Birthing our baby boy

The title of this post is exactly what it sounds like. This is the story of our son’s birth. If you don’t want all the details, stop reading now.

I went into active labor on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in the evening. Note: I had a horrible cold at the time. It was around Amber’s bedtime, 7:30 p.m., and I started to feel crampy and uncomfortable. I’d been saying for weeks that I was sure he – our baby boy – was going to arrive early. Little did I know it would be 8 days before his Oct. 29 due date. My husband Scott was busy trying to put Amber to bed in her “big girl bed,” also known as a twin mattress on the floor in her room, which had become increasingly difficult for me to do, getting up and down out of her bed with my rather large tummy. I’d put on 10 additional pounds that I hadn’t had with Amber.

I called to Scott and told him I thought we should call my parents, option #1, to come get Amber for a “practice sleepover.” I was worried that by the time and if I actually went into labor, Amber would already be asleep and they’d have to wake her up. They arrived about 45 minutes later to pick her up – her bags were packed. My parents both called it, and said I’d be having the baby that night. It wasn’t 30 minutes later that the contractions came on fast and furious. I tried the birthing ball, laboring in bed and scrambling to put together everything we needed to take with us to the hospital between contractions. Scott was tired because he’d been up for work early that morning.

By about 10:30-11 p.m., even though my contractions hadn’t reached 5-1-1 status, the contractions were only 30-35 seconds long, they were wicked intense and painful and Scott called it that we’d better leave for the hospital. My mucus plug hadn’t come out and my water hadn’t broken yet either. Our little guy timed it right because there wasn’t any traffic driving to Stanford ValleyCare Hospital in Pleasanton, Calif., in the middle of the night, though we did see quite a bit of traffic in the opposite direction in 580.

We arrived at the hospital by 11:30 p.m. or so and I remember Scott saying he was going to drop me off and park the truck. I responded, “No, you’re not leaving me.” So he parked in the emergency drop-off area and we walked into the hospital, contractions happening along the way including one very painful one at the hospital emergency room entrance. While we started filling out admittance paperwork, Scott said he had to go to the bathroom. While he was still in the bathroom, a nurse with a wheelchair arrived and whisked me off to labor and delivery. I wanted her to stop pushing the wheelchair when I felt a contraction coming on, but there was no stopping her, or waiting for Scott. I swear she thought I was going to have the baby right then and there.

I was checked into a hospital delivery room and Scott caught up to me. They had a rather difficult time finding my vein to insert an IV for fluids, and after two nurses trying and poking and prodding me (resulting in major post-delivery bruising), they brought in the anesthesiologist to put the IV in through my right hand, and nurse Edie checked me and I was already 5-6 centimeters dilated. She was optimistic and upbeat and cheerful and thought the labor would progress quickly. Somewhere after that my mucus plug came out and my water broke on the hospital bed.

Then, somewhere between 6 centimeters and 8, I was screaming for the epidural and getting additional oxygen through a mask to help me breath, given my cold. I pooped at some point on the hospital birthing table too. Gross!

By the time the anesthesiologist (male) arrived and administered the epidural (me bear hugging nurse Edie during three contractions, while she had Scott sit down — apparently some husbands pass out watching), I was fully dilated and it was time to push. Dr. Stone (female) was called in to catch the baby and 23 minutes after the epidural was administered Tilden was born. I kept saying, “Hurry, hurry,” as in make the epidural kick in, but there was no time for that. I felt everything.

No tearing, or not enough to need stitches. Tilden came out just perfectly at 3:23 AM on Oct. 21, 2018, 7 pounds, 12 ounces, 20 inches long, with a few very painful/intense pushes, and Tilden and I immediately did skin to skin. He took to nursing right away and passed his newborn hearing test. He also got his first bath about 8 hours after being born (just in water).

After our celebratory dinner the second night, I sent Scott home to get some rest and take care of Marlowe, and the next morning we were released to go home.

The LC said I was her best patient of the day (Auntie Chris would be proud!). We are so glad that Tilden has joined our family.

Unfortunately, because Amber had a cold at the time she couldn’t come to the hospital to meet Tilden, so my parents brought her to our house once we were released. She looked so cute with her little mask on holding her baby brother for the first time. Such a proud big sister!

Welcome to the world, Tilden Alan Amstutz. We love you so much.

The genetic testing journey

As we pursue genetic testing for our daughter Amber, to potentially pinpoint the cause of her mild, sensorineural hearing lossI thought I’d blog about it, in case it is helpful one day for another parent in my situation.

From what I have learned so far, the results of the testing are unlikely to alter management of our daughter’s hearing loss, but could provide information regarding the cause of the hearing loss, likelihood of progression, or the possibility that her dad and mom (me) or Amber carry a gene for heritable hearing loss.

  1. Genetic testing for hearing is run by select places in the country (Harvard, Mayo and University of Iowa). Details on University of Iowa OtoSCOPE testing testing can be found here. Stanford prefers Harvard. Children’s Hospital Oakland prefers Iowa, from what I can tell so far.
  2. Testing requires medical insurance pre-authorization … and so we wait. More to come.

I have a dream for my child

We had homework from Amber’s speech therapy session today, so I thought I’d turn it into a blog post while reflecting on it. 


I have a dream for my child that she will grow up in a world with the same access to sound as her normal hearing peers.

I have a dream for my child that she will be accepted for how she is and not labeled with an impairment/disability. I have a dream that she will be treated the same as everyone else in her classroom or on her sport’s team and throughout her childhood.

I have a dream that she will choose her own path, find her own way and determine her own destiny, success and happiness.

I have a dream that she will learn to communicate and enter kindergarten ahead of or surpassing her normal hearing peers in communication, speech and language skills.

I have a dream that she will one day be able to advocate for herself.

I have a dream that she will one day have a sibling to play with, who understands and accepts her hearing loss and loves her unconditionally.

I have a dream that my child will make a difference in the world.

Mommy escape: Oranges and Tangerine dreams

IMG_4567I want to start out by saying that Janet Fazio is my current favorite person. I’ll explain (make sure to read all the way to the end to learn about the prize).

But first a little background for any new readers: I’m a new mom and triathlete (still breastfeeding) of an 11-month-old daughter (who does not yet sleep through the night) who works full time (pumps at least two times a day), commutes three days a week, and owns a high-energy Vizsla dog that needs 5 to 10 miles of exercise per day. All this = very busy, little down time and too much coffee. So having my husband out of town for work hasn’t been easy (I have a newfound respect for single parents).

Janet, who I met through Forward Motion Race Club, came to my rescue with three products from Arbonne – the Detox Bath Soak (quick dissolving sea salt crystals), Detox Wash (luxurious body cleanser) and Detox Lotion (hello, skin hydration). This combo or anything from the Rescue & Renew line from Arbonne has the potential to transport you to your happy place, like it did for me.

After the baby was asleep, the dog was exercised and fed and the house was (somewhat) picked up, I lit a candle in the bathroom and took some time for myself to unwind and release the stress of the day in the tub. I saved them for when Scott was going to be gone because I knew it would help me get through the week. I did the Detox Bath Soak in scalding hot water, just the way I like it (starring at the blue Skip Hop whale covering the faucet). And the Detox Wash was great for scrubbing off dirt, baby food, spit up, germs, dog slobber, dander and who knows what else from my skin, while adding bubbles to the tub.

The end result: It literally left me having dreams about oranges and tangerines, lathered in the Detox Lotion. The citrus scents (derived from essential oils), including grapefruit, plus underlying whiffs of rosemary, ginger, lavender, and juniper berry will blow your mind, while leaving your skin smooth, soft and feeling like you spent the day at the spa, instead of doing it all from the comfort of your own home.

I’m already looking forward to trying some of the other products from this line, like the Detox Face Mask and Scrub. I don’t take the greatest care of my skin, but I love the Detox Lotion for my hands, especially after changing an endless amount of diapers.

I’ve had only a couple official “spa” treatments in my entire life – and I still remember them like they were yesterday, especially the Burke Williams experience. It’s hard to find time for myself between baby, dog, husband and career. But the soak, wash + lotion combo from Arbonne was just what I needed, and I am so grateful because I have no time to frequent places like Burke Williams anymore, or the money to afford them. I love all of Arbonne’s products, but this trifecta is especially lovely and a great gift with Mother’s Day approaching. (Hint, hint for any dads reading this).

Oh, and one more thing I should mention: The Rescue & Renew line comes in eco-friendly packaging with bamboo lids, so they’ve even transformed the bathroom into looking like a spa too. Bonus!

Want dreams of oranges and tangerines too, plus an escape from reality? Contact Janet Fazio, Arbonne rep: or visit her website here.

The first three people to read this post and add a comment about the Rescue & Renew line and why they are excited try it will be entered into a drawing to win a free scrub from the set. I can put you in touch with Janet if you win the raffle.

Good luck!

Klondike bars and wine

There are nights where I find myself hibernating … in the bathroom. This the same bathroom I share with the baby and all her bath toys, and where we also bathe the dog. It’s not really my bathroom anymore, but it’s the one place in the house where I can try to hide — from my husband, sometimes the baby monitor and the whole world. Although lately, he’ll pop his head in to ask me a question while I’m mid-bath or I’ll have to take the baby monitor with me because no one else is home.

Lately I have also been sneaking in a dark chocolate Klondike bar with me. Light a candle, add some bubble bath or a cheap mini bottle of wine, and I’m in my happy place. It’s quiet. I can surf Instagram or Pinterest in silence. I can drown my body in scalding hot water until I turn into a prune.

Do you have that kind of place? Where do you go at the end of the day? When you’re still covered in throw up from the baby that morning and remnants of three giant poopy diapers you changed that day, make-up from work, avocado/beans/corn from feeding the baby dinner, dog slobber, and you still haven’t washed your hair. It’s my one chance to (sometimes, if I have the energy) shave my legs or deep condition my hair or whiten my teeth.

My husband asked me the other day why I don’t blog as often anymore. It’s a matter of prioritizing. And the end of a long day of working, commuting in traffic, taking the baby to doctor’s appointments, drop off and pick up from day care, audiology visits, speech and language pathology sessions or those with Amber’s teacher for the hard of hearing, and on the brink of total exhaustion, do I want to write for fun or sleep? Do I want to watch the latest episode of New Girl or sleep? (Sleep usually wins.) And then there’s the laundry, baby bottles and breast pump parts, and dishes to wash that have piled up, not to mention the poor neglected dog/first furry child who needs attention and love too.

So, I might not be blogging as often these days. But I did recently run my first half marathon post baby. And if you’re looking for me and I have any ounce of time to spare (you guessed it), I’m probably in the tub. Don’t bother knocking. I’m not coming out.

Daycare disease and human petri dishes

Babies are human petri dishes. Definition according to Urban Dictionary: a person who is always sick and spreads their germs where ever they are.

Example of usage: Amber is such a human petri dish.

This is because our daughter’s daycare is “the perfect environment for the transmission of viruses.”

I love our daughter immensely, don’t get me wrong, but there seems to be no end in sight when it comes to her sickness and fevers, plus our sleepless nights and wiping of noses. We had another rough night of throwing up, congestion, coughing and a stuffy nose. If I could only hold her upright so she could sleep on me all the time maybe we could push past this.

Poor baby Amber. She’s been sick with stomach bugs, bouts of diarrhea (think lime green, runny poop) and fevers on and off since she started at daycare in mid-September. Hopefully, the ear infection (right ear), amoxicillin dosing, followed by shots every other day are behind us as well as the nightly running of the cold mist humidifier, saline and snot sucking, etc. Let’s hope this is just another virus (that she gave to me too, of course). Nonna, Papa, Daddy and I have all historically also contracted whatever she brings home from daycare as well.

We’ve heard from other parents that it’s a vicious cycle, and we’re all building up immunity so that we have tough immune systems, but I’ll believe it when I’m not sick anymore. There’s also the fact that Amber got her first, bottom tooth in just before Christmas — though her pediatrician promises that the fever was not due to teething or the ear infection. Oh, and that’s just one tooth, mind you, there are 19 more to go, apparently. Oooff!

My husband and I constantly come up with stories to tell her daycare providers. Our conversations sound something like this:

  • “Oh, she just has buggers.”
  • “That? It’s because Amber has allergies.”
  • “She sounds a little stuffy today because we ran the heater last night.”
  • “Watery eyes? She has a blocked tear duck (mild conjunctivitis).”
  • “So if she gets sent home from daycare today, are you going to pick her up or am I?”

Until healthier days ahead … I’m going to keep popping the Vitamin C, washing my hands and downing the fluids.



Sparkly and precious pink

I haven’t blogged in some time because Amber’s permanent (mild) sensorineural (meaning damage to the inner ear, cochlea, or the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain) hearing loss and her new hearing aids (Phonak Sky V) have been a lot to swallow in a short amount of time. The most important thing is that we have a happy and healthy little girl, who I love more and more every day! She is Scott’s mini me. I love looking and her and seeing him.

The other good news is that she’s going to be OK. Amber is going to thrive and we are doing the absolute best we can as parents to get her access to everything she needs to succeed and learn to talk and hear and listen like any other child, or her “normal” hearing peers. I still wonder whether other kids will make fun of her, or if the squealing when they fall out or brush up against anything annoys her. And I pretty much live in constant, daily fear that she will get an ear infection or bonk her head and her hearing loss will progress.

But the goal was to get hearing aids on Amber before 6 months of age, and we got them at 4 months! Thank you CCS! And mom and dad for helping to write letters to CCS! We are learning basic ASL with the help of her teacher Ms. Jessicca. And we started the BabyTalk program, tele-therapy via the iPad today with a SLP. We love Weingarten and its amazing community and the other parents that I’ve been connected with too!

We are right on track, so that she doesn’t fall behind. Amber’s first pair of hearing aids featured clear molds with precious pink aids, and her second pair of molds is now sparkly, and a light pink (daddy picked them out! he’s apparently interested in going hot pink next). She doesn’t seem to mind them anymore or pull them out and put them in her mouth, as long as she’s wearing her Hanna Andersson caps (we ordered a variety of colors). But the first couple weeks were definitely an adjustment.

It adds an extra 5 minutes or so to our morning ritual of getting ready for daycare to check the hearing aid batteries, add the sticky tape and check their sound to make sure they are working properly, but while we are doing it Amber squawks and babbles and grabs at her stuffed koala bear, Oregon duck or anything else in her reach. I love that she is so vocal! Snuggle time at night, when her hearing aids go in their dryer is my favorite time with her. Nursing her in the middle of the night and just holding her close. I wish I could protect her from the world and keep her little and perfect forever.

Being a mom has changed me in ways I didn’t realize it could.