Let’s Talk About Car Seats: Graco 4Ever Review!

Before we get started on this I want to be completely transparent with this post. When I heard about this seat, I reached out to Graco and asked if I could review it. It’s one that has the potential to completely change the car seat market and I really wanted to find out for me and for you, if it was all it’s cracked up to be (spoiler alert: it is). I did receive the car seat for free to review, but am not being paid at all to write this, nor was I given suggestions about what to write. All my opinions are mine and mine alone and are not at all influenced by the free car seat. I pinkie swear and promise and all of that.

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Let’s Talk About Car Seats: Preventing Accidental Hyperthermia [and Giveaway!]

While in some parts of the country the warm season is winding down, here on the west coast it is still blazing hot. And with the heat comes a scary and serious problem: hyperthermia. We’ve all read the stories about parents accidentally leaving their children in the car (and sometimes not so accidentally, but that is a different story altogether) and the tragic consequences, but all to often we think it could never happen to us. I think part of that is ignorance and part of it is not wanting to imagine the possibility.

I don’t believe that accidental death due to hyperthermia is the result of someone being a bad parent, but rather the result of our lives being rushed, of lack of sleep and/or of ever changing routines. I do believe that these deaths are entirely preventable and need to be a part of every parent’s routine. While I’m sure there are many ways to do this, I thought I would share a few that I’ve heard have been successful.

The easiest way is to put your purse, briefcase or wallet in the backseat next to the car seat. By doing that, you absolutely have to get into the backseat and will (hopefully) notice that your child is there. It doesn’t take any extra time to do this and after you drop your kids off, you can move your things to the front seat. It’s easy and highly effective.

Another option is to put something in the front seat as a reminder. I’ve heard of some parents putting a stuffed animal in the front seat whenever their child is in the car seat (and then put the animal in the seat when the child’s gone) as a visual reminder that their child is there.

A third option is an alarm of some sort. You can set an alarm on your phone for the time you would drop off or arrive at work to remind you to check. You could have a plan with daycare to call if the child isn’t there by a certain time or have your spouse, significant other or a friend call you to make sure.

While this option isn’t quite as simple as the others, there is a wonderful car seat that takes this concern into account. The First Year’s True Fit with iAlert is a car seat with a sensor inside of it, which not only tells you the temperature in the car, but also shows the angle of the car seat, if the seat becomes unbuckled while the car is in motion and will call or text you if the car is turned off and the child is still in the car seat. It’s a great seat for a parent who’s extra concerned about this particular issue.

All these options are great and for the most part, quick and easy. And now Dorel, who makes Safety 1st, Maxi Cosi and Cosco products, to name a few, has come up with another way. Thirty years ago this month, they introduced the Baby on Board sign that we now see on cars all over the country. The yellow triangle serves to alert other drivers, parents, first aid workers, etc, that a child rides in that vehicle. Safety 1st says that it has helped “unite families everywhere on the journey of parenthood” and it has no doubt become a very recognizable image.

As times have changed, so that the focus of Safety 1st and starting in 2015, they will be introducing another sign aimed to reduce accidental deaths due to hyperthermia. Each Baby on Board sign will come with a “Where’s Baby? Look Before you Lock” sign, used as a reminder to parents to check their cars. It may not seem like a huge deal, but a small visual reminder like that, even on someone else’s vehicle, may be all it takes to trigger a parent’s memory and save a child’s life.

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Safety 1st reached out to me and offered to giveaway 30 “Baby on Board” signs to readers here. The first 30 commenters will receive the signs. I will do one per vehicle- up to 2 per person, if desired, and the comments will stay open until all the signs are taken. Please make sure your email address is one I can reasonably reach you at. A big thank you to Safety 1st for continuing to put children’s safety ahead of all else. Hopefully this campaign, in addition to some of the steps above, will go a long way to making sure that we don’t lose more children to hyperthermia in cars.

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post. Safety 1st reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do a giveaway and I decided to do it. No money or products were exchanged!

What a Difference a Month Makes!

Time for round 2 of the monthly growth photos. We were lucky to get another adorable animal made by the same person. And I have told her that if she opens an etsy shop I will link it here because I love these animals.

1 day!
1 day

1 month and 1 day!
1 month

The raccoon is about the same size torso as the lion, but the raccoon head is smaller. So Will isn’t a giant, necessarily, he’s just got a smaller ruler.

Let’s Talk About Car Seats: Aftermarket Products

This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week and as such I’m going to try hard to get back on the blogging train. In addition to this post there will be a small giveaway as well as a car seat review I’ve been working on. I have an unexpected out of town funeral on Friday, so depending upon how much time I have, the “week” may last more than 7 days.

So today we’re going to talk about aftermarket products. What is an aftermarket product? In this context, it’s anything you add to your car or car seat that did not come with it. And every car seat manufacturer forbids them. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your child more comfortable in their car seat.

Strap Covers
One of the most common aftermarket products that I see, and that I used before I knew better, were harness strap covers. Now, if your car seat comes with them, you’re fine, use as directed in the manual, however, if your car seat did not come with them, you shouldn’t be adding any to the seat. The fact is, we don’t know how those strap covers will impact the performance in a crash. Maybe your seat didn’t come with them because when crash tested with strap covers, something went wrong. Maybe the strap covers add so much bulk, like a thick coat, that you’re not getting the harness as snug as you think. The bottom line is that your car seat forbids them and they void the warranty.

Since I myself used them before I knew better, I empathize with the reason behind these. The harness straps can irritate sensitive skin on a child’s neck and may be uncomfortable. If your seat didn’t come with strap covers, you have 2 options. First, you can call your car seat manufacturer and ask if there are any approved strap covers. Some companies will send you some that have been crash tested with their seat and are safe for use. This won’t work for every seat/company, but it’s worth trying. If that doesn’t work, pulling a child’s shirt up will help somewhat. If you pull the shirt collar up so that it goes between the harness and the neck, the skin won’t get as irritated. Bonus points if the shirt has ears on it. Obviously.


Head Supports
Another very common aftermarket product, particularly found in infant bucket seats, are head supports. Some car seats come with these (and even then, I personally don’t love all of them), but adding an aftermarket support to a seat can present a very serious and real risk. Very commonly, these head supports cause the head to be pushed forward in the seat, which can cause the airway to be obstructed. This is obviously a very serious issue and I can’t overstate how important it is not to use these.

If your newborn has a hard time maintaining an upright head in their car seat (my boys practically look decapitated at times), there is a safe option to keep the head upright and keep them centered in the seat. Take 2 thin receiving blankets or small towels, roll them up and tuck them on the sides of the seat next to baby. This will keep their body centered in the seat and support the head without pushing it forward. It works like a charm. Will sleeps so much better in his seat when I do this.


Car Seat Covers
If you look online, there are a number of very cute handmade car seat covers. I know it happens where a seat cover gets destroyed by a child or you have a baby of a different sex and want a new cover. But, purchasing a handmade cover, especially one that goes over an existing cover, is not a safe option. Car seats in the US are required to have fire retardants present on the seat covers which may prevent a child from being injured in a car fire. In addition, the car seat covers that go over the cover that came with the seat add an extra layer between the child and the harness, which could be dangerous in a crash and may mask an improperly tightened harness.

So, what do you do if your cover gets ruined or if you need to change a pink seat to blue? Call the company. They can very, very frequently help you with this. You can use another cover from the same make/model car seat if you have one or have access to it, but be sure it’s the same and fits the seat properly.

Clip on Fans
One common reason for turning a child around to forward face is that they don’t get adequate air flow. As it is going to be over 100 degrees all this week and I have two rear facing boys, I totally get this. I’ve seen a lot of people recommend a clip on fan to provide airflow to rear facers and the idea is good, but the reality is dangerous. In a crash, that fan would very easily come unclipped and hit a child in the face, hard. Imagine having one of those fans thrown at your face and that’s what your child would experience in a crash.

So, how can you keep your kids cool? You can cool the car before you get in or use a cover or towel to keep the seat cool. We purchased something called a Noggle earlier this year and it is the best. It attaches to your a/c vents and funnels the air to wherever you point it. It works very well and is easy to use. They post discounts on their FB page occasionally, but for us it was worth the full price.



So this one is tricky. There are a few mirrors I will absolutely recommend against. The ones with lights and speakers and all that should not be used for the same reason as the clip on fans. They’re heavy and in a crash they can become a heavy and dangerous projectile pointed at your child’s head.

That said, I have mirrors in my car. I will not tell you to use them (in fact, if you ask I’ll tell you not to) or guarantee their safety, but I’ll share my personal rationale. I use the lightest weight plastic mirrors on the market. Ones that I would totally be okay throwing at my kids (which is to say they’re light and wouldn’t do any damage). I use them because I’m not comfortable not being able to see my kids. I drive less distractedly when I can see the boys than when I have to call back to Eli or hope Will’s head isn’t falling off his neck.


Seat Protectors
This is a common aftermarket product in newer cars and cars with leather. Parents are worried, reasonably, about the car seat damaging their seats, so they purchase “seat protectors” which are typically thick mats that go under the car seat. Unfortunately, these are known far and wide to mask a poor installation. That is, they make the car seat seem like it moves less than it really does by adding friction under the base.

If you are super concerned about your seats you have a few choices. One, you can take your car seats out occasionally and oil your seats (if they’re leather. I can’t say I would recommend oiling fabric seats…), which will help protect the vehicle seats. The other option is a very lightweight receiving blanket under the car seat. Check with your manual as some will strictly forbid ANYTHING from going under the seat, but most companies are okay with this. There are a few companies who have made seat protectors for their car seats. You can always call your car seat manufacturer and ask if there are any and where to buy them.

That doesn’t cover every aftermarket product, but it’s the most common ones I’ve seen and even a few I’ve used. If you have questions about specific products, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll respond as soon as I have a free moment/hand.

William: Month 1


Today you are one month old! This month flew by for us, I can’t believe it’s over. And at the same time, I feel like I’ve known you forever.


I don’t want to spend all these letters comparing you to Eli, but it will happen. I don’t mean for it to, but as parents, Eli is all we know so far, so he’s sort of our measuring stick. Before you were born, we were a little scared to have a second baby. I think some form of sleep deprivation amnesia convinced me that your brother was an easy baby and we were scared we’d get a “difficult” baby this time. Instead, we got you. And if anything, you’ve served to show me that your brother was not an easy baby.


You are a born nurser. You latched within the first ten minutes you were alive and pretty much have yet to stop. At one week old you weighed 6lb 14oz and yesterday at 4 weeks old you were almost 9.5 pounds. If you have access to milk, you are the most content person on the earth.


Each morning you take a 1.5-2 hour nap in the swing and each afternoon you take a 2+ hour nap on me. You cat nap throughout the day but those big naps are delightfully reliable. I should be putting you down somewhere in the afternoon, but I don’t want to. I want to soak up your babyhood because I know how quickly it vanishes.


You unfortunately inherited your fathers very significant gastro-esophageal reflux, which is pretty heartbreaking to watch. You gag and cough and cry out multiple times a day and I really can’t blame you for being upset. It looks unbelievably unpleasant and we’re working on a plan to make you more comfortable, starting with excluding dairy from my diet (see, I love you more than cheese, and I love cheese A LOT). You have a particular knack for spitting up down my shirt, usually right as we’re walking out the door. We do a lot of laundry these days.


Your likes this month include: eating, mom, eating, sleeping on mom, Aunt Claire the baby whisperer, eating and having a full stomach.


Your dislikes this month include: hunger, the car seat, the car, riding in the car in the car seat while hungry, reflux.


On Saturday morning I reached down and grabbed you out of your bed to nurse you. You looked at me, really looked at me, and then you gave me your first ever intentional smile. I’ve gotten one more since then and it too was preceded with a very clear and careful examination of my face. You seem to have this very conscientious way about you, even though that sounds ridiculous since you’re a tiny infant. You watch things so careful, with so much intent, and it makes you seem wise far, far beyond your age. I sometimes forget just how little you are.


One of the things I fought so hard for with your brother was the mother/baby bond that nursing was supposed to give us. And this time it’s just there. I’m your person. Sometimes you cry and all you want is me. All I have to do is sit down nearby or call your name and the relief is almost palpable. It’s an indescribably cool feeling and honestly, I feel the same way about you sometimes. When I’m feeling stressed or frustrated, a few minutes with you in my arms seems to make that all melt away.


I know your family loves to see and hold and love you, but at times I feel incomplete without you at my side. You have stretched our hearts and extended our family into this beautiful group of four. The love we all feel for you and for one another is a feeling I can’t describe. We are just the luckiest four souls on this earth and it’s because you and your brother made us into this incredible little family.


I won’t say our family is complete now, but your presence has gone a long way to making us whole and reminding us how very lucky we are.

will 4

William, we have only known you for a month, but already we love you so very much. And we can’t wait to see what next month will bring.


To the Woman at Target

To the Woman at Target-

I don’t know if you even remember me. Our encounter on Wednesday was very brief, and I know I thanked you repeatedly, but I wanted to take a minute to elaborate on how grateful I am.

Two weeks ago at the same checkout stand at the same Target, my son had a meltdown. Not the baby this time, but my 2 year old. It was our fault. He had been struggling with the big brother transition, threw a major fit when we were leaving, which pushed my husband and me into an argument and we ended up not leaving until an hour later than we had planned. Which meant it was lunch time, and if you’ve never encountered a hungry toddler, you are lucky.

Anyway, Eli wanted to touch the conveyer belt, but it was time to get out of the way for the next person and he lost it. He fell to the floor as though all the bones fell out of his body, he cried (not screamed). I went and grabbed him quickly and let my husband pay. I also had the baby with me, who was only a few days old and was thankfully sleeping. As all this happened, the person in line behind us got irritated. She sighed, audibly, several times. She made eye contact with me and rolled her eyes. She ended up mumbling something about people controlling their kids and then moved to a different register. Eli’s fit lasted all of 10-15 seconds before I pulled him away, but she was so obviously inconvenienced by it and I was mortified and angry.

So on Wednesday, when a similar scene started to play out, I wanted badly to run away.

You couldn’t have known how hard that day had already been. It was my very first day home with both boys without any help. Will and I had been awake for at least a part of every hour that night and we were both exhausted as a result. Eli had a sinus infection and pink eye and had woken up hysterical because he couldn’t open his eye. We had to get out of the house for an 8:45 pediatrician appointment which resulted in me carrying two crying children to the car and all of us being at the pediatrician in various parts of our pajamas, 5 minutes late.

There was no place I wanted to be less than Target, but it’s the pharmacy we use and I needed to get Eli’s eye drops asap. I almost cried when they said it would be a half an hour to get his prescriptions ready because I knew that there was no way both boys would be okay for 30 minutes. But there wasn’t much I could do. Coming back later would be even worse, and so I plopped Eli in the cart (with a cart cover, I was trying to minimize him touching anything) and put Will in his car seat in the back of the cart and we started killing time.

For 15 minutes, we were okay. And then Will lost it. He was just so tired. I tried a pacifier, I even let him suck on my finger, but nothing helped. He was beet red and wailing. I didn’t think he was hungry, but I knew we needed to sit down somewhere so I could take him out and try. So I went to the checkout area, where we met. Will was in hysterics and all the registers were full. The checker told me to go to customer service since I only had 4 items, but the line there was even longer.

As I was pulling Will out of his car seat to try to calm him down (while in line and pushing my cart), you approached me. You said that I could go in front of you. And then you helped me push my cart, unloaded my items, waited for me to pay and then reloaded them. Our encounter lasted all of 2 minutes, max. I never would’ve asked for help, but you saw me, really saw what was going on despite my attempts to seem fine, and didn’t hesitate to help. I was so worried I was inconveniencing people with my crying baby and feeling so embarrassed when you extended that kindness.

I have been told many times that it takes a village to raise children. Two weeks ago, I cried after a trip to Target because I felt so alone, as though there was no village left. But on Wednesday, which had all the makings of a terrible day, I walked out of the store feeling supported. Those two minutes of your time, the two minutes of caring you gave to me and my boys will not be forgotten. And someday, when I have my act more together and I see someone struggling, I hope to provide the same kind of help to another mother or father who is struggling.

Thank you so very much for being a part of my village.


The Transition

In the months and weeks leading up to Will’s birth, we did everything we could to help prepare Eli for the impending change. At first, he would just outright deny that there was going to be a baby. If you asked him anything about a baby or a big brother, the answer was no. Period. Even when the question was not a yes or no one.

But as time passed, he began to get a little more with the program. He would say that yes, he was going to have a little brother (he would still say no if you said baby, oddly) and yes, he was going to be a good big brother. We read a book one night where a big brother saves a little brother and it was like there was a light switch that flipped. He kept exclaiming “big brudder!” and pointing to himself and the book. We breathed a small sigh of relief that at the very least, he seemed to be understanding.

He did great the 2 days we were in the hospital, including when we Facetimed and he got to see the baby. I was hopeful that it wasn’t going to be as rough of a transition as we had imagined.


When we got home Saturday night, he heard us open the door, yelled Mama! took one look at the baby and turned around and ran away. He wouldn’t look at me, hug me or give me the time of day. When I took the baby out of his car seat, he flipped. He repeatedly yelled “ALL DONE” over and over until I handed Will off to someone else and picked him up instead. He got a little more okay with the baby that evening and went to bed pretty easily, which was a surprise to me. Again, I thought maybe things weren’t going to be so tough.

Spoiler alert here: I was wrong.


Everyday since Will has come home has been a different struggle. There was one night where Eli just could not go to sleep. He screamed and cried and wanted to sleep with a sippy cup of milk and wanted up and hugs and it was just awful. And after an hour, my husband had to rock him to sleep. He has never been rocked to sleep a day in his life. My once easy going kid now picks every single battle known to man. WHe threw his biggest tantrum to date last week because we wanted to take him to the pool (for some one-on-one time with dad) which he very, very much wanted to do, but he wouldn’t put on his shoes and only wanted to wear my shoes, which I needed to wear. It went on for seriously like 30 minutes, if not longer. And it was so sad to watch because you knew that it wasn’t really about shoes.


And that’s kind of how things have gone. So many fits and battles and you can just tell that he just wants order in his world again. After a month or two off, he’s back to lining up cars pretty obsessively every day, several times a day. He will only wear certain shoes, he will only eat certain foods, he will only wear certain clothes. It’s like a lot of the progress we made getting him to be less rigid in the past few months has been completely undone. He’s the most rigid he’s ever been with everything.

Logically, I know that this is a normal kind of reaction (mostly). Everything he had ever known has changed. He’s no longer the center of attention, there’s this brother he doesn’t understand, who cries a lot. His world has been rocked and is out of order. Emotionally, I feel like a monster. As if I have broken his spirit completely. I hate that he’s fighting so hard to control things because it’s such a grown up response and he’s still so little. I don’t want him to feel like he can’t rely on us to keep his life stable because that’s our job.

(We are not going to be discussing this haircut except to say that it is NOT what I requested and soooooooob.)

There are good moments amongst the angst. He gave William a kiss on the head the other day, he told him goodnight (unprompted) another night. He asks to sit next to me, and will climb onto our laps while we have the baby at times. He plays happily for much of the day, though he’s definitely testing limits there too. It’s not all bad and I don’t want to make it seem that way, it’s just been so different and it’s challenging on a number of levels. He is still the same sweet boy he has always been, he’s just got a shorter fuse and a lot more tears.


It’s a challenge for both of us, really. The guilt for me, of having changed his life so much. And the struggle for him, of making sense of all these changes. When I imagined this transition, I expected more tears, more clinginess, tantrums and sleep disruptions. I didn’t expect the obvious anxiety that Eli feels. I didn’t expect him to reject me as often as he does now (though I understand it). We are both learning how to make sense of things again and what our new normal is. I tell him a hundred times a day how much I love him and I hope that in the end, that will be enough to carry us both through this transition.

Not Like the Other

I can hardly believe it’s only been a week since Will arrived. It feels a bit like he’s been here forever when really, he just moved in. And from the very first moment, it was clear that this time was not going to be like the last one in a lot of ways.

(Just as a preface, a lot of the things related to Eli’s first few weeks are…not positive. That said, I would do every moment of it again in a heartbeat because it got me to where I am now. I would not change a moment if it meant that I wouldn’t have my sweet boy exactly as he is.)

The first few days after Eli was born, I barely slept. Not because Eli was fussy or difficult (he wasn’t, he was the quietest newborn on earth), but because in my mind, I thought I had to stay awake to make sure he kept breathing. I felt this overwhelming sense of terror that I would lose my baby. That something bad would happen, and the only way to prevent it was to let him sleep on me while I struggled to stay awake all night long. I was exhausted and scared all the time, but come hell or high water, I was going to keep him breathing.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it wasn’t sustainable. That combined with the stress of a non-nursing baby was about enough to send me over the edge. I was so happy to have Eli, but so scared and stressed.

On Will’s first night home, I felt a similar panic. What if he stopped breathing? What if something happened while I slept? I had only had him for 36 hours, but already he held such a huge piece of my heart that I could not imagine how I would survive without him. I spent about five minutes trying to sleep with one hand on his chest and then I realized that this wasn’t going to work- not for him, not for me.

This time, I know I can’t control my baby’s breathing. I can’t stay awake every moment. I can make good choices (sleeping on his back, with a pacifier, fan on, rooming in, etc) to reduce the known risks, but ultimately, I have to recognize I’m not in control here. I can’t will my child to breathe (no pun intended), nor can I keep him safe without sacrificing my health and sanity. And so from that first night I let go and went to sleep. Just like that.

And that’s kind of how everything has been. It seems like it should be harder to have two kids than it was to have one, but so far, it’s not. I am emotionally and psychologically in such a better place than I was 2 years ago. I was thrilled to have Eli home, and I was truly happy, but I was so burdened and scared that it doesn’t even compare to what I feel now. I am just so unbelievably happy to have both my boys. It’s kind of amazing really, this level of happiness. I’ve literally never been happier in my life.

In many ways, Will and Eli (in his first few days) are very much alike. They are/were both relatively low key, but passionate when hungry. Will is a bit gassier and more prone to crying when overtired, or at least from what I can remember from Eli’s first few days. They have/had comparable reflux (I apparently only produce boys with loose esophageal sphincters), but Will, like Eli, is so much happier than many of his refluxy peers. Oh, and they’re both adorable, though they really don’t look anything alike.

It’s just that their babyhood, at least the first week, could not be more different, and it’s not because of them. It’s because of me.

Being as happy as I am this time occasionally makes me feel a little guilty for Eli because I feel like he missed out on the mother I always wanted to be, the mother he deserved. I’m comforted that he won’t remember those early days and hope that this version, this happy, calm and grateful mom, is what they will both carry with them.

There is simply no person on this earth luckier than I am. And I know it.


Our Will

After what seemed like the most impossibly long 39 weeks and 6 days, our second son was born.

William Louis was born on Friday, August 15, 2014. He was 7 pounds, 7 ounces and 19.5 inches of baby sweetness. He has dark brown (possibly curly) hair, deep blue eyes that look likely to stay blue, his dad’s nose and my long fingers and toes. He is named for my maternal grandfather who passed away in June (his name was Bill, but he was named for his father, who was William) and my husband’s maternal grandfather, Louis.

will 1

(I’m going to type out a shortish version of his birth story now, so if that’s not your thing, you may want to stop now or just scroll to the pictures. Unless you don’t like baby pictures, in which case, you’ve come to the wrong blog.)

I saw my OB on Wednesday the 13th and was elated to learn that after a week of painful but inconsistent contractions, I had dilated to 4cm (from 1) and was 50% effaced (no change). She said the baby was looooow and that with a membrane sweep, I had a high probability of going into labor in the next few days, so I happily agreed to it. She also said that if he didn’t come on his own, she would induce on Tuesday because of how far we live from the hospital and how far dilated I was. I had rough contractions all afternoon Wednesday, but they completely went away that evening. It was like deja vu since the exact same thing happened with Eli.

The next morning I woke up feeling rough. I hadn’t slept well, I was tired and just kind of all over miserable. I dropped Eli off at preschool, came home and soaked in the tub, then napped for a few hours. I woke up feeling better but not good. At around 5pm I started to notice some regularity with the contractions- they were about every 10 minutes- but were tolerable. By 8 they were every 8 minutes and hurting. I got Eli down to bed and called my sister. I told her that I fully expected this to be a false alarm but that it would be better to have her there in case we decided to go to the hospital.

And then I waited, ate some cake and kept timing. Sure enough, the contractions were getting closer and stronger. Since I was already 4cm and live 45 minutes from the hospital, my OB said to come in earlier rather than later, so at 11 on Thursday night, we headed out. The contractions seriously picked up in the car and it was feeling much less like a false alarm.

I got checked in at midnight and sent to a waiting room. Not like a nice quiet space where I could focus on not screaming in pain, but the regular L&D waiting room, which currently held 10 members of someone’s family. Apparently none of these people had ever been in labor because despite my obvious pain, they would not stop trying to engage me in conversation. I will spare you the details but I declined gummy worms (TWICE) and refrained from answering the question “what are you most looking forward to about not being pregnant” with “never seeing you guys again.” It was my own private circle of hell.

At 1:15 I made it to triage where I was still 4cm but now 80% effaced. They decided to let me labor for an hour then recheck. I’m pretty sure thats when I hit active labor. The contractions came hard every 3 minutes. After an hour, I was 6cm and got admitted. From there, I basically counted the seconds until the very handsome anesthesiologist came to make everything better. I think the epidural process started around 3:30 and shortly thereafter, things fell apart.

The anesthesiologist got the epidural on the first try, but it took a solid 15 minutes for it to get to the right side of my belly. It did eventually work and the pain relief was absolute bliss. After 10 minutes, I started to notice that Will’s heart rate was dipping on and off on the monitor, which was new. And then it just stopped. The nurse came in and started trying to find it again. First I rolled to my right side. Then to my left. She re-geled the monitor, moved it all around and…nothing. It was the longest few minutes of my entire life.

Soon the room was full of nurses and an OB who quickly broke my water and put a scalp monitor on Will, whose heart rate picked up again. I was given something to raise my blood pressure (even though it was still in my normal range) several times to help keep things where they needed to be. I also got oxygen, which had to stay on for the rest of labor. It was a total frenzy of stress and it was terrifying, but by around 5, things had settled down.

I was able to sleep from 5:30-7, which was glorious (I love epidurals so much). At 7 I woke up to more heart rate decelerations from Will, this time with each contraction. Finally, at around 8, it was decided that we couldn’t let me labor down anymore (I was fully dilated and had been for a while) and we needed to push or do a c-section.

They lowered my epidural (at my request) and we started pushing. After 10 minutes I wasn’t making progress despite good pushing (cervical lips will forever be my pushing downfall), so they got the vacuum set up. Basically we could only safely give him one more contraction with the decelerations before he had to come out. Thankfully and inexplicably, his heart rate stayed stable through the next 2 contractions and by that point he was nearly out, so they put the vacuum away (thank God).

At 8:37am, Will quietly entered our lives. He did wonderfully well once he was out, which was a huge relief. He is a born breastfeeder (more, probably too much more, on this later) and looks just like his dad. He loves to be snuggled and to eat for 2-3 hours at a time.

will 3

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We came home Saturday night and are doing well. Eli has been…adjusting. I have video and pictures of his reaction, but those are for another time and he’s already so much happier.

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We are so thrilled to have our two boys home and thriving. I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated everyone’s support and love. We are immeasurably blessed and so very grateful. There are many more adventures to come.

Trolling for Safety

Earlier this week, a post popped up on a Facebook group I belong to for child passenger safety technicians. The tech who shared the link was concerned because the post was a review of a car seat, which showed a car seat being used entirely incorrectly. The straps were positioned wrong, the chest clip was too low and worst of all, a child who could not be more than 6 months old was pictured forward facing in the seat. The review itself mostly skirted by discussing anything of substance and instead was largely focused on how pretty the colors were.

I was alarmed on a few levels. I knew that if that child was in that seat, as pictured, and in a crash, she would likely be severely injured, if not killed. It doesn’t matter how many safety features are built into a car seat, if you use it against the manual and against the law and all safety recommendations, it’s useless. I was also frustrated because I think that reviews like that make parents look stupid. I may be a car safety nut, but every parent I know cares more about how long their child will fit in a seat, how it will fit in their car, if it’s relatively straightforward to use, etc., rather than what colors it comes in. But this second issue is beside the point.

After several of us (politely) expressed our concerns to the car seat company, the review was pulled and pictures were retaken with the child rear facing. The straps were still wrong and the review at no point acknowledged that the previous picture were misleading. In fact, in the comments, the poster was endorsing forward facing children at 1 and 20 pounds, which absolutely everyone in the car seat world agrees is entirely unsafe.

Once again, some CPSTs reached out to the poster in the comments of the post. I was one of them and I can tell you that my comment was 100% polite and simply trying to explain why recommending 1 and 20 pounds was not a good idea. As she had told another CPST to “do some research” I included a few links that would be useful for her and other parents interested in the seat and in car seat safety. Not only did my comment not get published, but I’ve been blocked from the website. This blogger wants parents to do research but doesn’t want any research to be shared?

Honestly, this is part of a bigger issue I’m personally struggling with. This person is calling me a “troll” because I want to help keep children safe by providing research. My only goal in sharing what I’ve learned about car seats is to keep children safe. I have no ulterior motive. I don’t think I’m a better parent. I really just want to help change the fact that car collisions are the #1 killer of children and that 75% of car seats are being used incorrectly. I’m not afraid to be blocked by people over this, I just wish there was a better way.

How do we incite change without being blocked and being called trolls? How can we teach parents what’s best if any attempt to do so is seen as a personal affront? I’m genuinely asking because I don’t even know anymore. We have a major issue with car seat safety in this country and it seems to be more difficult than ever to help parents learn how to keep their children safe in the car.

I'm Katie, a 30-year-old, wife, mom, former teacher-turned PT, who also had brain surgery in November of 2007. This blog chronicles my daily life, from mundane to crazy, often with far too much detail. Sit down, get comfortable and stay for a while.
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