Due Date Letter to My Angel Baby

due dateDear Sweet Angel Autumn,

Please forgive me for I am a date late writing this. I had planned to write this yeterday, on my expected due date, yet I couldn’t seem to open my computer. In fact, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. It took all my energy to drag myself through the long work day without breaking down into tears. My thoughts kept drifting off into the “I wonder ifs…” and the “I should be…”.
I wonder if you would have waited until after my due date to make your grand appearance.
I wonder if you would have been a boy or girl.
I wonder if you would have had a head full of strawberry blond hair.
I should be eagerly awaiting to go into labor, sitting in a hospital bed with you in my arms, or nursing you on the couch at home.
Your brothers should be meeting you.
Your daddy should be snuggling you, while I get something to eat or take a shower.

Instead your due date will always be a day I reflect on how old you would have been. I will never stop wondering and wishing things would have been different though. It’s amazing how much the heart can miss someone they never met. I miss you. I miss getting a chance to be your mama.

With the passing of the 40 weeks of pregnancy, comes new milestones to mark. Your should have been first Thanksgiving, Christmas, and so much more. Milestones I did not think of until yesterday, the day of your expected arrival. Yes of course most babies do not arrive on their due date, but it’s a date that everyone asks about when your expecting a baby. A date to mark off the beginning of new life.

Yesterday on your due date the weather was warm and sunny, and the foliage was golden yellow. In a day filled with so much sadness, I was thankful the sun was there to warm my back. Thank you for sending sunshine on a dark day. I want you to know that I will never stop loving and honoring you. Thank you for making me a mama of four precious babies. I love you and am sending you all the hugs and kisses.



10 Reasons To Love Babywearing


This post is sponsored by ErgoBaby. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and images are my own.

It’s no secret that I love babywearing. Ever since becoming a mom almost seven years ago, I have been in love with my Ergo soft structured carrier, which I received for a baby shower gift from a close friend. My husband and I babywear everywhere and anytime. Babywearing is such a vital part of our parenting, that I can’t imagine how we would manage life with three kids, as working parents without wearing our children.

10 Reasons to Love Babywearing

1. Multi tasker– Dinner to cook? Laundry to wash? Floors to mop? Photography clients to photograph? No problem. Babywearing allows me to tend to my other roles and calm my out of control toddler or fussy baby. A few nights ago we were out to dinner at a chinese buffet and I wore Ryker in the Ergo Performance (retails $140), so we both could get food.  Without a carrier, he would have been running around the shiny floors and stealing the chicken wings from the food bar.
Ergo Performance Stone Gray
2. Sleepy Duster-When my boys were tiny babies, babywearing was the nap soother. Ask any mom that babywears what her secret is to getting her baby to nap without a fuss and she will tell you “magical babywearing sleepy dust”. My Ergo carrier is covered in magical baby sleepy dust that has lulled all three of my boys to sleep. Best secret ever!babyxander

3. Mood Uplifter-  I suffered from anxiety and mild depression when I returned to work after maternity leave. Babywearing allowed me to feel close to my baby after a long day at work. Recently, I discovered just how much I needed babywearing after suffering a miscarriage. When I am feeling down and sad from the loss, a walk outside with Ryker on my back helps lift my mood.mommy and Ryker

4. Milk maker- Babywearing allows you to have skin-to-skin contact and more frequent feedings, which in turn helps increase your milk supply. Babywearing after work was vital for me in maintaining my milk supply during those early baby months, since I never seemed to quite get enough milk while pumping with my second or third baby.1237980_10153178940290333_175273560_o

5. Easy transporter- One of the best parts about babywearing is that it allows my family to travel and navigate crowds, without a bulky stroller or fear of losing one of our children. It also allows us to attend sporting events with ease.994787_10152933105050333_1064156406_n

6. Sick Soother- Another wonderful benefit of babywearing is that it helps soothe your little one when they aren’t feeling well. Babywearing allows your baby to be in an upright position when they are congested, so they are more comfortable. All three of my boys suffered from ear infections. Babywearing always soothed them back to sleep at night, when they were feeling miserable and nothing else would calm them.10327209_10154034780885333_612290320_n

7. Baby exerciser – Babywearing promotes physical development of the head and neck muscles.   It’s also a great way for your little one to explore the world, while remaining safe. 10432258_10154187981730333_1458642827_n

8. Language builder- When wearing your baby or toddler, your child is hearing your voice and language. Babywearing provides plenty of language opportunities from sharing stores to communicating non-verbally with touch. Whenever I’m wearing Ryker I can’t help but squeeze his little thighs or tickle his toes. He loves this non-verbal communication and I adore his little giggles.wear the babies

9. Germ Avoider- I cringe when I think about all the nasty germs there are on grocery shopping carts. Instead of putting my little one in the grocery cart, it’s easier and germ free to strap him to my back to get my shopping done. He also loves that he can look around and reach all the items on the shelves.

10. Friend Maker- The babywearing community is my area is amazing. I have met so many wonderful friends through babywearing and cannot imagine my life without the sisterhood of the Southern Maryland International Babywearing community. The organization holds events throughout the area, from beach outings to parades.1090044_10153036614405333_1740949790_o

Bonus reason:  Babywearing is a great reason to take a selfie!!

This post is sponsored by Ergobaby. During the month of October, share a selfie of you and your baby on your babywearing adventures and be entered for a chance to win a $200 Ergobaby Gift Card! You can enter the #WhereIBabywear contest here. (http://bit.ly/1LCAWIn) Snap a selfie of you and your baby on your babywearing adventure and tag it with #WhereIBabywear on Twitter or Instagram or upload a photo here to enter for a chance to win!

Photo submissions will be accepted from now until 11:59 PM ET on October 22, 2015. Ergo will open up a public voting period from October 23, 2015 – 11:59 PM ET on October 30, 2015. The photo with the most votes at the end of the voting period will win a $200 Ergobaby Gift Card!

Catch the Moment: Week 40 & 41

I can’t not even belive it’s already October. Halloween will be here before we know it! Ahhh!! I have been so busy these past few weeks that there have been a few days where I only took a photo with my phone. As the days become shorter, I am remembering just how hard this project is during the winter months. By the time I get home lately we have just a short amount of time before the sun sets and the boys are too hungry and tired to want to play outside. Plus there is homework, dinner, and just trying to catch up on life.
Here is my first Iphone photo to start the week. Noah fell asleep waiting for me to read him his Halloween story. Poor tired monkey. Catch the Moment 269-365A failed attempt at apple picking, turned into a last minute trip to a newly renovated local playground. The boys had a blast in Oz!Catch the Moment 270-365-EditApple picking successCatch the Moment 271-365Oh these brothersCatch the Moment 272-365Matching stripes today- Iphone photo of courseCatch the Moment 273-365Hungry beastCatch the Moment 274-365Morning drive to workCatch the Moment 275-365I bet werwolves don’t read bedtime stories in your house.Catch the Moment 276-365Sundays are meant for Target time.Catch the Moment 277-365First pumpkin of the season!Catch the Moment 278-365He loves his goldfish.Catch the Moment 279-365Tiny helpersCatch the Moment 280-365Location scouting and found this beauty just 10 miles from my house.Catch the Moment 281-365Getting ready for bedCatch the Moment 282-365

What have you been photographing lately>

Project Heal: Capture Your Grief- Day 1 to 7

October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness month, which hits me so very hard this year, being on the other side. I should currently be 35 weeks pregnant now. I should be thinking about what I need to pack for the hospital, planning for care for the boys for when I go in to labor, and putting the finishing touches on the nursery. Instead I’m in a state of sadness from heartbreak. I’ve been participating in the CarlyMarie Project Heal- Capture Your Grief, which is a month long healing project for anyone that is grieving the death of a child or baby of any gestation and age. For each day in the month of October there is a subject each day. I am planning on participating all month on instagram and Facebook. Weekly I will share my 7 prompts from that week. This project comes at a time where I am feeling very vulnerable and emotional, as I approach my what should have been due date of November 8th. So far in just the first week of the project I have been able to get out some of my thoughts from the past 7 months. The process has been sad, yet I feel that working my way through some of this grief is healing. I’m trying to take more small moments of the day just for me. Here is the first 7 days..Day 1: Sunrise12087881_10156042587225333_7051869191789227867_oNo sunset here in southern maryland seems appropriate for the first day of this month and the photo project. It rained and rained for days after I found out baby #4 had no heartbeat. My heart ached to see that little flicker that was not there. A piece of me died that day. Each day is a challenging but I sound my best to live in the moment. I miss my sweet angel every day.
Day 2: Intention: 12087295_10156045625360333_1177198238640848117_o Each night before going to bed I kiss each of my kids or rub them on the head. I do this each night because we never know what tomorrow brings. As they grow bigger and wiser, I hope to soak up every moment with them. Their sleeping presence is such a comfort to me especially when I am feeling sad.Day 3: In Honour12045685_10156049935245333_5247786016725473990_oThe day I first saw you was suppose to be filled with joy and yet it was a mother’s worst nightmare. Those three words forever my OB spoke as she waved the wand over my stomach “I don’t see a heartbeat.” broke me into pieces. I had no idea how much I wanted you until you were gone. March 23, 2015 will be a day I will never forget.Day 4: Light & Dark12091454_10156053027990333_3266259997530528114_oIn the early morning of April 12th, I was woken up with horrible cramps that quickly turned into contractions. For over an hour and a half I was tortured with pain and an overwhelming sense of disappointment and failure. My body had one very important job to do and it failed me. It failed to provide for my child that I wanted to hold in my arms. Around 5:30 am my miscarriage was complete and the pain immediatly subsided. Unlike a full term, healthy labor, I did not experience a sense of relief with an immediate release of endorphins and joy. Instead I was left with emptiness, hovered on the cold bathroom floor, sobbing. I had no clue how I would pick myself up from this darkness.
Ironically enough during the time of my miscarriage the Cherry Blossoms were blooming in Washington DC. They are one of my favorite parts about living in this area and I had intentions of photographing them this year. So in the evening of the day I lost my sweet Autumn I hauled my 2 year old son down to the Cherry Blossoms in hopes of some solace. The sun set was beautiful and the sweet smells of the blossoms will never be forgotten. In the midst of my darkest day, I found a small amount of light.Day 5: Empathy12095087_10156054767995333_9040793726782988265_oAfter telling friends and family about our loss and publishing a blog post about it, the support I received from everyone was overwhelming. From the meals, to the restaurant gift cards to the flowers delivered at work, I felt the love from my people. My social media family sent me virtual hugs and stories of their own losses, which made me feel not so alone. I will never stop sharing my story of grief and loss, no matter how uncomfortable it may make someone feel. It saddens me to know just how many families cope with this loss alone, not sharing their story even with family members. Miscarriage and baby loss does not need to be an unspoken secret. The pain is much too big to carry alone. For the many people I have shared my story with, I received a few hurtful and inconsiderate words of advice. I refused to let this advice bring me down further though. I know the words were meant well, even if they did not seem that way. If you are on the receiving end of a mom or dad sharing with you that they have experienced or are experiencing a baby loss, I ask you to be patient, be kind, and just listen. Often no words are needed, just huge hugs and a dry shirt to sob in to.
One of the hardest things for me personally is to initiate a conversation about my loss, even if I am having a super emotional day. I mean, how exactly do you Segway into a conversation about the death of your child? Even the kind gesture of “I’m here if you want to talk.” can be overwhelming. Perhaps someday I will reach the point of being able to talk openly, anytime about my miscarriage, but the pain is far too raw now. The words won’t flow, just tears. Day 6: Books12139951_10156059906220333_4364256583650463937_oBooks- I discovered my baby did not have a heartbeat at my first OB appointment. They sent me for a more in depth ultrasound at the same place you would go for a 20 week anatomy ultrasound, because the machine they use in the office “wasn’t giving a clear enough picture.”. As I was leaving the office, to head to the radiology office my doctor still handed me the “congrats your pregnant!” pamphlets about prenatal care, as well as a bag of a few different samples of prenatal vitamins. I left the books sitting on the table in the examination room. The same table I sat on just minutes ago to discover my pregnancy was over. These are books I never got to read. I can only hope in the future I will be able to take these books home and eagerly read. Day 7: Memory 12120030_10156062825710333_5343910203532052008_oMemory: Not all of my memories of Autumn are filled with sadness. From the day I got a positive pregnancy test until our first OB appointment, we began planning for life with a new baby. When I discovered I was pregnant it was shortly after St. Patrick’s day. I wanted to do something cute to share the exciting news with Adrian, instead of my typical shove-the-pee-stick-in-your-half-asleep-face method I’ve done in the past. This of course required waiting until after work to tell him the news, since I needed time to craft a plan. I decided on cutting out four leaf clovers and have each boy hold their own to give to him and I would give him baby ‪#‎4’s‬. We went out to dinner that night at Olive Garden and I held on to them in my purse. Dinner with tired boys on a weeknight is always chaotic, and that night was no different. So I waited until we were home from dinner and then we implemented the plan. I loved seeing the reaction of shock and happiness on his face. It’s something I hope to never forget. I considered baby #4 to be our lucky baby because in the past I needed chlomid to help conceive, since I ovulate infrequently due to PCOS. Conceiving without intervention and while breastfeeding was such a gift. Immediately we started talking about what two boys would bunk together, if we wanted to find out the sex of the baby, and names. I also started planning the nursery theme and researching the different brands of newborn cloth diapers. Of course all these plans fizzled out on the afternoon of March 23rd. Now all I have left to hang on to with my time with Autumn are these happy, busy memories of preparing for a new Stavish baby, but that’s it. I have yet to find the strength to delete the Pinterest board labeled Baby #4 Nursery and the four clovers still sit in my nightstand drawer.

You can follow me along on Instagram through this 31 days of #whathealsyou.Are you an angel mom too? Please feel to free to join and or share a few words on your healing in the comments.

How to Handwash Cloth Diapers

cloth diaper hand washing routine
In early spring our 10 year old washing machine and dryer decided to breakdown at the same time. For a family of five, laundry piles up FAST. In order to keep up with laundry, I typically put it at least one if not two loads of laundry a day. Add insult to injury, I cloth diaper, so a washing machine is needed. Or is it?

Right around the same time our machines broke, I learned about the Flats and Handwashing Cloth Diaper Challenge through a local cloth diapering Facebook group I am active in. Determined to continue to cloth diaper, I researched my options and started handwashing my diapers when my diaper stash ran empty.

Cloth diaper without a functional washing machine, I did a bit of research and set out to attempt hand washing my cloth diapers. If you would have asked me ten years ago if I would consider cloth diapering I would have shook my head and stated “No way.”. If someone told me even five years ago I would be hand washing cloth diapers, I would have told them they were certifiably insane. It’s funny how those little buggers turn your world upside down, huh?

My typical cloth diaper stash consists of a mixture of pockets (with bamboo inserts) prefolds, and fitteds. After my first time handwashing, I realized if I was going to stick with this I needed to simplify my stash. Since my kids go to daycare, where flats or prefolds and covers are not acceptable, I opted to use pocket diapers stuffed with flour towel sacks and flannel receiving blankets. Both these options are very absorbent, easy to ring excess water out of, and dry very quickly in the sun. I’m six months in to handwashing cloth diapers and my diapers have never smelled cleaner.Rykers-cloth-diaper-stash1
What You Will Need:

1. Receptacle to wash the diapers in- I use my utility sink in my laundry room, which works perfectly. Alternative options are a five gallon bucket with a lid or your bathtub.
2. Cloth diaper safe laundry detergent
3. Toilet Plunger
4. Drying Rack
5. 2-3 Bath towels

Cloth Diaper Hand washing Routine

1. Rinse- Dump all your diapers into your washing bin and fill until there is about 1 inch of water above your diapers. You need enough water to agitate the diapers with movement. Plunge for 50 times.
2. Second Rinse- Drain the dirty water and fill the washing bin with the same amount of water and dump in your laundry detergent. I generally use the same amount of detergent I would use for the washing machine. If my load is significantly less I will decrease the amount of detergent. Overall I eye-ball the amount of detergent. Plunge 50 more times. Let diapers soak for 10-15 minutes.
3. Hot Wash- Drain the dirty water and then rinse each diaper off to get rid of the residual material that may be sitting on the top of the diaper. Fill the washing bin with hot water and add laundry detergent. Plunge 50 times. Let sit for 10 minutes. If my load is very dirty I will repeat this step one more time at this point.
4. Final Rinse- Drain the water and fill the wash bin with cold water. Plunge 100 times. Drain the water and rinse the each diaper under running cool water to remove any residual soap.
5. Dry- Wring each diaper out by squeezing it in a big bath towel to remove any excessive water. Line dry or put your load in the dryer.

You did it!

Helpful tips:

• Instead of washing a huge load of diapers by hand, keep up with the wash every 2-3 days (1-2 days if your baby is a newborn).
• Be sure to rinse poop diapers off really well before sticking them into the diaper pail, that way there is less to clean while hand washing.
• Hand washing does not remove stains as well as the washing machine. You can easily combat this by line drying your diapers in the sun- it’s nature’s bleach.

Have you ever tried hand washing your cloth diapers? If so, how did it go?