Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cesarean Birth Anyone?

So this just showed up in my newsfeed this morning from It's a list of where each state rates in cesarean births performed.

What in the world is going on in Puerto Rico? Or Louisianna? Or New Jersey?

South Dakota has one of the mid-lower rates on the scale, and when you look at the "by hospital" rate here, you can see that several of our rural hospitals don't perform any cesarean births...I would assume because they don't offer them, but I don't know that for sure. So you combine those 0.0% with Brookings Hospital, which has only 11.2% and Spearfish at the next-lowest with 18.7% cesarean rates, they certainly bring the state average down.

So, what are South Dakota's individual hospital rates? It is important to know, after want to make sure that you know where the hospital you are delivering at stands in this rating.

Well, here they are, according to (keep in mind these rates are from 2011 - things may have changed since then):

So....holy moly....I would be pretty hesitant to deliver at Madison or Vermillion. Those are some crazy high numbers.

Granted, they aren't as high as some hospitals I've seen in other states with rates up into the 70s and 80s. But high nonetheless.

We are the only ones that can reduce these numbers. Even though South Dakota is pretty "in the middle of the road" as far as c-section rates go, it's no doubt that the rate in every single state in the union is much MUCH too high. The World Health Organization recommends the cesarean section rate be no higher than 10-15%.

If cesarean birth is recommended to you, make sure you know why! Make sure you agree that it is a medical necessity! If you don't feel it's right and your provider is insistent, find a new provider! It's literally never too late to get a provider that will listen to you and trust your judgement. You know your baby and your body better than any provider (or anyone else for that matter) ever could.

Trust your instinct.

If you have considered all risks and feel cesarean birth is truly what's best for you and your baby, then go with it! If not, then don't! YOU are in control of your birth and your body. Nobody else. Get some great support to add to your birth team (people who you know will back you up and give you real support) and know your options.

You can do this mama, and together we can get these rates down!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It Was Memorial Day

So yesterday was Memorial Day...

It is commonly the day that marks the beginning of summer, the day that we all hold big BBQ's, the day we go fishing, the day that we celebrate not having to work (well, many people celebrate not having to work - many do not get the day off).

But what is Memorial Day, really?

In my hometown it has always been a day that many people take flowers to all the graves of their family and friends who have passed on (military service not-required). I don't know if others do that too, but we always did, and this year was no exception. I spent the weekend with my parents, and on Sunday evening we visited the graves of all the important people in our lives who have passed on: my grandparents, great-grandparents, and a couple family friends who died way too young.

Then on Monday morning there is always a big Memorial Day ceremony where the local American Legion and VFW leads a military service to honor those who fell in combat.

And then there's the million + facebook posts thanking veterans for their service, sacrifice, etc.

Honestly I didn't ever really think about it much until this year, but there are a lot of "non-official-Memorial Day" things that are practiced on that day, aren't there?

According to Wikipedia, Memorial Day is:

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the country's armed forces....Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans

So, basically, all those other things we do on this day really aren't part of the reason we are celebrating. Memorial Day is really a very somber holiday that should serve as a reminder of our own military's true sacrifice to keep us free. Because as we know, Freedom Isn't Free.

Isn't it wonderful that we live in a country that allows us to be the kind of parent that we see fit? We can be an attachment parent or a mainstream parent. We can school our children the way we want, we can discipline them the way we feel is most effective, we can train them in what we feel is most important.

We can make the best decisions for our own kids - how fantastic is that?!

Can you imagine being told by some governing authority when you had to stop breastfeeding? How about what books you had to read to your children on a daily basis? What if a governing authority actually thought they could raise your babies better than you?

I am SO grateful to those who have fought and died to protect my husband's and my freedom to raise our children in the way we feel is best. And I'm so glad that you have the same freedom!

So, though every Memorial Day I will continue to remember and honor my beautiful and wonderful grandparents and friends who have died (it was a great opportunity to talk to the kids about their relatives they won't ever meet here on earth, by the way), and I will continue to enjoy delicious grilled burgers and brats, and I will continue to have a wonderful time down at the river fishing with my family, I will always and forever be grateful to those who fought for me - those who died so I can have and enjoy the freedoms to do all these things on this day.

Also? Thank you to the families who have lost their brave soldiers to combat. The sacrifice you have made on my behalf is more than I would ever ask of anyone, and there are no words to thank you for it. I pray peace and healing for your hearts!


Thursday, May 22, 2014


So, in case you didn't figure it out, the "expecting" pictures from last week are:

  • Baby #2: Stacy
  • Baby #3: ME!
  • Baby #4: Shelly
  • Baby #?: Corey
Yep - all three of us are expecting in October. Crazy, huh?! We were all as shocked as everyone else to find we are all so close in our EDD's :)

So, I can't share what Stacy and Shelly are going through during their pregnancies, but I can tell you all about mine! (Maybe I can get them both to guest-post sometime and give us all an update)

Today I am officially 21 weeks - so I've got about 21 left (at least that's what I'm telling myself - my other two were definitely late, so I'm guessing I'll go over with this one too).

I can hardly believe that I'm already half done! It's really kinda crazy. If the second half goes half as quickly as the first half, I'll have my baby in approximately a couple weeks and I'll have completely missed the summer - ha! I feel like I have so friggin much to do! 

Now that I'm safely away from my first trimester I'm really feeling pretty good. For the most part. I feel like I've lost my pregnancy-brain-fog that I had (it seemed more severe with this one...older age perhaps?), and I really have pretty decent energy. At least I don't feel like I need to go to bed at 9 pm (plus an hour nap sometime during the day) anymore - I've always been a night-owl, and it's nice to stay up with hubby until much later again (once in awhile, anyway).

This baby is so different than the other two. The main difference is my knowledge of birth. Since my last baby I've studied and read tons of info, studies, etc on birth. I'm now a birth doula, birth advocate, breastfeeding advocate, and also a childbirth educator. I was NOT those things with either of my other two. So, it is kinda weird. I'm now needing to heed my own advice - not something I'm super good at, by the way. It's so funny when I think of different symptoms that I've had, different aches and pains, different weird food cravings/aversions, and how when I first get them I analyze them then have to remind myself that I know different ways to deal with them and that I actually have to take action to do's such a weird personal-struggle dynamic. "What would I tell my clients?"

Anyway, so a couple days ago we went in for my anatomy scan ultrasound. The kids were SO excited - I admit I was too - and I think my husband was as well (though he doesn't show it like the rest of us - ha). It was so fun to see baby's sweet profile, tiny little hands and feet, and everything else...

Before going in, we were chatting at the dinner table about the upcoming ultrasound. I made a comment to my husband "you want to find out what it is again, don't you?". With the other two he definitely wanted to find out. He's a planner and doesn't like surprises much. I always thought it would be fun to wait and see but I was also cool with finding out. So we did, and I assumed he'd want to again with this one. Imagine my surprise when he said "actually, since we have one of each, I'm cool with waiting and having it be a surprise" SQUEEEEEE!!! I was so excited! The kids were totally on board with waiting, so we decided to not find out! It was fun during the ultrasound to be looking and see if I could tell, but since I'm most definitely not an ultrasound tech I don't really know how to read those things and had no idea what I was looking at most of the time unless our lovely tech pointed it out. 

Baby is definitely a mover (I could have told you that...he's been doing gymnastics in there), but she did catch him smacking his lips and then yawning - it was the SWEETEST thing!

Top: Profile pic, Middle: Yawn (aw!), Bottom: Thumbs up!

It was fun, though, and I'm super excited to announce that "It's a healthy baby!"

We are all over the moon excited about our sweet new arrival and I'm looking forward to sharing with you things that come up throughout pregnancy, and especially sharing our birth story after Jellybean arrives (we named baby Jellybean the night we told the kids we were has stuck!). We also refer to baby as "he" even though we really don't know. We just don't want to call him an "it", know what I mean? :)

Do we have any other pregnant readers? I'm guessing so! Leave a comment and share how your pregnancy is going - we'd love to be a support for you throughout your journey as well! :)

Until next time...

Monday, May 19, 2014


So, we had an eventful week last week.

My daughter, 6-year-old Vienna, decided to get her hair cut.

Now, maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal. But please believe me when I say it was.

She and I have had a love-hate relationship with her hair for years now. She was born with a lot of hair and it never fell out - just kept growing. I absolutely loved putting cute little ponies on the top of her head...she looked just like Pebbles from the Flinstones when she was a toddler. She had beautiful big curls and it was so friggin adorable.

As it grew out more and got more heavy, of course she lost the curls. We had trimmed it a few times in the past years, but nothing major - just enough to shape it up a bit and be a bit more manageable.

She and I would have fun looking on Pinterest for cute hair-do's for girls. We would pick out special ones for specific events. Like last summer when we headed up to the State Fair we knew that it was going to be ridiculously hot so needed something that was going to keep her hair off her neck. She picked out a cute style and we put it up that way that morning before we left.

She also picked out a cute one for her first day of school.

It was kind of  our "thing". She liked me trying out new styles, so I would spend a lot of time putting her hair up. Then, never fail, by mid-afternoon she would have pulled it all out and her hair would be hanging in her face and getting ratty. It drove me crazy!

Like many other little girls, I'm sure, when she first saw "Tangled" she wanted long hair like Rapunzel's. So, you can imagine my surprise when she made her first move toward shorter hair. Last fall she and her cousin were both at my sister's salon and got hair cuts. My niece got a super-cute above-the-shoulders cut, and Vienna wanted hers "much shorter, but not as short as Madaline's". So, my sister cut hers to just a bit below her shoulders. It was cute, but I would have loved it to be "as short as Madaline's" :)

Even though it was shorter, she would still take out any style we put in because "she wanted it to flow". So, I basically just stopped doing anything with her hair at all. I started telling her it was her responsibility to brush it every day and pretty much the only thing I would do was put in a pony. It was just too big a waste of time and my sanity to spend a ton of time doing something she wouldn't keep in anyway.

Fast forward to about a month ago.

I was doing my best to once again gently comb out her ridiculous tangles after a bath and out of the blue she said "Mom, can Auntie cut my hair?" Of course I replied "Absolutely. How do you want it cut?"

To my shock (and admitted excitement) she said "I want it short like Madaline's. Above my shoulders"

Yes, yes, yes!!!

I asked why and she replied simply "I'm just so sick of it". Ha. Girl after my own heart ;)

So, I talked to my sister and we figured out the best time to do it, and the countdown began. My sweet little Vienna was SO excited! She knew it was happening on May 15, so almost every day she would either ask me what day it was or tell me what day it was based on her own deduction from recent questions. She would then figure out how many days until the 15th.

I kind of kept wondering if she would back out. If she would decide that she liked her long hair and didn't want to go short.

Well, to my delight and pride, she didn't back down. She wanted it cut and was extremely excited about it. We had some other activities going on that day and she could hardly wait until they were all done so we could head to the salon.

Finally the time came and we headed out.

My sister is so amazing. She gave her the royal treatment with a lovely hair wash, scalp massage, let her pick her own cape, and did pretty much everything to make her feel special. Vienna wanted to donate her locks, but it was just a tiny bit too short.

Of course I was there snapping pics the whole time and fighting back tears.

My baby girl was growing up before my eyes. When my sister looked at me after she cut the first bit she asked me if I was crying. No, I wasn't. But I was close to it. She had just snipped off years and years of memories, both good and bad, and I wasn't quite prepared for it (even though I'd been wanting this for years and years - ha!).

I guess nothing can really prepare you for something like that. For a seemingly (from the outside looking in) minor event that ends up feeling pretty major when the time actually comes. I had no idea I would feel that way when I saw her hairline being cut away to her neck instead of the lower-middle of her back. I felt the same way when I learned that she had her first loose tooth last fall. It just took me by such surprise that I just wasn't ready for it. She was too young to be loosing teeth already!!

But she wasn't.

And she lost it. Then she lost another, and she currently has three loose teeth all at once.

All these milestones. You think that it's going to be the "big ones" that are the tough ones. You know, first steps, first words, first day of school, first date, graduation, wedding, grandkids. I'm finding, though, that I'm having just as hard a time with the small ones. With all these sweet things that the kids are going through, I am reminded again and again to not take a single day for granted. All I've ever wanted to be was a mommy, and now I am. I all-too-often forget that each day counts - even the awful days that we all wish we could just erase or at least start over when we are in the middle of them.

But we can't start them over.

We just need to savor each and every moment. The messy ones, the crying ones, the disrespectful ones, the teaching ones, the snuggling ones, and the "I love you" ones.

Yep. I got all that from a haircut. Not just any haircut though, but a perfect cut on a super-adorable-extra-cute 6-year-old. Check out this before & after. Can you get any happier with a new style? I think not.

She still bounces around and loves to feel it and look in the mirror. I'm guessing that will likely be happening for awhile yet :)

Also, I just want to give a shout out to my amazing hair-stylist sister, Renee Graf in Watertown. If you are looking for someone who will do whatever you want, and do it very well, go see her at MG Studios - she ROCKS!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

We Are Expecting!

So guess what?!

There are babies on their way into the Elegant Mommy family - in fact, there are THREE of them!

Can you believe it?!

I don't know what was happening back in January, but when three out of five of us end up pregnant, one does begin to wonder :). It was a long, cold winter, I guess - ha!

Anyway, guess whose baby bumps these all are!

Baby #2

Baby #3

Baby #4
Baby #? Wait. WHO IS THAT?!

It's a good thing that we work for such a small company and can prepare for all of our maternity leaves at once. You'll see a couple new faces when you go into the store these days - thank goodness for them!

Seriously - guess who's bumps these are! We wanna know what you think :)


Monday, May 12, 2014

Belated Happy Mother's Day

Well, it's the "day after".

Not the day after a giant party, wedding, or other super-fun, late-into-the-night, tie-one-on kind of day.

It's the day after Mother's Day.

No matter what yesterday meant to you, what you did, how meaningful it was, how memorable it was, how well you were taken care of (for a change!), nor what wonderful, marvelous, beautiful, heartfelt (or crappy) things were given to you, I pray that you felt loved by those you have given life to.

I know I did. It wasn't an extravagant day for me, by any stretch of the imagination. But my kiddos made me some handmade cards and beautiful drawings, my husband got me some awesome socks and a new towel (I know it sounds strange, but seriously - who can beat a package of new socks?! And a brand new towel that's not 10+ years old? Awesome). After church hubby made a simple and yummy lunch, then I got to take a nap.

Like almost all afternoon.

Does it really get much better than that? I think not.

For supper, we went out to eat with my awesome parents, my brother and his sweet girlfriend. Then to end the day we went to Cherry Berry for some delicious frozen yogurt.

Extravagant? No

Awesome? Yes

Now we are back to reality. Kiddos are playing and making a gigantic mess. Not listening to me when it's time to pick up. Not doing the dishes like they were asked a million times to do.

Oh well. Such is the life of a mom. Balance life's messes with work, being a mama, and everything that goes along with all of it. Is it easy? Heavens no. Is it worth it - even when the kids don't seem to even care that you are reaching the end of your "patience rope" and they still aren't listening to you? Yes. And YES!

Not every day can be Mother's Day, where we are pampered (if even just a little). Life is hard. Life is messy.

And at the end of the day life with kiddos is the most rewarding and beautiful life I can ever imagine leading.

I pray you are having a wonderful "day after". I'm not, but it's ok because being a mommy is all I've ever wanted to be, and their smiles, kisses and hugs at the end of the day - even when I've displayed some less-than-awesome mothering - are what I need to bring be back to the reality that it's just life. And it's a beautiful mess.