty difficult to get a false red alarm because if it loses the connection or can't find the vitals, that is a yellow or blue alarm. A red alarm is when it can find the vitals and they are too low. The Owlet has been tested against a hospital monitor and was able to get the same readings as the medically certified equipment. 

Only a week after getting the Owlet and using it every night, we got a red alert. I 100% believe it was a true alert. I jumped out of bed, grabbed him out of his crib and even in the dark, I could tell he was catching his breath. He most likely had another episode of pausing between breaths and it caused his vitals to dip too low. I am so very thankful I had an alarm to warn me, who knows if the outcome would have been different without the Owlet, I'm glad I didn't take the chance. 

3.) Ergo Baby Carrier

Often times, baby carriers become personal preference of the baby wearer. I have tried my fair share of baby wearing contraptions! For older baby wearing and daddy's, the Baby Bjorn is my favorite. Jonathan prefers the Bjorn and says it fits his physique better than the other ones. Newborns up to about a year old, I love the Ergo Baby Carrier. It keeps the baby very tight and close to your chest, very secure and comfortable for both mama and baby. All of my babies have loved being in the Ergo, even for extended periods of time. I have tried several of those baby wraps and they are just too confusing for me. I don't like all that fabric wrapped around me, the Ergo has two easy straps that can be put on and taken off very quickly and easily. I have personally never used the infant insert, it just seemed like too much padding for me but some like the extra support. 

4.) Rock and Play

I did not discover this little gem until Milo was born, my third child! Boy I wish I had purchased this one when Sebastian was a baby, he had a severe form of colic and I think this contraption would have made a difference! I use this sleeper more than a crib...I love it and so do my babies! It is portable, so I can move it all over the house very easily and the baby loves to nap in it. It is wonderful when you need to take a shower or cook dinner or even want to change things up at night. My children do not sleep very well on flat surfaces and must be swaddled or they wake themselves every few minutes. I usually swaddle and then lay them in the Rock and Play for some well needed peace and quiet. 

These range drastically in price and I am not sure why, we have the $47 one and it is great so I'm not sure why you would need $100+ one. 

5.) Medela Breast Pump

This is the most highly recommended breast pump among lactations as well, but it really is the best. I had the same pump through three and a half kids, it finally died a week after Lincoln arrived. Even though I exclusively breast feed all of my kids, I still use the pump to keep my supply up and to stock up my freezer supply. 

My sister tried to save money and bought  a cheaper, non Medela pump that she gave me when my pump died and it was SO CONFUSING that I could not figure it out. I eventually learned we were missing a few pieces but boy is the Medela easier! The Medela can be pretty pricey, but check with your insurance cause most are covering the cost these days. 

6.) Wubbanub Pacifiers

I thought this thing was so crazy when I first saw it! It seemed so silly to need or want a doll attached to a pacifier but it definitely has it's wonderful uses, we own 4 so we are never without one! It is a lifesaver in the car seat or at bedtime. Babies tend to jerk and fidget and make random movements that pop their pacifier out of their mouth and out of reach. The Wubbanub has a slight weight behind it and keeps the pacifier from popping out when they don't really want it to. They can still spit it out if they want to but you have far fewer accidental pop outs. The only downside is that when you are carrying the baby and it pops out, you have to be quick to catch it before it hits the ground, sometimes those paci clips can be convenient. 

7.) Diaper Genie Elite

I'm not sure how anyone can survive infant parenthood without a diaper pail, for all those nasty #2s! This particular pail is my favorite, we own two, one upstairs and one downstairs. The refill rings are not too expensive and you can get a bundle pack at Sam's Club for a little cheaper. They last for quite awhile and are super easy to empty. Diaper pails completely take the stink away, unless you open that lid, you can't tell its housing poo!

8.) Take and Toss Sippy Cups

This one is for those with older infants/toddlers...I have spent a small fortune ($100s of dollars) on sippy cups in attempt to find one that does not leak! I have just come to the conclusion that one does not exist, they can be close but never perfect. I bought so many $7 sippy cups only to find them two days later, under a chair, sitting in a puddle of rotten chocolate milk that has stained the carpet. As you may know or soon discover, once you have rotten milk in a sippy cup, it's near impossible to ever get the stench typically ends up in the trash. 

We randomly came across these disposable sippy cups, 6 pack for $3 and I fell in love! They are disposable but not really, we have used each of them a dozen times, at least. They can be washed in the dish washer, are super lightweight, minimal leakage, you can see through them and can be used with or without a lid. If you find one with rotten milk in it, it's only $0.50 instead of $7 in the trash! I got rid of all our other brands and replaced them with these inexpensive, effective thirst quenchers. 

9.) Summer Infant Video Baby Monitor

When you are standing in the baby monitor aisle trying to figure out which brand looks the best...I highly recommend Summer Infant. We have purchased quite a few different brands and they are by far the best! I have the Zooby for the car but we have had our Summer Infant double camera video monitor since Paisley was born. It was our fourth baby monitor (we had one drown and two vanish into thin air!) and second Summer Infant. We tried Motorola but the quality and range was nowhere near as good as Summer Infant. 

10.) Baby Binxy

This is another new product but I am a huge fan so far! It completely frees up the cart as well as your arms. If you have ever had to grocery shop with the baby carrier in the buggy, you know it becomes a game of Tetris! This hammock allows you to still use the basket for groceries while also not having to carry the baby the entire time. 

11.) My Brest Friend Pillow

My lactation goddess introduced me to this gem after my first little man was born. He was an extremely difficult nurser  and this pillow helped me keep him latched and took the weight and discomfort out of nursing. It is an excellent tool especially those first few weeks of bringing the baby home! It snaps around your upper waist and supports the baby while he/she eats. I have used mine with all of my babies!

I am sure there are a few more that I just can't live without, I just can't think of any more at the moment. If you have one in particular you are curious about, feel free to ask, I may have used it and not liked it (like the Mamaroo) or just didn't remember it for this list. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Lincoln's Newborn Photoshoot

We were fortunate enough to have photos taken by Two Little Monkey's Photography. They turned out very sweet, he looks so much like his older siblings!

Lincoln Cooper Dean's Newborn Portraits

My mother also took some beautiful photos of our little prince. He was such a great model and being the handsome little man that he is, he looks stunning in every photo.

The blue stripped hat and lion roar are my favorites!

Monday, August 22, 2016


Lincoln Cooper Dean
7 pounds 14 ounces
20.5 inches long 
August 1, 2016
at 10:45am

Lincoln's birth story is relatively simple when compared to my other three labors, thank you, Lord!

I slept fairly uneasily all night and began feeling some random contractions and discomfort around 4am on August 1st. I did not think much of it as they were very sporadic and merely uncomfortable waves. At 6am, however, it was a whole new story. Everything with this delivery seemed to go very quickly. Jonathan got up for his daily routine around 6:30am and that's when I started to get very uncomfortable and suspected something might be up. I decided to get up as well and take a shower, I quietly started timing the waves of discomfort to see if there was any type of pattern. I wasn't due for another four weeks and there is always the seed of doubt when you feel things happening that early. Sure enough, they were every 3 minutes but only lasting about 30-40 seconds. Although they were getting much stronger, I still doubted I was in labor because of how short they seemed to last. 
I decided to let Jonathan in on my suspicions and of course, he went into action mode! As soon as I planted the seed, he was in full force prep and go. I hopped in the shower hoping it would fix things and by the time I got out and ready, I was in quite a world of pain. In a matter of an hour, my discomfort went from "I'm not sure" to "I'm definitely in labor!" We decided to activate the phone tree and get the emergency plans into action. My parents were informed first so they could start arranging to pick up the other kids and then Jonathan called out of work. We decided to get the kids up and ready for the day to try and make things a bit easier on my dad. Of course, Sebastian and Paisley were thrilled to hear there might be a new baby in the family by the end of the day. They had been asking me for weeks when the new baby was coming. 
It took another hour to get everyone ready and fed, I called the doctor while Jonathan handled the kids and was told I needed to head into the maternity ward as soon as possible. Unfortunately, my parents hit quite a bit of traffic on the way over and it took awhile for them to arrive. When they got to the house, my contractions were very strong and every three minutes for a full minute. 

My very last bump shot.

We loaded up in the car and headed for the hospital, I was not excited about being cooped up for the next few days. My contractions got stronger on the way to the hospital and we arrived around 9am. I guess my timing was just perfect when we arrived because we hardly waited at all for the nurses or doctor to come in. It usually takes forever to be assessed but I was first on the list. Dr. Solomon came right in and checked, I was only 3 cm dilated but completely thinned and the baby's head was already headed down. He went ahead and agreed it was time to deliver, I was prepped immediately. 

Jonathan got to wear his scrubs, definitely made him look like a painter. 

I was wheeled into the operating room at 10:15 and got my spinal block, a welcome relief. Jonathan came in a few minutes later and everything got underway. If you've never had a cesarean section before, there is really no way to describe how weird it feels. It's very uncomfortable, not necessarily painful but very uncomfortable. 

At 10:45am we finally heard those magical words "baby boy is here, he is really big for 36 weeks!" They quickly held him over the sheet, I really couldn't see much, before hurrying him over the the NICU team. I finally heard him cry just a few seconds later. Jonathan went to check on him and was telling me he looked good, everything was good...7 lbs 14 ozs! 

Jonathan was able to hold him fairly quickly after delivery and I got to see his sweet face as they finished up the surgery. He looked so much like his older brother, Milo (without all the bruising). 

I was relieved when I finally got to hold him as I was wheeled back to our room for recovery. I had a very tough recovery that took much longer than usual. I went into extended recovery because I did not get feeling and movement back in my legs for almost 5 hours after delivery. 

He looks so chunky in his pictures but he is really just skin and bones! Everyone just kept saying how huge he looked until they saw him in person. 

Daddy got to help give him a bath and they finally let Mamie (my mom) back into the room around 2pm. They were being pretty stingy about her returning because I was still technically in recovery. 

We had as much kangaroo time as possible to help keep his temperature up and blood sugar levels in the healthy range. 

We finally announced his arrival the next day as we introduced Lincoln Cooper Dean to the world! AND his older siblings!

Sebastian was a pro, of course! He was so excited to finally meet him and hold him. 

It was a bit of a fight for who got to hold and cuddle and kiss the new baby first. 

It was absolutely wonderful to have all my babies with me! I missed them so much while we were away. 

This little dude took on his new role as 'big brother' like a pro! He wanted to hold him forever! 

Little miss was definitely a natural Mama! She covered him in kisses and insisted on seeing every part of his tiny little body...fingers, toes, belly button, neck lol. 

She is already requesting a sister next...if only it were that simple. 

There is nothing better than your fresh baby sleeping on your chest. 

Aunt Kelly came for a visit and brought us a few more outfits. 

She has another nephew to spoil! 

He is so perfect. 

Four days after delivery, we were finally cleared to go home!

We are now adjusting well to life as a family of 6! I still can't believe it when I hear it, never did I imagine I would be the mama of four beautiful babies. Stay tuned for some very adorable newborn and family photos to come. 

A HUGE THANK YOU, to my dad for jumping up and watching my most prized possessions on delivery day and the days afterwards! A special (never enough) thank you to my wonderful Mama for being there for us during delivery, supporting us always, as well as for taking care of my kiddos while we were inpatient. She also stayed with us at the house for 3 weeks after delivery and took care of the kids again when we ended up back in the NICU with Lincoln. I could never express how incredible my parents are, supporting us in all that we do.