My Love Affair with Autumn

Today I went for a much needed run about Town Lake Trail in my beloved city, Austin. In “these here parts” the leaves don’t change colors, but we know it’s fall when the air gets crisp and you’re no longer at risk for heat stroke the moment you walk outside. Here are a few of my favorite things about fall.

Chelsea Vail and friends

  • S’mores by the fire pit in my backyard
  • Leggings and chunky knit sweaters
  • The firepit at Moontower Saloon
  • Infinity scarves
  • Potato soup in a sourdough bread bowl
  • Carving pumpkins with friends
  • Football Sundays (because this is the day I get to spend with my girlfriends while my husband watches TV)
  • Hot cocoa with kahlua or Bailey’s
  • The zoo because the animals are more active in cooler weather
  • Chili, taco soup, gumbo, venison stew
  • Sleeping in snuggled under a duvet
  • Boots, booties, wellies
  • Fighting with my husband about when I can finally decorate for Christmas
  • Vegging out in front of the TV catching up on DVR recordings
  • Whiskey drinks that warm your insides
  • Playing games indoors with friends
  • Tailgating for UT football
  • Halloween & Thanksgiving
  • Drinking wine and laughing with my sisters and family on my parent’s patio
  • Pumpkin spiced lattes
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Pumpkin beer
  • Pumpkins! Sweet potatoes! Squash!
  • Strolling the farmers markets & listening to the bands
  • Long morning walks
  • Camping
  • Paddleboarding Town Lake for hours
  • The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cider in the air
  • Toddlers learning how to walk in boots
  • The sound of HS marching bands
  • First Thursdays on S. Congress
  • Oysters at Perla’s
  • New seasons of your favorite shows
  • The thought of a new year, new start, new chapter fast approaching

Chelsea Vail, family
What do you love most about fall?

Why Organic Clothing for Babies & Kids is Crucial

I’m sure people think I’m nuts when I talk about the toxins found in children’s clothing, but those people obviously have not done their research. Baby gear, children’s clothing, and toys are among the most toxic things consumers buy next to household cleaners! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Babies and kids cannot metabolize toxins and hazardous chemicals the way adults do and they’re literally soaking in everything from their environment. Their underdeveloped livers cannot process and rid their bodies of what’s harmful.

Britain by Greenpeace conducted studies on children’s clothing and shoes and have found residues of hazardous chemicals in major brands including Gap, American Apparel, Nike, Disney, Adidas, and Burberry. Out of eight-two items tested, only six were clear of toxins. Those ain’t good odds, my friend.

Chemicals like hormone disrupting nonylphenol ethoxylates and phthalates were found, which cause reproductive and immune system disorders. A form of arsenic known as antimony was detected and is known to cause damage to the immune system and nervous system. Greenpeace’s findings encouraged the manufacturers to stop using these chemicals in their production, but how many clothing brands are still using them? How many more toxic chemicals need to be found before parents demand organics?

“But, they’re made in America. Isn’t that safe?” The answer is “Not always!” Out of 200 toxic chemicals banned around the world, America has only banned 9 of that same set. FDA standards are significantly lower than those of other high-income nations; however, we have made great strides and will continue to improve as more moms and dads stand up to manufacturers and demand higher quality for their little ones.

Parents who want to protect their kids from toxins can:

  • Avoid garments with platic, thick, raised logos and screen printing
  • Avoid shoes and rain gear made primarily from rubber
  • Avoid clothing that claims to be stain-resistant, waterproof, or odor-fighting as this takes toxic technology to create.
  • Avoid polyester, which contains antimony
  • If you simply must have that item of clothing that might be toxic, wash it first! Wash clothing in plant-based or organic detergent (without synthetic fragrance, which contains hormone disrupting chemicals and skip the dryer sheets. Tennis balls in the dryer are an organic option.

Great organic optons include Baby Soy, NUI Organics, and Under the Nile organics.

Shop at www.shopwholeheart.com for nontoxic and/or organic clothing, baby products, baby gear, and toys.

Wait…I Have a What?!

Today at my workout class the receptionist thanked me for being “so brave” by blogging about my fertility journey. It caught me off guard only because I often forget how public my story is and I forget people know my face and connect me with infertility.

Chelsea Vail, infertility

I took a few months break from blogging about my journey because, quite literally, there was either nothing to blog about, or it was far too painful to put into words. Since my last surgery I’ve done 3 cycles of treatments (shots, pills, charting, blah blah blah), including two unsuccessful IUIs. Yep, bummer.

The last round with my previous fertility center was a bit rough (to say the least):

  • First, I called to let them know there were 3 pills per day in my prescription, rather than 2 pills a day like I’d been taking. The response from the PA was, “Take 2 or 3, or whatever you’re comfortable with.” Um, I’m not comfortable with that response!
  • Then, I called my doctor to tell him I was upset with that approach and he went over the plans for the cycle with me and I realized I’d also not been made aware of the fact that my injections were changing this cycle, too.
  • Lastly, I went in for my IUI ($600 a pop) and found out the PA would be the one doing the procedure, not my doctor! I have nothing against PAs, but I think I’m WAY past having a PA. I should be considered a VIP in the office, given my history, not passed on to a PA.

After that IUI failed (shocker), the PA calls to tell me I should start thinking about ISO/IVF, which is the final and last possible option for a fertility patient, skipping over more IUIs, changing meds, a few rounds of IVF, etc. This sent me into a tailspin of self-loathing, depression, guilt, blame…you name it, I felt it. I decided it was time for a change!

I took my charts, films, scans, labs, and the rest of my fabulous autobiography to Texas Fertility Center, where 7 of my dear friends have experienced success. I’d be lying if I said I did not have an absolute panic attack in this office. I was used to being known at my doctor’s office. They knew my name, my chart, my story, etc. Now, here I was at square 1, unfamiliar with anything or anyone. The waiting room was cold, packed, and busy. My palms were sweating, my heart was racing, and I literally felt like I was going to start climbing the walls to safety if I didn’t see the doctor soon. Thank heavens for the support of my friends via text messages.

So, after almost 30 months of trying to conceive unsuccessfully, 1 surgery, 400 scans, countless cycles of meds, tens of thousands of dollars down the drain, and an emotional rollercoaster so unbelievably dizzying, I find out on day 1 with the new doctor that I have a uterine septum. Wait…I have a what?! A uterine septum? How is this just NOW being discovered?! You’re telling me that this should have (and could have) been seen during my HSG in October 2013? You mean this should have (and could have) been fixed during my laproscopy in May? What?!

uterine septum

Yep. It was confirmed, not only by my new doctor, but also by 3 other specialists in his practice. I was livid! Pissed! Hurt! Discouraged! Outraged! And seriously confused! How has this not been seen already?! Just now I’m finding out there’s a septum, easily removed by a day surgery, that has been preventing any fertilized follicles from attaching and resulting in a pregnancy?! Apparently, the top of my uterus is like an inverted rook, and although mine is very mild, it is there. My poor fertilized babies have been trying to find a safe spot in their mama and attach to me and they can’t because of the damn dam in their way! How does one recover from this discovery so late in the game?! Ugh!!!

Part of me wanted to throw my hands in the air and scream, “That’s it! I quit!” But, what would that help? What would quitting now do for me? How much more anger and resentment would fester inside me if I allowed this setback to stop me from growing my family?

 

 

So, I did what any normal Texas girl would do. I draped myself in my best Kendra Scott pieces, put on my Lucchesse boots, and went to a wine fest! I drank wine, I ate what I wanted, I laughed with friends, and I pretended like having a baby was the last thing on my mind. But, like always, it’s never not on my mind. I want a family. I want to be a mom. I want to experience every heartache and joy that motherhood brings.

Chelsea Vail at Dripping Springs Wine Fest

I’ve scheduled the surgery to have the septum removed October 10th. I’ll have to take some more time off from treatments again and be put on birth control, but then, I’m gonna keep on truckin’!

Got any words of encouragement?

Handsocks Rock!

Last week at the ABC Kids Expo I came across a new product that at first seemed a bit odd- “Handsocks”. My first thought was, “Why would anyone wear socks on their hands?” Or, more importantly, “How is this a new product?”

But, upon closer examination I realized that not only do they serve several purposes for young kids, but the design of them makes them different than just “socks on the hands”. They’re designed specifically to fit the hands of a child so they don’t slip and don’t fall off.

Here are my top 5 reasons why Handsocks rock:

1) Chicken-pox: Yes, there is a vaccine now for the chicken pox; however, some moms are opting out of getting it for their kids because the vaccine is a live virus and contains mercury and formaldehyde. Plus, if your kid catches the chicken pox it’s effects are usually mild, and once it runs it’s course you’re left with a stronger immune system. That being said, scratching can be detrimental! No one wants their kids left with scars and pock marks because of a childhood illness. Enter Handsocks!

2) Eczema, mosquioto bites, rashes, scabs, stitches, staples, healing wounds, etc.

3) Kids will be kids and often it’s gross! As a former elementary teacher (pre-k, kinder, and 1st grade) I often saw story-time as more of a game of “Whack-a-Mole”. Lil Johnny would have his hands in his pants, Sarah had her fingers in her nose, Timmy liked to pick the dirt out of his cleats and eat it, and Jane liked to bite her nails off and spit them at Suzy. If I had known about Handsocks as a teacher these would’ve been “Story Time Socks”. The bell would ring for the story to begin and upon gathering to the floor each and every child would have to put on their “Story Time Socks” or “Listening Socks” before the story began. See? You didn’t even know Handsocks were academically beneficial! LOL

4) Babies! Yes, I’m “That Girl” who looks at everything and wonders how it could be beneficial to babies. These have multiple purposes for those chunk o’ loves:

PregnancyPhoto-Handsocks

  • Prevent scratching to their face from lack of motor control
  • Prevent rugburn, splinters, glass shards (you thought you swept it all up, but you didn’t!), and other dangers when learning to crawl
  • Prevent the spread of germs. Your baby loves to touch people’s faces and even put their hands in guest’s mouths and then their hands go into their own mouth…yuck
  • Ask older brothers and sisters to wear these when meeting a new baby (don’t let them hold baby wearing these in case of slipping), but use them to prevent germs being passed around the hospital or birth center rooms

5) Warmth: How many of you bundle your kids in layer after layer after layer to keep their arms warm, but fear they’ll overheat? What about the gloves you put on that don’t stay on? Handsocks solve both problems. Handsocks can be used as an extra layer because they go all the way up the arm, but they don’t add layers over the chest and cause overheating. They also act as an extra layer to keep tiny fingers and hands warm when the gloves come off.

Handsocks come in XS (preemie/newborn), S, M, and L (3T). You can get your very own pair of Handsocks or “No Scratch Mittens” at www.handsocks.com or shop HERE.

How could Handsocks benefit your family?

Goldieblox: Because I’m More Than a Princess

Do you remember the video that went out about this time last year about the new Goldieblox engineering toys for girls? The one to the tune of the Beastie Boys song “Girls”? Well, I loved that video and after seeing that I was hooked! I immediately had to find out how to get them in my store.

I sold out of my stock before I even had them in hand and then it was 6 months until I got more and I sold out of those and now, finally, they’re back! I have 4 Goldieblox in stock right now!

These toys are made with nontoxic materials, they’re pvc free, lead free, and pthalate free and support my mission to help empower young children to think outside the box, be problem solvers, think critically, be creative, and use logic.

Goldieblox toys come with a storybook about a girl named Goldieblox, who loves to build. The children have to follow along with the story to build what Goldieblox builds as they develop spatial awareness, mathematical reasoning, and logical thinking.

As a Play Therapist, I’m a firm believer that children communicate through play and learn valuable skills through playing with toys that are “open-ended”, meaning, there’s more than one way to play with them. Play builds confidence, creates a sense of mastery over their environment, and helps them explore different sides of themselves.

Traditional toys for girls have included dolls, barbies, make-up play sets, and dress up clothes and although those things are fun and it’s true- girls do like to play with those things, we’re also limiting them.

Little girls are so much more than princesses who play dress up. They’re tough, imaginative, creative, strong, determined, and curious. We should encourage these traits by providing toys and experiences that allow them to use them regularly.

I don’t like…no, I hate…nope, I despise toys that do the work for children. Toys that when you push this button, the same thing happens every time. Toys where there’s only one clear way to play with them. Toys that don’t allow for open ended play, spark imagination, or encourage creativity. Most toys on the market today simply entertain children and are counterproductive. Instead of sparking creativity, they dull it. They foster brain dead zombies that must be entertained rather than getting creative and entertaining themselves. Do you know how many kids I see every day run out to recess and say, “I’m bored. I wish I could bring out my ipad” or “I’m bored, what can I play with?” A jungle gym, a swingset, and a slide are boring to kids who are used to being played for by their electric toys and devices.

Check out Goldieblox and Her Spinning Machine and try to branch out when selecting toys for your own child. Kick it old school with building blocks, push and pull toys, tops, Lincoln logs, puzzles, and puppets. Let kids be kids and play for the purpose of playing, not to be entertained by an electronic device!

What does your little girl like to play with?

I am “That Girl”

I often get asked about my background and how I came to be where I am, who I am, and do what I do. I get asked questions like, “How’d you become such a ‘baby expert’?” or I hear things from moms like, “I feel like you know everything about everything”. But, truth be told, I don’t know everything about everything. I know everything about ONE thing…

Chelsea Vail, That Girl

BABIES!

I am the girl who volunteered at a children’s hospital in college and got to hold a 4 month old while an NG tube was placed in her nose and LOVED comforting her! I spent every Wednesday and Sunday singing to, and reading to, the babies on the respiratory unit confined to their bouncers or swings.

I am the girl who rocked the “drug” babies to sleep during her internship at the children’s hospital in Houston and who’s heart broke a bit when they cried because I knew there was nothing I could do to ease the pain.

I’m the girl who carried my baby cousin back to the OR for day surgery so that his mother would find peace knowing he wasn’t scared before being put to sleep.

I’m the girl who was assigned to cross-cover the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at Dell Children’s Hospital and LOVED when my pager would go off for that unit because I’d get to comfort and help the preemies.

Chelsea Vail, That Girl

I’m the girl that resembled “Mary Poppins on speed” when 8 babies under 5 months were admitted to my unit within an hour of each other without parents and I spent my entire day feeding, bathing, changing, playing, holding, and rocking them, but still think of that day as one of my favorite days in the hospital, ever.

I’m the girl who begged her sister for admittance into the delivery room when my niece was born because I knew how powerful it would be to see someone enter the world and be apart of their first moments.

I’m the girl that reads everything by Dr. Sears, Dr. Karp, and every other famed pediatrician who specializes in babies and newborn care.

I’m the girl the reads reviews on baby products, baby gear, and baby marvels just for fun and watches hours of live births on youtube because it’s beautiful. Fascinating. Breathtaking.

I’m the girl who has researched, read, studied, theorized, and analyzed everything on prenatal care, postnatal care, newborn development, child development, infant sleep, baby nutrition, and infant health.

Chelsea Vail, ABC Kids Expo

I’m also the girl who hasn’t yet been able to have a baby of her own yet, but that’s okay. Maybe motherhood will happen for me and maybe it won’t. I’m still okay being “that girl” for every mama out there who is looking for someone who knows her stuff in the “baby world”. Someone who knows babies, who knows moms, and who knows baby products.  I’ve been referenced as the “female version of The Baby Guy” and although that’s a great compliment, I’m definitely not the baby guy, but…

I am THAT GIRL!