Our Journey Through Wellness: A Story of Our Struggles and Accomplishments

Love this sweet pumpkin patch photo shoot with The Vintage Modern Wife! See more pictures and read about their journey through wellness. It's great!

There are many things we took for granted before we became Addie’s parents. We took for granted the ability to breathe, the ability to hold up a head, the ability to speak or hear, the ability to run and do a fast errand as a family- lots of things. For a long time, Addie was in a season of illness. She spent the first 10 months of her life in a hospital, and we’ve worked really hard to keep her out of the hospital except for small, planned procedures. It’s been a year and almost 4 months since our family was in that season of life, and I’m truly amazed at how the Lord has blessed us with a journey through wellness instead of more illness.


Love this sweet pumpkin patch photo shoot with The Vintage Modern Wife! See more pictures and read about their journey through wellness. It's great!

What we Wore

Addie: shirt / pants (similar) / vest (similar) / bow

Stephanie: shirt / scarf (similar) / pants

Mathew: shirt / jeans

Photography by Lauren Gilbert Photography

Whenever I sat in the NICU for 8-12 hours at a time, only leaving to get lunch or exclusively pump, I had a lot of time to think and a lot of time to pray. We had many talks with doctors who thought Addie wouldn’t “make it” out of the hospital. That she’d be a forever patient. As a parent, it was excruciating to watch. There were always so many tubes, cords, and probes. Nurses and Respiratory Therapists that would have to help me get her out of her little bed because she was so medically fragile. Even as she was older in the PICU and sedated in order to help her breathe easier, I never quite knew what our outcome would be. I would pray and pray for our sweet girl, and would put my best foot forward to stay happy because I knew my mood effected hers.

Love this sweet pumpkin patch photo shoot with The Vintage Modern Wife! See more pictures and read about their journey through wellness. It's great!

Being in that season of illness for such a prolonged time takes a toll on you, and to be honest, we were ready for a change. When Addie came home after those 10 months, our lives changed for the better in so many ways, and we strived to begin our journey through wellness. We worked hard to eat healthy meals and enjoyed finally eating as a family- in our own home. We took Addie out for walks at the zoo to get the fresh air we so longingly wanted during the past 10 months. We joined Young Living and started replacing toxic chemical-laden cleaners and household items with ones that were natural. Still, with all of the fun, we were extremely cautious. We had a friend dress up as Santa with a never-before-used costume, and kept Addie indoors as much as possible. I used Thieves spray like crazy whenever I went out to the grocery store by myself so I wouldn’t bring any germs home), and we made sure that any visitors that came over had not been sick or around anyone that was sick.

Love this sweet pumpkin patch photo shoot with The Vintage Modern Wife! See more pictures and read about their journey through wellness. It's great!

Our diligence paid off. We spent our entire respiratory season last year without any sickness from Mathew or me, and Addie never went to the hospital because of illness. It was amazing. I honestly wasn’t sure if we could do it, but I figured if we made sure to wash our hands frequently, use our essential oils, drink our daily Ningxia Red, and keep Addie away from public places, then we’d be ok- and we were. In fact, the Lord has blessed our family with so much wellness since respiratory season started last year.

Love this sweet pumpkin patch photo shoot with The Vintage Modern Wife! See more pictures and read about their journey through wellness. It's great!

Because of our ability to keep Addie healthy, we had a blast this summer. We took Addie to the state capitol, the zoo, a friend’s birthday party, my 30th birthday fiesta (yet another thing I need to blog about!), holiday get-togethers, a few restaurants, and even random trips out of town to Austin and San Antonio just because. Addie had her birthday party with tons of friends and she actually was able to be passed around to people unlike the year before. It was seriously a summer to remember.

Now, Fall is here and we’re getting back into the swing of being a bit more cautious due to respiratory season. We recently got to take Addie to a sweet little pumpkin patch near town and my friend Lauren Gilbert got some great shots of us. She has a little business, Lauren Gilbert Photography, and is always so kind enough to offer to take pictures of us. After our photo shoot, we took Addie out to Cracker Barrel for brunch, headed home for a little family time, and then went over to Lauren’s house for dinner and so Addie could play with her friend, Ollie. If you would have seen Mathew and me, you would’ve seen how big the smiles on our faces were. It was a PERFECT day. Perfect. I went to bed that night thanking God for such a glorious day and for our abundance during this journey through wellness. I think we also realized that night that it’s time to start winding the getaways down, which is what made the day even more special because it went so well. We have plans for a fun Halloween as a family (so stick around!), but not quite sure yet if we’ll hit up a church fall festival or just stay home all dressed up. I’d love to take Addie out, but it just depends on the wellness of others, to be honest. Either way, it’ll be a blast! We also are in talks of what we’ll do for Thanksgiving this year (it’s insane how fast time is flying.)

Love this sweet pumpkin patch photo shoot with The Vintage Modern Wife! See more pictures and read about their journey through wellness. It's great!

Our journey through wellness is always evolving as we research more about toxin-laden products (Have you tried the Think Dirty app?!), use essential oils, eat a more “clean” diet, and have a strong wellness plan with Addie’s specialists. With the tools and resources we used last year, we are praying that we continue to have an abundance of wellness! It’s not an easy task, but we’re up for the challenge!

What are your favorite ways to stay healthy in your journey through wellness?

Teething Remedies You May Not Have Thought About

Teething is awful. It’s awful! It’s painful for not only baby, but everyone in the family, and we are experiencing it firsthand. Addie is 14 months old and just starting to get 3 teeth in all at once. It’s not fun whatsoever. Thankfully, we’ve found some teething hacks that have really saved Addie from pain, and saved Mathew and I with our sanity. There have been days where all I’ve wanted to do is grab a glass of wine and sink into a bathtub full of bubbles because of teething. Luckily, we’re in a much better place now, and hopefully these are some teething remedies you may not have thought about that will help you as much as they’ve helped us!

Tried every teething remedy in the book? Try these teething remedies you may not have thought about! Some may surprise you!
Breastmilk Popsicles- As an exclusive pumper for 13 months, I was attached to my breast pump. We had to purchase a deep freezer for all my milk, and I actually even became a milk donor for local NICUs in the Central Texas area. If you’re a pumping mama like me (or you have milk saved), you can purchase some baby popsicle molds, pour breast milk into them, and help your baby have a sweet treat while soothing themselves.

Lavender and Copaiba Essential Oils- Y’all know I’m a Young Living lover. I can’t help that they’ve totally changed our lives. Right now I have a roller ball bottle filled with 10 drops of Lavender, 4 Copaiba, and I filled it to the top with jojoba oil for Addie. Lavender’s aroma is calming, while Copaiba helps to promote wellness and relaxes the body. Copaiba is a main essential oil found in Young Living’s Deep Relief, which is formulated to be massaged on after a strenuous activity. The combination of Lavender and Copaiba is perfect to roll on the chin or upper lip to give a calming and relaxing effect on a fussy baby.

Silicone Toothbrush- Addie LOVES her silicone toothbrush and it makes her SO happy when I brush her gums. I think she’d be happy if I did it all day long. The silicone bristles are very gentle on her mouth and give her comfort when I brush them in a circular motion. Perfect for little ones to grab onto and bite, and I love that it has a disc around it so if it falls, it doesn’t get germs on the bristles!

Gum Massage- Along with the silicone toothbrush, I like to give Addie massages for her gums. Using my index finger, I place it on her chin (outside of her mouth) and massage in small, circular motions going from left to right and then right to left. Then, once she’s relaxed, I do the same to her upper lip area. It helps massage in the essential oils for calming that I’ve put on her, as well as given her something else to think about other than the pain. This puts her to sleep pretty much every single time.

DESITIN Maximum Strength Original Paste- I know what you’re thinking- why is this on a list for teething?! Let me tell you- teething has brought TERRIBLE diarrhea for Addie. Just awful. I actually took her to the doctor because I was concerned she would get dehydration. Every single diaper was a poopy one, and was just SO runny. The onset of teething brings about lots of saliva, and the excess saliva ends up in the gut. Then, the gut tries to rid of it through the diarrhea, and let’s just say….I’ve had to do a LOT of laundry lately. Addie’s bottom got pretty red after constantly having loose diapers, but DESITIN cleared it right up. Every diaper change I’d add a big slather of it to keep a nice barrier and heal her skin, and it did just that! Now, a few days later, her bottom is all the way better. Target actually has a coupon for DESITIN right now on Cartwheel for 25% off DESITIN. This is one teething item you won’t want to be without- promise.

Sophie the Giraffe Teething Ring- I know many moms talk about the original Sophie the Giraffe, but to be honest, I really love the Sophie the Giraffe teething ring much better. It has 2 different types of bumps and ridges, perfect to gnaw on, and also has 2 handles for your baby to grab onto it. Great for small hands and little ones that can’t get enough of things to chew on. This, hands down, is Addie’s favorite teether, and really satisfies that feeling of needing to gnaw on something to feel better.

Baltic Amber Teething Bracelet- If you don’t have a teething bracelet or necklace for your baby, grab one. They’re made from Baltic Amber, which gives of succinic acid, a natural analgesic. I prefer a bracelet to a necklace because Addie has a trach, but either are good options. If you’re worried about your baby eating the bracelet, it’s probably best to give them a necklace. I recommend not letting your baby sleep with the necklace due to choking hazards, and making sure you get one that has each bead individually knotted in case one falls off.

There are SO many other teething remedies that help babies and I’d love for you to leave your favorite in the comments for any new moms that are just dying for something to give their baby some relief. Also, make sure you visit Target’s Cartwheel and get your 25% off DESITIN coupon now through November 21st, 2015!

Our Scarecrow Family on Halloween

This Halloween was a huge one for our family. As you all know, Addie was in the hospital for 10 months from August last year until June this year. We spent many holidays in the NICU and PICU, and we were so grateful when Addie got to come home. We’ve spent Fourth of July, my birthday, Mathew’s birthday, Addie’s birthday, and now Halloween together, and I couldn’t be more grateful. This year, we decided to dress up as a scarecrow family on Halloween and we had so much fun!
Love how this sweet family came up with scarecrow family Halloween costumes! These are super cute!

I bought us all plaid shirts, burlap and felt for our hats, fabric for our patches, and raffia for our straw. It was a low-cost costume idea to turn us into a scarecrow family, but one that ended up working out really nicely! The hats were interesting for me to make, and were a little time consuming, but overall it was such an easy project to get us all to match.

We initially had plans to take Addie out to our church’s local Trunk or Treat. I’m not sure why the idea of that had even crossed my mind, because usually I’m pretty picky about where we take Addie because of germs. I especially never take her around other kids (unless they stay at home and don’t really play around other kids because they’re little like her), because kids have more germs than anyone else on the planet. With a medically fragile kid, you just can’t be too careful. Still, the idea of being “normal” got me caught up and I insisted we go to our church event.

Love how this sweet family came up with scarecrow family  Halloween costumes! These are super cute!

The night before we were supposed to go to the Trunk or Treat, Mathew told me he wasn’t sure about our idea. I had just stayed up incredibly late making all the hats and pinning on fabric squares that, I admit, got me upset, because I didn’t want to miss out on being “normal” parents with Addie for her first big holiday. I went to bed and prayed that the Lord would make it abundantly clear whether or not we should go after all. I’m a stubborn person, so I felt like if I asked for it to be made “abundantly clear” I would have some kind of answer.

Love how this sweet family came up with scarecrow family  Halloween costumes! These are super cute!

The next morning, the first thing on my mind was that we shouldn’t go to the Trunk or Treat. God really answered my prayer, and although it wasn’t the one I wanted to hear, I knew it was the right thing to do. Sad and sulking, I asked my friend Lauren if it really wasn’t the best thing for us to take Addie, even if it was for 30 minutes. She reminded me of Flu and RSV going around and how I should be extra careful to not expose Addie to it. She then suggested that we have an impromptu Halloween party at her house that night! What a kind and thoughtful friend!

Love this adorable scarecrow costume, Peter Pan costume, and Minnie Mouse costume. These babies are too adorable!

I dressed our whole family up, gathered Addie’s supplies, and we scooped her up and took her to Lauren’s house. Once we got there, Lauren (and my sweet friend Meredith) had dinner all ready for everyone. Lauren even had a whole photoshoot area set up for Addie and her little friends Oliver and Kennedy to take pictures. We ended up having so much fun with our friends that I was so thankful we didn’t take Addie to the church. Most importantly though, I was so grateful for friends who would go above and beyond to try to help us have a “normal” experience like other families just to make the holidays with a medically fragile child easier.

Love how this sweet family came up with scarecrow family  Halloween costumes! These are super cute!

Our scarecrow family costumes were a huge hit and I’m so glad everything ended up working out so well. This Halloween was so memorable for us! We are so grateful to our friends the Gilberts and the Lassiters. They did such a wonderful thing for our family and we are so lucky to have them in our lives.