At last! October in AZ has arrived!! Time for outdoor living, zoo trips, park play dates and, of course, HALLOWEEN! Over at MOMnation, we know it can be tough to narrow down the fun, so… More
As MOMs in AZ, there’s lots we have to think about and energy efficiency certainly is at the top of the list. It’s not only important for a comfortable home environment for the fam, but it’s also beneficial to the household budget.
There are several ways to keep the house comfier and the wallet happy during the summer months. Here are our great suggestions from our MOMs:
- Get sunscreens, especially on the windows in direct sunlight. Sunscreens come in many different sizes ranging from 60-90% sun coverage. They not only help block the heat but also provide some privacy. Sunscreens can make a really big difference in the overall comfort of your home, and also offer major relief on your energy bill.
- Sunshades are a must and we LOVE the automatic version. There are many options and colors of shades that are programmable. Once the sun hits a certain level, the shades come down. It’s great! Manual versions are also available and are a bit more cost effective while still offering the savings on the monthly energy bill. Check out one of our favorite, and very popular, manual sunshades here.
- Nest Thermometer! This programmable thermostat learns your habits and saves approximately 15% on your cooling bill. The coolest part is that it can be controlled by your smart phone.
- Check out energy rebates and usage programs from SRP, APS and SW gas.
- Check your insulation levels. Having the correct amount of insulation is super important, and at least 90% of AZ households do not have sufficient insulation. Speak to a professional to determine the appropriate amount of insulation and appropriate R-value. Here’s some more info.
- Energy efficient windows are a great investment and will definitely help reduce the energy bill. When selecting new windows, consider their energy performance ratings with respect to climate and home design. You can expect at least a 20% savings on your energy bill if not more.
- Make sure your “extra” fridge in the garage is up for the challenge. Higher temperatures can stress it by forcing the motor to run constantly, especially if your garage exceeds 110 degrees. The energy bill will spike and you run the risk of the machine failing and risking food spoilage.
- Service your AC unit ASAP if it has not been regularly maintained. You’d be surprised how much more efficient a regularly maintained AC unit is and you might even find that it makes sense to upgrade and replace the unit with a higher SEER rating for maximum efficiency. Be sure to change your AC filters regularly; it may seem small but this helps keep the unit running efficiently.
- Speaking of AC units, don’t forget about your ductwork. This is nearly as important as the unit itself. Look for sections that should be joined but have separated, and for obvious holes. Don’t want to do the work yourself? Consult a pro. Ignoring this could mean a 25% to 30% energy loss.
- Seal energy leaks around doors, windows, etc. If you can see the light of day, you are losing energy. Caulk and/or apply weatherstrip to doors and windows. Caulk to seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets. You can even install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
- Moving air is cooler that turning on your air conditioning because it creates quick evaporation of moisture from the skin. Ceiling fans are found in almost all homes in the Phoenix, AZ area and help create a more comfortable environment by moving air. Don’t think there’s a fan for you? Ceiling fans come in many styles and colors to fit any design scheme!
- Go solar! Solar power popularity is on the rise and you can now either purchase or lease the systems. There are still several options and incentives available for installing solar panels on top of the already big savings on energy bills.
- Upgrade to energy star appliances, and don’t forget the water heater. These appliances save a ton on energy but they don’t slack on performance. Upgrade your dishwasher, freezer, refrigerator, washer, dryer and water heater.
- Keep the fireplace damper completely closed while not in use! Consider adding glass doors and keep them closed to increase energy efficiency.
- Planting the appropriate trees in strategic places around your home conserves energy and reduces your energy bills. Be sure to consult a professional as planting an inappropriate type of tree or placing it in the wrong area can be damaging to some major systems of your home including the roof, foundation and plumbing.
- Purchase black out shades or blinds and place on all windows affected by the sun.
- Consider purchasing a home with North / South exposure. This is the most optimal orientation in the Phoenix AZ area. Search Phoenix area homes for sale here.
Contact me to discuss your energy efficiency level. I have great referrals for professionals to help with any of these suggestions and love to get to know MOMs!
Face it, it’s time to buy a house. You’ve been thinking about it more and more since your rent went up…AGAIN. All of your friends are taking the plunge and some are even building new homes with the New Build Ninja AKA Jen Duncan! You’ve realized it’s time to get it together and start the process, but where to start? Buying a home can seem daunting, but with a strong real estate team supporting you, and a few tips, you can simplify this exciting process.
So, what is the most important thing you can do to prepare for buying a home in Arizona?
Start saving ASAP!
Toss as much in a savings account as possible. The more money you have to work with, the more options you’ll have during the process which can save you time and money in the long run.
Here’s what you are saving for:
Earnest Deposit: This is the buyers “good faith” money. This deposit is due upon an accepted contract and is held by the title company in an escrow account until closing. The typical earnest deposit amount is 1% of the agreed upon sales price.
General Inspection and Termite Inspection: The inspection period is typically the first 10 days following the accepted contract date in AZ. During this time, the buyer is responsible for performing any and all inspections of the property. It’s common for the buyer to cover this fee as well as a termite inspection fee. Depending on the size of the home and the inspector that is hired, this fee is typically around $400.
Closing Costs: Costs to close for the buyer is typically around 2-3% of the sales price for financed buyers. This estimate does include prorated property tax amounts and an appraisal fee. The appraisal fee will likely be due once the buyer’s lender orders the report. This fee is approximately $500. Costs for cash buyers are a bit less and there are no appraisal fees generally.
Home Warranty Plan: Home warranty plans can help ease the stress of home owning. Depending on the size of the home, home warranty plans are around $500 for a basic plan and around $650 for a basic plan with pool coverage.
Deposit: Depending on the loan program, financed buyers usually have a down payment due at closing. Typical down payment amounts are 3.5%, 5%, 10% and 20%. A quick conversation with Ryan Gilliam with Waterstone Mortgage will help determine the best, most cost-effective loan program and can advise down payment amount.
Repairs: Keep extra money aside for repairs that may be needed prior to moving in. A little extra cash for possible appliance purchases is a good idea too. Both of these items may be negotiation points during the sale, however.
Utility Accounts and Deposits: Some utility companies charge deposits for new utility accounts. Buyers should be prepared for this and call all utility companies during the inspection period to check all fees and schedules.
Some of these costs can be absorbed by the home seller and that can be accomplished by having an experienced and seasoned negotiator on your side. In Arizona, the home seller is responsible for paying the fee to the buyer’s agent. There is no charge to the buyer.
Contact me with any questions about real estate in Arizona! Either call me directly at the number below, or fill out the form and I will be in touch.
Katie Halle Lambert
Hi Moms! This is fellow Mom and resident MOMnationAZ professional organizer Katy Krupnik of The Tidy Cottage. I love my kids, I love the way they enjoy their toys, but man toys can be a literal pain in the butt (or feet in the middle of the night).
Read on for tips to create a tidy toy room so those pesky toys stay out from under your feet!
1. Pair Down the Duplicates
We don’t even realize that our kids are playing with a lot of the same toys. Our kids don’t need three types of pretend laptops or four different types of train tracks. In fact, if our kids have only one or two options for each style or type of toy it will be less overwhelming to choose what to play with.
For example, this last year we bought my son a train table and it came with a bunch of little knick-knack wooden trees and signs, some tracks that built a bridge and around a mountain. Then my husband bought a box of different train tracks from a garage sale so they would have plenty to play with. So cool right!? Except it was a pain! My kids would get really frustrated and upset every time that bridge fell apart and they would fight over the wooden knick-knacks, and then the different track pieces would overwhelm them. It was such a frustration for all of us! I did not want to hear them running over complaining about it one more time so I took all of the bridge pieces and knick-knacks and non-wooden tracks away one evening, just to see if they would mention it or miss it. And life went on…with less arguing and running to mom complaining about something breaking or someone stealing a little piece, it was awesome!
Pairing down toys to just their favorites and what they enjoy the most is helpful, it eliminates the clutter and focuses in on what your children want to play with – which brings more peace into the home.
2. Purge the Broken and Worn Down Toys
If the puzzle has missing pieces or the wheels are off the car, it’s time to toss the toy. These are only cluttering the playroom or area and add frustration when played with.
Group “like with like” toys. Similar toys should be kept together. All cars together, all little people toys, music toys together, doctor kits together…etc. This will help your kids to be able to play with one type of toy at a time and make it an easy reset for the whole family. Everyone will know where cars go because they will all be together. It will be very obvious if a toy is misplaced, the car will look very funny next to all of the play food.
3. Clear Containers
If your kids tend to throw everything into baskets or bins, store toys in separate clear containers with lids. Kids can see what they want to play with, take it out and then put it back after they are done. They can’t go back to the habit of tossing toys together.
4. Take the Puzzles Out of The Box.
Take puzzles and memory games out of their boxes and put them in clear pencil pouches or ziplock bags with the cover of the puzzle or memory game cut out and placed in the bag. Then you can put the puzzles and memory games in one basket instead of taking up a whole shelf or area in your home!
I hope these tips help you on your journey to tidy the toy rooms in your life, we as Moms deserve to enjoy the wine at the end of the day without sitting on those pesky toys!
Owner of The Tidy Cottage
Our family business has always been bugs. Growing up, my dad owned a pest control business, so I’ve been around bugs my entire life. I can vividly remember when I was little, my dad would bring home jars of scorpions, spiders and all kinds of things that he would catch while out working. He would place them on the kitchen window seal (I’m sure my mother just loved that!) and teach us about them.
While I never did grow fond of our house visitors, I did learn a lot. Sure, I still run from the room screaming if I see a spider, but running a pest control business in Arizona means knowing the importance of being knowledgeable about all insects, especially scorpions.
The truth is, that no matter where you in the valley, scorpions are likely there. Maybe you are one of the lucky few that have never seen one inside your home, or perhaps, like many of us, you’ve found one in your shoe!
Scorpions tend to come out more when it’s hot, so with the extreme weather we are having, we felt it was important to remind you of the basics in scorpion safety. Being educated and knowledgeable about scorpions, and all dangerous desert critters, is essential to protecting both you and your family:
- Scorpions are not malicious and they do not hunt humans.
- Most scorpion stings are caused by accident, by being accidentally stepped on, or by aggravating where a scorpion is sheltering
- Scorpions seek warm places, so use caution when putting on shoes, or taking out towels from the closet.
- While scorpions are mostly found outside, they are attracted to heat sources inside of homes such as cars, hot water heaters, and attics. Always check storage boxes that are stored in the garage and attic before bringing them inside your home.
- Scorpion mothers have anywhere between 25-35 babies which she will carry on her back until they are ready to survive on their own, at around two months! Yikes! Can you imagine having 25 babies?
- If the mother scorpion cannot find food, she will eat her babies. She would have to be pretty hungry though because scorpions can go up to a year without eating.
- Scorpions can live up to 20 years but average about 6. Scorpions can also live underwater for about 2 days. So if you see one in your pool, use extreme caution, as it may not be dead.
- Scorpion venom is a neurotoxin designed to immobilize their prey.
- An adult scorpion knows how to control its venom when it stings.
- A baby scorpion does not know how to control its venom, so their sting can be much worse. This is why you will often hear that small scorpions are more dangerous than big scorpions.
- Everyone is different in how they react to a scorpion sting, but most adult humans will not need any medical treatment. Symptoms will last for several days and include a feeling of pins and needles, numbness, shortness of breath and pain at the sting site.
- A sting for a very small child, elderly person, or ill person can be very dangerous and immediate medical treatment is advised.
So, what can we do about these creatures that have been on earth for longer than humans and multiply at alarming rates? Here are 3 proven ways that we recommend to help stay safe, and not just from scorpions, but all kinds of creepy crawlies:
- The first and most important thing is to have your home sealed. You can do this yourself or hire a professional. If you look at your doors and you can see daylight underneath, then your house is inviting all types of bugs in. This can be a simple fix at Home Depot. If you have a hole in your ceiling where a ceiling fan was installed, this needs to be patched and sealed! No matter how much pesticides are laid down, if your house has openings, scorpions, and other bugs will find a way in.
- Make sure your yard is de-cluttered and free of debris that scorpions can nest in, including keeping your grass is trimmed down. Also, make sure your palm trees are debarked and kept trimmed. Scorpions LOVE palm trees for their moist shade and protection they provide. Do not place any type of shed or outdoor container directly against your home. Place it along a fence away from your home. In fact, do not have anything touching your home; keep a minimum 6-inch gap. This includes shrubs, trees or any vegetation.
- Have regular pest control service. Don’t wait until you’re having a problem. If you’re not seeing a lot of activity, think about having bi-monthly or even quarterly service. This will kill off the food source of scorpions which will help keep them away. We also recommend having your attic dusted at least twice a year.
What about the babies? Keeping our littles safe from scorpions is really important, and luckily there are a few easy things we can do:
- Do not place a crib directly underneath a fan, air vent or can light. Bugs can come through very very tiny openings and fall from the ceiling if they are residing in the attic.
- Do not place a crib directly against the wall as several kinds of bugs can crawl up the wall and into the crib. Some people have resorted to placing glass jars on the legs of the crib – this would be because scorpions and spiders cannot climb slick surfaces.
If you or your child is every stung:
- Stay calm and get away from the scorpion.
- Some scorpions can make themselves flat so it’s hard to smash them. Try to capture it in a glass jar or throw a cup over it and come back to it later.
- Clean the area well with soap and water.
- Apply an ice pack or cold cloth to help relieve the pain and stop the venom from spreading.
- We recommend calling your doctor or pediatrician as soon as you can for their further recommendations.
Ready to keep your house safe from scorpions? Give Creepy Crawly Pest Control a call at 480-969-2926. Be sure to mention this post!
Special thanks to Jessica Nelson with Photos By Jessica for the photo.
Since having kids, especially since having our second baby in January, my interactions with our pets have gone something like this:
“Jack, move. Jack, get out from under my feet!”
“Jack, OMG your farts are gross.”
“Did anyone feed Jack today?” (Jack has had either no dinner or two or three dinners because we couldn’t remember if we had fed him or not, due to “new baby” zombie status).
“Jack. JACK. JAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!”
“The damn cats stole the baby’s bottle nipples again!!”
“Ugh, the damn cat is stuck in the nursery!!” (after we juuuuuuust got the baby to sleep)
*random baby toy starts lighting up and signing in the middle of the night*
Jack is our Boston Terrier, and honestly, he is the most amazing dog ever. I know that every pet owner thinks that about their pets, but seriously… everyone loves Jack. I mean, look at this face! Jack is almost 13. He is old, he is arthritic, he’s going deaf, and he’s generally running out of craps. He is my toddler’s best friend, and he has tolerated a lot of abuse from her as we try to teach her “gentle!” And boy, does he love her come meal time (and I’m happy that I don’t really have to clean my floors).
Before our first human baby, Jack was our fur baby. He went everywhere with us; hiking, visiting friends, shopping, long walks to the park. He was photographed with us in a Santa suit for our family Christmas cards. Every eight weeks he would go to an organic doggy spa and get a blueberry facial, to give you a sense of the lifestyle that Jack was accustomed to.
And then, our first daughter was born. Jack had to learn his new place. Instead of blueberry facials, he was lucky to eat dropped blueberries off the kitchen floor.
Then my husband got the bright idea to “surprise” me with two kittens. He felt compelled to rescue these kittens because they were the same age as our daughter, and because I talked about MAYBE SOMEDAY having two kittens… not necessarily when I was like, completely overwhelmed with being a first-time mother. We are HUGE “Fixer Upper” fans and I always loved how Chip would surprise his family with animals, and perfect Joanna Gaines is all like “Oh, Chip!” and then they’d laugh and teehee… but the reality is, we’re not millionaire farmers with hired help to tend to the animals. We live in a cookie-cutter development with not a lot of land, and I was pissed that I had to rearrange my newly organized laundry room to accommodate this giant, stinking litter box. I shook my first in the air and declared they were my husband’s cats, not mine. I had enough bodies to keep alive!
So naturally, the cats love me and don’t really care too much for my husband.
Jack was sick over the weekend and it was one of those icky situations where I was following him around the house with the carpet cleaner and paper towels in hand, trying to scrub his yellow bile vomit out of our cream-colored rugs (clearly the previous owners didn’t have kids or pets). And when I looked into his sad, aging eyes, I realized… he was our first baby. He needs me right now. And those damn cats, they need some attention too besides my scowling and yelling at them to return the baby’s bottle parts to the kitchen sink.
It was long overdue, but today I decided to use the very limited and precious free time that I had to devote to our pets. After scrubbing the pukey carpets, I made parboiled chicken and white rice for Jack to help his stomach. I also took a few minutes to get down on the floor by him, and really look into his eyes, and scratch his head and neck and just pet him and talk to him.
When my longhaired cat, Sesame, jumped on my lap I decided to seize the moment and groom her. It hadn’t been done since my baby was born in January so it was way past due. In these 100-degree temps, she’s been so uncomfortable trying to find the coolest spot in the house to lounge. I brushed what looks like ten pounds of fur off of her, and not only do I live to write about it – she seemed to enjoy it!
The other cat, Nip – well, she’s the unruly one. She killed a moth that was in our house last night so I made it a point to praise her and scratch her neck.
Our home has two girls under two, a dog, and two cats. We are our own circus. And despite my yelling or complaints at our animals, they give us so much love (at least Jack does, the cats do on their own terms… as cats do!). My toddler plays with Jack every day and says goodnight to him every night by leaning down and gently placing her head on his body. And you should hear her giggle when she chases the cats around the house. The baby is just starting to focus her attention on Jack and her face lights up with a smile when he licks her feet. Puke-stained carpets and “DAMN CATS!!!” aside – I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Just don’t tell my husband that.
Tips for Reconnecting with Pets After Baby:
- Take a few minutes a day to devote to your first babies. Whether it be an early morning snuggle sesh or a late night rub, a few minutes go a long way!
- Remember to not feel guilty – your pets love you just as they always have. There is always an adjustment period!
- Have your little ones help with your pet’s maintenance. Include them when brushing and feeding your pets; this will help your child learn responsibility and will help to form a bond between baby #1 and baby #2.
MOMlife by Courtney Spiak
The triple digits have hit. Our MOMs are meeting up and cooling down in these area “hot” spots:
Desert Oasis – We love it for the rain drop and spray whale plus the zero depth entry pool with kiddie slide. There’s also a splash pad!
Mesquite Groves – We love it for the family area/pool with zero depth entry and the lazy river!
Santan Village Mall – The splash pad is very toddler friendly with a soft surface and nearby family restrooms. We LOVE that!
Rose Lane Park – We love the zero depth entry pool and awesome splash pad.
Eastmark Great Park – We love it for the covered splash pad and shaded picnic ramadas.
Golfland Sunsplash – We love it for entertaining the older kids and, of course, the water cannons!
Mesa Aquatic Complex – This facility just opened days ago and the pool and long and lazy river is why we love it!
Riverview Park – The playground is extraordinary and the splash pad is HUGE! We love that!
City Scape – We love the splash pad and its ultra urban feel. Even better that it’s accessible by light rail.
Desert Ridge Marketplace – We love the splash pad location right by AMC movie theatre!
Mountain Vista Park – The Ahwatukee location and the splash pad put this park at the top of our list!
Scottsdale Quarter – We love that the splash pad is surrounded by awesome shops and great restaurants!
Beach Park at Tempe Town Lake – This splash pad playground is one of the largest in the Valley. We love all the “water” play equipment!
Kiwanis Recreation Center – We love it for the wave pool!
Hey there Mamas!
Okay, so now you’re holding your sweet little bundle of joy, the birth is over, you’re sitting there in your hospital bed, probably still in your gown and now sporting hospital panties and a pad the size of a crib mattress. You’ve never felt more glamorous! Am I right? 😉 Well, now may not be the time for glamour, but it can be the time for comfort and confidence!
Let’s get practical (and cute!)
If you’re anything like me, those hospital panties don’t even come close to staying up on their own. Like not even close. So definitely let’s do the pants thing. Stay away from dresses for now, you’ll want everything down there to feel secure and in place. Pants can help. My recommendation for your first “mama outfit” would be leggings and a tunic. Get some soft, stretchy leggings preferably black, (just in case your pad betrays you) and wiggle your jiggle into those. They pull everything together and just hold it there. Now, you look like a toddler in a diaper under your clothes, so make sure the tunic you choose, covers your behind all the way. That way, there’s no lumpy bumps hanging out in the back.
Oversized tunics are pretty forgiving and hide a lot, so if you’re feeling super self-conscious about your postpartum pancake belly, join the club and throw on something that’s fitted in the bust and flows over the stomach. You can even find tunics that have been engineered to come apart around the boobs for easy access if you’re breastfeeding! Nifty!
Here’s the nitty-gritty about why this look works:
When you look at the model above, where do your eyes go first? Her boobs? Probably. Let’s face it mamas, if we’re going to try to flaunt our assets (one of which is covered in an adult diaper at the moment), we may as well go for boobs. That’s why we want the tunic to be a bit fitted at the bust. Dressing yourself strategically is all about drawing the eye away from where you don’t want it to go. Don’t want people staring at your belly? Get a tunic fitted in the bust, throw on some cute chunky earrings and if you’re heading out for grocery run, or just out to Target to try to stay sane, some cute flashy flats will also help keep the attention in a long line from head to toe. A tunic with a large print will also minimize your belly. The general rule is: large print= area appears smaller, small print= area appears larger.
Bottom line here, mama friends, don’t stress about it! This outfit is all about no stress and comfort, which is where you want to be right now. Now go snuggle that sweet squishy little newborn and smell his head for the rest of us. My kids’ heads just smell like dirt and maple syrup now.
Hugs Mama Friends,
Metro Image Consulting L.L.C.
Want me to come help you “Shop Your Closet” and learn to style yourself? Contact me on my website or text: STYLE to 480-296-4851. Be sure to mention MOMnation for a special discount!
Special thanks to Sarayah Blackburn with Blackburn Photography
It’s getting hot in the Valley of the Sun!! Our MOMs have great tips, tricks and advice for surviving these next 5 months of heat with kiddos!
Most of our Mama’s keep the AC set to 78. Infants are usually comfortable in thin material pajamas with long pants and sleeves especially those that are too young for bedding.
Drink water! Keep sipping water all day even if you don’t feel thirsty. It’s very easy for anyone to get dehydrated during the summer months in the Phoenix area.
Beware of the water that comes out of the faucet. Both sides will be hot and could be too hot for little hands. The same goes for the water in the garden hose. DO NOT let your child use the garden hose without running the water until it’s cool first. The water that comes out initially will be scalding.
Little feet should have shoes or sandals on at all times. Even the “kool” decking around the pool is scorching hot in the midday sun. Wear shoes while walking outside at night as well, even in the back yard. Scorpions can be found in many areas at night.
Stay away from the bees. Summertime is bee season in Phoenix and bees could be harmful to people and animals.
For the house, sunscreens for windows and covered patios make a difference in energy efficiency and comfort.
In the Car:
Get a car seat cooler. Popular styles have pockets in the material for four or five ice packs that you place in the seat when it’s not in use. This usually keeps the car seat cool even if you are parked for several hours.
Use a sun screen in the front window. It will help keep the car a bit cooler as well as the steering wheel. If the sun isn’t beating down inside the car, usually the seatbelt buckles aren’t quite so hot. Do be sure to cover those buckles or keep them in the shade somehow. They can be branding irons for little kiddos if touched after sitting in the sun.
Get an extension hose/tube for the front AC vent so that the AC can be directed easily and more effectively from the front to the back of the car. If your car doesn’t have designated AC vents in the back, it could get very hot for your small child / baby.
Always have lots of water! The new aluminum or stainless steel water bottles keep the water cool even when left in hot cars for hours.
Keep a light jacket or sweater in the car for both Mom and baby. It can be very cold in stores, restaurants and grocery stores during the summer months. This can also be used to cover up leather seats when parking in sunny areas. Leather seats can be very uncomfortable in the heat especially with shorts on!
Never, never ever leave a baby, child or animal in a hot car even for a minute. The temperatures are extreme and can be very dangerous.
Is your AZ home as efficient as it can be? CONTACT US and ask for a free copy of the “Efficiency Cheat Sheet” for tips on energy efficiency and tricks to maximize the comfort of your home and minimize your energy bill.
It’s 7:30pm and both babies are down for the night. Or at least, for now. With a 19-month-old transitioning into a twin sized bed (yep, we screwed this one up real good) and a 3 month old who faithfully eats every 3 hours (maaaaaybe 4 hours at night), my night is young. But right now it’s supposed to be that blissfully peaceful time, watching both babies on their respective monitors. Each fast asleep in their starfish positions, pacifiers on the verge of falling out.
Only I am not relishing in the peace.
I am vibrating. My nerves are raw, I can hardly collect my thoughts, yet I wanted to write this immediately while I was fresh in the aftermath. I keep checking the monitor because I swear I hear screaming, but no – there’s my peacefully sleeping starfish. A little angel.
My youngest has colic and this weekend was a bad “colic” weekend.
She was born in January, and around mid-February is when the colic started. At first I thought she was just going through the typical baby “evening witching hours,” but the intensity, frequency, and duration seemed more than that to me. Some quick internet searches confirmed that she’s the textbook definition of a colicky baby. February and March are complete blurs to me. I really don’t remember many details of these two months at all. Thank goodness, she is now 3 and a half months old and she’s starting to turn the corner. She actually had a relaxed couple of weeks, until this past weekend… so it took me back a bit.
We were at a friend’s birthday party on Saturday. I knew my baby had a fussier morning than usual, but I figured the car ride to the party would calm her down. I thought I’d nest her away in a quiet corner in her carrier, and she’d sleep while people ooo’d and aaaahhhh’d over her cherubic sleeping face. As soon as we walked inside, her eyes sprang open. And it didn’t take long for her to start crying. As the cries got louder my heart sank.
Then she was screaming.
I tucked us away upstairs, away from the noise and most of the people, and took over the host’s nursery as I tried to feed, soothe, walk, rock, everything. I left my toddler playing in the playroom, with a good friend watching her, and eventually my husband followed the noise of the screaming baby and diligently took over toddler watching duties. My husband, and friends, came to the door multiple times to ask if I needed anything… but when you’re in the throes of trying to calm a baby in the middle of a colic episode, there’s really not much that can be done and certainly not by anyone other than Mama.
And so with my baby on my shoulder and screaming in my ear, I moved quickly past the pitying eyes of the party guests and took her out for a drive. Usually the motion of the stroller, or the car, puts her to sleep. It worked, but only briefly. Having missed most of the party, we packed up and left.
Sure, I had heard of colic before but like anything else with parenting you just have no freaking clue what it’s about until you’ve gone through it. I thank my lucky stars daily that both of my daughters are healthy overall. But dealing with colic has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Listening to a baby not just cry, but SCREAM, for hours, is simply… maddening. There were times I thought I was losing my damn mind! My husband and I would take turns pacing the floor with her. We bought a sound machine and tried every trick we could think of to keep her from waking her sleeping big sister. We’ve had to let her “cry it out” more times than I care to admit. At those points, we were both just exhausted on every level – physically, mentally, emotionally. I am a very solutions-oriented person. I problem solve for a living. I am resourceful and smart, and know how to fix things – so when I couldn’t/can’t calm my extremely distressed baby, I feel defeated and depleted. We’ve used gas drops and gripe water. I’ve tried cutting dairy from my diet. I ran myself ragged with trying this and that and Google searches. I can’t tell you how many times I called her doctor, asking if “this is normal?” My last phone call to him, at my wits end, I literally said “You HAVE to have some secret trick that I haven’t found on Google for this.” He told me I was already doing everything right, and to keep the gripe water on hand. I wanted to scream right into the phone at that response.
The thing about colic is, in order to get through these episodes you have to dig deep. I mean, REALLY deep. At her worst, I was at my worst. The things I thought, and sometimes even said out loud… were just purely ugly and awful when I gave in to frustration. And when the sleep and calm would suddenly wash over her, aside from relief I was left with ringing ears and an incredible amount of guilt for not being able to keep it together. I was scared to find and confront these really dark corners within myself. In these moments, I understood why they make you watch those “don’t shake your baby” videos at the hospital before you go home.
People who’ve gone through this say that “it will get better.” And while I’m starting to see that, we’re not in the clear yet. I’m impatient. Like any mother, I want my baby to be happy all the time.
I’m writing this for any parent out there who’s in the thick of it. Stay strong. Call your doctor, as many times as you need to. Talk to your partner about anything you were feeling, no matter how bad you think it is. Talking it out really does help you prepare for the next episode. Remember that it’s OK to put your baby down in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes or to let someone else hold/rock/walk your baby so that you can take a few minutes to breathe. Because in these moments (well, more like hours), your baby needs your strength and your patience and you’ve got to try to reserve some of that for yourself as well.
It is true, that it will get better. I am hopeful and anxious to have a glass of victory wine when I know we’re truly on the other side of it!
MOMlife by Courtney Spiak
April is Cesarean Awareness Month. Today, approximately 1 in 3 women in the US have a cesarean delivery. In recognition of all of you mamas who had a cesarean birth, I wanted to address a topic that I help women with quite often.
The noted healing time following a cesarean delivery is 6-8 weeks. Often, women follow up with their doctor at 6 weeks and are “released” with little to no information about their scar and what to do with it to help with healing or what to expect of it. Is this you? Have you had problems that you thought may be related to your cesarean birth, but you are just not sure? Let’s discuss what happens to the area. During healing, scar tissue develops and takes the place of the tissue injured during cesarean surgery. It is distributed along the abdomen and uterus. The scar tissue is not as strong as the original tissue, though similar in structure. This healing process and laying down of scar tissue is influenced by many factors specific to each woman. Keep in mind that even once the incision site has healed superficially, the scar tissue underneath can span beyond the superficial scar and negatively impact the area, forming adhesions that tightly bond structures together. This can bring on various symptoms, some of which include
- -abdominal and pelvic pain that interferes with daily function
- -a pulling sensation at and around the incision
- -sensitivity on and around the scar
- -pain around the labia, clitoris or urethra
- -painful intercourse
- -digestive problems
- -bladder and/or bowel problems
- -low back pain
- -and in severe cases, contributes to infertility
What can be done about the scar tissue?
Scar tissue can be treated. I have had many women tell me that they have received little to no instruction on what to expect with their scar or how to take care of it. Once it remained painful or seemed to be causing other problems, they just were not sure what to do about it. Some have avoided it all together. The good news…
The scar tissue can be treated with pelvic floor physical therapy. Manual therapy and massage are used to treat not only the incision site specifically, but also the surrounding structures that are being influenced by the scar tissue. External and internal tissue mobilization loosens up the tissue and lessens restrictions to alleviate problems associated with the scarring and any adhesions present that may be binding tissue tightly together. As a PT, I also educate and instruct women on what they can do at home to assist in getting relief from c-section scarring in conjunction with the treatment they receive from me. Scar tissue can be addressed at any point in attempts to bring about change and decrease painful conditions. It is best to begin scar tissue work and treatment around the 6-8 week mark following the c-section, when the tissue is most easily influenced; however, treatment even after that is not too late.
By Robyn Wilhelm, PT, DPT Private Practice Owner in Mesa, Arizona specializing in pelvic floor and women’s health physical therapy. Connect with Dr. Wilhelm on her practice website http://www.wilhelmpt.com or email with questions about your core and pelvic health to firstname.lastname@example.org