A Letter to my Unborn Daughter

Dear Emilia,

People say that when you arrive in this world, I will forget about the pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I call bullshit. Carrying you around the past thirty-something weeks had me experience a wide variety of unforgettable emotions. I tell the “forgetters,” I’m a writer, so I always remember.

We “planned” for your arrival after mommy had the realization at thirty years old that she wasn’t getting any younger. She kept saying to Daddy, “We need to shit or get off the pot. Either we try to have a child or we don’t.” So, we tried, and we succeeded.

We both secretly wanted a boy. When we found out we were having a girl, Daddy was very excited and Mommy was a little sad. Being a woman, Emilia, I know the hardships and heartache you will endure – between having to break glass ceilings and the #MeToo hashtag, it worries me raising a girl in today’s society. I don’t care about carrying on the Gould name, I care about the gender and social injustices you may, and likely will, have to face. It is still a man’s world, and whoever disagrees is ignorant and sadly misinformed.

I digress.

We're Expecting!

It’s a girl!

I found out I was pregnant with you before I missed my period. I walk the dogs every day. I just got done racing my first half marathon with Nana Anna. One autumn morning, I was walking Bailey and Gino, and my FitBit said my heart rate was 150 beats per minute. I was panting. I was exhausted. I had a feeling you had entered my body.

The next day, Lauren, my best friend, called and told me she was pregnant. I said, “I think I am too.” So I went to the gym with Daddy, ran a few miles on the treadmill, went to eat my last spicy tuna roll at the Japanese restaurant, and purchased 3 pregnancy tests.

The results: Positive. Positive. Positive.

I walked out of the bathroom and handed them to Daddy. We are having a baby. I was not even 4 weeks pregnant.

I remember thinking to myself, as I was sipping my coffee standing at the kitchen counter, “I am going to be so healthy throughout this pregnancy. I am going to sign up for prenatal yoga and continue to drink my green drinks. I am going to look super adorable in maternity clothes and we are going to bond so nicely these next nine months.”

What a false reality…

Danielle, Realm of Vibes blogger, pregnant

Emilia – I didn’t do one prenatal exercise. I haven’t exactly been cute, either.

The pregnancy started by you throwing me into hypothyroidism and having to go on medication. Then they told me I had low PAPP-A, and that I would need to be closely monitored throughout the pregnancy. Search for low PAPP-A on the Internet, and let me know what you think when you see the words “fetal demise.” Unforgettable.

I had nausea and vomiting from Week 5 to Week 17. I would vomit from the moment my eyes opened, until the time I went to bed. I even spent a night sleeping on the bathroom floor. Daddy will never forget when he got home from working a very long shift, and I needed Tylenol and Gatorade. My head was pounding and the vomit was uncontrollable. Exhausted, he drove to the 24 hour CVS and got me what I needed. He will do anything for us. Daddy is a very good protector and provider. He loves you very much.

I had blood pressure issues, causing me to be labeled “high risk” from Week 5.

The phlebotomists at LabCorp know me by name. I spent more time there for diagnostic testing, most of which left doctors puzzled and me wondering where I went wrong. I fought with insurance for genetic testing. I wrote appeal letters, telling them why I needed tests, and I won. I’ve been anemic for most of the pregnancy and no amount of supplemental iron and eating iron-rich foods has helped. My body, for whatever reason, doesn’t care to be pregnant. You, however, were healthy and happy.

From Week 16 on, you liked putting your buttocks under my right ribs, to the point that they hurt to the touch and the only way to get any reprieve was to jump in the shower, take the handheld showerhead and blast you out. Daddy and I would get such pleasure seeing you squirm out of my ribcage. Within an hour, you would be nestled right back under there, causing me breathing difficulty and great discomfort. People would ask me how I am doing, and I would reply, “Well, I have an ass in my ribs.” They would look at me funny, but I silently chuckled, knowing that you were comfortable there and that being a mom would be filled with unpleasant sacrifices.

At 29 weeks, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. No one has diabetes in my family, Emilia, so you could only imagine my disgust, and surprise. I sat with dieticians and nurses week after week, trying to figure out meal plans and healthy snacks for work. I prick my finger four times a day. I went on medication because my fasting glucose was too high. None of the lancets and test strips are covered by insurance, either, adding to the frustration every time I handed my credit card over to the cashier. “I didn’t ask for this” I would think to myself.

I go to the hospital weekly for extra ultrasounds and non-stress tests. The ultrasounds I love, because I have seen you grow from a little blob to a baby. You truly are our miracle. The non-stress tests are stressful because you are too active of a baby, you cause your heart rate to increase so much that they worry about you. You have kicked nurses and doctors so violently, they say, “She is very strong.” Yes, she is, and so am I. She gets her strength from me.

I have cankles. Cankles are not cute. My feet and ankles are three times the size and nothing is helping reduce the edema. I feel like my joints are going to snap in two with each step. No amount of hydration (like 133 ounces of water) helps.

Pair my cankles with carpal tunnel syndrome. I wake up throughout the night with numbness and tingling in both wrists, which carries over into the morning. My grip strength has dramatically decreased and even holding a coffee cup is difficult.

I thought I was leaking amniotic fluid. I keep having contractions. I got my first bag of IV fluid because they told me I was dehydrated. Every time I go to the hospital or doctor, it is always something, Emilia. I just try to think of the end result. I try to think of you being here with us as a healthy, happy, intelligent, beautiful girl.

I developed the PUPPPs rash all over my belly, hands, knees, back, and feet. Only 1% of pregnancies see this type of rash and mine is classified as “severe.” The only way to get rid of it – deliver you. I have never been in so much agony in my entire life. I would sit and do calamine lotion paraffin baths at the table, hoping for a millisecond if relief. No cigar. I suffered.

Mommy and Daddy took a childbirth preparation class and a breastfeeding class. I hope that labor and delivery go smoothly. The birth plan is for you to enter this world happily and healthily. Nothing else matters. I hope you latch well, and I am able to breastfeed you. If not, I remind myself that I am a “formula kid,” and turned out just fine.

That is the pregnancy, in a nutshell. I will never forget how it felt. I will never forget the belly waves, the happiness, and the heartache. The worries, fears, in addition to the comfort of always having you with me. As soon as I opened my eyes in the morning, you would kick me to let me know that you knew I was awake. We are connected.

Danielle, Realm of Vibes blogger, pregnant

I wish for you what I wish for everyone – health and happiness. Our families and I have spent countless hours preparing your nursery and getting ready for your arrival. I pray each day that you come to me easily and effortlessly. I pray that I can meet all your wants and needs and be the best Mom. You will always be loved and supported.

I often ask myself questions about your personality: Will you have Daddy’s looks, but Mommy’s brains? Will you love Bailey and Gino as much as I do? Will you aspire to be a police officer like Daddy and Aunt Sasha or work in healthcare like Mommy, Nana, Grandma? (Better yet, Em, go into finance – actually make some money and teach Mommy where to invest hers.) Will you like the city like Aunt Dominique and Uncle Todd? Will both Grandpa and Pop take you fishing on the weekend? The million dollar question: Will you love the Mets like Mommy or Yankees like Daddy?

My husband, Jason & I at the NYM game

My job as your Mom is to guide you. I am here to facilitate your growth and learning. You have taken over my mind and body for the past 9 months and you are almost here. Initially, you will depend on me and Daddy for everything, but as time goes on, you will foster your own independence. It won’t be easy, but we will let you stumble. We will let you fall. You will learn to pick yourself back up and keep going. Life isn’t easy. If you throw in the towel at every mistake and misfortune, life will be a big disappointment.

I try to keep a positive attitude. When worries overcome me, I say, “I’m giving this to God.” I’m not a super religious person, Emilia, but sometimes, you have to believe in a power greater than yourself. I envision myself taking my worries, putting them in a ball, and giving them to God. Here. Take this. You do what you see and feel is necessary. I trust Him to help us, now, and always.

Life will be different when you arrive. I can’t wait to hold you in my arms. Daddy and I are so excited to be parents. We know you will complete us.

I love you,

Mommy Danielle

Danielle’s edit: Emilia graced us with her presence June 29, 2018. She is a happy and healthy little girl. The PUPPS rash went away a few days after delivery and I am feeling rather forgetful of my whole pregnancy, labor, and delivery saga. (Not!)

A Letter to my Unborn Daughter

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IQAir Atem® Personal Air Purifier Review

Before we begin, make sure you check out my IQAir AirVisual Pro Review, which is an indoor and outdoor air quality monitor. IQAir also sent me the Atem® complimentary for review. All opinions within are my own.

Atem® is German for breath. The Atem® is a product of Swiss engineering and German manufacturing. Atem® was created to remove pollutants, ultrafine particles, mold spores and particles with an efficiency of up to 99%. It creates a personal clean air zone, perfect for the office, or right next to your bed. You can control the air you breathing with the Atem® personal air purifier. I like being in control.

IQAir Atem

Working in healthcare as an occupational therapist, I could see a lot of my patients with lung diseases benefit from a personal air purifier. I was excited to give the Atem® a whirl.

Experience

I’m not good with assembling new things but was able to pick the right regions plug (they give you three to choose from) and put the Atem® together with the help of the user guide.

The Atem® is 6.26 lbs and super sleek, measuring 12.44” high, 5.51” wide and 11.77” deep. The Atem® comes in two different colors black/grey and white/grey. I received the white/grey version, which goes perfectly in my bedroom.

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There are three different fan speeds, low, medium, and high. You tap the Atem® logo located on the side of the fan to switch settings. You can also control the Atem® via Bluetooth and an application on your smartphone. You can control the sound and light options, too. The Atem® app also has a proximity sensor to safe energy and filter life, turning the device off when you walk away.

screenshot_20180618-110928_iqair-atem

I set-up the Atem® near my future daughters pack and play. I switched on the low setting and a very light blanket of fresh, filtered air pointed directly at where she will be sleeping. It is very quiet and reminds me of a white noise machine. A chime indicates that the machine has been turned off.

IQAir Atem

Permission to use image by IQAir

Then I moved the Atem® to my nightstand. I wanted to see if my allergies and congestion were any different after sleeping with the Atem® pointing at me. I also sleep with my two shedding dogs, who don’t help the pet dander in our sleeping zone. After a full night sleeping with the Atem®, I felt more refreshed and less congested. My husband, who is an allergy sufferer, wanted to try sleeping with the Atem® pointing directly at him. He, too, woke up feeling more refreshed and less congested. I love the light burst of air, keeping me cool, especially at almost 38 weeks pregnant. The low setting is all you really need when it is pointed directly at you. And, it is really quiet. It didn’t disturb me from my sleep.

The Atem®’s replacement filter costs $69 and should be replaced after a year of continuous 10-hour usage. The Atem® also has a nifty travel backpack accessory so you can always be surrounded by fresh air. (Available soon – apparently, but I was able to score one, #benefitsofablogger). 

I feel good using this air purifier in conjunction with the IQAir AirVisual Pro. When I see that the air quality in my home has too much carbon dioxide, or if I am traveling somewhere that the air quality is sub-par, I will definitely rely on the Atem® for clean, fresh air. I trust that the filter and technology will do its job to protect me and my lungs from particulate matter that I can’t see floating around my home. I hope that in the long term it helps reduce my lung exposure to mold and allergens like pet dander.

This has really opened up a discussion between my husband and me about getting an air purifier for our home. IQAir has several different room purifiers, in addition to a whole house filtration system. For now, I will continue to monitor my air quality with the IQAir AirVisual Pro and use the Atem® for when I am working in my office, when the carbon dioxide in my home is too high, and when I am sleeping.

For anyone who has respiratory and pulmonary issues, this is a must-have, as each breath we take truly effects our quality of life.

Connect with IQAir on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

Namaste.

Why You Need a Personal Air Purifier

Charity Spotlight: Imprint Hope

This weeks charity spotlight is Imprint Hope, an organization in Uganda run by one of my friends and colleagues, Clare Byrne. Clare always has the warmest hugs, the craziest, out of the box ideas, and her free spirit makes me giggle like a child. God Bless you, Clare, for creating Imprint Hope to help children with disabilities and their families. You are such an inspiration! Read our dialogue below to learn more about Imprint Hope.

Imprint Hope

Q. Clare, we sat near each other for 3 years at Seton Hall University studying Occupational Therapy, both passed our state boards and became Occupational Therapists – what led you to Uganda and ultimately starting Imprint Hope

A. I always wondered what happened to children with disabilities in other countries who were not blessed with social, medical and rehabilitative services.  I wondered how children and families got by without Early Intervention; I wondered what hospitals were like; I wondered how children with disabilities were treated in other countries. When I was studying for my boards, I applied for jobs all over the world, but I also applied for a year-long volunteer experience through an organization called, Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB). CMMB is a non-profit organization that sends medical professionals all over the world. After graduating from Seton Hall University in 2012,  I worked in Newark, New Jersey, USA for 6 months and then was sent to Uganda in 2013 through CMMB.

During my year of volunteer work with CMMB, I worked at an orphanage with over 300 children with disabilities. Being the only medical professional with the most severely disabled population of children I’ve ever seen was overwhelming, however the most challenging part apart that year of volunteer work was learning that 85% of the children at that orphanage actually had biological parents. These family members abandoned their child with a disability because they were overwhelmed by the challenge of taking care of a child with a disability with no social or rehabilitative services. Thus the dream to launch Imprint Hope began.

Imprint Hope 2

A Village Visit with Clare

Q.  What is Imprint Hope? What made you start this organization? 

A. Founded in 2016 in Uganda, East Africa, Imprint Hope envisions a world where all children with disabilities are appreciated for their unique talents and provided an opportunity to actualize their full potential. The organization works to eliminate the neglect, abuse, abandonment, and death of children with disabilities in Uganda by educating communities on childhood disability, providing medical and rehabilitative services to the children affected and educating and empowering caretakers to care for their child and earn a living wage for their families. In doing so, Imprint Hope strives to raise awareness, break down barriers, and overcome the stigma that children with disabilities face on a daily basis.

To support and encourage families of children with disabilities, Imprint Hope’s team – social workers, a physical and occupational therapist, and a human rights advocate – identify and meet with families coming from rural areas of Central Uganda. The families who are invited to join Imprint Hope’s program begin a journey of discovery, enlightenment, and hope.

During the live-in 6-week program, Imprint Hope children receive daily physical and occupational therapy, orthopedic equipment and nutritional and medical support. While their child is being cared for, Imprint Hope families embark on a journey of their own, participating in daily classes on the types and causes of disability, proper hygiene, parenting techniques, and human rights of children with disabilities. In addition to learning about their child’s disability, families participate in vocational training in agriculture and tailoring to be better equipped to pay for their child’s medical expenses upon their return home.

Upon discharge from the program, Imprint Hope’s team conduct regular follow-up with children and their families at home, providing further education, equipment, and support.

Q. Tell us a little about yourself – what do you like to do for fun? What do you miss about living in New Jersey, USA?

A. My heart always yearns for adventure. Moving and living in a third world country has drastically shifted my daily routine, however, I still get up with the sun and go for a run down African dirt roads, do yoga and bake incessantly. My favorite parts of a day are interacting with the families at our center and spending quality time with two little boys I’ve adopted. Watching children grow, learn, laugh and develop for the first time in their life is a beautiful thing to see every day.

New Jersey will always have my heart because of my family. I’ve learned from living in Africa that home is where your family resides. I miss them so much and I hope for the day I can see them again!!

Imprint Hope

Clare with her two boys, Hassan and Kolbe

Q. What is a typical day life for you at Imprint Hope? What are the living conditions? Who else do you work with?

A. A “typical day” at Imprint Hope is watching the sun rise over the Nile River, getting my two adopted boys ready for school, and meeting with Imprint Hope staff members to plan for the day. I work with a Ugandan Physical Therapist all day in the therapy room. We provide one hour of individualized therapy to each child at our center during that day. This is where we work with the mothers and show them exercises to do with their child throughout the day and educate them on their child’s condition.

Along with a Ugandan Physical Therapist, Imprint Hope’s Staff includes a social worker, who provides an hour of counseling to the families every day. A Ugandan Human Rights Advocate, who teaches our families about the human rights of children with disabilities in Uganda. A cook, who prepares all of the food for the families. As well as a Day Guard, Night Guard, and various part-time teachers on nutrition, hygiene, parenting, disability, agriculture, tailoring, and business development.

Q. How do I get involved with Imprint Hope?

A. The motto of Imprint Hope from the launch is “it takes a village.” This means that we need a village in Uganda and a village in America. It was an abundant privilege

to grow up in America and not have to worry about where the next meal or set of clothing was coming from. However, I’ve learned from living in Uganda that this is not the reality for people in other countries of the world. If we are going to “imprint” a mark in Uganda we all need to work together and pool resources to help these desperate.

Any help in the realm of supplies for the center, monetary support or volunteer work over here in Uganda would be so transformative for the mission at large and a tremendous blessing to the families and children we serve.

[Danielle’s edit: Donate to Imprint Hope here. Visit Imprint Hope’s Amazon Wishlist. Imprint Hope’s address is P.O. Box 52, Jinja, Uganda]

Q. What do you need the most help with from Realm of Vibes readers?

A. If Imprint Hope’s Mission tugs at anyone’s heartstrings, please spread the word about how children with disabilities are living in other countries. Please contact me: clare@imprinthope.com and ask how you can get further involved. Through spreading awareness and educating people, I know we can transform the lives of so many families in Uganda. #Ittakesavillage

Q. Give Realm of Vibes readers some final thoughts…

A. Children with disabilities are very special souls to me. Witnessing firsthand the disparity, rejection and challenges children with disabilities in Uganda experience on a daily basis compels my heart to action. Witnessing their joy, perseverance, and compassion they exemplify to everyone has transformed my outlook on life. I know in life we receive so we can go. We feel loved so we can love. We witness hope so we can be beacons of hope. These moments have given me renewed purpose in life and it is too good of a gift not to share with others.

Visit Imprint Hope on Facebook and Instagram.

Imprint Hope has a goal to raise $3,000 per month to keep their doors open. Any monetary amount helps. Please donate to Imprint Hope here.

Namaste.

Imprint Hope

If you have a non-profit organization that you would like featured on Realm of Vibes, contact realmofvibesdg@gmail.com. 

X3 Hurricane Canless Air System 260+ MPH Review

How many of you purchase compressed air to clean your computers? How many of you took a look at the ingredients in that can before you purchased that $7 can? As many of you know and have read from previous blog posts, I am really trying to live a more natural, holistic lifestyle. One thing I got rid my home of was compressed air cans due to the fact that they contain chemicals like hydrofluorocarbons, difluoroethane, and other greenhouse gasses. Compressed air cans can explode, cause frostbite, and cause pollution, too.

I was sent the X3 Hurricane Canless Air System to review. The X3 Hurriance is a canless air system that uses the air we breathe to blow air at 260+ MPH to clean a variety of different items in and outside your household. This model is designed for corporate and IT department use; other models have lesser airspeed for a once in awhile computer cleaning.

X3 Hurricane Canless Air

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Automobiles
  • Computers, Printers, Fax Machines
  • Delicate Antiques
  • Blinds & Lampshades
  • Silk Plants
  • Durable Medical Equipment
  • Shelves
  • Electronics
  • Hobbies & Models

The X3 Hurricane model comes with the actual handheld device (about 8 inches, wide for my small hand, perfect for my husbands goliath hands), a charger (charges rather quickly, about 20 minutes), and a 3 piece attachment kit for hard to reach places. The X3 Hurricane is equivalent to 5,000 cans of compressed air, without all the chemicals!

Experience

Fully charge the X3 Hurricane before using it; it comes with a half charge, but you don’t really experience the full power unless it is fully charged. When fully charged the X3 Hurricane can run for over 15 minutes straight.

This was awesome cleaning my car. Having two dogs, we get a lot of dust and hair on the dashboard. You hold the X3 Hurricane in your hand (I’d guess it weighs about a pound and a half) and press the button. It is noisy enough to scare my small dog so this wouldn’t be something you would want to do around sleeping children. However, dog hair went flying out the door and this made my life a lot easier cleaning the floor mats and getting all of the junk out of the cup holders on the doors. The X3 Hurricane can be used from any angle, unlike compressed air cans that can only be used upright. (And, if you’re like me, you always lose or break the straw component).

The Hurricane X3 was also used to clean off my laptop and printer. I couldn’t believe the amount of dust that flew out of the keys and in the tiny crevices on the printer. It feels good to clean in a safe way.

Canless Air has other models available for purchase for the household user that aren’t as intense as the X3 Hurricane, which is intended for commercial use. They also have the 3 piece accessory kit, the charger, and a holster as available accessories.

I think corporate environments that spend money on compressed air cans should consider investing in the Canless Air system products. Not only will it be more environmentally friendly, but it would provide greater health benefits to the companies staff. (Never mind the person who decides to use the compressed air can get high on their lunch break…)

I think that this is great for household use, too. You earn your money back relatively quickly with purchasing one of the Canless Air system products. Nothing is worth compromising my health and I am glad to use a product that provides sustainability and safety within my home.

Visit Canless Air on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Namaste.

Disclaimer: I received the X3 Hurricane Canless Air System complimentary for review. All opinions within are my own. If you have a product that you would like featured on Realm of Vibes, please e-mail realmofvibesdg@gmail.com. 

Canless Air Systems - Hold a Hurricane in Your Hand

Charity Spotlight: Creative Chaos CMP

I am obsessed with blankets. I love cuddling up on the couch with a good book and hot cup of coffee. I met Connie from a local garage sale site on Facebook. I think I was collecting donations for Caring Canine Connections, and we engaged in friendly conversation. She and I shared a common interest, helping those in need. Connie sent me a beautiful fleece gray and pink elephant blanket for my almost-here daughter, Emilia. She knows some of the struggles that I have faced during this pregnancy like I know about the hardships she has encountered dealing with her mom going through chemotherapy for cancer treatment. In a cold world, it’s nice to have someone to talk to, confide in, and help you get through another day.

Creative Chaos CMP 4

Connie started Creative Chaos CMP, a project of passion where she helps create blankets for people and/or animals in need, one stitch at a time.

Read our interview below: 

Q) Your mom having cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatments inspired you to start making blankets, and ultimately starting Creative Chaos CMP… so where and how did you learn to sew?

A) When I was 12 or 13 years old my Aunt Gee took me under her wing and gave me a couple lessons. Since I didn’t have a sewing machine I lost touch with the skill.

About 3 years ago my husband bought me a sewing machine and I re-taught myself. Before I knew it I was off and sewing! I started by making stuffed bears then progressed to making my own clothing and blankets.

Q) You have helped patients undergoing cancer treatments, dog rescues, and Imprint Hope, a charity for disabled children, what makes these organizations meaningful and purposeful to you?

A) Sometimes something as simple as a blanket can help. At the end of the day, I wanted to give someone or animal something to call their own. Something to snuggle into and forget about how hard life can get.

Q) What is your favorite blanket print? 

A) I really don’t have a favorite print but my favorite fabric to work with is fleece.

Q) How long does one blanket take to make?

A) One blanket (1 yard) double-sided takes me about 15-30 minutes. What I like about my blankets is I can customize them to people’s preferences. If a child likes Paw Patrol and unicorns, I can make a two-sided blanket with those prints.

Q) What could others do to help you give more blankets?

A) I would love for them to share my webpage to increase brand awareness. If they know anyone they think would benefit from a custom blanket, please email me at creativechaoscmp@gmail.com.

Q) What are the next steps for Creative Chaos CMP?

A) My ultimate goal is to inspire others to spread hope through positivity.

Q) What do you tell people who want to start doing charity work?

A) Follow your heart and give what you can, when you can. It’s not about your income, it’s about what is in your heart.

Give Realm of Vibes readers some final words…

The past year has reminded me that life sometimes sucks… But, when someone thinks of you and does an act of kindness it resonates with you, and life can seem a bit better. I thought, maybe, if I can make someone smile and brighten their day, that person will pay it forward and we can start spreading kindness through the world.  I know I can’t change everyone, however, if I can make a least one person smile, then it’s worth it.

Connie of Creative Chaos CMP

Connie of Creative Chaos CMP

Support Connie by visiting her webpage and liking her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you know someone who is in need of a blanket, please e-mail her at creativechaoscmp@gmail.com

Teatulia 5 tea taster