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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Best Worst Year of My Life




Dear Sabrina,


Today, my love, you turn one.  Where the last 365 days have gone is a mystery to me.  The seconds started flying by the minute you were born.  From the minute I heard you cry, strapped to the surgical table in the OR, you had my heart.  There have been some bumps along our journey together, but never once did they make me doubt my love for you.  

Someday, you will hopefully become a mommy yourself.  And I will long since have forgotten the struggles and the hardships of those first 365 days of motherhood, so I am writing this to you so that you will not feel alone.  I will be there for you in every way I can, but time heals all wounds, and I will have moved on from these memories to those of you growing up, blossoming into a young woman and beyond.  But I need for you to know, to understand, to have a record of what I felt like being your mommy, and what you will likely feel being a mommy yourself.

You will feel the highest highs and the lowest lows in those first 365 days.  The most joyful moment I think I've ever felt was hearing your cry for the first time.  You were real, you were here, you were all ours.  Those first days, I felt like I was in a dream.  You were perfect.  But then the crash happened.  We went home.  You cried.  A lot.  You hurt me breastfeeding... badly.  And things started to unravel.  I cried, every single day, sometimes for hours at a time.  I felt like a failure, like you deserved a better mother.  Those were some of the hardest, darkest days of my life.  I hope, my love, that you never feel anything even close to what I felt.  But in the event that you do, know that mommy went through it with you, and while it was harder than I ever imagined, I made it, and so will you.

Being a mom is hard at any and every point in a child's life, but that first year is especially difficult.  You used to cry and cry, especially in the evening, and there was no way for daddy and I to know what you wanted.  We would take turns holding you, walking you around the house, praying that the hardwood floors wouldn't creak too much.  Praying that the dog wouldn't suddenly see a cat and bark her head off.  Praying that you would find some way to comfort yourself since we rarely seemed to be able to comfort you.  Some nights daddy and I would have to wake each other up for help because you just wouldn't settle down.  We prayed for some relief, for some kind of magic to calm you down.  Patience and time was all that seemed to work.  Sometimes you will be at your wit's end with your own little one, having no idea what to do.  In those moments, remember that mommy went through it too, and that sometimes taking a deep breath and having a good cry can help release tension.  Singing helps too.  

Remember to have fun in those first 365 days, especially those early ones.  I will always feel like I wished our early days together away, because I felt so utterly depressed, so tired, so alone in so many ways.  I look back on that with such regret in my heart.  You were and are such a gift to me, my sweet baby girl, and I wish I had enjoyed you more in your first days of life.  You spent 9 months growing inside of me, yet when you were born you were a stranger in so many ways.  If your little one's first days are difficult, don't beat yourself up sweetheart.  You didn't come with instructions either.  

Finally, my love, don't be too hard on yourself.  Being a first time mom is a HUGE adjustment, one that cannot be overestimated.  Change is hard, even good change.  Be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to adjust to being a mommy.  Someone else depends on you for EVERYTHING now.  It is a huge, scary, awesome responsibility.  Cut yourself some slack, ask for help, remember to do things for yourself too.  YOU matter too.

Sabrina, the joy that you have brought to our lives this past year is immeasurable.  Your smile, your giggle, your babbling, the way you walk through the room like a bull in a china shop...  You have a way of making everyone around you happy.  You have made me a better person.  You have challenged me to have patience, to let go of my perfectionist ways, and to just go with the flow and enjoy life as it comes.  My world, our world, is so much better because you are in it.  I will spend every moment of the rest of my life trying to give you everything, trying to teach you everything I can, trying to make you as happy as you've made me.  Never ever will you know how much I love you, until the day when you have your own little one.  Maybe then you can understand the deep, overpowering, dizzying love that I feel for you with every breath I take.  

To quote our favorite song, one that I've sung to you probably a hundred times in your short life, "I love you in the morning, and in the afternoon, I love you in the evening, underneath the moon..."

All my love, ALWAYS,
Mommy

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ebola: Okay, Now I'm Worried.


Photo from http://kadvacorp.com/mind-of-manwoman/ebola-virus-disease-information/ 

I consider myself to be a generally level headed person.  As a new mother, I was concerned but didn't call the doctor daily or weekly when my baby got the sniffles or was miserable.  I am not a hypochondriac and tend to roll my eyes when people freak out over the virus of the moment.

But Ebola.  Seriously.  I am starting to get concerned.  Well, more than starting to actually.  I am concerned.  

I was concerned upon reading about the epidemic in West Africa.  I seek to be educated on current events, so I made sure to read articles from reputable news organizations.  At the time, though slightly concerned, I was able to comfort myself by saying that the virus was limited to West Africa, and I had no plans to travel to that part of the world ever, let alone anytime soon.  I was increasingly concerned when the missionaries infected in Africa were brought back to the US for treatment.  That was bringing the virus onto American soil.  But I tried to think with compassion and reason.  I would want the same opportunity if that were one of my loved ones.  The CDC is trained to handle the worst of epidemics, so surely they wouldn't allow them to enter the US without believing that the virus could be contained while still treating the individual.  The missionaries got well.  Both of them, at least that I am aware of.  My level of concern actually decreased at that point.  It was a noble effort to treat them and I'm sure their families were eternally grateful.  It was a happy ending for all.

Then one afternoon, at home with my family, a tweet from NBC News caused my stomach to churn.  Someone in the US had tested positive for Ebola.  Not a US Citizen, but someone visiting family in the Dallas area.  Right, wrong, or indifferent, my first reaction was "Who the heck let that guy into the US?!"  I desperately try to avoid political discussions.  I am not apathetic, I just believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I do not seek to sway others to think the same way I do.  But in the middle of a global epidemic, located in one area of the globe, how were we not taking precautions with individuals traveling from those areas?  I'd read the articles, the ones that said that the US, and the world for that matter, wasn't taking the Ebola threat seriously enough.  I hoped it was just the media sensationalizing a story to get ratings.  Clearly, that wasn't the case.  Clearly they were right, we were not taking it seriously, and now here it was, on our soil, in our hospitals.

I knew the guy was going to die.  I just did.  I can't explain it, I just had a gut feeling, and unfortunately that gut feeling came to pass last week.  Someone died from Ebola.  In our country.  I am sure that there will be steep penalties to pay for the hospital administration that allowed the patient to go back into the public and potentially infect dozens more individuals than if it had been caught earlier.  I am not a nurse or a doctor, but I do not understand how a patient says that they have been Africa, comes in with flu-like symptoms and a temperature of 103, and is told to go home and take Tylenol.  I just do not get it.  I am not judging those workers or that hospital, because I think the US as a whole is inadequately prepared to deal with Ebola.  I think that same situation could have happened at scores of other hospitals across the country.  I do not blame Dallas.

And then yesterday, it happened again.  Another blip of social media told me that another person had tested positive for Ebola, a woman who had cared for Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas.  My heart sank.  Weren't there precautions taken?  How did this happen?  Was it someone who cared for him in the Emergency Department, before he was diagnosed? It doesn't sound like it.  From what I've read so far, this woman wasn't even one being monitored for potentially being exposed.  The CDC has said that there was a "breach in protocol".  Obviously.  I don't care for that wording at all- it makes it sound like it's the nurse's fault that she got Ebola, when in reality she was just doing her job, a job that entailed a great deal of risk.  The nursing assistant in Spain that contracted Ebola from one of her patient's said she may have brushed her face with her glove.  Probably something that took mere seconds to occur, yet it changed her life and so many others for good.  These are humans that are caring for these patients.  They are not perfect or infallible.  I work in a hospital.  Not directly in patient care, thankfully, but I do interact with patient care staff on a regular basis.  These nurses and nursing assistants have incredibly hard jobs on any given day, but I feel as though caring for patients with Ebola is a task that is asking them to go above and beyond.  Those individuals see the scariest of sights, probably think the scariest of thoughts, and yet have to go to work and do what is asked of them if they want a paycheck. If it was me, and I was in Dallas as a healthcare worker?  I'd be seriously considering quitting my job and working at Target or one of the many other retailers looking to hire seasonal workers.  I'm sure I'm not alone.

There is no simple solution to this crisis, and I certainly am not blogging about this topic because I have any answers.  The honest truth is I am scared.  Scared for those in Dallas, scared that this horrible virus is just a plane ride or car ride away, scared that we won't be able to get this under control before many more lives are lost.  My younger brother is a nurse, thankfully currently in school to be a CRNA.  But before that, guess where he worked? The Emergency Room.  He would have been on the front lines of patient care in the moderately large city of Pittsburgh.  Is it so out of the question that Ebola could end up there, or even where I live now in small town New York State?  I think we all have to face the fact that nothing is really out of the question anymore.  

I am not suggesting we live in fear.  Rather, I am begging the population to educate themselves about the Ebola virus.  I am asking that the government seriously consider alternative options to allowing those traveling from West Africa to enter the US, particularly if they are not a citizen.  I do not say this to seek to punish anyone from that region of the world, not at all in fact.  But we have to take precautions, ones that probably should have been taken in the past.  We have to protect our citizens, especially the elderly and the young, who would not have the strength to fight this deadly virus.  On behalf of my nearly 1 year old daughter, I beg someone to take a stand, to not worry about politics or poll numbers, and do what is right.  Come together and find a way to protect US Citizens.  If that means turning away flights from the affected regions or coming up with an alternative way of having those individuals safely enter the US, then so be it.  It may not be politically correct or convenient, but I think the time has already passed to do something that some may consider drastic.  It doesn't mean it's forever, just long enough that there can be some reasonable sense of safety and security that the bulk of the threat has subsided.

Finally, I sincerely hope that hospitals will wake up to the reality of Ebola on US soil and take the time to train their staff on how to treat these most critical and contagious patients.  How to treat them with dignity and compassion, but also how to treat them so that they do not put themselves or others at risk of contracting Ebola from a "breach of protocol" as the CDC so delicately put it.  If we were in their shoes, could we say with 100% certainty that we would not make a mistake, something as simple as touching our gloved hand to our face?  I don't think so.

Please, speak up.  It is up to us to demand some form of action and prevention.  Our healthcare workers deserve it, our children deserve it, we all deserve it.  God bless those affected and their families, and I hope we can all stop worrying about all of this very, very soon.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Why I'm In No Hurry for Baby #2



My daughter is nearly 1 year old now.  She is the light of my life and I could never fully explain the joy that she brings me.  I am happily planning her first birthday party, enjoying this new phase of her being more independent, more toddler like.

But guess what?  I'm exhausted.  Not like "lack of sleep" exhausted (things have been getting better in that regard), but rather exhausted from the busyness of life with a 1 year old.  In addition to my mommy responsibilities, I work full time, which mostly entails me running from one meeting to another, sometimes in a different building altogether, answering endless emails, and just generally running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  

So when people ask me "So when are you guys having another one?" I do my best not to either laugh hysterically or smack them in the back of the head (a la Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS).  Do not get me wrong, I want to have another child.  My husband would do it tomorrow if I were on board.  But quite honestly,  I'm just not there yet.

There are many reasons why I'm in no hurry for Baby # 2.  Baby # 2 for me is child # 3 for our family, since Chris has a 15 year old daughter from his first marriage.  As I've written about before, life with a teenager and a toddler has its challenges.  Chris's daughter is with us full time now, so that means we are responsible for most of the transportation that goes along with having an involved, intelligent, responsible teenage daughter.  Swim practice every day, religious education every Sunday, outings with friends, high school football games, swim meets... The list goes on and on.  Factor into this equation having a toddler, one who gets cranky in the late afternoon and goes to bed by 6:30 every night like clockwork.  Bedtime every night is a three ring circus of my husband and myself giving her a bath, drying her, brushing and combing her hair, putting her PJ's on, and finally putting her in her sleep sack, all the while trying to keep her shrieking to a minimum (bath time is okay, everything else is torture) and praying that she will lay on the changing table long enough to get her diaper on before she starts flipping over, grabbing for us to hold her, etc.  By the time she goes into her crib at 6:30, we are exhausted!

Selfishly on my part, I also want more time with just my Sabrina.  I want to shower her with love and attention and let her continue to be the center of my world.  She is getting to such a fun age, one where we can really start doing things with her more, taking her places and allowing her to begin to explore the world beyond her house and her Nana's.  We plan to take her to Disney World next October, when she will be almost 2, which I am absolutely ecstatic about and cannot wait for.  I want to give her that time, with just us and her grandparents, to feel like she is the center of it all.. because she is!

Recently Buckingham Palace announced that Duchess Kate is expecting again.  Kate and I were pregnant at the same time for our first pregnancies; Prince Georgie was born in July, Sabrina in November.  It was really neat to watch her pregnancy unfold in the press, all the while my own pregnancy was unfolding.  But when I heard that she was pregnant again, my knee jerk reaction was "What was she thinking?!"  Then I remembered that she is a Duchess, has a staff likely at her disposal, although I do think she is a very involved mother to her son.. and then I realized why she would want to do it all again so soon.

Kate, you and I differ on this one.  I am so eternally grateful to have my daughter, to be a mother, and I can't imagine my life without her.  But I am not yet ready to do it all again. I did not love being pregnant the first time, and I anticipate that would not change with pregnancy number 2.  And I didn't even have morning sickness!  But the constant exhaustion, the GI issues, the shortness of breath, the muscle weakness...  While some people glow and love every minute of it, for me it was a means to an end.  (A wonderful, lively, smart, strong-willed end that I love with all my heart.)

But more than any of that, I am terrified of having postpartum depression again.  I haven't yet researched statistics on the re-occurrence of postpartum depression with baby # 2 when the mother had it with baby # 1.  I don't want to know, quite honestly.  I am so scared that I will bring another life into this world, and spend the first months of his or her life falling down the rabbit hole of depression yet again.  Because this time, I wouldn't only be affecting one child, but two.  It was hard enough to get through the first time, but I can't even imagine how hard it would be with two children to care for instead of one.

One thing I know for sure, that I'm sure people will judge me for, is that I will not even attempt breastfeeding with baby # 2, whenever the time comes.  I can't do it again.  I can't face the pain, the exhaustion, the uncertainty, the waiting...  I can't face hooking myself up to a breast pump, I can't face taking on the sole responsibility of providing food for my child.  I just can't do it.  I don't think breastfeeding caused my postpartum depression, but I think it sure as heck didn't help anything.  I was exhausted, beating myself up for my lack of success with breastfeeding, my baby was miserable and hungry... it just was a recipe for disaster.  I can't put myself in a potentially harmful situation again.  While I agree that breastfeeding is absolutely best, for me it's just not worth the risks.

So I'm going to take my time and enjoy life with my darling daughter for awhile longer, before we give her a brother or sister to love.  (And fight with.)  I know that when the time is right, Baby # 2 will come into our world and we won't remember what life was like without them.  I look forward to that day, but for now, I'm happy with life the way it is.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The 10 Baby Products I Could Not Live Without!





As a mommy to be, my husband and I spent hours wandering the aisles of Babies R Us, Target, and Burlington, trying to select only the best items for our registry for our baby girl. Once she arrived, reality set in. So much of that registry I wouldn't use, or not anytime soon at least. Yet so many of the things I really needed I didn't necessarily have.

So I decided to put together my own personal Top 10 list of the baby products that I found I truly couldn't live without. Whether you are expecting, know someone who is, or need ideas for a gift, I hope this list helps you as you wade through the endless baby items that the little one may or may not actually need. So put back that wipe warmer, and read on!




10. Avent BPA Free Freeflow Pacifier

Starting the list off with one of the basics. The bink. Oh how I love the bink, and oh how I stressed over giving Sabrina the stupid thing early in her life. I made it a whopping one night home before shoving the Avent Soothie in her mouth, praying for calm to wash over her. Newsflash- it didn't. Luckily we registered for multiple kinds of binks, and the Freeflow Pacifier did the trick. Sabrina didn't love it from the start, but she sure does love it now, and so does mommy and daddy. (Stay tuned for a future blog post about our woes of Sabrina giving up her bink...)




9. Graco DuoDiner High Chair
We are a Graco family. Sabrina's stroller and infant car seat were Graco, along with our pack and play and many other items. We wanted to have Sabrina sit with us at the dinner table, since we do sit at the table and eat as a family most nights, but we needed a 5 point harness and a reclining high chair initially, since she was still too small to sit up without support. This high chair more than fits the bill. She was comfortable in it from 3 months old when we started using it, and she continues to be comfortable (if inconvenienced by being restrained) at 10 months. It has several heights as well, so it will grow with her. 



8. Angelcare Baby Bath Support Seat

I was and still am horribly terrified of giving Sabrina a bath. All I can hear in my head is "Babies can drown in just a few inches of water!". Geez, nothing like traumatizing us new moms (and dads). Were it not for this bath seat, I probably still would never have given her a bath myself. The Angelcare Baby Bath Support Seat does just that- supports. From the age of 2 weeks, and still today, she has used this seat for every bath she's taken. It has a fill line so you know how full you want the tub to be, and it's design does not retain hardly any of the bath water. But most importantly, Sabrina is safe and comfortable and enjoys her baths, and I am marginally less anxious because of that.




7. The Woombie

We didn't use this product for long, but it was the best money we have ever spent. If you've followed my blog, you know that we had a terrible time getting Sabrina to sleep flat, in a pack and play, crib, or anywhere else. After sleeping in her rock and play for the first 4 or 5 months of her life, she wanted to part of laying flat in her crib. She also hated, I mean HATED, to be swaddled. Thankfully my husband does his research, and found the Woombie online. It gave the feeling of being swaddled while still allowing her limited movement of her arms and legs. (as my mom called it, a strait-jacket) It also has an arms in option as well as an arms out option, for once they begin to start rolling over in their sleep. This product got her sleeping in her crib, after some pain and suffering on everyone's part. When baby #2 comes along for me and my hubby, Woombie's in every size will be on order.






6. Fisher Price Discover 'n Grow Twinkling Lights Mobile


I have a confession to make. The minute Sabrina could stand on her own, I heard others' cries of "Take down the mobile!". Guess what? I haven't yet. It is not the old fashioned mobile with actual string so I don't feel she is at risk for strangling herself. She absolutely loves this thing. The best part is, when she wakes up in the middle of the night or I put her to bed and she isn't ready to sleep yet, she presses that magical red button and the lights start dancing and singing to her. It does a great job of soothing her or distracting her when she needs to calm down. One negative to this product- it has a remote that you as the parent can allegedly use to turn it on from outside the baby's room, but that's a bunch of bologna. We never got it to work via the remote. Still worth it though.




5. Fisher Price Rock and Play (Honorable Mention: Fisher Price Cradle and Swing)

Oh my love/hate relationship with the Fisher Price Rock and Play. Love because it gave us our first real decent nights of sleep after Sabrina's arrival. Love because it kept her head elevated to alleviate her acid reflux symptoms. Hate because she loved it to the point of literally outgrowing it but refusing to sleep elsewhere. So I add this to the list with a word of caution. Use it to help baby learn to sleep, to keep baby nearby, but don't don't don't let baby become too attached to it, or you will find yourself in the same predicament we did, and let me tell you, it ain't pretty!





4. Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Bottles (and Dishwasher Baskets!)

We originally registered for Tommy Tippee bottles because we thought I'd be breastfeeding and we wanted something that closely resembled the breast for when I was at work. Once we moved to formula, we just weren't happy with the TT bottles and opted to try Dr. Brown's, since everyone spoke highly of them. While the many parts were a little annoying, the dishwasher baskets made cleaning the bottles a breeze! Everything fits nicely into the basket and comes up spic and span every time. We had an issue with the smaller size bottles leaking once Sabrina started drinking 4 oz, so the company's customer service department replaced them all with the taller bottles. Tip to mothers to be- just register for the big size. You can fill them at little or as much as you need to and you won't have to buy all new ones when they start drinking more.





3. Britax Marathon Car Seat

Car accidents happen all too often, especially in these times of distracted driving. I did my homework about car seat safety, talked to some friends for recommendations, and decided that while the Britax brand is a little on the pricey side, it's worth every penny for my daughter's safety. She enjoys her seat (except on 6 hour trips to Pittsburgh) and often falls asleep in there, which tells this mommy that she is comfy and safe, a win win combination. Even better, she can stay in this seat until she is 49 inches or 65 pounds, so the investment will pay off in the end.





2. NoseFrida


I know, I know. The idea of sucking snot out of your child's nose is disgusting, appalling, horrific, whatever adjective you'd like to use. In theory, I absolutely agree. But I dare any parent of a stuffy baby to use this product and walk away with the same feelings of disgust as they arrived at. The truth is, while disgusting in principle, this product is actually genius. Bulb syringes are completely worthless. I don't think I ever once got anything substantial out of Sabrina's nose with that thing. I registered for the NoseFrida on a whim, mostly because it was in front of me and the packaging caught my eye. At the time, I don't think I realized what the product actually entailed. Fast forward to a November baby with nasal issues as a result of being in forced hot air all winter long, and you better believe we were sucking snot out of her nose like it was our job. The filter easily stops any nose goo from getting anywhere near your mouth, so you can stifle your gag reflex. At first she HATED it and screamed like we were murdering her, but eventually she got used to it and even would giggle a little. It really, really, really helps, and to my knowledge there is no other product out there that is anywhere near as effective. Combine it with saline spray and a good humidifier and your little one will thank you for it. And yes, I know, it still sounds disgusting.


The moment has come! My #1 Baby Product that I Couldn't Live Without!







1. ErgoBaby Original


I love this thing. I love it like it was a person. After struggling with that dang Moby wrap and it's 20 feet of fabric, on this tiny 5'3" frame, I was ready to scream. I watched videos, diagrams, talked to friends, and I still never got the hang of that Moby. I did some homework online and we splurged and purchased the ErgoBaby. I was intimidated by it at first, but I watched the how-to video on their website and practiced a lot with the hubby nearby to help. The Ergo made everything easier- walks, grocery shopping, trips to the mall, Target, you name it. She loved being snuggled close to mommy and would often fall asleep in it while I went about my business. Now that she's older, we don't get to use it as much, but do still use it grocery shopping. The Original Ergo does have a back position, so someday soon I will try to master that one. The Ergo was so comfortable to wear, never really bothered my back, and took all the weight off of my shoulders and back. I never used the infant insert, as Sabrina was past the weight limit when we got this, so I can't speak to that. If the MobyWrap isn't your thing, I highly suggest the Ergo. It was a life saver for me!

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall Recipe- Homemade Applesauce in the Slow Cooker

The family and I apple picking! Sabrina is enthralled with her apple.

It is no secret to anyone that knows me that I love love love Fall! I am no Domestic Goddess, but since having a family, I have tried to broaden my horizons and try new things. When I moved to New York State years ago, apple picking became something that I did every Fall. We may not have glitz or glamour here, but we have lots of apple orchards to choose from!

My husband loves applesauce and eats it with dinner most every night. So last year, after coming home with way too many apples from our picking adventure, I decided to try something that my sister-in-law recommended, making homemade applesauce in the crock pot. As a wonderful bonus this year, my little love Sabrina has taken a liking to my applesauce as well.

I will list my prep instructions here, but be warned that this isn't an exact science. As with many recipes, you can make many small tweaks based on your family's likes and dislikes and still end up with a great end result.




First, I peeled, cored, and cubed about a dozen apples, enough to fill my crock pot. I personally like to use different kinds of apples, as I think the different flavors compliment each other. This batch I used Honey Crisp and Cortland apples, mostly because that's what I had left from apple picking last weekend. Cube your apples to be generally the same size if you don't like your applesauce too chunky. It will cook more evenly if the apples are the same size.



Next, I added about a cup of brown sugar and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon. What I should have done was put half the apples in, then half the spices, and repeat, but live and learn. This is where you can get creative. I wanted to keep my applesauce simple since my 10 month old will be eating it and I don't want her to eat a lot of sugar. But you can add granulated sugar, ginger, apple pie spice, maybe some cloves (caution on using too much cloves, boy is that taste overpowering!).



Next, I added about a cup of water and stirred until well mixed.



Lastly, I turned the crock pot on low, put the lid on, and went about my other weekend chores. I checked back in after about 5 hours to see how my applesauce was progressing. I didn't do a great job at cubing my apples to the same size, so I was left with some larger pieces that I let cook closer to 6 hours. Also, you can use an immersion blender to do away with any leftover chunks.

And voila, with minimal effort, you have homemade applesauce to enjoy! Everything I've read on the web seems to say that you can freeze it, but that you should only enjoy it (once thawed) for a week and then toss it, likely due to the lack of preservatives in it.


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

More Than the Baby Blues

I have had the good fortune of working in the health care industry for almost 3 years now. Not as a clinician (lucky for the patients where I work) but as a trainer and now coordinator of the training for the users of our inpatient and outpatient electronic health records. I honestly love what I do. I get to work with some amazing caregivers and learn many things about the medical profession without having to surrpress my gag reflux at the sight of blood, vomit, or worse. I'm not a doctor (or a nurse) but I do play one on TV. 

I found myself on the other side of the computer when my daughter was born. Instead of training users to document on their patients, I was one of their patients. It was a different world, being in the hospital bed, my care up to the same people that I've trained on multiple occasions. It was a very good reality check for me, and it's something that had never left me. 

Today, while in a meeting with a workgroup of users of our outpatient medical record, someone handed me a piece of paper that stopped me dead in my tracks.  The top of the paper read "Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Screening".  Wait, what is this?!  How is it that I, someone who has worked in healthcare and patient documentation for 3 years and who herself has struggled with postpartum depression, did not know that this screening tool existed?  

I did my best to turn my attention back to the meeting, but as I left the room, my mind was reeling. I read the questions, all 10 of them, and I realized that my answers to each in the days after Sabrina was born would have definitely raised a red flag. Why had no one asked me those questions?  

But whose responsibility is it?  The nurses on the maternity floor?  My Obstetrician?  Someone else, perhaps a nurse following up on me via phone?  I couldn't come up with a clear answer. And therein lies the problem. It is up to everyone and no one to screen for postpartum depression. And so many times, as was the case with me, it gets overlooked. 

They talk to us about breastfeeding. They talk about jaundice. They make you sign forms and watch videos from the 1990s about Shaken Baby Syndrome. They bring you into the office to do an exam 6 weeks postnatal. They remove your stitches or in my case, your staples. They tend to your physical needs, but what about our emotional needs?  Who is tending to those?

Timing is a huge issue with screening for postpartum depression. I myself began to feel the effects of postpartum depression the day I went home from the hospital, when Sabrina was 3 days old. Is this the case for everyone?  Probably not. In my case, if the nurses on the maternity unit had given me this screening test, I likely would have passed. It hadn't hit me yet. For many women, you leave the hospital when your baby is just a few days old, and you aren't seen again for 6 or 8 weeks. By that point, you are already deep in the bowels of postpartum depression if you are symptomatic. I won't go as far as to say that it's too late, but early intervention and education is obviously a better course of treatment.

I was lucky enough to have a husband and family who intervened and forced me to see my OB about my depression issues. Let me start by saying that my OB is a fantastic doctor. The best. I had the absolute best care during my pregnancy and my c-section was quick and easy to recover from. But that day, in his office, all he could offer me was to either medicate or wait it out. In my current, stable frame of mind, I understand why he said that. Clinically those are your options. There's no magic pill that will "cure" you. But that day, in the middle of one of the darkest periods of my life, I felt hopeless. Was there nothing else that he, or any other doctor or medical care provider, could have offered me?  Resources for educating yourself on postpartum depression,  the number to call for a local therapist, even an alternative therapy such as a supplement or herb?  Nothing more than medicate or wait?

For me, that's not good enough. There is too much information available in today's connected world.  We have tablets and iPhones and watches that do far more than tell time. Yet all we can offer to new mothers in peril is medicine?  Nope, sorry. Give them names of books, reputable websites, support groups, moms groups, anything. Give them tools to handle their feelings so that there are no more Paula Yates's. Give them something, anything, because what you are really offering them is hope. Hope that this horrible dark cloud will pass over them soon. To hang in there, just a little longer. That this feeling isn't forever. 

It is time to expect more, to educate, to spread awareness. It is time to not be ashamed.  

Edinburgh Depression Screening- http://womensmentalhealth.org/quiz-are-you-suffering-from-postpartum-depression/ 

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Friday, September 19, 2014

What a Week It's Been...



Well, it's been a week.  A week of unexpected and unwelcome sadness.  A week of busyness, at work, at home, and everywhere in between.  It's been a week of a cranky 10 month old, who has turned into a toddler seemingly overnight.  Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore.

Earlier this week, I blogged about the evil beast that is Cancer.  I chose to do so after reading an article about pediatric cancer patients, also keeping in mind that September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.  At the time I had no idea that just mere hours later, the world would lose another beautiful, strong, wonderful woman to Cancer, my friend Kelly.  I have known Kelly and her family for many years now- I worked with Kelly's husband Dave at my previous job, and Kelly ended up working at the same hospital system where I work years later.  As happens all too often in life, our lives got busy.  Kelly and Dave were busy with their 2 daughters and 2 dogs.  We were busy with our new bundle of joy as well as work and traveling to and from Pittsburgh as often as we could.  Weeks, months, years passed by us in the blink of an eye.  Dave and I would message on Facebook or text periodically, but not nearly as often as we should have.  And then it happened.  Kelly got sick.  Again.  She had defeated the evil beast that is Cancer a decade prior.  But it was back... and this time with a vengeance.  The doctors tried to remove the cancer, but to no avail.  She started chemo, but it was so hard on her already weak body, and the cancer was just too aggressive.  I woke up Tuesday morning to find out that heaven had gained another angel, as her daughter put it.  I was devastated.  She was too damn young, and she had too much life to live.  Her family laid her to rest yesterday.  It was a beautiful fall day, sunny, cool, blue sky as far as the eye could see.  It was a fittingly beautiful day for laying a beautiful soul to rest.  I went to the viewing to pay my respects, and I felt as though I was in the twilight zone.  How was this even possible?  Her diagnosis had come just 2 short months ago.  It was too fast, too soon, and my heart broke for her family, her husband and her 2 daughters.

They say to live your life to the fullest.  To love like it's your last day on Earth.  Sentiments that are so true but that get lost in the minutiae our daily lives.  I found myself guilty of this, even in the midst of mourning my friend who was taken too soon.  I found myself stressing over work and meetings and deadlines and government regulations.  I found myself frustrated (yet amused) at my sweet 10 month old daughter who has now began demonstrating her independence, her willfulness, her defiance.  I found myself worrying over the stove top being a mess, or the fact that the bathrooms haven't been cleaned in a month.  I found myself hurt over an anonymous letter that we received in the mail, reprimanding us (me) for leaving small garden sized American flags on the driveway outside our garage.  And yet, at the very same time, my friend was mourning the loss of his wife, her daughters experiencing their first days without their mother.  How could I let myself think this way?  Why couldn't I train my brain to stop sweating the small stuff?

I read a blog article earlier this week, pleading with mothers to stop trying to be perfect.  Immediately I identified with the article.  I do strive to be perfect, in everything I do.  In being a mother, a wife, an employee, a daughter, and a human being.  I want my family to have only the best of me.  I want to be the best employee I can be, because I love my job and I am grateful for the opportunities I've been given.  The blog made so much sense, that it's impossible to be perfect all the time.  And yet, I still find myself stressing about house cleaning.  About cleaning out closets and finding the time to put out the fall clothes now that it's gotten chilly.  Did I completely miss the point of that article?  It's not that I missed the point, it's just that striving for perfection is who I am.  My takeaway from reading it was not to stop trying to be perfect, but to be kinder to myself on the days when perfection just isn't a reality.  And let's face it, with two parents working full time, a 15 year old, a 10 month old, and one wacky rescue doggie, the times for perfection are slim to none.  Hence the dirty stove top and messy bathrooms.  

So this weekend, as I always do, I am going to strive for perfection.  I am going to try my hardest to get those freaking bathrooms clean, to try to find a few minutes to scrub the stove.  But you know what else I'm going to do?  I'm going to go for walks with my family.  I'm going to go apple picking on Sunday, and I'm going to treat myself to ice cream sometime.  Because while I will always strive for perfection, some days I'm going to have to look for my perfection not in the cleanliness of my house, but in the smiles of my daughter, in the time spent with family.  If that isn't perfection, I don't know what is.

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Link to aforementioned blog post: Dear Mom Who's Trying to Do It All

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cancer Sucks

Having a bad day?  Follow the link below for some perspective.

What Pediatric Cancer Looks Like

Every 3 minutes a parent hears that their child has cancer.  Every.  Three.  Minutes.  I can't even comprehend that.  Reading some of those accounts from parents of their child's battle with cancer is enough to make your own problems seem pretty minimal.  It's also enough to make you sick to your stomach, with grief, with sadness, with fear.  

Let me start with this prayer: Please God, do not ever let that be me.  No parent ever wants to hear that their child has cancer.  No one ever wants to hear that they have cancer. Unless you've been in that situation, I'm sure you cannot even begin to describe the horror, the despair that you feel.  

The evil word is everywhere.  CANCER.  Reading that article made me aware of September being Pediatric Cancer Month.  September is also Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  Two very different types of cancer, different groups affected.  But all of those diagnosed are someone's child.  Whether their child is 5 or 50, no parent wants to hear that their child has cancer.  



Ovarian Cancer is an especially evil beast.  Its symptoms are commonly associated with other conditions, particularly for the age group most at risk.  Bloating, abdominal pain, problems with urination- all symptoms that could be completely unrelated to cancer.  But they also could be related.  Many women ignore the symptoms or attribute them to something else- menopause, irritable bowel syndrome, just general aging.  That's why Ovarian Cancer is known as the whispering cancer- it's symptoms don't speak loudly, they don't render you incapacitated.  They whisper to you that something is wrong.  As women, as natural caregivers, we put the needs of others before our own.  We explain away or rationalize our physical and emotional issues.  That is why ovarian cancer is often caught too late- because women are more worried about taking care of others than themselves, and when they do finally seek out help it is often too late. 60% of women diagnosed are already in Stage 3.

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, but accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. It is estimated that there will be about 15,000 deaths from ovarian cancer in the United States annually, a rate that has changed little in the last 50 years. It is estimated that about 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the United States annually.


Ovarian cancer has affected my family on a personal level.  About 10 years ago, my mom's cousin Patti received her diagnosis of Ovarian cancer.  She was a kind soul with a soft voice and a huge smile.  Patti and my mom were the same age, always sharing stories of their extended family vacations as kids.  My mom apparently even closed a car window on Patti once.  I can still hear them laughing about it.


Patti, at left in red, her sister Diane (behind), and her mom Flo
Patti's diagnosis hit us all hard.  She was so young, so full of life, such a happy, loved spirit.  How was it possible that she could have such an evil beast growing inside her?  Her diagnosis affected no one more than her own mother, my dear (great) Aunt Flo.  Aunt Flo, like Patti, is one of the kindest, sweetest, most loving individuals that you could ever hope to meet.  She was in her 80s at the time- can you imagine, living 80 or more years, burying your husband, only then to find out that your youngest child, your sweet daughter has cancer?  I saw my Aunt Flo struggle with the diagnosis, struggle to come to terms with what Patti was facing.  They were inseparable, Aunt Flo and Patti.  Trips to the mall, vacations, family meals, always together.  Patti's diagnosis was so unfair.  We all stood to lose so much.

Patti, her father Russ, and her sister Diane
And we did.  Patti lost her battle with Ovarian cancer in February of 2006.  I flew home for her funeral, and I remember it shattering me to my core.  She had become so frail, so unrecognizable, since I'd last seen her.  Her being the same age as my mother really was hard for me.  It could have just as easily been my mom, or anyone else's mom or sister or friend.  Cancer had taken so much from her, from our whole family.


Patti's picture in a mural collage for those affected by Ovarian Cancer
Patti's last months on this earth were good to her (if that's even possible).  She had met the love of her life, Jim, at work many years before.  Their friendship blossomed into more, and not long before her death, they were married.  Hospice made her comfortable, and I know that being married to her love was what she needed to finally go to God in peace.

Like others, Patti's symptoms were easy to attribute to other things.  If she'd been diagnosed sooner, could it have saved her, or at least given us more time with her?  It may not have made a difference, and obviously we will never know, but I know it has crossed the minds of those Patti left behind.

Every year, our family honor's Patti and her memory by walking in the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition's Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer.  We honor and pray for those diagnosed, who wear teal shirts.  We pray that they have a better outcome than Patti did.  We miss her, every Thanksgiving, every wedding, every family picnic, every day.  Our family has never been the same and never, ever will be.
Patti's Peeps 2013

My hubby Chris and I at the 2013 NOCC Walk 
Patti's Peeps 2014
I have used this blog to try to educate others on postpartum depression, to try to spread the word on seeking help.  Today, I am making the same plea, but to a different audience. Please, educate yourself on Ovarian Cancer.  It's symptoms, who is at risk, what to do if you experience symptoms.  It could be you, your wife, your mother, your sister, or your friend. The more we educate, the less women will be lost to this evil beast.

We miss you, Patti.  Thanks for the cherry salad.  <3


Thursday, September 11, 2014

When the World Stopped Turning




It is the "where were you when JFK was shot?" of my generation. One of the scariest, most truly unbelievable days that will occur during my lifetime. It happened during time of change, of learning in my life. On September 11, 2001 I was a few weeks into my freshman year of college. My world had completely changed. I went from a high school senior to a college freshman, living on my own for the first time in my life. I was still feeling college out, trying to find my place among the other undergrads at Duquesne University, a private Catholic college in downtown Pittsburgh. 

I was on my way to class, when I stopped at a friend's dorm room, so that we could walk to our class together. He told me that a plane hit the World Trade Center. What a horrible accident, I immediately thought. Never once in my naive mind did I consider terrorism. I don't think I fully understood what that even was. I had never heard of Osama Bin Laden or Al Qaeda. We made our way to class and found our professor, a man of the Jewish faith with ties to New York City, in tears. He had family in the WTC, and a second plane had just hit. He cancelled class in a daze. So there we sat, a class full of 18 year old college students, sitting speechless in a room, trying to process what was happening. 

I went back to my dorm to watch the news footage, and was met with the information that all of our dorms were being evacuated. Evacuated. The word still lingers on my tongue. Why in the world would they be evacuating dormitories at a private college in Pittsburgh?  Because they were all many stories tall, that's why. We were herded to academic walk, to wait outside until the evacuation was cleared. They brought out free food, wheeled out a TV so we could watch the news coverage. Some people went home to their parents or to other family members. Others, like me, stuck it out. I couldn't get a consistent cell phone signal to reach my family anyway. 

The irony of the beauty of that day, the bright blue sky and late summer sun, was painfully evident during those hours of waiting. On a normal day, students would be seen sitting on benches, highlighting textbooks or chatting with a friend.  But that day. there was none of that. The mood was somber, hearts were heavy. Being a Catholic college, many students made their way to the chapel to spend time in thoughtful prayer. 

Eventually the evacuation was lifted. We filed back to our dorm rooms, in a stunned daze. It sunk in that Shanksville was hit, only an hour or so away from Pittsburgh. Did that plane fly over Duquesne that day?  I felt as though I had been in danger. That we all had been in danger. 

I remember going to bed that night, and looking out my dorm room window and seeing the skyscrapers of downtown Pittsburgh. I remember praying that those buildings would all still be there when I woke up the next day. 

I cannot believe it's been 13 years since that day. The wounds are so raw that I feel like it could have happened yesterday. I remember how I felt so strongly, so vividly.  And now, 13 years later, I have a daughter. This is my first September 11 as a mother. What happened that day scares me on a far more profound level than it ever has before. I don't ever ever ever want my daughter to feel the fear that I felt that day. I don't want terrorism or Al Qaeda or ISIS to ever cross her mind. I want her to live a happy, carefree, joyful life without moments of sadness or fear. All of those lost were someone's sons and daughters, just as Sabrina is my daughter. They did not deserve to lose their lives that day. Their loved ones do not deserve carrying the burden of that loss around for the rest of their lives. 

My most profound and most humble prayer today is for the families of those lost. It is my firm belief that the victims are enjoying eternity in paradise now, and unfortunately their families are still living their hell on earth, forever mourning their loss. I pray that they know in their hearts that they will be reunited loved ones one day, and I hope they can find some type of peace until then. 

God bless the victims, the families, the responders, the search and rescue teams, the police and fire companies who risked and gave their lives for others.  And as always, God Bless America. 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Glass Houses and Stones



For those that may have noticed, I've been offline from the blogging world for a few days now. The fam and I took a weekend trip to my parents in Pittsburgh. We of course had a great time, taking Sabrina to our local apple orchard for the first time and hubby and I going to our third consecutive Steelers home opener. Best of all, we got to spend time with my parents and my brother. Time with family is so important, especially when you don't live near your loved ones. 

I witnessed something while I was at home that really got me thinking. My family and I were in church on Sunday, and a family that attends the same mass as us was sitting a little ways in front of us. They have a daughter and a son, both young, I'd say maybe 6 and 3 or so.  The boy, the younger of the two, was misbehaving a bit, not wanting to sit down when his mother asked him to.  So the mother, in a moment of anger and frustration, grabbed his arm, gave him one good smack to the behind, and forcibly sat him in the pew.  This of course caused the little boy to cry and wail, but he did stay seated.  My first reaction was one of judgement.  Why did she need to spank him?  He wasn't causing a scene, he just wasn't sitting when asked.  I personally am not in favor of any type of spanking.  I don't think it serves any purpose other than making your child embarrassed and potentially fearful of you as their parent, as the person in their life that is their lifeline, who they depend on for everything.  I feel there are more effective ways to deal with discipline.

But then, I examined my own conscience a bit more.  Could I really say with 100% certainty that I would never ever do that?  I would say that most parents spank their kids not in their right mind, not in a moment of zen, but in a moment of utter frustration.  I myself have been known to have a temper.  I worked with 2 year olds in daycare for a number of years, and I found myself frustrated with them often.  It comes with the territory of the age.  They are pushing boundaries, testing limits.  It is part of their development, whether their parents like it or not.  

With spanking, I find it easier to draw a line in the sand and say I will not do that.  And I hope that's the truth.  Growing up, I don't ever remember being spanked.  I do remember, however, my mom giving us a good grab of the arm and speaking to us through gritted teeth.  You KNEW when you were in trouble with her, but spanking was not necessary for that.  But what about yelling at your children?  Is that acceptable?  I don't mean "scolding" or "redirecting", I mean all out yelling.  For me, the line gets a lot grayer here.  Again, in my right mind, I hope to never YELL at my children.  I hope to speak firmly and sternly, but not lose control of myself or my words.  But it is very easy to say that when you are not in the middle of a frustrating situation.  

So what can I do, what can we all do as parents to avoid those situations that we do not want to happen, but that can so easily happen when we lose control of our emotions?  As the consummate planner in life, I would say having a plan for dealing with those situations is key.  This WILL happen to you, so it is essential to recognize that in order to effectively deal with it.  In addition, you and your spouse/co-parent/partner should discuss discipline and your thoughts and feelings on the subject.  If one parent is in favor of time outs, but another parent is in favor of spanking when deemed necessary, that it going to lead to issues down the road.  Everyone is entitled to their feelings, but an agreement should be made on how to handle behavior issues as a team.  Perhaps good cop bad cop works for some, while time outs work for others.  Whatever your solution, make a plan, and try to stick to it.

But, that moment will come when you lose your cool.  Maybe in a big way, maybe in a small way.  So then what?  I would say to try to walk away, remove yourself from the situation, let the other parent do the heavy lifting until you have calmed down.  And then, if you have done something that is tugging at your conscience, if you have hurt your little one's feelings or if you handled the situation poorly, own up to it.  Apologize, talk about what happened, on an age appropriate level.  As parents, we so often try to be perfect in the eyes of our children, but sometimes admitting our imperfections can make a bigger impact than the mirage of perfection.

My husband and I are in for a challenge when our daughter heads towards those terrible twos.  She is already fiercely independent and opinionated.. strong willed...  STUBBORN!  So I imagine I will need to give myself many time outs to deal with discipline issues.  But that's okay.  We are all human, we are imperfect beings.  We love our children, and we want what is best for them.  Admitting our weaknesses and knowing how to deal with them makes us strong, loving parents.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

But I'm Mommy...

The look of a mother's love...


I am one of the lucky ones. My little one is able to go to her Nana and Poppop's everyday instead of having to go to daycare. As a bonus, my hubby and I basically live in their backyard, so picking up and dropping off is very simple and convenient. To add icing to that cake, we work about 5 minutes from our house, so we are able to go home almost everyday at lunch to see her. 

Today I had a very short lunch, as I was coming from one meeting and on my way to the next. But I figured I'd still go see Sabrina, even if it was only for 20 minutes. We snuggled and were playing, and next thing I know, she was sitting at her Nana's feet, reaching for her. I then stooped to a new low by trying to bribe her with her bink to come back over to me. She giggled and sat at her Nana's feet. I distracted her again with a couple toys, and as the time was nearing for me to leave, she again crawled to her Nana and wanted to be held. I tried to pretend I didn't care, tried to act like it didn't bother me. I went back to work with a heavy heart. I know she spends all day with her Nana and I love that she loves her, but I'm mommy...  Why didn't she want me?

In her (my) defense, she was tired and ready for a nap. Nana usually puts her down for her naps. So it was totally logical for her to want Nana.  Right?  So why did I feel so rejected, so sad?

I tried to take a step back from my emotion, from my sadness, to look at it objectively. And then I realized that, even though it is perfectly normal for me to feel sad, I should also be happy and proud of my baby girl. I am a woman who is proud of her independence, and at the same time proud to have wonderful people in my life who I can depend on, who I can trust. Isn't that exactly what my Sabrina was doing when she wanted her Nana?  She knows that I am her mommy, of that I am sure. But she feels comfortable enough in her own (9 month old) skin and environment to trust others, to give and get love from those around her. To use a cheesy phrase, she doesn't put all her eggs in one basket. 

The emotional rollercoaster of being a mother is something that I struggle to deal with. I am doing my best to cope with the emotions, but I find myself reacting not only to my own emotions but to those of other mothers. Today my Facebook News Feed was full of first day of school pictures, many of the kids off to their first day of Preschool or Kindergarten. I have to admit, I had tears well up in my eyes several times seeing those special moments captured, knowing how happy yet sad all of those mothers (and fathers) must be feeling.  While reading fellow blogger and my blogging inspiration Kate Baer recount her son's first day of preschool, I myself imagined being in Kate's shoes, a few short years from now.  Time goes so fast now that I'm a mom, so I know that the first day of school will come far sooner than I am ready for.

As mothers, we are ecstatic at the milestones and achievements of our children.  We celebrate first teeth and first steps and first everything else.  Every birthday, every first day of school, every holiday, we smile and take pictures and document all of the memories.  But behind those smiles, I know that with each step forward that our little ones take, that our hearts not only rejoice but are filled with nostalgia and a bit of sadness too.  Because we know that time moves at warp speed and these moments are so fleeting.  

So in my own way, I am standing in solidarity with Kate and all those other moms whose babies achieved a new milestone today, whether it be walking or talking or going to their first day of school.  I experienced my own version of what I called joyful melancholy in a previous post, the happiness and sadness that washes over us at the same instant.  It gives me great solace to know that I am not alone, and that many other mothers in the blogosphere are feeling those same things.

Cheers to another first, and moms, you're going to be okay. We're going to be okay.

To read Kate's blog, go to http://www.kbaer.com.  You won't be sorry.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Love More, Worry Less

Picture belongs to Alex and Ani; I am reposting for the quote!
Seriously, I am in love with the  #motivationnation quotes from Alex and Ani.  (as well as their awesome bracelets!)  This popped up on my Facebook news feed yesterday, and it's been on my mind ever since.  These quotes often seem timed perfectly to send me a message, to point out something that I might not otherwise see or think or feel.  

I am a worrier by nature.  I get it from my dad.  I can and do worry with the best of them.  About things big and small.  I swear it's part of my DNA, no matter how I try to unprogram myself... I still worry.  A lot.

I have a fantastic life, one that is by and large free of struggles.  I have a wonderful husband, a daughter who I cannot imagine my life without, a great stepdaughter, the best parents that anyone could ever want.  And yet I still find myself in a constant state of worry.  And so I started to think yesterday, after reading this quote, why is that?  Why do I let myself worry, when it really doesn't do any good in the first place?

The things that I worry about have changed dramatically since becoming a mother.  My daughter brings out a whole new level of worry in me.  Add that to the regularly scheduled worries that accompany me in life, and now I have a broad range of concerns going through my head at any given moment.

Here is a sampling of my current list of worries, in no particular order:

-We let Sabrina watch a little TV each day and play FisherPrice apps on my iPad occasionally.  Am I rotting my baby's brain with screen time?  Am I a bad mother?

-The dog's fall allergies are getting worse.  She keeps scratching open sores on her face.  But I don't think I'll have time to take her to the vet this week, with work and getting ready for going away for the weekend and everything else going on.  Am I a bad mother?

-We have a 6 hour round trip drive to Pittsburgh and back this weekend.  How will I occupy Sabrina's time in the car?  (see worry number 1 about too much screen time)

-Sabrina finally has two teeth!  Is it me or are they crooked?  Crap, she's gonna need braces.

-Did I get my husband enough gifts for his birthday next week?  Do I have any wrapping paper at home?

-I went and bought fall clothes at the mall yesterday.  Went up ANOTHER size in dress pants.  *sigh*  I hate my body right now.

-Will I EVER have time to clean the inside of my car again?  There is so much dust and dog hair, it looks like a blanket of freshly fallen snow.

-Did I buy Sabrina the best kind of organic whole milk?  Did I do enough research on best brands of dairy products?

-Why are those damn squirrels eating my flowers?!  Do they think they are deer?  It's bad enough that they are littering our backyard with acorns and downed tree branches.

-When was the last time I vacuumed the carpet in the family room?  Sabrina probably ate a pound of dog hair this weekend.  

-Is it too soon to buy mums for fall?  Will they die while we are gone for the weekend?  Is there a better deal somewhere else?

-Where should we have Sabrina's first birthday party?  I don't want to rent a hall and I don't want a dive, but I don't want to pay a lot.  Is a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme okay, or should I just do a generic girly theme?  

-Sabrina says "dada" and "ball" but still no mama.  Does she hate me?

-When was the last time we ate out?  I miss eating out.

Obviously, some of these concerns are more serious than others, but this is a 100% accurate reflection of worries that I've felt sometime in the past few days.  Luckily, a very serious worry of mine has been relieved, at least for now, in that Sabrina's appointment with the pediatric ophthalmologist went great and he sees no cause for concern.  (yay!)

This quote encourages loving more and worrying less.  For me, the two are connected, for better or worse.  I worry because I love.  It is as simple as that.  I love my family, I love my daughter, I love my dog.  I want the absolute best for them.  Part of that is me worrying about them day and night, night and day.  I can't help it.  So I am not going to fight the worry.  I know I should worry less, but it's not who I am.  So instead, I am going to continue to love fiercely, with all of me.  And if I annoy anyone with my worry in the process, they will just have to forgive me and know that it is only because they are my whole world.

I hope everyone has a safe, happy, worry-free Labor Day.  Enjoy spending time with friends and family.  I will try to save my worries for another day and just enjoy this wonderful life of mine.