Sunday, October 11, 2020

Holy Bananas! Third Trimester!

 Holy Bananas- I feel as if I have already let this second baby down by not blogging about him more! My last post was about the first trimester fun! This Tuesday I enter into the third at 28 weeks (although some sources say I already am at 27 weeks). 

I'd say for the first 20 weeks or so, until we found out the gender, it was an exact same pregnancy as my first. Same nausea, same headaches, same symptoms. But since finding out the gender (coincidence or not, dunno!) I am noticing more differences. More to come on that, BUT! For any blog readers that don't already know, we are having a baby boy! Turns out this makes us a "Millionaires family" which I had to look up when people told me- It means we have one of each, a boy and a girl--who knew? My husband is stoked to have a boy as am I! I hope he is 100% game for lots and lots of boy mommy snuggles, because I am! By the way, I wish the actual income came with term "Millionaires family" because, that would be awesome. Just saying. 

Anyway, as for differences in the pregnancies, the main differences are: 

1) His movements. I am convinced he might be a....tap dancer? Or a fish. Either one. He has distinct movements different than what I remember for my daughter. Although he definitely throws a good punch/kick at times, he also does this thing, where if I had to describe it, it would be a fishes fin saying Hi- like wiggling in the wind. I usually get that feeling in one spot at a time. I call him a tap dancer because there are other times it feels as if he is moving his whole body and dancing- all limbs moving at once-crazy fun! 

2) Cravings. With my daughter, I was addicted to Tropicana 50 Orange Juice, and organic gorilla munch cocoa puffs. This pregnancy, don't even mention OJ to me- I don't want it. This time around--bring me all the bagels. This craving has resulted in a few extra pounds lol. 

3) This next one is full of lots of girl gross stuff so if you aren't interested, skip to next paragraph: So as I approached ~26 weeks or so, I started having pain "down there" in the lower pelvic region. It literally felt like my bones were being squeezed- usually when I walked, or moved, really. But by 27 weeks the pain was nearly unbearable, and I was (barely) walking around my house like a 97 year old. I desperately spoke out to my OB in cries for help who referred me to Physical Therapy- who knew we have physical therapists trained in woman's health specifically? Turns out I have "symphysis pubis dysfunction" which is a fancy way of saying my pelvic bones are too relaxed (you would think this would mean less pain but no) and since it is my second baby and my body knows what to do, the pelvic bones are shifting around and preparing for birth. Cool. Luckily I got a special brace that is SUPER attractive that I get to wear around my butt- no really, super attractive because I even get to wear it OVER my pants-gathering tons of cool looks but I don't even care because it has made a 180 degree difference! As long as I have my super attractive belt on, my pain is minimal- like a 1/10, compared to a 8/10. Who knew?

I'd also like to give you this mental image of me with my super attractive belt. I also drew this with my finger on my computer, so don't judge my art skills. 

Dunno why I gave myself pigtails, but it felt right at the time. She also is shrugging, because she has no idea what's going on. Her smile is half smile (yay pain relief! but also half confused. But overall she's one heck of a badass, super attractive mama.

As we settle in for the soon to be holidays and get ready for baby number 2....wait, did I say get ready? Lol we are no where's near ready. Physically or mentally! My husband and I take turns on whose turn it is to completely freak out that we are bringing a second child in and all of the unknowns that come with it. But we are also super excited. But believe me when I say, besides a few clothes that we happen to have found while out and about, and all of the baby stuff we already have from baby #1, we have nothing else ready. I swear we were ready by now on my first pregnancy, but life was oh so good back then and I didn't even know. I was basically "just" working full time for my first. This time I am working full time, taking 2 classes per semester for my Masters (1 at a time thank God), and running after a toddler. During the school year, this gives me approximately 1-2 hours a WEEK of "free time" that isn't already dedicated to my daughter, housework, or homework. And you think I want to sort through baby stuff on that last 1-2 hours per week? No! It's NAP time during that time! God bless my husband for letting Mama take a good nap on a weekend!  But no really. Zero things are ready in the nursery. So cool. Another factor we are working on is Mission Move Daughter to New Room- A very involved mission. Our nursery, aka my daughters room now is right next to the Master Bedroom. The next closest room thats equivalent in size (maybe a little bigger) is further down the hallway. After much back and forth, we decided that although a significant struggle to achieve it, it is best for both kids if we move my daughter down the hallway and put the newborn in the nursery. So our project now is prepping my daughters NEW room so that we can move her first- then prep the nursery... Andddd we have ~ 12 weeks to go. 

I am also emotionally terrified on what it will be like bringing in number 2. I already am way prone to suffering from excess anxiety, and when children come into the mix, my anxiety just spirals out of control. I am not worried about caring for a baby again, I feel familiar enough with those steps of what worked and what didn't from my first child. What makes me nervous is all of the factors of caring for a baby and a toddler. The last thing I want to happen is for my daughter to think she has been cast aside for the newborn or that she is any less important. I want her to have as much mommy and daddy time as she has now, but I know it will be hard finding that balance. I worry about things like- how do I watch a toddler and a newborn? What if I am on the couch breastfeeding by myself and I hear my daughter say "uh oh" (she does this a lot) in another room? What if I finally get the baby to sleep but then my toddler wakes up? Or I get the toddler to sleep and the baby wakes up? What if I never sleep again??? I know. I get out of control. All I can tell myself to get me through is- one day at a time. I have no idea what the days will look like, but all I can do is one day at a time. I know there will be crazy days and days I question all my life choices, but there will also be so much love and snuggles and perfect moments too. My daughter is getting big enough now (she just turned 2 in August)- that I can give her simple tasks that will be a big help to Mama when baby is here, like "can you get the burp cloth", "can you give baby the binky", etc. As for my daughter, people ask me all the time if I think she has any idea what's coming. We have tried to prep her but I am not convinced she REALLY knows. If prompted, she will point to my stomach when asked where the baby is. She will say "baby boy" and will say the babies name, she will give it kisses through my stomach, says hi...but I think she just thinks a baby lives in my stomach all the sudden and that's probably it! We have seen little babies in public, or on TV, or in books, and have tried to explain that is what baby boy will be like, soon! And she kinda just looks at us. Soooo we will see! 

Well I couldn't not write about what its like to be pregnant and parent a child during a historic year- 2020- during a global pandemic. The world is such a weird place right now, especially being pregnant during this time. We found out we were pregnant on May 8. Literally since then (actually since March), I have seen no more than 5 of my coworkers. That is so weird! I am full time working remote, so although I get to talk to them all the time, I have lost that aspect of people seeing my bump, having hallway mama talk, etc. But then again I also don't miss random strangers on the elevator asking if I know what it is, what is it's name, etc. 

Going to the OB is also a different experience. Like many outpatient offices around my area, when I get to the office I have to "check in" from my car. The front desk staff then lets the clinical staff know I am here. Then I wait. The clinical staff then call me back and complete all the screenings, ask me all the questions, the fun stuff. They direct me to come up (in a mask of course) and we finish the rest of the visit as normal. I am blessed enough that in my part of the country/world (East Pennsylvania) my husband is allowed to join me for the ultrasounds. I cannot imagine and deeply feel for the mothers that have had to do that alone. 

Even when the world isn't in a pandemic, it is stressful being pregnant. Everything you do or every place you go, you wonder- Is this safe for me, for my baby? Now add in the huge unknown factor of a virus outbreak that you can't see but know it could seriously affect you and the unborn baby. Trying to find a balance of still trying to live our lives and let my toddler experience life but also keeping us all, especially baby and I protected, is super stressful! Every sneeze you hear, every cough, you cringe- wondering if you just exposed yourself to the virus, and having no idea if you do get the virus, what long term outcomes/consequences it will have on you and baby. There is no visible end in sight for this virus, as we approach month bajillion, and I know it will be a way different experience having a baby and first few months post partum during COVID. No more big family parties to see the newborn. No more taking newborn out in public (to the mall, restaurants, shopping) to 'get out of the house' (He is also born in January so the cold changes things too even in a non-pandemic world). It will certainly be different, but all we can do is hope. Hope for a vaccine. Hope for a change. Hope for better virus management. Hope for better days ahead. Luckily the kids are/will be young enough they won't remember this, but will be interesting to explain to them what life was like during this time, when they were oh so little. All we can do is love them and keep home life as normal as possible and keep things positive within our 4 walls and we will survive. This too shall pass. 

Well, I could keep writing about anything and everything, but I will stop here. Little daughter is currently shouting "mommy change pooey!" from her crib- post nap- her favorite time to poo. SO I better get on that! I thank you kindly for being interested enough to read this post, it means a lot to me. I am excited to be able to document these things that my children can also look back on in the future. 

With love, 

The New Motherboard. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

First Trimester: Twice and Done?

Hello Readers!

I come to you today with great news! Abby is almost 2 years old, and we are officially almost 15 weeks with our newest little addition! So I wanted to document how my first trimester has been and how life is with a toddler!

It was May 8. We found out May 8. We purposely waited to test on a Friday so that either way how the news went we could soak in it over the weekend. We had been trying for our second for a few months (since Fall 2019), so we were starting to fall into the same pattern of hoping every cycle and being really bummed out when it was negative. Well, it was a rather underwhelming and confusing test this time around! We took the test and saw the results and it looked negative. We went through our usual "bummer"s and hugs and "next times" and continued on with our morning brushing our teeth. But then we kept looking at it... was that a second line? Was it? Nah. It was SO faint. SO FAINT. It couldn't be. We had no idea and didn't want to get our hopes up. I was two weeks late past my cycle, but that was nothing new for me and my cycle patterns. So, was I 6 weeks pregnant or was this faint line just a tease? We googled it and sure enough, it seemed convincing that the faint line was indeed a positive. But it was hard to believe and I didn't want to get my hopes up.

I called my doctor to explain this faint line syndrome and she advised to test again in one week. But man did that week feel like an eternity! And in the meantime, my body definitely started acting like I was pregnant *right away*. Nausea was in full effect from day one, so it was even harder to not get my hopes up. Well sure enough, we ended up testing two more times, and although still faint, definitely two lines! We were pregnant!

Then...then something happened to my mindset. Let me explain.

Before May 8, I had been making huge strides in working on myself. Not only was I working out 5 days a week, I was losing inches and weight, I was waking up at 6 am every day doing my daily affirmations and journaling-- I had concrete plans on releasing a book journal template, finishing my book I've been working on, potentially starting a new business, working on my data scientist skills, and a few other goals. And then I found out I was pregnant. And don't get me wrong in any way, like I said earlier, we WANTED to get pregnant, I wanted this and I already loved this baby so much. But another part of me felt like...why go after the new fit body when I was just going to become huge again? Why start a business now when I might feel overwhelmed about it all when I might have a business, a toddler and a baby in 9 months? What if my momentum now will cause too much stress in the future? A huge part of me has a lot of anxiety of the unknown. Reading my past posts before Abby even came into the world, I had a lot of anxiety about what it would be like to a mom of a newborn, and then a mom of a toddler. But then I knew I had to just take it one day at a time. And I know I still do. Sure, life with a 2.5 year old and a newborn will be an adjustment but I can't worry about that now, I can worry about it when January 2021 comes. And as for my mindset switch? I decided to let it be. My body needs to rest and thats what felt like being right at the time for me. I'm 32, the books and business ideas and projects have plenty of time. And for the longest time, I blamed it somehow on the news of being pregnant. But a few weeks ago, I had another epiphany. Something else happened May 8- That week was my last week of my semester in my masters program. I'm the type of person that thrives on being busy. Got lots of homework? Great! Lets power through and get that done and start a business at the same time because I'm already going at full speed. And at the end of every semester I always say, THIS summer I am going to get SO MUCH done. I'm going to maintain my practice on my data scientist skills and I will come out so ahead. And maybe I would have if I hadn't found out about the pregnancy, but my track record of last summer would state otherwise. When I find myself with more time, I somehow want to do even less.

SO yeah. I have slowly, slowly, been working on putting back the pieces and trying to get up and work on my daily affirmations and journaling still. But getting up at 6 am to do that sounds so hard when the bed is so inviting at the same time! Still working on that. Throw into the mix 4 months of quarantine will also mess with the best of us working on our goals.

The pregnancy itself has almost been a carbon copy of my first pregnancy with Abby. And disclaimer- I do not intend to sound like I am complaining about being pregnant. I LOVE being pregnant and having the *privilege* to be so lucky that I am blessed enough to carry not one but two babies into this world. I am so blessed, I know that every day and I am so grateful every single day.  BUT that doesn't mean I have to hide the hardships of the pregnancy either. For me, my experience in the two pregnancies I've had, the first trimester brings immense amounts of nausea. No vomiting, thank god, but crazy nausea. Like usually by 8-9 am, until bedtime. I get to sleep nausea free (usually) but then repeat cycle. Being so nauseous just makes you feel so unstable. You feel so vulnerable and your stomach just feels like it could fall right out of your abdomen. I started craving carbs- any carbs (especially bagels) and it was one of the few things I could tolerate that not only helped me feel better but didn't make me feel worse. Vegetables? Forget it. Salad? Ha! Bread? Bring me all the bread. I swore to myself when I was losing weight and learning about nutrition I would do pregnancy better this time around, eat better this time, but when you feel like total crap and have been nauseous all day, and that bagel with butter is calling your name, nutrition (for me at least) goes completely out the window.

*Total disclaimer* I am not a doctor, obviously. But I want to share what my own doctor suggested for my nausea, and it has been a game changer. I had actually completely forgotten about this from Abby's pregnancy and when the doctor reminded me at my first prenatal I was so relieved. Half a tab of Unisom (yes, its a sleeping aid pill) before bedtime. Half a tab. Thats it. It makes you sleepy, sure- but for some magical reason it curbs the nausea almost completely the next day. I hope this trick can help anyone else out there.

After the nausea faded, about 2-3 weeks ago my headaches started. I got these in Abby's second trimester also, but I was hoping to have more time before they got this bad. I plan to write a whole separate blog on how to deal with pregnancy headaches, but it is no easy feat. Especially trying to care for a toddler and a pounding pulsating head at the same time. I thank the Lord that I have an amazing husband that helps so much in these times (and all times).

Needless to say, between the nausea, headaches, and total and complete exhaustion, it's been hard keeping my workout routine. I've been lately in these last few weeks to get 2, maybe 3 workouts in per week. And I hate that. But I also have to give myself some grace, and know that I will get back to it in full swing, one day. One day soon!

Abby is the most beautiful and smartest creature I've ever met and it's hard to believe I helped make her and bring her into this planet. Her favorite things right now are planes, going on walks, playing with stuffed animals, playing house. Her favorite things to watch are Monsters Inc, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Doc McStuffins. She can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the ABCs. She can correctly identify most letters when written and gets most of her colors correctly identified, although still has trouble verbalizing the colors. She is starting to string together 3 word sentences and amazes me every day with each new word she learns every day. She is the sweetest little girl and knows when I am sick because she gives me extra snuggles and hugs those days. She is also almost 2 and is definitely testing Mommy and Daddy's rules and her limits, so thats been real fun. She's exercising her right to shout NO and throw things in defiance, so we are working on that. But seeing her smile and getting her hug and her head on my shoulder, hearing her giggle is the best thing on this entire planet. Always will be.

Almost 15 weeks, and counting. I plan to update you all on this pregnancy and am so happy everyone finally knows (it's always so hard keeping it from everyone when you just want to shout it from the rooftops!)

Til next time,

The New Motherboard.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Leveling Up in Life

So this concept has been floating around my brain for weeks, maybe even months- Looking for its escape route out of my mind. So I hope I can do it justice.

Do you ever wonder or feel as if we are just playing pieces in one big game? What if we are the SIMS in SIMS100 being played 100 years from now by some kid enamored by the life we live? Or if you are religious or spiritual, are we all just playing pieces in one big game?

The goal in the game isn't to get to the end. Or to win. Because really, there is no winning or ending. The point is that you keep leveling up. The point is that you keep showing up to play.

What if your whole concept of reality was actually just you as the player, and everyone that you know or have done has been placed in your game as something or someone that will show you something, give you a blue, teach you a lesson (good or bad), give you something, or lift you up when your battery is almost dead? These are all strategic items placed in the game of you, the game of me, the game of all of us. We're all playing our own game. There are obstacles and challenges put in our way for a reason, to challenge us to think in different ways to unlock new keys to level up. If you've ever played a video game, there has always been that time where you tried everything you can think of and nothing, NOTHING is working- The game must have a glitch or something because you cannot find the answer in order to get to the next level. So you take a break from the game. You go about your life, unplug and then BAM! You think of a way that just might work and you do it and you Level up! Don't you feel a sense of immense accomplishment!?

There are an infinite number of levels in each one of our games, and the beauty and fun of it all is that we will never know how many levels there are yet to go until we reach the top. And the top is also different for everyone. But at the top, we feel a sense of fulfillment and no regrets as we leave the game. My hope is that we get to look back on all the steps and all the levels and get to review all of our accomplishments and hardships and know we rocked it all. We learned. And then we get to play again, as a new player, this time with a different set of circumstances.

What do I mean by levels? I've been thinking a lot about that too.  We might never truly know if we hit a "level up" as there are no fancy lights or music that will go off above your head when we hit a new level, but that has to come from within your heart. If you listen to your own self, you'll feel it in your heart when you've leveled up. For example, think about someone who is in a level- and in that level she gets up every morning and doesn't like her body she sees in the mirror. So she begins to change. She shows up for herself, she eats the right food and does the workouts. But she doesn't feel like much else has changed yet. She looks up to the game controller and says OKAY, I'm doing the hard work, where is my level up?!  The game controller looks down and shakes his/her head and says, nope, not yet. Determined the girl keeps showing up and keeps doing the hard work. And after doing a lot of soul searching, daily affirmations and gratitude, she finally one day looks in the mirror and begins to see herself for not what her body is- but what it can do. Who she is inside, what she brings to the table, her skills, what her body is capable of. And then she hears the music go off because she found the golden key to get past that level of body acceptance. She twisted that key in her mind to level up into a place where she loves herself no matter what, no matter what size or weight.

I think we are all in a different level, and they aren't in any particular order for all of us, we are all playing a different game and we are all playing at a different pace. So don't compare what level you are on to someone you know that you feel is on a much higher level. Because comparing yourself to anything or anyone certainly won't get that level key unlocked.

Maybe the level you are on right now is in your work. Maybe you've been trying and trying, clawing your way to a promotion and doing all of the right things, but still can't seem to reach that golden key after months, maybe even years of searching. Then one day you come to a revelation that you are enough no matter what. No matter what job you have or what salary you make, none of it matters. What matters is you, are you happy? When you can finally break free of that mindset and start doing what makes you happy, maybe it is then that you level up.

Maybe it's not all one consecutive string of levels like levels 1-100 for each player, but perhaps we can level up in categories. Maybe there are branches, family, relationship, work, self awareness, self development, self purpose, where we can level up in each area. What are those branches like for you? What level are you on in each of those branches? Are you at level 50 in work but level 2 with your relationships? Or are you level 42 in your relationship but level 1 with self awareness and self purpose? Where can you put part of your game on hold while you explore parts of yourself that you want to level up?

Don't spend your whole life stuck in level one. Level one is easy. You can coast through an expert in level one but never progressing to level 2 but you will never feel challenged, fulfillment, satisfaction, achievement. If you are not feeling any or all of those things right now then where can you level up? 

Thank you,

The New Motherboard

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Predictive Analytics- Not as Scary as it Sounds

Hi There!

This is a post I've had heavy on my heart; growing in immensity for about 2 years now in my brain.

I wanted to take a little time to do my best to break down exactly what I am studying and make it possible for anyone to understand.

But first, a little background.

I am a Registered Nurse, and have been for 8 years. I have been in healthcare for 13 1/2 years. About 4 years ago I took a position that actually removed me from the bedside but instead I got to be a part of helping to design and change our electronic health record in a way that improved patient safety and made more sense for nurses and physicians to use.

I remember within my first month on the job, I was quickly drawn to the fact that we could use this electronic health record to capture data and summarize data on hundreds of patients. Better yet, in this new electronic health record, we had abilities to build our own reports! Someone very influential to me, someone I think was placed temporarily in my life for the sole purpose of steering me in my life's direction, sat with me or initially two hours and gave me my first high level crash course in reporting. I-was-hooked!

From there, I continued to grow and expand the use of reporting and my passion for it became apparent. I became the person on my team that was known for being able to whip up new reports and to also be a whiz in Microsoft Excel. These skills allowed me to not only create and put together data from within the system, but to also summarize and track that data.

About a year or so into the job, I knew I had to advance my degree. I have a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing, but I needed more. I've always loved school and am a total school nerd. I enrolled into my local college for a Masters in Nursing with a clinical nurse leader track. I was doing well, about 2-3 courses in- but......I hated it. Guys, nothing felt more nauseating and not right to me in my entire life. It was all research papers and evidenced based practice and blah. Not for me. I didn't really know what else to do, so I switched to a Masters in Nursing Administration. In this track I started to see how cool the whole business aspect of the degree was, but again felt nauseated in what I was learning with regards to how broken our healthcare system is. I spent years on the floor doing my best and it was never enough to the same people that I was in a degree trying to become. Again, it didn't feel right. I took a break from school when I was pregnant with my daughter and in the post partum period as well. I thought long and hard about returning and what felt right.

Then I saw it: A new program at the same college- It was a sign! A Masters in Science in Predictive Analytics. Technically this isn't a healthcare degree, its a business degree. I always had felt that I had to stay in nursing because that's what my background was, even if I hated the pursuit of anything further in it. But this degree.... it felt right in my bones. Multiple people have told me that when I start talking about data analytics/predictive analytics, they can visibly see the light in my eyes go on fire, the rise in pitch and rate of speed in my voice increase, and I could talk about it forever. That right there everyone, is passion. And I knew I had to pursue it. I always joked in the last 4 years in my job that if I could wake up and spend all day in an Excel spreadsheet, I would love-my-job. Data to me makes sense. Its tangible but also infinite. It's like a math equation. There's an answer at the end but also infinite answers! It makes me jump up and down inside, can you tell?

So I started this program in January of 2019, when my daughter was ~ 5 months, leaving my husband to watch Abby for the 3 hours a week I spent in class. It sure has been a whirlwind ever since, and I still am spending 12-15 hours a week involved in the program with homework, reading and in class time. But, what's difference in this is that those 12-15 hours don't even feel like "homework" or "work". Sure I need to make sure I get it done within the deadlines, but its FUN! When I make a dashboard or create a model I get a sense of immense joy and celebrate in my newfound abilities. It kind of feels like what I imagine it felt like for Spiderman to suddenly wake up and realize he has superpowers. This is my superpower.

But, as I started meeting other moms and introduced myself and what I do or mentioned my degree, or talked with friends and family about it, I started noticing a frustrating pattern: No matter who it was, within a minute of talking about it, people's eyes started glazing over and they'd switch the topic. I told new people that I was getting my degree in Predictive Analytics and they acted as if I said I was getting the degree in astrophysical quantum mechanical engineering (if that's even a thing?).
It was sad for me because this was my passion and I wanted to tell the world about it. To me, at work or in school, it was all common talk and people understood it, but I wanted to be able to share it with more than that.

So, I'm here to break it down as best I can.

I don't want to give any fancy definitions of what it is, because even I don't understand those. Lots of statistics and blahblahblah.

To me, predictive analytics is as simple as using and understanding data from the past to predict future events. That's it!

Ok so let me break it down into a real elementary example, then I will advance a little from there.

This example brings in my love of epidemiology also, so its fun. Let's say there was a big gala held last weekend celebrating something. 100 people were in attendance. There was a lot of food served, but lets focus on 5 foods: They served chicken, salmon, filet mignon, and ham as the meat choices. They had a big salad on the side for vegetarians.  However, unfortunately, a few days later the party hosts found out that 20 of their guests got really sick! They called and blamed the food they ate. So the hosts had to find out, what was it that made everyone sick? So they interviewed each of the sick to find out what they ate. But what is important here, is where predictive analytics comes into play is not just interviewing what the sick ate, but what the non-sick ate too. For example, if the 20 sick people all had the ham, but so did 70 non-sick people, it's probably not the ham that made everyone sick. But how could we really say for sure? Well, nothing is ever really sure in data analytics. Data analytics treats words like "always" and "never" like the black plague.

So what we do here is treat each one of those food items as variables. (I'll explain that more). Each variable would be "Did this person eat the ham, yes or no?" or "Did this person eat the turkey, yes or no?"  By then viewing the list of the 20 people and what they ate, we could likely identify a pattern of the common thing(s) that the people ate that got sick. OK now stay with me- we can use that knowledge of understanding what we THINK got sick and assign them values. So perhaps those that ate the turkey were 80% more likely to have gotten sick and assign it a value of 0.8. We now PREDICT, will the rest of our guests get sick? So we take that list we have of our 80 non-sick people, and essentially run it through a model to determine a prediction of how likely that person is to be sick. If we found out that ham and turkey were the culprits that made everyone sick, if we took one of the non-sick people and found out he too had ham and turkey, we could give him a pretty accurate high prediction that he may end up also getting sick. However, if one of the non-sick people say they only had the salad, and non of the sick people ate the salad, we can give that person a pretty accurate prediction that they won't join their friends in the quarantine.

This sounds like a silly example, but its how these predictions work. In examples I am involved with at work, the "20 sick people" that are used to learn and understand the variables, is actually 500,000+ people (perhaps more likely in the millions). Taking data from only 20 people can lead to a lot of inaccurate predictions. Maybe they were lying or forgot details. But if we are seeing common patterns on half a million people, we can gain better accuracy in applying what we learn to future predictions. Instead of the "variables" being 5 food groups, we instead look at hundreds of variables to better understand everything we can about these instances. In this way, we actually can learn new things that may be correlated to a disease or effect.

Some examples I am working with in healthcare now are predictive models that can predict how likely a patient is to have a cardiac arrest event, or code blue. We use close to a hundred variables that were studied on thousands of patients that DID have a cardiac arrest (think back to the gala example-the people that DID get sick). By learning what was unique about those patients that did have a cardiac arrest, we can then match that set of variables up to a new patient that walks in the door, to see how closely they align to those variables. Perfect match? Yikes, lets get the code cart ready! Hardly a match at all? Pretty good chance they aren't coding on our watch (Again, nothing is certain).

But think of how useful these models are to us, in healthcare and around the world (I'll get to that). By having a prediction like how likely a patient is to have a code blue, we can better prepare as healthcare workers to make sure that doesn't happen. We can better plan staffing ratios, adjust the treatment plan, get other specialists on board, etc.

I'm working on a few other models in healthcare right now, but there are more than I can even count that are actually out there. We are gathering the ability to predict who will experience a fall, who will contract sepsis, who will come to the emergency department, who will not show up for their appointment, who will come back to the hospital, etc. In each of these cases, these accurate predictions allows us to prepare.

But think of it more globally. These same concepts can and are applied to other "predictable" events. We could essentially predict tidal waves, hurricanes, tornadoes by understanding what variables or conditions were in place before those events happened in the PAST to help us predict the FUTURE. We could predict mass shootings by understanding conditions and variables that were attributed to past mass shootings. We could predict train delays or breakdowns, airport delays, stock markets, retail surges, etc. With the growing amount of data being made available to all of us, even you, we will have more and more ability to predict almost any event that can have attributable data to it.

Anyway, I hope I didn't lose you all! If you can't tell, this stuff is my life's passion and I can't wait to see where it takes me. This is really just the beginning. There is so much more involved to it all than what I wrote about in this blog, hence the need to get an entire degree in it (and even that will barely scratch the surface), but I wanted to at least get the concept out there as easily understood. Maybe I'll even inspire someone to go chase the dream for themselves, too!

Thank you for reading.


_ The New Motherboard

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

RISE: Made For More

This past weekend I have had the privilege of being able to attend one of the most unique experiences of my life; one I hope I get to remember forever. It is called the RISE women’s conference and was packed with approximately 4,000 women. It is led by Rachel Hollis, a motivational speaker and so much more. Guest speakers came in for talks such as Dave Hollis, Trent Shelton, Ruthie Lindsey, and Stacey Flowers to name a few. The whole concept of the 3 day conference was owning your past, present and future. Digging into your past and pulling out traumas, hidden things we have pushed away but that are affecting how we embrace the present, identifying patterns of the past and how they affect us today. Owning our present, teaching us about habits, how we get habits, how bad habits start with a trigger and how to identify our own triggers, how to be grateful, how to create new and improved habits, and how to overall focus on our own health and wellness and loving our body AS IS.


Owning our future was about turning our crazy passions and dreams into an actual, doable reality and how to get there. How to show up every day even when it’s hard, even when we forget our why. She gave us tools on how to remember our WHY and how to create the “How”.

What struck me the most and what I will always remember about this conference is the sense of community it brought. I am an introvert by nature, but thanks to years of theater, teaching others in front of a classroom, and having a job that necessitates extroversion in order to be successful, I am a pretty good extrovert when I need to be. Even though it’s scary and seems like 7th grade again, I can go up to a table of women I don’t know that are talking to each other and ask if I can be their lunch buddy. However, this conference had such community that the whole concept was that everyone was approachable. There were no mean girls. Everyone- although so different- such different backgrounds, different traumas, different beliefs, different cultures, different futures- everyone was the same in that we all were here for the same reasons. If you weren’t approachable then what were you even doing here to better yourself? I met a handful of beautiful women that I had amazing conversations with, and I admire their story. Even after the conference, with the help of social media- us 4,000 women that were connected at this conference can stay connected online and use each other as constant reminders to use what we learned.

One of the most heartbreaking moments of the conference was a sector called “Stand up for your sister” which had the whole arena in total tears before lunch on the very first day. We each filled out a piece of paper, checking off boxes-anonymously- of experiences we have been through- traumatic ones. Experiences such as, “I have struggled with anxiety”, “I have abused alcohol”, “I have been raped”, “I have lost a child, “I have lost a parent”, etc. We had ample time to fill it out and wipe our tears in silence before we all folded our papers and handed them to our neighbor.  Then handed that paper to another neighbor. And another. And another. Until our paper was sure to be 20 seats in any direction, and we had a total stranger’s paper in our hands, full of tear marks. The concept of “Standing for your sister” was that when those traumas and experiences were called, if our paper we now held from a stranger had it checked then we stood for her, our “sister”. The idea was so that we could see the earth-shattering amount of volume of women that stood for things that I at least thought was supposed to be a small percentage of women. When you think you are the only one dealing with past traumas and current breakdowns, rape, divorce, abuse, anxiety and depression, but then see literally the entire room of 4,000 women stand up at once when “I struggle or have struggled with anxiety” was called. The amount of women that stood up when they read “I have been raped” was absolutely gut wrenching. I was personally shaking and this still brings tears to my eyes on the amount of women who stood for “I have lost a child” as I felt deeply for them as a mother. Ladies we think we are ALONE in dealing with these experiences because no one talks about them! We stick with high level small talk but don’t know that we all have the same level of understanding to help one another out on a deeper level. No one is alone! There was not a dry eye in the audience by the end, including Rachel Hollis herself.

               We learned about perspective- about how multiple people can see the same situation unfold and all walk away with a completely different understanding depending on their viewpoint. We were challenged to think, are we standing at the right perspective for the issues that haunt our own self? Are we giving something in our past too much weight that doesn’t even matter? Do we need to adjust our camera lens in which we view the world? Not one of us on this planet lives in the same world. We live on the same planet, but not the same world. We each walk through with a different understanding of how things work and why we are here. The biggest take away I got from this portion was that life is not happening TO us; its happening FOR us- And that is the camera angle I want to always see the world and remember when I am facing tough times or moments.

               We were challenged in finding a word that we can carry with us the rest of 2020. A word that we can pull up in times of great need to help us get through. A word to remind our self WHO WE ARE and who we WANT TO BE and who we need to always reach to be. The word is supposed to scare us, not be a complacent, easily attainable word. I struggled with this at first, tossing around a few. I liked ‘ambitious’, ‘autonomous’, ‘adaptable’, ‘audacious’, (for some reason I had a thing with “A” words I guess). But as much as I liked them, none of them felt right enough to be *my* word, a word I love enough that I could get tattooed on me if I wanted. But then today, I saw a word and I knew it was mine.




1.      very unusual or remarkable.

Synonyms: remarkable, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvelous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous, phenomenal, prodigious, spectacular, striking, outstanding, momentous, impressive, singular, signal, preeminent, memorable, unforgettable, never to be forgotten, unique, arresting, eye-catching, conspicuous, noteworthy, notable, great, out of the ordinary, unusual, uncommon, rare, surprising, curious, strange, odd, peculiar, uncanny, unco, fantastic, terrific, tremendous, stupendous, awesome, amazeballs, out of this world, unreal, wondrousremarkable, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvelous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous, phenomenal, prodigious, spectacular, striking, outstanding, momentous, impressive, singular, signal, preeminent, memorable, unforgettable, never to be forgotten, unique, arresting, eye-catching, conspicuous, noteworthy, notable, great, out of the ordinary, unusual, uncommon, rare, surprising, curious, strange, odd, peculiar, uncanny, unco, fantastic, terrific, tremendous, stupendous, awesome, amazeballs, out of this world, unreal, wondrous

I want to strive to be extraordinary for Abigail. An extraordinary mom. An extraordinary wife. An extraordinary sister. An extraordinary student. An extraordinary employee. This is my word!

            We were also challenged to face our past by thinking about writing our story. By deluging our memories, traumas, life on paper we can look at it from a new perspective and find patterns in our own life. By identifying past patterns and digging up hidden memories or parts about ourselves we forgot, we can enter the new time of our lives armed with new forces and plans to combat those patterns. Also, just being able to share your story in complete vulnerability is healing. I do want to try this and hope to start that project in 2020. As Ruthie Lindsey quoted, “If we don’t own our story, it owns us”.

            Rachel Hollis taught us about our fears of failure, about how they are all rooted into three main categories: Loss of security, loss of love, or loss of pride. Most fears all end up trickling down to a true root of loss of pride, but those are the fears we need to move past. We are not afraid of failing, we are afraid of people watching us fail. But what we really need to walk away with is failure is not something to be afraid of at all, and in fact we should chase failure and embrace it. Failure is a part of the journey, not the end. If you set out to write a book, or create a sculpture, or build a house, and everything was okay, you got to the end with no setbacks… Do you think that’s your best book? Best house? Best sculpture? Or how about the book you rewrote 100 times, or the house that fell over mid build and you made a new plan and made it even better the second or even third time? Failure’s are not the end. They are just curveballs we can use as momentum to keep going. They happen for us, not to us- and we are meant to walk with information to improve what we are trying to do. Failure is only failure if we give up. Rachel also engrained in us that if we compare ourselves to others, we will always feel like failures. If you want to start flipping houses and think “I will never be as good as Joanna Gaines”, but what you don’t realize when you have those thoughts is Joanna Gaines wasn’t amazing when she started out either. She probably had an idol she looked up to for inspiration but she carved her own path and kept on going and did it anyway. Do you think J.K. Rowling’s first copy of Harry Potter was any good? Probably not! Did Michael Phelps start out an award winning swimmer? No! No one starts out as perfect, they get there little by little. We SEE them as perfect because that’s when they are entering the public eye. Don’t believe it! Fears that are destroyed come back as confidence.

            The second day (yeah, that  ^ was all day one !) was all about owning our present. Owning who we are today and what we are doing about it. About how “Goal weights” are garbage and we need to throw those away. She encourages daily habits instead which will foster a healthy state which is all we should care about- taking care of our body that has taken care of us- not punishing it into a size 2 jean. If we don’t take care of what’s going on in our mind first, then even getting into a size 2 jean still won’t be enough. It will never be enough until we fix our mind. I have a lot of work to do with this mindset and it will be a daily struggle but the best thing I can do in the struggle is to adapt these positive habits, bless my body with good food, and every time I have a negative thought about myself I need to replace it with a positive one. With the help of Amy Porterfield on stage, we all came to the realization that people that feel like they are not enough on the outside (or too much on the outside- boobs are too big, our stomach is too big, arms too big, whatever) we compensate for these negative things by wearing more expensive clothes, or clothes meant to hide those flaws, or we compensate with our personality but those personality traits are FAKE. That’s not who we are and if we show up how we truly are, body flaws and real personality, that is the best thing we can do for us and our peers, for our children. Rachel’s powerful slogan is “Move your body- Change your mind”. Its not “CHANGE your body, just MOVE your body.” Know the difference. To truly love myself as is today, no matter what. To love my body for not just how it looks but what it can DO. To thank my body every day for what it can do. To love it every day for continuing to beat my heart every day and send blood to my brain. To be able to walk. To be able to hold my baby, to climb stairs, to play with my baby. It is an amazing body and I am making the next right steps to truly love it for what it is. We finished that segment with a hard exercise. We had to write down all the crazy things we hate about our bodies and then had to turn to our neighbor, a stranger we did not know, and tell her all the things we just wrote down. And I kid you not, we all wrote down the same things and yet thought each other were all beautiful!! I told my neighbor that I hated how big my arms were and how I couldn’t wave without them flabbing in the wind and she said she hated hers so much she got surgery, now she can’t raise them above her head and she regrets it every second. What is that?? It was an exercise I will never forget.

            Guest speaker Trent Shelton came and inspired us to adjust our mindset. To stop talking ourselves out of greatness. Instead of talking myself out of reaching for something because I am not qualified, instead replace that with a FACT of why I am qualified. To stop giving other people permission to place limitations on my own life- regardless of how close those people are to me, they are not me. To stop taking advice from the wrong people. To stop accepting the “cant’s” in your life- “I can’t do that, I can’t do this”. We can literally do anything. With research, determination and practice, we can do anything. People will judge us no matter what, its just human nature. They will judge us and hate us even when WE think we are our best selves or our worst selves. So, if they are gonna judge no matter what, why not just be our best selves then? My biggest takeaway from Trent, was he asked us to think about- when someone is around me, how do I influence them? If people hang out with me or have even a small conversation with me, do they walk away motivated and feeling good? Or do they walk away drained and feeling negative about whatever we were talking about? That really sunk in with me because it is easy to forget that what we go through does affect others. The way we carry ourselves and present ourselves to our family, friends and coworkers does affect others. Its so easy to think “I’m not doing great and not living my best life but its okay I’m just going to internalize it all and everything’s fine and no one will ever know”- but in reality- those people are spewing out sadness, negativity, doubts, and putting down others to bring others to their own level. So this may have been my biggest motivator yet- is that I want people to walk away from interactions with me feeling good about themselves, good about their space, their day, their world, the task they have to do- not dread, fear, insecurity. This is going to take a LOT of work! Its easy to complain to others when others are complaining to you and having a mini vent session! Others are complaining, you want to fit in and so you join in with the pool of complaints, so you feel connected! 100% the easier path. But nothing great in life is easy. I have to do the hard work to get on a higher path, and hopefully I will start noticing that I don’t as often hear negativity around me anyway because I have inspired others.

            On our last day we transitioned to the concept of owning our future and planning out how to turn out crazy dreams into a reality. One way that Rachel Hollis herself has done this is she started writing down her dreams every day as if they’ve already happened (past tense). If you write them down as goals, it scares your brain because they seem too big, too insurmountable, too lofty. But if you write them down as if they already happened, your brain gets used to it and even starts to accept it as reality. Then you can push past the fear and start living the life as if these things are true and make concrete steps to make them a reality. So, I am going to lay it out there and be really vulnerable. She challenged us to write down our dreams for where we want to be in 10 years, no matter how crazy or ridiculous they may seem. So here goes!

1. I am a published author and N.Y. Times Best Seller and have gone on book tours and have seen the difference my book has made for other people.

2.    I am a successful and well known and sought after real estate photographer.

3.   I have written and sold scripts for multiple television shows and movies.

4.   I travel the world and show my daughter new cultures- and we fly first class.

5.  I solve world problems working hand in hand with world wide organizations like NASA, WHO, CDC, Google, Microsoft, etc. using predictive analytics and machine learning.

6. I speak worldwide to audiences to tell them about #5.

7. I am a successful innovator, having created multiple inventions and ideas and worked with big home and health technology companies such as Microsoft, Johnson& Johnson, Google, Apple.

8.  I have a successful podcast with a huge following, number one in its category.

9.  I have my own business and company with employees that has turned one of my business ideas into a reality.

10.  I work with big tech companies on developing new uses for virtual & augmented reality that’s used not for gaming but for training people and for therapy. 

Ahh! There they are, some of my crazy dreams! I don’t know how I will maintain a life where all of those are true at once but that’s beside the point!

            Dave Hollis came to speak and was excellent. He gives a much different perspective than Rachel as he comes from a past of being afraid to change and fearing who is wife was becoming on her own personal growth journey. Fear of losing her. So, he coached us in some new ways about how not to let others get in our way on our future journey. He warned us the people we hold closest and love the most will try first to get in our way; to say our dreams are too big and unattainable, to say we won’t do it and why don’t we just keep doing what we’ve always done because it’s working? They will attempt to keep us at their level with them because they don’t also want to go on this journey at this time but that doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge that and still go on our own journey. He also challenged us to accept the fact that we get in our own way and need to change our relationships with social media. He challenged us to accept reality that when we are browsing facebook, Instagram, snapchat, whatever- if we see something that makes us feel uncomfortable, less than, smaller, negative in any way- UNFOLLOW THEM. Facebook has this thing where you don’t have to unfriend them and make it awkward (unless you want to), but you can just unfollow them and remove them from your newsfeed! On Instagram, no one will notice if you don’t follow them anymore. Remove the beautiful models that make YOU feel LESS THAN THEM because they are posting fake pictures of themselves because THEY are insecure! Remove people that make you feel like less of a mom or less of a wife. Remove things you see that make you upset in any way! Unfollow unfollow unfollow! And stop watching the news if it makes you upset! There are new ways now to stay connected to the news you DO care about without having to sit through stories of rape, abuse, murder, etc. Get that crap out of your morning routine! I subscribe to an app called “Medium” that allows you to pick what topics you enjoy and they send you emails every day with GOOD articles about these topics. Do not let room in for negativity. And don’t worry, if a huge world event is happening- you will still know.

            Dave also challenged us to change our relationship with our calendar. It should be reflective of our values and our visions, not obligations and things we do not enjoy. Not things that aren’t helping us get to that 10 year vision. He said something that really stuck with me- “When someone asks you to do something – if its not a HELL YEAH, then it is a HELL NO.” Period!

            Stacey Flowers came on to coach us on who we surround ourselves with and why we do what we do. She gave us a metaphor based on her years as a waitress. Women go to a steakhouse and want steak. We order a beautiful steak and can’t wait for it to come. We wait the 20 minutes and the waitress comes back and brings all our friend’s plates and gives us…… a chicken. We didn’t order a chicken, we ordered the steak we came for. She said there are four types of women. The first kind immediately says, “I didn’t order the chicken, I ordered the steak!” The waitress apologizes profusely and offers to go replace it but the woman says no, no no, I will just eat it, it’s fine. Everything’s fine.  It will be great, the chicken looks great. So she eats the chicken but the whole time is sad she didn’t get the steak she came for. The second woman says to the waitress, “how dare you bring this chicken, I ordered the steak! You got it wrong! I am standing up for myself and showing you how wrong you are!” The waitress apologizes and offers to replace it but the woman does not want to be further inconvenienced by waiting another 20 minutes and says NO, she will EAT THIS CHICKEN but she will complain to her friends the entire time. The third woman won’t say anything. She doesn’t want to cause a fuss so the waitress doesn’t even know a mistake was made! The woman just eats the chicken in silence and is sad she didn’t get the steak she came for! The fourth woman- she sees the chicken being handed to her and she politely tells the waitress, “I am sorry, but I ordered the steak.” And she waits the 20 minutes again for her steak to come because that is what she came for and that is worth waiting for. Now, which woman are you? The metaphor here is that the steak, the steak is our best self- it’s the person we want to be that we need to put in the hard work for (i.e. the extra 20 minute wait) but too many of us just accept the chicken because its easy. It won’t cause a fuss. It’s not an inconvenience. It’s easier than waiting for what I really want. So, start waiting for the steak!

Overall, I took away from this weekend five main points:

1.     I thought my dreams had an expiration date, but they don’t.

2.     I can figure ANYTHING out if I know my why and if I put the effort in and keep showing up, and keep trying.

3.     All women have the same fears and insecurities about themselves and turns out no one is judging you for how you look, they’re too focused on how they look!

4.     If someone has an opinion about you or something you’re doing and you don’t like it, who the F cares? Move on!

5.     Every experience that we have had and have every day, *Every little thing* has happened to us for a reason. Good, bad, traumatic, whatever- we have been put through these experiences to teach us something. We have survived. We have come out stronger and we are still here. Ever since returning I see the beauty in more things and can more easily pick out the new patterns I learned in other things I see now, i.e. TV shows, other peoples content, songs, movies, etc. Positivity is everywhere as long as you are open to seeing it.

            I really did think my dreams had an expiration date and I’m starting to see now that dude, I am only a THIRD of the way through life and I have so much more time. I have accomplished SO MUCH in the last 10 years and cannot wait to see where the next 10 will bring me. When I was a teenager/young twenties I had a lofty goal thinking I was going to be “the next big writer with a best seller and my selling point was that I was so young and boy look how talented she is and yet so young!” But now in my 30s I have subconsciously felt like a failure because I could no longer have that dream of people shocked at how such a good book could come from a “young” writer. But GIRL people publish their first book at the age of retirement! It is not over! Does it matter if I had written an amazing book at the age of 22 vs the age of 32, if its amazing either way? No! The point is that it’s amazing, and it will be written when its meant to be written. Life is not happening TO me, it’s happening FOR me. The book will come! The dreams will come.

            Ladies & Gents, I wish I could have summarized every single thing I learned and took away but ya’ll, these are just the highlights!! There was SO MUCH content jam packed into 3 days. If you have the means and ever get the chance to go to one of these conferences, I highly recommend to go, just for the experience. That being said, I am now re-listening to Rachel Hollis’ book (Girl, Wash your Face) and have been listening to her podcasts, and a lot of the same content I heard at the conference is in her other content as well. But the conference does give you something you can’t buy at a store- the sense of community, the participation factor, showing up, dancing with 4,000 women, being really vulnerable to present your true self in front of total strangers.

Thank you for reading!

Here are some pictures throughout the conference:

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Year One in the Books 

Dear Abigail,
Today you are exactly one year old.

You know, as you get old you will probably hear the saying that time flies by. Well, it does in a way. However, the days can be long but the months and the years go by fast.

You make it possible for one year ago to feel like yesterday but also an eternity ago. Seeing the difference you have made in not only myself, your father but also seeing you grow has been remarkable.

364 days ago, a day after you were born, your daddy and I were in the hospital with you at around 11pm and you were screaming your little head off and we looked at each other, terrified, thinking, what have we done?! She won’t stop crying! Breastfeeding was harder than I thought it would be and hurt. That first day you came home with us I had no idea what we were supposed to DO with you. I remember desperately wanting to go take a nap and leaving you with daddy, and yet I couldn’t sleep because I was still learning how to sleep with one ear open.

That first night you spent in our house I think mommy and daddy both took shifts sleeping downstairs in that bassinet you liked so much on top of the pack n play.

Mommy and daddy learned pretty fast how to clean poopy out of onesies (and just throw some away), go out in public with a baby, give a baby a bath, and live on very little sleep!

I loved our time together during maternity leave, but I am glad I had 3 weddings worth of picture editing to keep me busy, because I also learned I am not the type to just stay home all day. And you honestly didn’t too much besides nap, poop, tummy time and eat! But you already loved music and would love to spend some time in your swing listening to Disney castle shows on YouTube.

Going back to work was easy for me because I knew you were always in good hands with your Nana. Having a blank slate for me going back to work was something I really needed in my career, allowing me to see things in a different way and attack things with a new passion and vengeance. It was a hard adjustment learning to get through days without naps and snuggles and learning to pump at work.

The holidays were fun but exhausting. Halloween you were Wonder Woman, because to me, you were MY Wonder Woman and I think you’ll officially grow into that role. Thanksgiving and Christmas were certainly an experience and full of lots of love. You were about 3-4 months old and still too little to enjoy any good holiday food.

The winter was fun, seeing you see snow for the first time. You seemed to like it but were a little young yet to really quite grasp that it was something different. There were a few cold nights that mommy and daddy were anxious and had first parent syndrome worried about how cold your nursery was (even one night we brought you in our room in your pack and play and ran a space heater!) In our defense, it did get down to single digits here!

I started going back to school for my Masters in Predictive Analytics (hopefully by the time you read this in a few years I am done and doing a crazy cool job! I’ll tell you all about it!) which allows me to follow my true passion. Sometimes I think I am crazy going back to school with a baby under one, but Abigail, you’ve inspired me to do better. YOU have inspired me to BE better. That life is short. To get out there and GET IT DONE. Because having a baby shouldn’t squash your dreams but only augment them and inspire you to go chase your dreams even more. Abigail, I want you to know that you can follow your passion anytime you want and be whoever you want to be. Let me say it louder for the people in the back, you can be WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE. I will always be on your side and your number one supporter.

This spring was when you really started showing your personality, learning commands and making signs back to us that we taught you. Your first sign was for milk! Mommy took her first work trip away from you and it was super hard! But Daddy was a superhero and survived the week with flying colors with you! A few weeks later in May we took our first trip to the beach to Ocean City, NJ with your nana and pop-pop and had a lot of fun!

This summer you started crawling, or rather, inchworming. You love to play, and are so good at independent play. You love to read books and will sit on the floor for quite some time reading through your books. You also love activity centers or anything that plays music. You love playing with your doggie sister Daisy, and have learned how to "pet nice". Daisy even helps you clean up all your food you throw off your high chair and even clean up anything left on your face!

In August we went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with your grandma , grandpa, Aunt Alli and Rob. That was fun and it was quite the experience getting to see you play on the beach and in the water (you LOVE LOVE LOVE to splash in the water).

Tonight we are two nights away from celebrating your first birthday with all of the family and friends that love you so much and I can’t wait. Even though you won’t remember it, I hope you have a fun day.

I have overcome a lot of anxiety this year and still have a ways to go. I used to be terrified of the toddler years to come, and still am ( a little) but I have this overwhelming sense that based on your personality so far, you are going to be a calm child. You are incredibly curious and if anything, that will be what we have to monitor! You love to open things and see what happens when you do things so I am sure we will all find ours selves in trouble soon. So instead of fearing the toddler years, I am actually excited. As much as I LOVE baby snuggles and always will, I am so ready to hear you talk, answer your questions, play games with you, make artwork with you, show you all the Disney movies I love, and continue seeing you grow and learn.

Some days you make me feel like I’ve got this parenting thing down and we are all doing great, and other days you have me doubting my entire sense of judgment, self and decision making. I think this will be the pattern for quite awhile and thats okay! I keep reminding myself that all I need to do is show up every day, do my best and just keep trying. Be grateful for what I have and focus on today.
I’m excited for what the rest of 2019 and 2020 have in store for you and our family. I can’t wait to see you start walking within the next couple months.

I hope one day you will read all these entries and know how much I love you now, and forever more. I love you to the moon and back. Your smile brings light into my life and your laughter is so contagious.

The other day I was driving and a song came on that gave me goosebumps because each word rang so true in my heart. So I’d like to share it here.

"The Mother"
Brandi Carlile
Welcome to the end of being alone inside your mind
You're tethered to another and you're worried all the time
You always knew the melody but you never heard it rhyme
She's fair and she is quiet, Lord, she doesn't look like me
She made me love the morning, she's a holiday at sea
The New York streets are busy as they always used to be
But I am the mother of Evangeline
The first things that she took from me were selfishness and sleep
She broke a thousand heirlooms I was never meant to keep
She filled my life with color, canceled plans, and trashed my car
But none of that was ever who we are
Outside of my windows are the mountains and the snow
I'll hold you while you're sleeping and I wish that I could go
All my rowdy friends are out accomplishing their dreams
But I am the mother of Evangeline
And they've still got their morning paper and their coffee and their time
And they still enjoy their evenings with the skeptics and the wine
Oh, but all the wonders I have seen, I will see a second time
From inside of the ages through your eyes
You are not an accident where no one thought it through
The world has stood against us, made us mean to fight for you
And when we chose your name we knew that you'd fight the power too
You're nothing short of magical and beautiful to me
Oh, I'll never hit the big time without you
So they can keep their treasure and their ties to the machine
'Cause I am the mother of Evangeline

Thank you, and goodnight all. Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Weaning Away the Oz

Hello Everyone!

So Abby is 11 months old (technically next Thursday marks 12 months actually!!) We are planning her first birthday party and I just can’t even believe it. It still feels like a dream most days, honestly. I try and root myself in the reality but some days my mother in law will send me a picture of her while I’m at work and I can’t even believe how lucky I am and that I actually am a MOM to this beautiful baby.

Developmentally, Abby is doing great. She’s high in her percentiles and she is very tall! She is wearing about 18 month clothes comfortably, which is in-SANE. She recently started “crawling” or more so I call it, “inch-worming”. She uses her arms to propel her forward and she pushes off with her feet, basically like an inch-worm. My theory is since she’s very high in her percentiles for weight and height, she’s so big that she can’t developmentally lift up her body to crawl in the sense we imagine how crawling should be. Same likely goes for walking, but we will see.  She will now stand up against surfaces but only for short periods. Just last week she started sitting up on her own after crawling. So exciting!

Abby is so smart and it blows me away every single day that simple things we teach her actually make a difference. She follows commands extremely well (when she’s in the mood) and will imitate a wide variety of sounds. Her favorite thing to imitate is “Ho-ho-Ho” (no kidding) so she’s in PRIME shape for meeting Santa! She will say “Dada” and “mama” now and seems to say it appropriately. She will also point to items, such as “where is the blue circle?” Or “where is the pink diamond?” Or “where is the red crab?”. I am so proud of her but not sure how we are going to afford Harvard! Haha just kidding. But who knows! Her cutest new trick is opening her mouth and saying “ahhh” when we say “What’s in your mouth??”. She also is appropriately signing “more please” which is super cool!

Anyway, my main struggle lately and motivation for writing is struggling with breastfeeding/weaning/eating. Quick backstory, when I first started our breastfeeding journey I had a HUGE oversupply. I would be able to completely feed her just from one breast and let the other breast empty to a collection container, often times up to 4-5 oz per session! I never thought that my overabundant glorious oversupply would someday become what feels like a barren wasteland. When I came back to work at first, I would need to use two bottles per pumping session, often times filling one at 5 oz and halfway filling another to about 3 oz, total of 8 per session. Now, at 11 months old, I am lucky if I pump about 3 oz COMBINED in one session, and this has been this way for approximately 2 months of trying lots of different supply tricks. I have felt like not being able to produce what my child needs has been one of the hardest parts along this journey and feels like natures attack on your ability to be a good mother. The voice in my head is constantly telling me “Do not measure yourself in ounces! Stop!” But it’s hard to not let it bother you. I feel heart pains when I send her off for the day with only a limited supply of milk and it literally kills me. I worry every day she’s not getting enough.

One of the hard lessons learned that I plan to fix for future baby #2, is that I let so much frozen milk go to waste. Here’s why. Like I said, in those early days I would get 4-5 oz just from the other breast draining. I froze that. I probably froze about 150 oz of doing just that. When I went back to work, I still had an oversupply and Abby couldn’t use enough of what I produced before it would need to go into the freezer. So about November more bags started trickling into freezer supply. From November to May, I never had to dip into freezer stash for her daily supply. Then I had to go on a trip for work and we had to prepare what freezer stash she would use. Although I knew the golden rule was safe for 6-12 months, part of me felt skeevy giving Abby the old August/September milk. Not only was it my oldest milk obviously, but I was worried on its collection process. Since it wasn’t pumped out, it likely had very little fat in it since it was just drained milk. Secondly, the device used to collect the milk was basically just rinsed in between sessions, not sterilized. Go ahead, Gasp. I didn’t even think about it at the time. My priority at the TIME was “how can I realistically collect 5 OUNCES of breast milk into a device so that it literally doesn’t SOAK my shirt every 3 hours??”, Instead of the thought I should have been having “am I collecting and storing this milk in the best manner in case I need to actually use it one day” (DUH).
So, for baby number two, I am going to do a system that right off the bat to use my frozen milk as soon as I go back to work, and freeze the fresh milk, creating a rotating recycling system. Somehow I had it in m head this whole time that fresh was exclusively better than frozen and I felt like taking frozen out of the freezer was a failure on my part, meaning I didn’t have enough supply. Now I know that’s preposterous and I wish I could use all that old milk!

My plan to wean has been interesting, as I still have no idea what I am doing. I started two weeks and it seems to be working well. Here is her current meal plan:

7 am-breastfeeds
9am- breakfast foods & water
12pm- lunch and water
1 pm- I pump at work
2 pm -6 oz bottle
5 pm- dinner foods and water
8pm- formula 6 oz
10 pm- I pump before bed

So the new addition is formula…The girl that naively thought she would have her oversupply forever suddenly found herself staring at all the formula options in a field of panic in target. I tried so hard to exclusively breastfeed but when it got to the point where it was stressing me out daily to make enough ounces, I bent. So now with giving her formula, I can make an extra 4 oz that’s not being used for her bed time, allowing me to essentially pump 7-8 oz a day now. I now see 2 fresh full bags in the fridge and I can take a breath. I no longer cringe if she doesn’t want to finish her bottle, thinking how the breast milk is wasted.

Update on pumping/ weaning: the above information was written about 2 weeks ago. Since then we have survived our first family vacation. Between stress, not pumping correctly, not drinking enough, my supply dropped even more. I decided to drop another pump session this week and I am officially on the slope to weaning down 100%. My new schedule for pumping is:

Breastfeed - 7 am
Pump - 6 pm (I no longer have to bring pumping bag to work YESSSSSSSSS)
Pump before bed.
I will phase out the bedtime one next week and basically breastfeed at 7 and  pump ~ 7 pm every day. I’ll only produce about 3 oz doing this but will supplement everything else she needs in formula.

I’m not sure what the rules are for nutrition after she turns 1 officially. I know they say you can start supplementing with cows milk instead of formula but I personally refuse to give abby cows milk just based on personal belief and research. So I’ve been researching other alternatives and haven’t come up with a decision yet. Based on preliminary research I have found that Pea milk (made by Ripple) seems to be a really good next in line milk with the necessary fats, protein, carbs and nutrients that kids need. I am hesitant about it because when I drink it it makes ME gassy, so I am afraid it will make Abby gassy. We’ve tried little bits so far and haven’t seen too many upsets so far.

As for solid foods, I feel like I am not feeding her enough. She seems content. But I find myself in a rut always going to serve what she likes and what’s easy to make. She loves grilled cheese like its her full time job, and she loves carbs/breads just as much as me. I’m trying to push the veggies but she seems to have lost interest in her solid veggies since introducing carbs (I wonder why lol). I try and counteract this by serving puréed veggies before offering solids. I follow some mommy toddler nutrition blogs and they are helping with some guidance !

I also started reading “Toddler 411” and I highly recommend! It really helps break down how to deal with what is about to come with entering toddlerhood.

Well, for those of you that stuck in here and read this whole post, thank you! I don’t write to satisfy anyone’s need for intense plot twists, I mostly just want to record my journey and hopefully, hopefully, help another momma out there that may find my journey helpful.

With love,

The new motherboard.