World Prematurity Day and My Takeaway From the NICU

I’m a little late in posting this, but November 17th was World Prematurity Day! It was also our 8th wedding anniversary. I did post a picture of baby Boston (and another of my husband) on Instagram that day, but I really love this picture I took today:


Today someone asked me what I learned through our NICU experience with Boston. Mostly it has just made me more grateful, obviously.  I have always been so grateful to have had such healthy babies, but I always complained about being glued to the couch breastfeeding them all day and about waking up with them at night. And of course there have been many challenging days with a new baby at home, but are we so happy to have this guy home and doing so well! We really were so nervous to have a third child, but his close brush(es) with death really made us feel so grateful and feel so blessed that he gets to stay with us. With every scare we had in the NICU — with his heart, going back and forth on the breathing machines, and getting a horrible infection just days before he was supposed to come home — we would again feel a surge of gratitude when prayers were answered and Boston made progress. We felt so much joy from the little miracles that happened and we were so amazed at the compassion people showed for us. I also came to appreciate nurses and doctors in a way I never had before and I will always be grateful for the love those good people showed us.

We can’t really feel “up” in life if we’ve never felt down.  I find, for example, that the more toys my kids have, the more they want!  I wish I had been so much more simple and only let them have a few toys to begin with, because I know they would appreciate new things so much more when they do get them.  I’m glad that Nick and I went through some really difficult things early on in our marriage, because now that we aren’t going through those things, the mundane days are so welcomed and appreciated because they aren’t full of heartache like they used to be. Challenges (rather than having more nice things or excitement) help you learn to be happier.

Also — IT FEELS AWESOME TO NOT BE USING A BREAST PUMP ANYMORE! Constantly pumping is probably on the top 10 — if not 5 — most miserable things I have ever endured in my entire life (nausea will always be #1 on that list) but of course I’m so glad that I did that for my baby and now nothing feels better than nursing my little babe because it is loads more convenient.  So I’m maybe a little bit grateful that I pumped for four months before being able to nurse Boston. Challenges are part of life, and I’m really grateful for that.

If you’re going through something really awful right now, try to remember that it will probably enlarge your capacity to feel joy in the future.





10 Recent Observations of Varying Importance

Boston napped long enough for me to make a list of extremely trivial things:

1. If you are a house plant newbie, my advice is: buy real snake plants because they clean the air and NEVER DIE, plus as they grow bigger they are fairly easy to propagate into multiple plants to place throughout the house.  Only buy fake succulents and a fake fiddle leaf fig trees, however, because they are adorable and make for great picture props but are very hard to keep alive.  I really tried with my fiddle. Sigh.

2. Costco frozen teriyaki chicken bowls are saving my life and my sanity these days.

3. I love two-and-a-half-year-old kids.  They are still so babyish and snuggly and look funny when they run, but they can feed themselves, throw things in the garbage for you, play with their older siblings, and melt you with a new mispronounced word every day. They also poop their pants a lot, though. Not mentioning names. On a completely unrelated note (because I was definitely not talking about Nixon there), Nixon loves his new toddler bed and runs upstairs with his sister excitedly yelling “Good mowning!” every day. It’s hard not to squeeze him to death.


4. I recently met the girl behind Arvo (Ashley Nackos), and she somehow managed to tactfully tell me that she loved my scraggle teeth.  Bless her precious soul. Go buy an Arvo watch.

5. I could wear a beanie and a lumberjack shirt and jeans and boots every day of my life. Maybe the occasional sweater when I want to look a little less homeless, but still feel like I’m wearing a blanket.

6. I’m becoming a little bit obsessed with embroidery art / cross stitching. Feast your eyes on this and these and these.

7. I have been crocheting occasionally:


8. I debated for ages over whether to really try to breastfeed, or to keep pumping, or whatever, and finally I had to stop being insane and realize that breastfeeding/pumping/formula all have their conveniences and I just have to make a dang decision. And then I got the stomach flu and was way too out of it to pump and I hadn’t eaten in like two days so I was hardly making milk anyway.  So I decided I was done pumping (remember how I have a GIANT freezer full of breastmilk? Was I just planning on not using that? I don’t know! I never know what the heck I am doing!) but then I realized breastfeeding is kind of nice and that it would be super amazing to be on an airplane and JUST BREASTFEED instead of spilling bottles and washing bottles and heating bottles not to mention pumping bottles and since I was no longer making so much milk that I’d choke Boston every time, I decided what the heck, let’s give breastfeeding a try.  And it’s actually going pretty well and I’ve only had to supplement a little bit, and Boston has actually been more restful during the day (probably because frozen milk makes his tummy annoyed and the fortifier the doctors tell me to add to his bottles of breastmilk also makes his tummy super mad) (OR maybe he’s just super lethargic because he’s not getting enough?  He seems pretty content).  I guess we’ll just see what happens.  I’d love to nurse him through flu season but if all else fails, he can do the frozen milk (which apparently smells like soap because I have excess lipase in my milk? Ugh.) Also I found an interesting baby formula recipe by a chemist/dad using goat milk, which is apparently cheaper than commercial formula, not to mention the first ingredient isn’t CORN SYRUP SOLIDS GAHHHH.

9. My kids eat corn dogs on the daily.  I feel like I should feel guilty about this, but they also ask for broccoli all the time so I have hope for their future. The other day I put something on Ava’s plate and she said “Can I have broccoli instead?” Kids are weirdos.

10. I’m hoping to someday write a post entitled, “How I Beat My Diet Coke Addiction.” Still waiting for the day I can write that without being a liar.  Any tips?  I like drinking water but I need something to fill the gap in my life that will be left without my dirty Diet Cokes.






Happy Mama For The Day

Nix and ChubsBeing happy is hard.  I feel like something I’m always writing about personally and in my blogging is ways I’ve been able to be happier as a mother and also about my growing realization that I (and other busy mamas and young ladies) can do hard things.

My goal with blogging is to share my happiness with other people, to help other people see that they can do hard things (because if this mama can, ANYONE can), and also to just be my quirky creative self in all the ways I can.

I was having a rough time about a week ago.  Constant pumping and taking care of a newborn and living in pajamas with greasy hair all the time was getting to me.  Nick gave me a priesthood blessing that gave me so much comfort and reassurance that I can do hard things and fulfill my goals and dreams, and I instantly felt so much better and have been much happier ever since.

So you need God.  God loves us and is more pleased with us than we realize, I think.

A sweet friend recently wrote on her blog that she gets up in the morning and gets ready, then takes that last look in the mirror for that day and then forgets about herself and from there on out it’s all about the kids.  That way of thinking has helped me immensely.  If I get up in the morning and get dressed (maybe even showered!) and do whatever I need to do to feel good for the day, I can then move on and just focus on my kids without feeling resentful or frustrated because I just want to wash my hair instead of constantly cutting up waffles or something. A lot of my mom friends figured this out a long time ago but guys, I struggled.  I would still be in pajamas at noon and hating everyone because I just wanted a shower!  But sometimes I shower at night when Nick can be on baby duty and the next morning I can quickly do my hair and a little makeup and throw on some cute clothes, and my day is a zillion times happier.

Not a super novel concept, but it’s helping me a lot.

I got to meet Cara Brook at Pinner’s conference and she helped me pick the right colors for my face from her makeup line!  I’m still drooling over the pink Free People sweater she was wearing (don’t click on that link and look at the price, you’ll only cry). Anyway, she recently posted a great video on how to get pretty for the day in just ten minutes, so go check that out.





Just Begin

I’ve wanted to do a lot of different things in my life, but I didn’t work on any of them because I wasn’t OK with failing.  I compared myself to people who were good at things and thought it was too late for me to catch up with everyone else, so I didn’t want to even try.

Then I had someone tell me that you have to be willing to be a beginner, and I came to realize that we just can’t wait for perfection before we start something and that we can’t  be held back by our fear of failure.  It has taken me YEARS to realize this unfortunately.  You wouldn’t read dozen books on painting and THEN, once you are an expert on painting, start painting.  You have to start experimenting in order to learn, and at first you are probably going to suck, and that’s totally 100 percent OK.  You can’t wait for perfection.  You have to work toward it.

Maybe this is a concept that is fairly obvious to everyone but me, but it’s slowly sinking in and I’m realizing that if I want to develop my talents and achieve my dreams and goals, I have to start SOMEWHERE, even if somewhere is in the middle of CRAPVILLE.

A lot of this started sinking in more than ever as I was reading from the Book of Mormon the other day, in 1 Nephi (Chapters 3 and 4).  God commands Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to get the records enscribed on brass plates from Laban.  After two failed attempts to get Laban to give or sell the plates to them, Laman and Lemuel are ready to give up — and I know I would be wondering why nothing was working, if it was really what God wanted me to do — but Nephi goes back a third time, even though Laban literally wants to KILL Nephi and his brothers. Nephi refused to give up until they had accomplished what they had set out to do.

I love what Nephi says here, in chapter 4, verse 6:

“And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”

So even though Nephi had no idea how things were going to get done, or even whether that attempt would be successful, he went for it.  God works like that: we have to take a few steps into the dark, and once we show that faith he’ll keep leading us a few steps at a time. Maybe He lets us fall flat on our faces a few times so we can learn what doesn’t work — or just to build character, but if we’re faithful we can do hard things with God’s help! Yay.

I saw this the other day and plan on hanging it over the desk in my office:


Just begin.  Be willing to be a beginner.  Step into the unknown and learn from your mistakes along the way.  You might suck for a while at whatever you’re pursuing, but that most certainly does not mean that you will always suck.  Some people are prodigies, but most people that are good at things were beginners once too.

The other day I was scrolling through the Instagram feed of a popular fashion blogger who now makes insane amounts of money and basically lives in a CASTLE, but as I scrolled to the beginning of her feed from a couple of years ago, it became apparent that she didn’t start with a super cohesive look to her branding and her iPhone photos used to not be anything to write home about.  The key is that she started, not even knowing what amazing things she would end up doing, and now she is succeeding tremendously.

Just begin.  Begin now, and five years from now you’ll probably be amazed at what you’ve accomplished, instead of regretting spending another five years not trying to pursue your dreams.

Just begin.

Baby Boston: Home

I didn’t document the whole nasty ordeal of Boston getting Group B Strep right before he was supposed to come home from the NICU. It sucked but it was a good reminder that we are so lucky to have our sweet little guy here and doing so well after everything he has been through.  I can’t imagine what would have happened if he had come home and then come down with that horrible infection.

Anyway, let’s just say it was scary and I cried but after a priesthood blessing from his daddy with Grandpa Robb’s help, and after lots of antibiotics, Boston very quickly went from being horribly sick and on the ventilator and not being able to eat to suddenly eating better than ever before and quickly being ready to discharge once he finished his antibiotics. I can’t believe he was able to come home off of oxygen.


So now he’s home and it’s great.  We’re tired, all the time, but it’s so great. And he takes a binky.  A binky! He weighed in at  8 lbs 5 oz yesterday.

Nixon loves his little brother so much.  He asks to hold him a lot, and he rushes over with a  pinky when Boston cries.  It’s darling.  Nixon has also been doing tumbling tots at the rec center this month, which he likes OK but he is DEATHLY afraid of being upside down so he won’t do most of the things they do there.  It has been fun for him to get to do it, though, so I’m not disappointed, and his best friend Claire goes too.  He calls it “Claire-nastics.”

Ava tried kids yoga at the rec center on Monday since it was still fall break.  I don’t know why but I think sending a kid to yoga class is like the cutest thing ever.  Kids are so much fun.

Ava’s doing so well at school! I’m just amazed at how quickly she’s learned to write all of her letters, which she would NEVER do for me at home — it’s funny how kids just don’t like mom to be their teacher sometimes, but they’ll do anything for a different teacher! Haha.  I love that she comes home from school and draws a million pictures, and doing homework with her is so much fun.  We love walking to school  with our neighborhood friends, and I’m so happy Ava has made so many sweet friends at school and that most of her friends from church are in her class (except for her boyfriend Ben).

I just LOVED General Conference this time around! I mean, it’s always great, but so many of the talks this time just spoke to me, and I’m excited to read and reread them over the next several months.  I especially liked this one.

Also, Matt’s home from his mission! I’m so proud of him and his homecoming talk was just the sweetest.  I can tell he learned and changed so much on his mission and it makes me so happy. I’m so proud of myself because on Sunday I succeeded in doing this braid in Ava’s hair. I want to try this one this week.

I just bought these boots from Target.  I get lots of compliments on them and they are so cozy and warm and cute and fun and not too girly. Win win win win win.

Also. Star Wars. Guys.  I can’t wait until December.  Nick refuses to go so he gets to be on baby duty while I go so the midnight showing with my cousins.  I might pee my pants, I’m so excited.

My goals for this week are to attempt to start reading Harry Potter to Ava, and to start blogging regularly, and to make green smoothies and dinners that include vegetables, and mmmmmaybe make Ava a unicorn costume for Halloween.  I also want to finish the book my parents got me for my birthday last year (Lila by Marilynne Robinson) and finish making Boston’s blanket (similar to this one). Obviously I will probably just end up consuming lots of chocolate and Diet Coke and attempting to get the baby to sleep so I can fold laundry, and then Nick will actually end up folding the laundry while I pump and feed the baby while scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram, but at least I have good intentions.

Have a lovely week, friends!





Baby Boston: Counting Down The Days . . .

Boston hit 5 pounds and moved to the B nursery a couple of weeks ago.  They didn’t necessarily move him over because he was super ready, but the NICU suddenly got three sets of triplets so they decided he was ready enough. Around that time he moved to a regular nasal canula, which several nurses told me I should expect to take him home on.

Well, we got a nice little surprise last Sunday.  I got a voicemail from the NICU during church, but I forgot to listen to it later.  Lately the updates have been “everything’s about the same, we’re lowering his  oxygen settings a little, and he’s gassy as usual.” So we took the kids in for their weekend visit, and Boston was sleeping on his tummy when Nick took Nixon in to see him.  Then I went in with Ava while Nick and Nix waited in the parent room.  Boston was grunting a little so the nurse flipped him onto his back.  I noticed a couple seconds later that his oxygen tubing was missing from his face.  So, I was like, “Um, oops, did he pull his nose tubing off?” to which the nurse, Heather, replied, “Oh, you didn’t get the voicemail?”

Then I got the amazing news that he was doing great on room air alone, and his caffeine had been discontinued because he had had no apnea in a week.  To go home he has to have gone I think two weeks without any apnea, and he has to be able to stay that way while being off of caffeine for a week prior to discharge.  So this is HUGE progress and now all he need to do it start eating so he can go home!!!!!!

Nearly a week later, he is still doing solid off of oxygen, and he is starting to do better on the bottle.  I have a feeling he is going to be a lazy nurser like my first to kids, and because of how Ava and Nixon nursed I had planned on pumping exclusively for this baby, so I will not be extremely bummed if Boston never catches onto breastfeeding, even if pumping AND bottle feeding is twice as time consuming — it is still way less frustrating. I would love to breastfeed instead of pumping, though, and the lactation consultant I have been working with tells me many moms have success after coming home and waiting until the baby gets a little bigger and stronger.

I can’t believe how much progress has happened in the last few weeks.  Not long ago Boston would have major breathing issues whenever I was holding him, and now he’s totally fine.  Sometimes he chokes a bit on his bottle and stops breathing for a second so he doesn’t aspirate the milk into his lungs, but after a couple little pats on the back he’s fine.  They have been putting a little bit of banana baby food into his bottles to make it a bit thicker so it doesn’t shoot into his mouth too fast and freak him out, and that has helped him immensely with eating but it is also constipating, which is the last thing that kid needs, as he’s always had a hard time pooping.  They are giving him a teensy bit of prune juice and are considering discontinuing the bananas now that he’s more willing to eat.

Now Boston is about 6.5 pounds and basically out of preemie-sized clothing (sniff sniff). Thanks to everyone who has brought or sent cute little outfits for him to wear.  I will always treasure them.

People ask who I think Boston looks like.  I think he is basically baby Nixon with bug eyes.  Both of our older kids looked like little Asian babies when they were born, but Boston definitely does not have almond eyes.  Sometimes he goes cross eyed.  It’s funny.

I can’t wait for our little baby chunk to come home so I can smooch and pinch and snuggle him all day.  But first I guess I should clean the house, get his clothes ready, sew a bassinet mattress to fit in the laundry basket (why not?) and panic and freak out a little.

I hope people will be understanding as we’ll probably be a little overprotective about our little baby man through flu season.  I know I’ll be checking on him 500 times a night to make sure he’s breathing and we may have to put a little pause on the play dates with friends until sniffle season is over.  Ava’s already bringing all sorts of lovely germs home from school, so that’s nice.

People wonder how Nixon is going to handle having a little brother at home, but I think he is going to love it.  A few months ago Nixon was acting POSSESSED and screaming and throwing himself on the floor all the time and clinging to me, but he is actually a pretty well-adjusted little toddler these days and has gotten used to me being glued to a breast pump half the day, and he knows he can sometimes play iPhone games when I’m busy or he happily drives his cars all over the couch or the playroom or skips into friends houses to play and just blows me a kiss, waves, and yells “Bye Mom!” without a second thought.  So I’m not worried a bit.  Ava, on the other hand, got to hold Boston a couple of weeks ago, and after a few seconds of happy giggling declared that her brother smelled funny and she would like someone else to hold him.  So there’s that.

Thank you to all of out wonderful neighbors who have been babysitting for us.  I’m sure you all are just as anxious as we are for Boston to come home 😉






Baby Boston: Out of the Isolette

Boston is out of his isolette and hangs out in a regular open hospital crib all day.  He seems to be staying warm enough in there all swaddled in footie pajamas and a blanket and a hat. He looks so big these days, weighing in at 4 pounds and 14 ounces! I just want to bring him home and snuggle him all the time! We met with an occupational therapist the other night to see how Boston would do with breastfeeding.  He has been waking up and chomping on his binky at a lot of his feeding times, which is a good sign that he’s ready to start trying. He latched right on and did great — he’s not actually full-on nursing yet, though; for now we’re just practicing. This Thursday an ENT doc will check to make sure his vocal chords have not been damaged by his heart surgery so that we can get the green light for breastfeeding. Boston had another eye exam and everything looked great.  He has been back on the high-flow nasal canula because the regular canula was drying out his nose and throat.  The high-flow canula has a humidifier in it so he will just be on that for a bit until they think he’s ready for a lower flow on the regular canula so he doesn’t get as dried out. Unfortunately the high flow puts a lot of air in his tummy and he has had a very backed up digestive system, with a lot of residuals coming back up out of his feeding tube.  Today they started giving him regular enemas to get him pooping lots to hopefully give him some relief.  At this point they are still not worried to the point that they’ll be calling in a GI doctor to look at him since Boston’s gestational age is not even 36 weeks, but man his poor tummy has always really struggled.  He has also been breathing really fast a lot of the time so it will still be a while before he his back on a regular nasal canula.  The goals over the next few weeks are obviously just weaning down on oxygen needs and working on breastfeeding. I am so grateful for how blessed I am to have these precious babies of mine. I hope I can be the mommy they deserve.  Thanks everyone for watching my other two babies while I visit Boston and thank you for your patience with their emotions — I obviously have my struggles as a parent and Ava has developed a good deal of sassiness as a result. Maybe the boys will turn out OK? As my mom told me the other day — she’s the first child in her family, as am I — “Raising children is like making pancakes — the first one is always a throwaway!” Ah poor Ava. I’m not quite sure how Kindergarten is going to go and I’ve shed many tears of anxiety over it. Hopefully I figure out parenting someday.

Baby Boston: Progress, and a Friendly Reminder

Gah. Guys. Our baby is doing so well.  Today the practitioner who did his checkup left me the best voicemail.  She hadn’t seen him in a while and couldn’t believe how good he looked.  Since we see him almost every day we don’t notice his progress as much as people who see him less frequently, but last night I was looking at pictures from just a day or two after he was born.  They make me a little sad because even though I knew he was struggling then, it almost looks worse now that he has made so much progress.

unnamed-7 unnamed-8And now he is starting to look like a normal healthy baby.  He is basically on the verge of looking us in the eyes and smiling.  Yesterday when I held him he kept smiling in his sleep (you know, the little twitchy newborn smiles that everyone tells you are “just gas,” but of course they are WRONG).

unnamed-10 unnamed-11

In this next picture you can see that he has graduated from the NIPPV to a high-flow nasal canula, and things have been going rock solid! He’s tolerating his feedings (8 ounces of milk a day, plus human milk fortifier to give him some extra calories) (he needs the occasional enema to help him poop) and in a week I’m sure he’ll be 4 pounds and out of his incubator!

unnamed-9I also wanted to give everyone a friendly reminder about whooping cough.  Just make sure you had the Tdap vaccine sometime between age 11-64, and you should be good (the every-ten-year Td booster doesn’t cover pertussis). If you don’t think you’ve had it, you can make an appointment or walk in at the health department, but also please just be sure to wash your hands and stay away from us if you are sick whether you visit us at home or at the hospital. I’ve never been a huge germ Nazi — and I like to tell myself that’s why my kids have strong immune systems — but this time around, for obvious reasons, I appreciate people understanding that once Boston comes home we probably won’t have a big party for everyone to come over and pass him around and breathe all over him — I’ll probably be like that mom from the Luvs commercial making people put hand sanitizer on their arms and necks. Oh well.






Baby Boston: Boring is Good

It’s been a pretty chill week for Boston.  He is still on the NIPPV and they are slowly weaning down the settings.  He still has some apnea/bradycardia episodes. They have been adding human milk fortifier to his feedings and he now weighs three and a half pounds.  Since he’s getting bigger, he hasn’t needed the heater under his mattress, and as he gets better they will slowly lower the temperature in his isolette until he weighs about four pounds, and then he should be ready to move to a regular, open crib.  He needs to transition to that slowly so he doesn’t use too much energy regulating his temperature and burn off all the fat he’s gained.

A lot of people ask when he can come home.  Generally the quickest answer is that he won’t be home until somewhere around his due date, September 25th.   So we are about half way there, as long as everything goes well.  Here some of the criteria he needs to meet in order to come home:

-Must maintain his temperature in an open crib, and gain weight at the same time.

-Must be able to take feedings from a bottle (or breast).

-Must be on minimal oxygen from a nasal canula.

-Must have gone at least a week without any episodes of apnea/bradycardia.

There are some other requirements for discharge, like being able to tolerate lying flat on his back instead of being elevated, not needing caffeine, and being able to stay in a car seat without breathing problems.

We should see quite a bit of progress in a few of these areas over the next couple of weeks! I’m falling in love with this little guy more every time I see him and I just want to bring him home so I can snuggle him whenever I want!





Baby Boston: Turning a Corner

On Friday night Nick got to hold Boston for the first time.  It was the sweetest thing!  I took a video and I have been watching it over and over for days.  Boston was so alert and just stared and stared at Nick. He had just had his blood transfusion the day before so he was much more active.


nickboston3 nick boston 2



Boston had been put back on the ventilator on Thursday, which was pretty discouraging, but by the weekend he was on the NIPV, and still is.  That’s one step down from the ventilator, so that’s a little bit of progress!  It’s great to see him extubated again, and I really really hope it lasts this time! I’m really hoping that if they change things they try to skip the CPAP and go to a high-flow nasal canula.

Since Boston is now tolerating about an ounce of milk at a time through his feeding tube, so he is now completely off of IV nutrition.  PICC line and other IVs are all gone!  This is so encouraging to me and so nice for him to not have those awful things attached to him.  His tummy was so, so poofy today when I went to see him, but his nurse gave him a glycerine enema and he immediately pooped lots and his girth measurements went down considerably.  It’s always a struggle but he’s definitely improving.

His potassium was a bit low, but that’s pretty normal.  I mean sometimes you just need to eat a banana or chug a Gatorade, right?  Not a big deal, and since IVs are out they will be giving him that through his feeding tube.  They will also be fortifying his feedings with calcium and phosphorus to help his bones get nice and strong.  It’s amazing how much they are doing to help Boston grow and develop properly.

A lot of preemies have vision problems — especially when there’s been a lot of oxygen therapy, anemia, or blood transfusions, like Boston has had.  They will keep checking his eyes every two weeks until he comes home, and there are plenty of things they can do if he starts to have enlarged blood vessels in his eyes.  His eyes are so open and cute!  It’s so amazing to see him starting to look around at things, even if he probably doesn’t see much.


Hopefully he will be able to continue weaning off of oxygen.  He is breathing really fast on the NIPV and his oxygen saturation levels drop pretty frequently, but they are still hoping to wean him down to a high-flow nasal canula.  Thanks for all the prayers and good vibes!