5 Ways to Beat the Heat with a Toddler

It’s officially summer & San Francisco already had it’s first heat wave of the year. Temperatures got up into the 90’s which is about 30 degrees higher than our usual summer temps! Keeping a toddler entertained as well as trying to get them to sleep when it’s 90 degrees in your apartment is no joke. So in the spirit of summer I thought I’d share some ways to beat the heat with a toddler & share some photos from the heat wave & the weekend we spent enjoying the heat at my brother’s house.

  1. Water tables – these are an awesome investment! We got this one for William’s birthday. And it was a serious lifesaver during the heat wave. I highly recommend water tables – they are fairly affordable & provide so much entertainment for toddlers. Even when it’s a little too chilly to be playing in the water William has a great time playing with the table without the water. He loves putting the balls down the track & finding things in the yard that can go in the water table. If you live somewhere remotely warm I’d totally invest in a water table.
  2. Popsicles – pair a Popsicle with a water table and you’ve got yourself one happy toddler, enough said!
  3. Baby wipes in the fridge – talk about a quick & inexpensive way to cool off. This is such an easy trick to make your baby or toddler or even yourself just slightly more comfortable in the heat.
  4. Stroller fan – this is a good gadget to have if you live somewhere that experiences a fair amount of heat. This is perfect for car rides where kiddos don’t always get the best airflow in those hot car seats especially facing backward. You can also clip it onto a stroller.
  5. My final tip for beating the heat is to seek out AC wherever possible. Libraries are a great free place to take a toddler to try to get some reprieve from the heat. Even just an hour wandering around the grocery store or target was a great way to get out of our stifling apartment. So if you have a membership to a museum, a local library you’ve been wanting to check out or if your kids are old enough a movie theater these are all great places to try and escape the summer heat, especially if you’re living somewhere without AC like we are!
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William Hayes Birth Story

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I gave birth to my son. Parts of my birth experience still feel so incredibly fresh in my mind.

I was 40 weeks & 3 days when I went in for my non stress test. The two weeks leading up, I was trying my best to induce labor, walking flights of stairs, eating spicy foods, getting acupuncture 3x a week. After one of my accupuncture appointments I walked a mile to an apothecary store in the Mission in SF to get a special tincture that was supposed to induce labor. I tried it all. So when the nurse told us my amniotic fluid was 25% lower than what they expected I realized this was the start of my birth story. Right after our NST we went to my OB’s, I already had an appointment scheduled & we were supposed to be picking a back up induction day. “Good news, I have your induction day, today!” that was what my doctor told us. We were scheduled for 4pm, she encouraged us to go out to a nice lunch & then head back to the hospital. I went in for one last accupuncture appointment in hopes to make my induction as smooth as possible, then we went out for brunch. We ended up being an hour late to our induction, it was so hard to leave our apartment. It was such a surreal feeling of knowing we were leaving & we would come back & our house would never be the same.

We checked into L&D, I was having contractions but they weren’t regular. They gave my misoprostol & I went to bed. Ironically my nightshift nurse was someone I went to nursing school with. (what are the chances!?!) I got started on pitocin that night & I was able to sleep a little bit. Early in the morning my nurse told it me looked like baby wasn’t tolerating the pitocin the way they hoped so they were shutting it off. I remember feeling so defeated. We thought, well our doctor is going to come in & tell us we’ll be having a c-section.

My dayshift nurse the following day was an older woman who was such a badass, you could tell she was a nurse who had seen it all. She was so reassuring that we still didn’t know exactly what my doctors plan was but that there were lots of options & sure enough my doctor wanted to try a balloon that would help get me to 5cm. (I was only at 1cm at this point). So mid morning they put the balloon in. A few hours later it was definitely working, I was starting to really feel my contractions. I had gotten up to to pee, but I couldn’t & was coming back to bed & chris was helping reconnect me to the TOCO monitor & we couldn’t seem to get the monitor on. My nurse came in and baby’s heart rate was low. First she thought the monitor was possibly just picking up my heart beat, she had me lay on my left side, still low. At this point the charge nurse came into the room, I can still hear the TOCO slowing, 90, 80, 70. More nurses coming into the room. As a nurse myself I knew this wasn’t good, even though I was terrifed, I knew I was safe with Margret, she kept reassuring me they were going to take care of us. She had me get on my hands & knees, (the best way to get pressure off the baby, especially if the umbilical cord is being compressed) while they were calling my doctor & preparing for a crash c-section. Within a few seconds of being on my hands & knees baby started responding really well & the heartbeat recovered. Crash C-section avoided. My doctor came by later to check on me, she was reassured that baby recovered quickly.

The afternoon came & my nurses changed. This time I had a nurse who was precepting a new hire. Right off the bat I felt a little uneasy with my new nurses. About an hour into their shift I called them in because I was having a lot of trouble trying to pee with the balloon in. I didn’t realize how long had passed, but it had been about 9 hours since I was last able to pee & I felt like a lot of my pain was being caused by my bladder rather than my contractions. I had noticed every time I came back from the bathroom that the baby’s heart rate would dip. So I told my nurses I was certain I needed to have a catheter. My nurse told me I would have to lay flat in order for them to do this, I told my nurse that previously the baby’s heart rate hadn’t tolerated when I laid flat. She was insistent we do it that way, & as soon as they started baby’s heart rate plummeted. The reassurance I felt with Margaret, my previous nurse, was non existent with these two. They began yelling at each other, telling me baby was not doing well. I had to tell them I needed to get on my hands & knees. At this point the same thing happened with nurses flooding the room, they had already called for a crash c-section. & had called my doctor. Baby once again recovered while I was on my hands & knees. I told my nurses I needed them to catheterize me, I was fine in the position i was in, baby was fine so I wanted them to just do it. I was told “that’s really not ideal”. If you’re a nurse you know that there’s more than one position to put a catheter in a woman. The fact these nurses refused was mindblowing to me. The on call doctor came in, responding to the code they had called. I told her i needed the balloon OUT! She took it out, I walked to the bathroom & literally peed over 2 Liters!!!! I was immediately pain free. The doctor checked me & told me I was at a 0. This was a little baffling to me because the balloon had been in for nine hours & I was at a 1 when it was inserted. You don’t go backward. The on call doctor began talking about next steps. I informed her I wanted to wait until my doctor arrived before doing anything else.

4.5cm. That’s what my doctor said I was at when she came & checked herself. We chatted for a little bit about our plan. Although she wasn’t happy with how the baby was behaving as long as baby recovers she was comfortable with continuing on trying to have a vaginal birth. I voiced my concerns that I wasn’t being heard by nurses & was having to advocate for myself far more than a women going through labor should have to. If I hadn’t recognized that I desperately need to empty my bladder to take the pressure off my baby & relieve his distress I would have ended in a crash c-section. My doctor completely validated my concerns about my current nurses & asked the charge nurse for an assignment change. My advice to any patient is to advocate for yourself, if you feel like your concerns are not being heard or you just feel like something is wrong, SPEAK UP. We know our bodies better than anyone else!!

The plan going forward was to restart pitocin & then they put in a catheter that would go into my uterus and give fluid constantly to try to cushion the baby since my amniotic fluid was so low and this way they’d be able to more closely monitor my contractions. This took place around lunch time or so. I labored unmedicated the following 14 hours or so. I think I said maybe three sentences in those 14 hours. I had hastily downloaded a nature relaxation album on spotify that they play at my acupuncturist. Well we listened to that for 15 hours… ten tracks of Tibetan flutes all about 90 seconds long, meaning we listened to the album literally hundreds of times.

Finally after being in transition for about two hours I couldn’t take the unbearable pain & finally asked for an epidural. It was a godsend. They placed the epidural & my nurse said she’d let me rest and come back in to place my catheter. When she came back I had gone from 6cm to 9.5 in an hour. She got us all set up to start pushing, we did one push & baby totally crumped. Next thing I knew the charge nurse was in the room saying there would be no more pushing until my doctor arrived. So we waited for about 30 minutes for my doctor to get to the hospital. When she arrived she went through the possible outcomes that if the baby was not tolerating the pushing or if the pushing was effective there was still a chance I could end up in a c-section, or that they would need to use a vacuum to help assist. After four rounds of intense pushing our son William Hayes Dorsey entered the world at 6:34am. The umbilical cord had been wrapped tightly around his neck, that paired with my extremely low amniotic fluid was causing his distress throughout labor. The NICU was standing by & William did end up needing some initial stimulation to get him to take his first breath. But as anyone who’s gone through labor can tell you, hearing that first cry is unlike anything else in this world.

Birth is just amazing. It’s this terrifying, amazing, miraculous right of passage. And no two births are the same. I love that every experience is so unique & can be vastly different even with the same mom! My birth, although incredibly different than my ideal birth plan, is something I’m incredibly proud of. So no matter if you birthed your babe with an epidural, in a tub, via c-section, with 10 people in the room, with Tibetan Flutes in the background, I hope you feel immense pride about your journey.

Happy Mother’s Day – to all the mama’s out there, the real life superheros who work the toughest job in town.

Charlie Brown, a Cowboy & a Zebra…

Here are some photos from the Halloween party we went to on Saturday. The party was hosted by the family I used to nanny for, so it was super special taking Will! William was Charlie Brown & then Chris & I pulled together super quick costumes (zebra & cowboy), & I gotta say I loved our low key costumes! Will did great at the party despite it being much later than he’s used to staying up! For Halloween we aren’t really celebrating. I’ll be working, which is always interesting & I have yet another low key costume planned.

 

Labor Day Weekend

For Labor Day we drove up to my parents house & spent two nights there. Aside from enjoying the warm weather we got to spend lots of time with family. Saturday we had a nice BBQ & got some good cousin love in!! Then on the drive home we stopped by & visited one of my dear friends, my freshmen college roommate, who’s second daughter is just a month older than William! Babies meeting babies is probably just the cutest thing in the WORLD. It was exactly a decade ago I met Alexa & we were sharing a little college dorm, being one anothers only friend, eating pints of Ben&Jerry’s for dinner. Talk about a crazy decade, we both became nurses, got married & now have babies!!

It’s hard to believe summer is winding down, it feels like I blinked & my maternity leave is over. But I’m SO excited for fall & for William to get to experience autumn, halloween, christmas etc! I can’t wait!!

Lessons from the NICU

When I went in to be induced at 40 weeks & 3 days I was just so excited to meet my baby. Not a single ounce of me thought we wouldn’t take our full term son home for seven days. Instead of leaving the hospital two nights after my delivery, my husband & I would spend the next week sharing a 10×10 hospital room. We would wake every 2.5 hours to walk the 400 steps to the NICU to see our baby boy. After a difficult labor, lasting over 36 hours, our little boy had trouble maintaining his blood sugar levels & would spend the following week in the NICU trying to manage his sugar. This was not the plan. I had spent the previous 40 weeks with an otherwise seamless pregnancy, each scan & blood test giving us reassurance that everything was on track.

Our time spent in the NICU taught me more than I ever realized. During that week, we lived in 3 hour blocks. Just waiting for the next blood sugar check, verifying how his dextrose infusion was being titrated, waiting on critical labs to return. The first few days I was somewhat in denial that this was my reality. The ER nurse in me kept thinking “they’ll stabilize his sugar & he’ll be back in our post partum room & we’ll be right on track to go home”. It soon became clear he was going to be there longer than we had imagined & that we were going to have a NICU baby. We were joining an exclusive club no parent wants to be a member of, a club that puts you on a crash course of endless love & fierce protection for this little life you created. Below is some of what I learned from that week.

Look for silver linings anywhere and everywhere: This was huge for us, it kept us floating. Our silver linings were anything from a solid blood sugar reading this hour, to taking advantage of the fact that our little boy was being put on a regimented schedule & was learning to self soothe in the middle of the night since the nurses couldn’t immediately run to him or that he was learning to simultaneously breastfeed & bottle feed. All of these silver linings would be things we’d be thankful later!

Take the help: This is as simple as it sounds. Take people up when they offer to bring you things from the store, clothes from home, keep your dog an extra night (or 5!). One night my best friend & Chris’ brother came over in between feedings & we ordered pizza to our room. People desperately want to help you. Let them. Everyone will feel better.

Sometimes Cuddles Are Enough – One night when we were in the NICU for a feeding & Will wasn’t doing the best at breastfeeding a nurse reminded us that sometimes just holding your baby & being in the moment is plenty. Even though we wanted each feeding to be a great success to help with his blood sugar it realistically wasn’t going to perfect every time. So she encouraged instead of putting pressure on every feeding, to relax & just let him lay with us & know that being on us was just as powerful as any IV infusion. He was gaining comfort & love & security all things he would need to get better.

Feel the warmth: Something that struck me right off the bat being in the NICU was how much warmth there was. As an ER nurse I’d say warmth can be hard to find in an emergency department, however there’s no shortage of it when it comes to the people who dedicate their lives to caring for tiny humans. My recommendation is to let yourself feel it. As someone who doesn’t readily accept hugs from strangers, I found myself gladly taking the hugs from nurses I had just met.

Prepare for setbacks: This lesson sucks. But inevitably you’ll take two steps forward and one step back & it’ll sting.  Honestly we weren’t prepared until we had our first major set back & it totally crushed us. A part of me felt guilty for feeling so crushed, when I looked around & saw babies on ventilators, or babies too sick to be held. I felt guilty for feeling so knocked down when our baby wasn’t close to being the sickest one there. Just know set backs will happen & it’s okay to cry, but know that it’ll get better. When we’d walk to the NICU for another feeding we’d talk about potential set backs & prepare ourselves for a low sugar & just talking about it being an option helped.

Think big: This became our motto before every blood sugar check. I’ve always believed in sending out good energy into the universe & as much as we mentally prepared for setbacks I think it’s equally important to be positive & to “think big thoughts”. Even though doctors & nurses are watching over, your baby needs you to believe in them & to be their cheerleader, now more than ever.

Do normal things. Walk outside. Listen to music. Shower. It’s amazing how a hot shower, or a walk around the block helped. It’s important to try to bring some normalcy to a very abnormal situation. There was a Starbucks one block from the hospital so we’d try to go for an afternoon walk & get a coffee. It felt so strange to walk outside & remember there is a whole world outside of the windowless walls of the NICU where our whole world lay in an isolet. I really believe those little pockets of normalcy kept us going, as did the afternoon coffees!

Support Each Other:  I would not have been able to make it through this experience without my husband. At various points we each had to be the person to pick the other one up. We knew our son needed us & he needed us to be in a good place. Who ever your support person is, let them support you. And return the favor when they need it. Celebrate the baby steps together, cry when you need to.

Lastly,

Know the NICU isn’t anyone’s first choice. No ones birth plan includes a week long stay in the NICU, ours certainly didn’t. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be & it’s okay to be upset about that. No one will truly understand unless they’ve been through it. The simultaneous urge to fiercely protect your baby paired with the total lack of control over the situation can make even the strongest people weak. For some reason I’ll never know, this was our journey. Having made it out on the other side I’m thankful for the lessons it taught me & how it forever shaped me as a mother. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling of getting to dress our baby in his first outfit & walk out those double doors. The bitter-sweetness of being so incredibly thankful for the hearts that took such good care of him that week, but wishing all the babies got to go home.

If you stumbled onto this post because you’re going through a similar journey my heart aches for you. It aches for all the moms & dads that don’t get to walk out those doors with their babies like they planned.

^moments before we walked out of the NICU

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