Monday, November 24, 2014

Sleeping Like a Baby: The Ollie Swaddle Review!

I am SO excited to write this review. I have been waiting forever to confirm what I already knew and then write about it: if there's one baby product you absolutely need, it's an Ollie Swaddle.

The story behind the Ollie is ridiculously touching and so heartwarming.

"My story begins when I fell in love with an infant named Oliver. He was handsome, and yet on the verge of being labeled “failure to thrive.” Other foster parents struggled with keeping Oliver because he was difficult, struggling to eat and sleep. But I was in love, and so I began my journey to help Oliver thrive.
My experience in infant mental health had acquainted me with the timeless technique of swaddling. However, to both my and Oliver’s distress, the swaddles available on the market didn’t seem to help. They either didn’t hold him correctly, were not strong enough to apply a comforting pressure, or they left his legs unwrapped. So my mission to help Oliver took a new turn as I searched for a swaddle which would meet all of Oliver’s needs." {}

Hindi, the amazing creator of The Ollie Swaddle, went on to develop a swaddle blanket that is easy to use, will grow with baby and most importantly is effective in comforting, soothing and helping a little one drift peacefully off to sleep. 

The end result is a swaddle that does just that.

The Ollie comes in two colors currently, blue or pink stripes, and is made of a stretchy, moisture wicking fabric that keeps baby at a comfortable temperature without overheating. It's easy to use, having Velcro panels that allow you to adjust how tightly to swaddle and that allow the blanket to grow with your baby. The most genius feature of this swaddle, however, is the fact that unlike other swaddle blankets on the market you don't have to remove the entire blanket to do a diaper change. That's don't have to unswaddle or wake baby in the middle of the night to wipe their tushies! It's pretty rad. The Ollie has an elastic tie at the bottom of the blanket so for a diaper change, all you need to do is undo the tie and lift up the bottom of the blanket. No need to undo ANY of the Velcro. It makes for easy diaper changes and a baby that isn't upset or screaming because they've been unswaddled and woken. The other great aspect of the Ollie is that because of the material it's made of, baby's arms aren't super pinned down...he or she can wiggle and move their arms as they want to, but still enjoy the pressure of a good swaddle.

We used our Ollie the night we brought Jackson home from the hospital, and he's been in it every night since. We LOVE this swaddle. Wanna know why? Because at three weeks old, Jackson began sleeping solid stretches of 4-7 hours at night between feedings. Meaning he's going to sleep after a before bed feeding and only waking once at night for a quick snack before he drifts back off to sleep until the morning. Do you know how awesome that is? With Jax being exclusively breastfed right now, those longer stretches of sleep at night are really wonderful...and so needed for me. Conner never slept that well until he was supplemented with formula at night, and he hated being swaddled. So for Jackson to be comfortable, enjoying the swaddle, and sleeping so well is just amazing.

When we wrap Jax in the swaddle after his bed time feed, you can instantly watch the effect of swaddling on him. A restless mover, when he is swaddled he instantly settles and relaxes into sleep. It's incredible to watch. And when he wakes in the morning, still in the swaddle, he is so content, only really fussing if he's got a messy diaper that need to be changed. Often, we will find him in his bassinet laying peacefully, just looking around, perfectly content. What a pleasent way to wake! And he looks sooooo cute wrapped up in it. Derek and I call him a sleepy little glow worm :)

The Ollie Swaddle is now officially on my list of top baby gifts for any of my expecting friends. It's worth every penny! Our experience thus far with it has been amazing and it would easily make a great gift for any new mom.

AND GUESS WHAT?! It's a great time to snag one because Hindi has been kind enough to offer a discount exclusively to This Whole Mommy Thing readers! That's right y'all. You can snag yourselves an Ollie of your own (or two or three...) at a great price. Head over to and enter code "mommything" at checkout for a 20% discount :) And then go like The Ollie Swaddle on Facebook and follow @theollieworld on Instagram and show Hindi some major love.

Until next time!

Friday, November 21, 2014

London Broil: 6 Hour Marinade!

So yesterday morning I was thinking about what the heck I was going to make for dinner when it occurred to me that I had a London broil in the fridge...that I forgot to marinate...and needed to cook. So I decided to pull some things out of the fridge and spice cabinet and see if I couldn't pull off a 6 hour marinade...

And it worked! Yay.

Traditionally, London broil is a cut of meat that is relatively tough and needs to marinate for at least 24 hours in order to really tenderize. But in a pinch, this marinade is quick, easy and olive oil based which I think helped lock in the spices and aid in getting the meat to tenderize quicker. Win!

For this recipe, you will need:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Worsteshire sauce
1 tbsp of honey mustard (alternatively, Dijon would also work with this marinade)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp of thyme
1/2 tsp of paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp Emerils Essence seasoning (or creole seasoning)

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.

Cut long slits, with the grain of the meat, on either side of your London broil and place the meat in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag.

Pour your marinade into the bag, seal it shut, shake gently so the sauce covers your steak. Place into a glass baking dish and set it in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Remove from the bag before cooking ;)

When you're ready to cook it, you can either grill or broil it. Alternatively you can also cook this in the oven...I dumped the contents of my ziplock into my glass Pyrex baking dish and cooked it for 20 minutes at 425, then flip the steak and cook for an additional 20 minutes. It'll give you the perfect medium steak. And personally, given that this was only marinating for 6 hours, I think baking it in the marinade helped made a difference in the steak not being tough (besides the magic of the sauce).

Obviously, as with any marinade, the longer you let it sit the more flavorful the meat will be. This would easily make an awesome 24 hour marinade, but when you're in a pinch this does a great job of tenderizing the meat and adding some nice flavor.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Let me start by getting this out there. It'll be the hardest thing I talk about through this entire birth story, and I think saying it first will make it easier on me.

I didn't get my VBAC.

I'm devastated in some ways. I'm grieving the loss of yet another birth experience I didn't get to have. I still don't know what it means to push out my babies. I don't know the feeling of lifting my little out of my body and onto my chest. I didn't have my "I did it!" moment. And that sucks.

BUT, I did have a beautiful birth. Much different than Conner's, and one where I felt supported, respected and cared for as a mother. And that is important.

I woke up around 4:45 on October 21st to what I thought were really strong round ligament pains and Braxton Hicks. It wasn't unusual that if i had gotten into certain positions, I'd feel uncomfortable like this and need to adjust...except this time, adjusting did nothing for me. Suddenly I realized that the pains faded off on their own and would return a few minutes later no matter what position I was in.

Holy crap! Was this the beginning of labor?

I started timing my contractions just to see if there was a pattern. 4 minutes apart...6 minutes...5...4 again. Well dang! I propped up a bunch of pillows and tried to relax in bed, still timing. It was early. If this was really going somewhere, I wanted to rest while I still could. Over the next hour, my contractions stayed around 5 minutes apart and grew slightly in intensity. Derek woke up around 6, surprised to see me awake...and even more surprised when I told him he probably should let his commanders know that he wouldn't be at work this morning. Ha! Derek asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. No, I told him, it wasn't time yet. I could still get through my contractions comfortably with breathing so I wanted to hang home a little bit. Derek went downstairs and made me an English muffin and a glass of milk, and Conner woke up and came to lay in bed with us.

After I ate, I told Derek I was starting to get more uncomfortable so I was going to call our friends who were going to take Conner for us and give them a heads up. I decided to take a shower and get myself together...yes, even had hair curled and make up on :) then we loaded up and Derek and I headed to the hospital.

We were met at the hospital by the midwife on rotation that morning who checked me and monitored my contractions. I was having to breathe and concentrate through them by this point. I was almost to 4cms, and was definitely in labor, but she wanted us to walk around a bit before she'd admit me. So Derek and I headed down to the cafeteria and grabbed a couple of breakfast sandwiches, and then walked around the medical mall area of the base hospital. My contractions over the next two hours became strong enough that I needed to stop and hold onto Derek, and occasionally sit down. Excitedly, we headed back to L&D a few hours later. 

When Barb, my midwife, checked me again I was at a solid 4cms...and then...OH! She said, "well, your water just broke!"

Wait, what?

And then GUSHHHHHHHH. Holy crap gush. It seriously gushed! My water freaking broke!
I cried. I looked at Derek and cried. This was happening for real. We were really doing this.

I got admitted and brought to a labor room. An IV was given, as I was GBS positive again, and about an hour later I asked for an epidural. I was exhausted and my contractions were not bearable any longer. I needed some relief.

At some point after my epidural had been administered, I hit transition. And my god did I hit it hard. The vomiting started and it was relentless. I couldn't even hold down ice chips. I was excited though, it meant my body was working and baby was coming, or so I thought. It was evening by now and I was at 6cms, and it was time for a midwife shift change...

And in walked one of the two midwives I had seen my entire pregnancy and loved. I was so excited! Kristen checked me, pleased that I was making progress (6cms was so exciting...I only made it to 5 before Conner needed to be born via emergency c-section!). She let me rest a bit and decided to start me on a very low dose of pitocin as she was concerned that I was showing signs of labor stalling. We also turned down my epidural a bit and I changed positions as much as I could to encourage baby to come all the way down.

Kristen was really great about not putting me on a clock and being patient. She wasn't into the usual "every two hour" cervical checks and instead popped her head in often to see how I was feeling and checked me every 4-5 hours instead. On her second check, I was at 7cms, but still incredibly nauseous and vomiting and just miserable. She offered me something to help combat the sickness and which would also let me rest a bit. She thought rest might help me continue to progress, too.

I woke up a few hours later to Kristen and my other favorite midwife, Rachael, coming in for another shift change. I hugged Kristen tightly, thanking her for her excellent care...and hugged Rachael excited that I had lucked out with having them both as part of my labor team. Kristen gave Rachael a request not to check me for another two hours, and I tried to rest again.

And then the nurse came in. The baby was showing signs of no longer tolerating the labor well.

And then the cervical check came. I was still at 7cms and had been there for 10 hours.

And then the conversation happened. With the most apologetic look in her eyes, Rachael recommended a c-section. Knowing how difficult and heartbreaking Conner's birth had been for me, and seeing that this baby was now beginning to show early signs of distress, Rachael suggested we opt for the surgery now while it wasn't considered an emergency and could still be a peaceful, healing birth. It was my decision though, completely. She was very much willing to go another two hours as long as the baby didn't take a turn for the worse, but her fear was another emergency c-section and she didn't want me to go through that again.

I bawled my eyes out. I couldn't believe this was happening. After 27 hours, 27 HOURS of active labor, my body was failing me yet again. And while I could have opted to wait a few hours, I feared it would end like Conner's birth had and I would be even more devastated than I already was. Derek hugged me and told me it was all going to be ok, and I agreed to the c-section. I trusted my midwife. If she didn't think a c-section was needed and wasn't concerned, she never would have suggested it. And I have full faith and confidence in that.

Rachael must have prepped my surgical team with the knowledge that I was heartbroken over my failed VBAC because a few minutes later I was greeted by the sweetest anesthesiologist and two female OBs who assured me that everything was going to be ok and promised that this would be nothing like my emergency c-section. I was prepped and taken back to the OR and while I waited for Derek to be brought back, the baby nurse talked to me and offered to help me nurse and enjoy skin-to-skin time while my surgery was being completed. I, again, cried. I had missed that with Conner who needed to be taken to the NICU. It meant so much to me to have that...I was grateful for her offer.

I closed my eyes as my surgery began and let go. My baby would be here soon. It was all going to be ok. My doctors and nurses talked to me and through everything, and suddenly I heard Derek tell me that we had a sweet baby boy. Jackson was here! And he looked just like his brother. He let out a sweet cry as they wrapped him in a blanket and delayed clamping before Derek cut the cord. And then they brought him to me. I kissed his little face over and over again. I breathed in the sweet scent of my new baby. And then we nursed.

And it was wonderful.

Jackson Derek
October 22, 2014  9:22am
7lbs 14oz  19.5 inches