Meet Alaina - LMU Volunteer!

Meet Alaina - LMU Volunteer!

Hi! My name is Alaina and I'm the mama to 4 little nuggets ages 7, 5, 3, and 9 months. I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where I am a stay at home mom. Prior to having children I was a foster care and adoptions social worker. My heart has always been with children in need and I met so many wonderful children and families during that time. With the birth of my first daughter nearly 8 years ago I resigned from my position.  Shortly after I met Sarah, co-founder of Lift Me Up,  when she was assigned as my oldest daughter's physical therapist. She worked extensively with my daughter who had a fairly stubborn diagnosis of torticollis. We quickly became friends and remained so even after my daughter was discharged. It was Sarah that introduced me to babywearing after the birth of my second daughter, whose story I will share later. I watched and supported Sarah as her idea grew larger and became the official Lift Me Up, Inc and I couldn't be more excited and proud to be volunteering and helping out along this journey.   

Meet Claire, 5, who was born with a ventricular septal defect and premature ventricular contractions. At around 6 months pregnant we discovered that Claire had an irregular heartbeat. Despite numerous ultrasounds with maternal and fetal specialists, they were unable to determine the exact cause of the irregular heartbeat. It wasn't until her birth that we discovered that it wasn't a "typical" heart murmur, but something more. Hours after birth she was flown to a hospital with a pediatric cardiology unit. I was fortunate enough to be able to be discharged so I could go with her. She spent 5 days in that hospital before doctors were able to stabilize her enough to feel confident sending her home. We remain extremely thankful that her defect was small enough that she did not need surgery. She was monitored periodically at home, which proved to be a challenge once she became mobile, and received medicine to stabilize the PVCs. It was after Claire's birth that I approached Sarah about babywearing. After experiencing the whirlwind of emotions, I needed to keep her close. I had used a pouch sling with my oldest, Anna, but had never researched or discovered other options (though I wish I had with her torticollis.) I discovered woven wraps and quickly fell in love. Not only did it allow me to keep her close, but it helped keep all those wires and leads on! I quickly developed a trick of putting a leg warmer around the leads and the box that typically dangled at her leg. This kept her little hands off of them and also held them together so I could wrap her without getting in a knotted mess. It was a challenge, but we made it through. Her defect closed and PVCs were gone by around age 1, which was just in time for her to begin her bout with recurring pneumonia. I lost count after 5 of how many times she has had pneumonia and how many times she's been hospitalized. She's undergone different tests and was ultimately put on an inhaler. There wasn't one round of pneumonia or day hospitalized that I didn't have a wrap and am so grateful that I was introduced to something that made all those experiences so much easier and manageable. 

Meet Jude, 9 months. As the only boy he's quickly making sure he is not to be outdone. At 2 months Jude was diagnosed with RSV and was flown to a nearby hospital where he was hospitalized for 8 days. He received NIPPV (non-invasive positive pressure ventilation) for several days before decreasing to hi-flo oxygen and eventually room oxygen. During his stay in the PICU my wrap laid neatly braided at the bottom of his bed for quite some time. Despite the experience of wrapping Claire with her heart monitor, this was completely different and overwhelming and frankly a little bit scary. It wasn't until a nurse came in late one night and we discovered that his fever was continuing to quickly escalate that I finally unwound my wrap and put it to use. I knew he needed skin to skin contact more than ever and the nurses wanted to pack him with ice packs to bring his fever down. The nurse, though she did not speak English very well, recognized my wrap as a type of carrier and simply said "show me and I will help." And so I wrapped Jude, with her help, in what had to be the sloppiest wrap job ever, but it was exactly what he needed and I am thankful for her encouragement. Today Jude has struggled with numerous respiratory viruses and difficulty breathing and that same wrap the nurse helped me with travels with me every time he's gone in to the hospital for oxygen and breathing treatments. 

Speech therapy days look a little like this for us. Three little duckies in a row waddling into therapy, one along for the ride. He doesn't last long in the carrier before he wants down to go play. Claire has attended speech therapy for 2 years now? It's hard to keep track! When we first began I typically wore my youngest at the time, Julia, to watch and assist Claire during therapy. Now Claire likes to ditch me in the lobby and go back by herself "like a big girl." With Anna in school now, that leaves Julia and Jude to stir up some chaos in the lobby while we wait. I remember the days wearing baby Claire during Anna's physical therapy and now Jude during Claire's speech therapy, though I miss the days of him snuggling in and actually staying in the carrier. If nothing else babywearing has made it possible to pay attention and participate during therapy without having to worry about the littles getting into everything!

Mornings for us look like this, except probably a little less organized.  Anna is in second grade and attends a private school. With the help of another family member we home-school Claire, Kindergarten, and Julia, Pre-K (3.)  Typically our school time lands during Jude's nap time, but occasionally he will foil our plans with a cat nap and then up he goes in a carrier. Without wearing him I would be completely unable to focus on their tasks, especially now that Jude is mobile and in to pretty much every thing around the house.

Some days our friends come to play and lunch prep becomes an assembly line. Needless to say on these days I #wearallthebabies. 

Between homework and dinner time we brave the mosquitoes and go outside to play. For those familiar with the Eastern Shore, you know the mosquitoes around here are no joke! I think they may carry you away if you sit still long enough. Not pictured are Anna, Claire, and Julia who are capturing toads and adding to their collection of rocks and "secret things." For now Jude is content swinging, though it wont be long until he needs to go catch some toads of his own. This is the calm before the storm. The brief moment in time before the witching hour strikes when everyone is tired, suddenly starving their faces off, and have this desire to start some epic fights that they've restrained all day. If I had to pick one time of the day when I have consistently worn all of my children the most it would be this time. Honestly, I don't know how anyone could get through this hour without babywearing! I'm open to any and all other suggestions ;) 

I've introduced you to Claire and Jude, but I can't leave out Anna and Julia! Though they have not had needs as significant as Claire and Jude they are still part of my babywearing journey. They are the spunkiest of all my children and alike in so many ways. Though I did not really discover babywearing until after Anna, it helped me with that tough transition that is adjusting to 2 children. Once Julia came along there was no question, she had to be worn if I needed to get anything done. Anna frequently asks me to wrap Jude to her and it warms my heart that I've been able to teach her and pass down this tool. Julia, on the other hand, prefers to wrap her baby dolls using her own technique.

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