September is for Apple Orchards, Birthdays, and Lil Bellies

If you know me personally, you might know that September and October are my favorite months. It's all the autumn feels, and Virgoness, and earthy vibes. It's apples, and pies, and pumpkins, and Halloween (also, my anniversary - Halloween, that is!) 

For my birthday this year, I decided not to really make any specific plans, other than to take Silas to the apple orchard for the first time. We meant to go last year but we missed the boat! We had such a lovely time walking the orchard and picking out apples, despite the oddly high temperatures of over 80 degrees! We even brought along his own little bolga basket from Lil Bellies for him to forage and keep his favorites :)

The first few apples of the day | Door Creek Orchard | Cottage Grove, WI

The first few apples of the day | Door Creek Orchard | Cottage Grove, WI

Since it was so hot and the sun was in my eyes, I decided to try to seek refuge under an apple tree and offer Silas some cold apple cider. He ran to me wildly then he tried a tiny sip which certainly he loved, but he was just too excited to sit down and share that moment with me. Partly I really wanted him to share that experience with me but on the other hand, I know I brought him to have his own experience - it's part of this letting go thing, letting go, knowing that Silas has is own personality and desires so deeply to explore, even if that means moments without mama. It's a hard lesson for me but I know I can't make him do everything the way I dream of it in my head.

"Silas, I have a treat for you!" Come on, buddy!"

"Silas, I have a treat for you!" Come on, buddy!"

Trying to guide him with a his enamelware from Lil Bellies - He still has a very had time drinking from a cup.

Trying to guide him with a his enamelware from Lil Bellies - He still has a very had time drinking from a cup.

After a little while, Silas's cheeks were getting rosy and I was beading sweat on my brow so I took this cue to start packing up to leave. Silas was so upset but we knew we couldn't keep him outside too much longer! Next time we go (maybe even again this year) we hope it's a bit cooler and feels a bit more like autumn so he can enjoy his time more!

Bolga Baket  & Pinafore Apron - Lil Bellies
Lil Bellies has the cutest little enamelware mugs and cups for your little ones!

Lil Bellies has the cutest little enamelware mugs and cups for your little ones!

And since I love Lil Bellies so much, I've partnered up with them to offer you a Promo Code to use in their shop Friday (Sept 22nd) - Sunday (Sept 24th) for 15% off your purchase. Use code WHIMSY15 at checkout. Yay for the first official day of fall!

Lil Bellies' mission is to keep children outdoors and to never stop exploring! They even have a section of their shop dedicated to exploration which I can't wait to delve into once Silas exhibits a bit more of that imagination that's growing so rapidly. Check out the explorers section HERE.

If you're interested in the beautiful bolga basket (they make adult sized ones as well) click HERE. I encourage you to peruse their whole site though because all of it is so wonderful and inspiring - all while being eco-friendly made with sustainable materials!

Thanks for reading and I hope you and your little ones find joy over at Lil Bellies!

XoXo,

Ashley

Blabla Kids

You guys, I wanted to share my love of Blabla Kids with you today! My in-laws gifted us a beautiful mobile from Blabla Kids for Silas before he was born and immediately fell in love with this brand! It is eco-friendly, sustainable, and completely lovely. Their pieces are each made by hand with love. I believe this is an essential element of a great, long lasting product! 

Silas, Toutou, and Machu having a slumber party!

Silas, Toutou, and Machu having a slumber party!

Honestly, Silas has taken a long time to come around to "lovies" of any kind but he tucks Machu into his crib after his naps each day and feeds him and keeps him hydrated. Really, it's amazing watching Silas's imagination come out to play with these dolls!

Whether you're 3 months or 30 years old, I believe you can fall in love with any one of their products. I'm totally guilty of loving these, maybe even more than Silas. I'd have a room full of Blabla dolls, blankets, and pillows if I didn't have to remember that I was [omit my age here]! Okay, maybe I'm hoarding a small stash for myself...

I've partnered up with the sweet folks at Blabla Kids today to offer you a 15% off promo code to shop with today until Monday. Also, please visit my Instagram page to enter my giveaway! Blabla will be giving away one mini knit doll of choice to the winner of the contest!

Promo Code:

Whimsy15 (Remember, it's only good from now until Monday so shop away and get 15% off any purchase!) Visit www.blablakids.com.

Happy Friday, loves! 

Xoxo

Moments in Motherhood: Train Adventures with Silas

It feels like we've lost a lot of time for fun activities this summer due to all of the rain in Wisconsin this year but today we got to take Silas to a railway museum and we took him on his first train ride. Silas loves trains. He loves them. I think more than food and cupcakes. Okay, maybe not as much as cupcakes, or maybe they're tied

Mid-Continent Railway Museum | North Freedom, WI

Mid-Continent Railway Museum | North Freedom, WI

ANYWAY, there's a great place we heard of in North Freedom, WI, called the Mid-Continent Railway Museum which is not far from Wisconsin Dells. They host train rides and insights into the past. It's a great way to teach your children about trains, culture, and your local history. I highly suggest finding a local railway museum if you're so lucky to have one in your area!

The tour guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. They made us feel right at home and they answered a lot of questions! After the train ride, we walked through the gift shop with Silas and let him pick out a little toy train (as if he didn't have enough already) and then we got to walk around to see the restoration area of boxcars they've acquired dating all the way back to the 1800s! Some of the boxcars we saw were absolutely incredible but we didn't take as many photos as we meant to because we were too enthralled with the history to bother with the cameras. Great job, team!

The museum offers fall and winter rides, dinner rides, and Christmas rides as well. We're thinking of buying a membership considering how much we all love trains, especially Elliott and now Silas!

It was a lovely Saturday, indeed!

Moments in Motherhood: Birth Story - Silas Crawford

In light of Silas’s upcoming second birthday on Saturday, I’m going to throw it back this Thursday to his birth story. I never wrote one because the whole experience was pretty traumatic for me. I’d like to share it now as I feel all the feels that is being a parent and watching your babies grow into little humans with their own personalities and opinions, even if they’re not always in line with your own. After, I’d like to encourage your comments and thoughts on birth trauma since it’s so rarely talked about and it needs to be!

Northside Hospital Forsyth | Labor & Delivery | Cumming, GA

Northside Hospital Forsyth | Labor & Delivery | Cumming, GA

July 22, 2015

I was 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant with Silas and it was our last scheduled OB appointment. At the time, we were living in a sleepy little town just northeast of Atlanta and finding a midwife was just about an impossibility, a home birth even more so, and a good doula very hard to come by. But, despite a pregnancy with many letdowns, we’d made it this far! We walked into that last appointment somewhat intuitively aware that this would be the last.

The week prior, I received a call from the receptionist at my OBs office confirming my induction for July 19th. WHAT?! This was the first I’d heard any talk about induction. I was infuriated fuming mad, as much as a third trimester hormonal pregnant mama could be, especially considering that the 19th would have been around 38 weeks gestation. I had by almost all means an unremarkable pregnancy. All ultrasounds and growth were healthy and spot on, heart beat always right on up until that point, I was 29, and there was really no medical necessity for induction whatsoever. Of course I was in hysterics on the phone with the receptionist and I asked that the OB call me back immediately. The OB actually called me back within a reasonable time frame but honestly, I don’t think anything she told me could have made the situation any better. What came out of her mouth were a series of backpedals and apologies. She explained that this (the call) was never supposed to happen and that once a month the staff gets together to discuss who might be “good candidates” for induction and that my name came up because of how uncomfortable I was. That was the bones of the explanation. What I took from this was, “we have monthly staff meetings to schedule everyone’s births out if possible.” Hell, of course I was uncomfortable. I am 5’2”, a petite tiny thing that gained 45 pounds during my pregnancy. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t sleep, had a very hard time walking with my cankles from the southern summer humidity. Have you ever heard the ‘barefoot and pregnant’ idiom? I suppose it can have several meanings but to me it was this. Being pregnant in the south, in the summer, with ankles no more and swollen feet! Of course I was uncomfortable, but weren’t so many other pregnant mamas? All of this was like clips from movies like The Business of Being Born coming to life right in front of me but somehow I was still in shock.

Anyway, back to July 22nd, my last OB appointment. We went in but left our hospital bags at home because even though we somehow intuitively knew it would be the last OB appointment, I think we tried to hold on to some sort of control.

The first thing they did was hook me up to the NST (nonstress test) but I was glad for this because something just didn’t feel right with Silas. He was moving differently and I was concerned. Rightly so, Silas was responding very poorly to the test and I was watching his heart rate plummet then slowly start to climb back up, but not where it should be. I was freaked out and crying, wondering why the nurse was still in there rather than the doctor. The doctor finally came in and looked at the strip, then looked back up at me and said “well, Miss Ashley, I don’t see any reason to continue your pregnancy at this point. I’d like to send you to L&D for induction.” Again, and in panic, I couldn’t understand this assessment. Everything I’d read and heard about induction said that Pitocin could cause fetal stress or make contractions more extreme than with a natural birth so it didn’t seem logical to me that this would even be considered being that Silas was in distress. In an instant, and still to my shock, I said “no.” “Please give me a quick rundown of a C-Section, I don’t believe induction is the best course of action here.”

She gave me a quick rundown and asked if I’d eaten anything that day. I told her that the only thing I could stomach that day was half a granola bar (it was a little after noon at this point.) She informed us that our hospital L&D had a strict no food for 8 hours policy so that I’d have to go straight there and wait until about 11pm to have the C-Section. Again, I’m not a doctor but this seemed ludicrous to me. She said we had time to go home to get our bags but to go straight to L&D right after that and that her staff would be calling the hospital to let them know we were on our way.

We scrambled home in a daze and panic, and also excitement, trying to make the calls we needed to make to let people know that we were on our way to L&D to have a C-Section and to meet our son. It was baby time! Despite the panic and freak out over the NST, I was so very excited to know that I’d be holding our son at some point that day.

When we finally got to the hospital, we expected them to be prepped for us, but they were not. I wasn’t surprised but I was still mad because this was par for the course my entire pregnancy. Nobody doing what they said they were going to do and a lot of deception also. So, we waited while they prepped for us.

We finally got back to our room where I sat in my robe in the bed and they hooked me up to all the monitoring devices. We were going through a series of intake questions (which I’d previously answered and they should have had in their system from an earlier false alarm trip to L&D.) Anyway, during intake, the questions started getting asked and entered faster and faster, culminating to a panicked “wait, what’s happening?” question uttered out of my mouth as people swarmed around me and  placed an oxygen mask over my face and started to shave me. NOBODY ANSWERED ME! I looked at my husband with total fear in my eyes and heart and mouthed for him to help me. I could see that he was stunned also. He finally spoke up to be my advocate and asked what was going on. One of the nurses then rudely said “don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to.” We were pretty much shattered at this point but we knew we had to persevere. They flipped me on my side and were able to get Silas’s heart rate back to normal. Then we waited out the 8 hours trying to think of anything to pass the time. We had no music with us, nothing really but ourselves. My in-laws showed up at some point before it was time for the procedure and I was so thankful for their presence. I was mortified and it was a nice distraction.

By about 10pm, my doctor arrived in my hospital room to check in with me and to let me know we were going to start getting ready. Elliott had to leave as I received my spinal block and returned in his astronaut suit ready to have baby. I was wheeled to the OR where they hoisted me up on the surgical table and shined the brightest lights I could have ever imagined on me. It felt like a scene from the X-Files. It was strange. I was shaking so much from the drugs I could barely speak without my teeth chattering but I think I was trying to talk to Elliott. Things were kind of hazy at this point but I remembered him coming by my side and taking my hand as everyone in the OR was talking about their lunch and golf, and things totally inappropriate for OUR BIRTH! It was just another “day in the office” to them, but to us, it was our birth. This was supposed to be our time, not theirs. Anyway, Elliott stood by me, holding my hand and running his fingers through my hair. At the point where they told me I would start to feel strong tugging sensations, he could sense my fear and I asked him to sing with me. We sang together, we looked at each other, into each other’s souls, and I was lost within him and I was finally at peace. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. I’m tearing up now as I recount these memories so vividly. At some point shortly thereafter, it was known that Silas had been born, yes born (I used to think of it as more of an extraction but he was still born.) He was born but nobody said anything really and I didn’t hear him cry. I kept asking if he was ok over and over. Finally I heard him cry and it was the single most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard in my lifetime. They hurried to clean off his vernix which I wasn’t thrilled about and to do all the tests while they were stitching me up. His APGAR was a 9 they hollered from behind a curtain and somehow I felt validated that I did a good job. But still, I needed my son. I needed to see him, hold him, what on EARTH could you possibly be waiting for? Finally I yelled through chattered teeth that I’d like to hold my son. Finally I got to lay eyes on the little boy I’d been waiting to meet my whole life. It was magical. I loved him before he was born but I loved him even more now, instantly. I wish I could say my birth story ended here all happy and fine. But it doesn’t.

After being told by my OB team earlier on in my pregnancy that they didn’t really care much for birth plans, the ONE thing I maintained I wished and needed to be honored through all of it was that under no circumstance would they ever give me any kind of narcotic without my permission or without asking me first. I guess you can tell where I’m going from here…

In recovery, we watched Silas get his first bath and commented that he had a cute birthmark on his tummy. The nurse that was bathing him said “don’t worry, it’ll probably come off.” WTF?! Really? Couldn’t we just enjoy our son? Then a nurse came by and put an IV in my arm and I heard a beep. I asked what that was, what was she doing? “It’s a Fentanyl drip.” she replied. I’m pretty naïve about opiates but I knew it was one. I told her no, I didn’t want that and that I’d requested no narcotics from the beginning and “they” said it was ok. She told me it was protocol. Elliott became my protector at this point and interjected, trying to reason with the nurse while trying to maintain his cool because he was more aware of the dangers of this drug than I. And there was a problem looming. A scary one. I’d gotten nauseated immediately and I starting getting this shooting headache, a headache I’ll never forget. I told the nurse I was really scared because something didn’t feel right.

She then nonchalantly informed me that I was “dangerously close” to having a stroke and that medication needed to be administered right away to bring my blood pressure down. As if her telling me this didn’t make my blood pressure higher. I was terrified and crying. The nurse bathing Silas then pulled my robe down to my belly and placed him on my chest for some skin-to-skin time. I believe this was absolutely necessary in helping to bring my blood pressure down.

You see, there were no on call doctors at this L&D hospital so the nurse had to wait until she got a hold of my OB on the phone to administer the meds to lower my blood pressure. We were in recovery for so long that I cannot even begin to remember how long. Both of our families were panicked because they hadn’t heard from us. Does this seem weird to you that they couldn’t administer meds to lower blood pressure without getting a hold of my doctor by phone? Especially if I was so close to having a stroke?

Well, after all of this, we made it up to our room where we’d be staying the next three days and I was so sick I couldn’t eat or anything. Recovery was a long process for me. I think most C-Sections are but none of this was a good experience.

Maybe I’ll go into my recovery and postpartum journey in another post because that’s another beast in itself and I didn’t realize how long this would all be written down. Thank you if you took the time to read this in its entirety. I hope to keep discussions among women in America about these issues open and more frequent. This shouldn’t be taboo. We should all know about these issues and talk freely so we don’t feel so isolated!

Side Notes:

Silas had a nuchal cord that was causing his poor reactions. I read that this is relatively common and not always cause for alarm but all I can say is follow your intuition always!

Silas Crawford York was born at 11:37pm on July 22, 2015 weighing 7 lbs on the nose and was 19.5 inches long. He was loved since conception but he is loved more and more madly each day!

Where I Roam: Chicago - The Windy City

So this past weekend, Elliott and I were all set up to go to Chicago to see music. We had it all planned out with a sitter for Silas and we were ready go! Saturday night, however, we wondered - were we making the right decision? Should we bring him? Would he miss us and us him terribly? How would he react to the separation anxiety? I reached out to mamas on Instagram and mamas I knew personally asking for advice on how to get over this separation hump. All the advice I received was well intended and kind but still it didn't make me feel any better about leaving him - especially for something that he loves; to dance. So guess what? We took Silas along with us and we couldn't be any happier with the decision we made! Parenting is so personal and at times so confusing but in the end we make the choices based on our gut. Thank you to all of you for your words of encouragement on leaving Silas. We appreciate it so much! We just aren't there yet.

Chicago River | Chicago, IL | Riverwalk

Chicago River | Chicago, IL | Riverwalk

As for Chicago - well, to be honest I had much higher hopes for the city. We didn't have a bad time but we didn't particularly find the things we love in a city. Maybe you can leave comments on what to do or where to go for our next trip! 

For now, below are some of the highlights or the obligatory touristy photos:

Coffee

Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea

12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

After much searching for coffee in the city, we finally stumbled upon a little shop called Fairgrounds Coffee and Tea on Michigan Ave nearby Millennium Park. It offered several top name coffee roasters including Stumptown, Colectivo, Rishi, and many others. My coffee itch was finally scratched! (If you've been following me on Instagram long enough, you might know that a breve au lait is my coffee beverage of choice.)

Millennium Park

Millenium Park | Chicago, IL

Millenium Park | Chicago, IL

We were told by many folks that Millennium Park was a must so we went but we only spent about an hour seeing a few of the things that were recommended before it was time to pack up and head home.

General Chicago Photos

Maybe next time, Chicago!