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Ashlee is Mama of one darling boy. A 28 week early bird, now 1 and some change, doing beautifully. She lives near Chicago with her sweetheart husband and French Bulldog. She's a thinker not afraid to get her silly on. Babywearer, veggie queen, photography nut. Before the domestic days Ashlee was pursuing a future in developmental psychology but has happily shifted gears in favor of staying at home and couldn't imagine doing anything else. In her free time (ha!) you can find her whipping up babyslings, holding down the fort at Mama Speaks and spotlighting as an Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor.

Mama's Nest

This Thing Tuesday, July 24, 2007 |

I've had this thing weighing on my heart and mind for some time. It keeps popping up in my life through a blog post here, an overheard conversation here, a friends trials there. It is something that I have such uncertainty about, I think we all do, and it makes me ache, it breaks my heart, brings tears. I start this post with a disclaimer. That my words here are not meant to judge anyone. That is not my place, not my right, not my position. I'm writing this post mainly for the selfish hope that translating my thoughts into words will lighten my load. I also want to open the dialog. I want to hear your thoughts. Comments are open. I only ask that everyone remain respectful.

That thing is Abortion.

I should start by saying I'm not one to say I'm on one side of the fence, or the other. There was a time in my life when I was probably 100% for a women's choice, no questions asked, whatever. But now, the more I think about it, the more stories I hear, the more lives I see touched, lives I see taken away the more I find my self just aching at the thought.

I guess my current struggle with it began a couple of months ago. David casually mentioned that he'd read a study. A study that showed over 75% of women who find out via prenatal testing that their baby will be born with Down Syndrome, terminate their pregnancy. Oh, how I wept! Not just because of the shear numbers involved but because of the friends I have with Down's. People who have changed my life. People I realized in today's time could very well have never been given the chance to leave their mark on this world. I guess I understand the fear, the unknown. The thought of not having that "perfect" child, of having a child that may suffer. Down's often brings with it some degree of mental retardation, and there is always a characteristic "look" - almond eyes, shorter stature, and a higher risk for certain health concerns. But is this reason enough?

I'm thinking of two examples from my own life. A family friend who passed away in my late teens due to heart complications. She was born with Down Syndrome. She was small and had almond eyes but was in no other way different than you and I by societies standards. She went to college, married, had children, lived a full and wonderful life. I met another dear friend when I began working at his group home. He, as well, has Down Syndrome. He falls at the other side of the spectrum however, he has moderate mental retardation, is non-verbal (with the exception of the phrase "that way!") and needs help to complete common everyday tasks. He will never live alone. Yet he is one of the sweetest people I've ever know. The most joyful. The most compassionate. He loves cats and pennies, swimming pools and ice cream cones.

Is either of these people worth removing from this world based on a diagnostic test? A test that can, unfortunately, be false.

A babies gestation didn't mean much to me until I was pregnant myself. Until I counted down those days and weeks myself. But now this brings up another issue that devastates me. Most of these babies, babies who are aborted due to having Down's and other "defects" are happily in their mothers womb until their fourth, fifth or sixth month. Xavier was born at six months- 28 weeks, 1 day. I recently worked with a mom who's son was born at five months. Today our boys are alive and well. I just don't think that God makes mistakes.

I guess this brings up the topic of when a baby is a "baby". Many doctors will tell you that a baby is not officially viable, and therefore not a "baby" until they've taken their first independent breath. For me a baby is a baby at the moment of conception if not before. I think for many people on the pro-abortion side of things, words are chosen carefully to support beliefs. A baby is not that, but a fetus, sometimes a "defective" fetus, therefore a fetus that warrants "termination". But when you a call a baby a baby a whole new set of words come to minds. Then you are ending a life. Four letter words that begin with K and a six letter word that begins with an M begin to seem more fitting. Words that under any other implication are crimes.

And maybe it's because it is that in my mind, that it seems such a strange thing for me. The bottom line is that I could never, would never. I couldn't even begin to think of it. More than anything I could never trust my own reasoning to make a life and death decision in any circumstance. Does that mean I think differently of someone who made the opposite choice. Absolutely not.

I have so much more to say, so many more thoughts bouncing around, but I'll stop right there for now. This post is tough, and long, and so pieces.

• 22 Chirping

Hope It Is Wednesday, July 18, 2007 |

We're home from Riley, and oh so hopeful! After nearly two months of bloody diarrhea, fevers, severe cramping and a babe who was just all around not himself we have answers, well, sort of. We found doctors with specialty, who work with children in critical situations, who we can trust to treat or boy. They listened, and tested, and cared. Antibiotics, pain relievers, surgery consults and a plan!

We start treatment tonight, with medicine that's a bit hardcore, with a warning he might take a couple steps back before he gets "better". But we have a start! And we've had a couple of days better than those I've seen in months. Playfulness, appetite and giggles we've missed! My updates here are a bit cryptic I know, emotion is strong and words chosen carefully, but with all that's going on I think that's best. If you'd like to follow ours and similar cases you can find it all here.

Thanks for all the prayers, thoughts and well wishes. Your love means more to us than you could ever know.

• 13 Chirping

HOPE Tuesday, July 17, 2007 |

Off to Riley

• 9 Chirping

David, Will You Marry Me? (again?!) Monday, July 16, 2007 |

I know it of course, but sometimes my dear groom makes sure I'm aware that he is the best husband ever. We've had a tough go of it lately with all that Xavier is going through- we are the best of friends, buddies, partners- the whole bit, but we're tired, exhausted, on edge and occasionally at each other throats.

Today he ambles up the stairs after work with pride in his eyes- "Did you see it? Did you see it?!" And hands me not one, not two but three copies of me and Steph's article. "You guys are GORGEOUS!", he says. (Woo- I'll take that any day!)

And if that wasn't enough, he adds - "Hey, why is the house clean?"

I love that man.

• 8 Chirping

O Saturday, July 14, 2007 |

Speaking of Oprah. Oprah wants to know what your favorite baby gift is. I know you all loooove your Nest baby slings, so head on over and tell her all about 'em.

Stay tuned our fall collection is scheduled to launch August 1st!

• 2 Chirping

So Tired |

Another night in the ER. High fever, belly spasms, cranky boy. Being poisoined with something that could be fatal there's no taking chances. Long night of tests- X-rays, blood draw, catheter. Looks like he just has a virus on top of the Salmonella. Yuck! But the least of the worst. Today, we rest.

• 10 Chirping

Wordless Wednesday - The Look and Mama's Got a Brand New 'Do Tuesday, July 10, 2007 |


• 21 Chirping

A Little Slice of Tractor Heaven |

Xavier is currently on a tractor jag. (Everything with wheels larger than a car is a tractor). He reads his tractor book constantly, is always telling us about them and is on the look out where ever we go. Of course, not all tractors are created equal. I haven't figured out the exact ranking but Mail trucks (sorry, tractors), garbage "tractors" and the ever elusive concrete mixer ("con-creeeeete!") are the definite faves.

Monday's are garbage and recycling pick-up in our neck of the woods and from the moment X wakes up he is on the look out for their arrival. He can hear them a mile away and we must run to window (or outside on the off chance he's clothed) to watch them work their magic. Today, however, was no ordinary Monday. The recycling truck made it's rounds and the garbage truck was close on it's heels. It pulls in front of our house and just as the, erm, sanitation worker, hops out to grab our refuse the truck makes the craziest sound and then quickly goes silent. "Uh-oh!" the X-man exclaims and then is parked at the window with the worlds biggest grin on his face as the garbage truck sat broken down in front of our house for over an hour. It was pure heaven for my darling boy.

The little things.

• 9 Chirping

Kiddie Consumerism Monday, July 09, 2007 |

I have this thing about marketing to kids. I hate it. In fact I'd go so far as to say I think there should be laws against it. I just don't think kids just shouldn't be sold to. Kid's thinking they "need" something because the kid playing with it on TV looks so cool and happy just leaves me unsettled. Our house pretty much reflects this. Xavier doesn't watch TV and his toys are pretty generic, we avoid cartoon characters and toys with branding at all cost. He does have a couple of infamous blue trains but they're just that to him- "Choo-choo's!" So, imagine my surprise when Xavier draws on his leg, points to it and says "Tattoo! Spiderman tattoo!" What?! Where in the world did he pick up Spiderman?

After thinking about it, the only thing I can come up with is that a couple months ago X got a Spiderman sticker from the doctor. He loved it for all of 10 minutes before moving onto the next thing. Why that would resurface now in his desire for a Spidey tattoo I have no clue, but that's all I can come up with. We decided to indulge and got him a Spiderman doll which he loves dearly. But suddenly it seems that everywhere we go there is Spidey this and Spidey that and he notices it all.

Just this week Javi's started asking for things in the grocery store too. Thankfully he's just dropping polite suggestions of melon, nectarine's and Kix (our secret indulgence) but I never expected it this early! He already knows quite a bit about money (he loves to collect and sort change) And so we're having that talk before we enter a store of what we're there for, that we can look at certain things but can only buy what we've come for (this might do me some good too) and we've started a special wish list for things that are oh so exciting he just can't live without - you know temporary tattoo's, a singing/dancing Spiderman, and a big green tractor. Maybe I'm overreacting but I'm just not ready for my 18 month old to have purchasing power!

• 14 Chirping

The Latest in Babywearing Friday, July 06, 2007 |

Steph is giving away the latest babywearing invention, the Podonbutai from All Natural Mommies!

And head over to Mama Speaks to see what we're giving away today!

• 3 Chirping

Sick Booty - Update Wednesday, July 04, 2007 |

I've received a couple emails wondering what happened to my "Sick Booty" post. Yes, I have removed it for the time being due to our pending lawsuit with Robert's American Gourmet. I debated keeping it all under wraps but it's all more than public at this point. We're being represented by one of the best firms around and can only hope for the best.

• 13 Chirping

Mama Speaks Monday, July 02, 2007 |

So once again I'm up to something... I got the idea to launch a Mama focused review site, full of great products, green tips and worthwhile causes and managed to get some of my favorite Mama's to jump on board. Please check it out and help us share the love...

Spread the word about Mama Speaks and enter to win one of two amazing prize packs from Earth Mama Angel Baby. Earth Mama Angel Baby offers 100% natural skin and whole body care products to support you from conception to baby care. Their products are heavenly!

All you need to do is post the Mama Speaks button below on your website and email us the link (reviews[at]mamaspeaks.com). Let us know if you'd like the Pregnancy Pampering or Breastfeeding Support kit.



• 2 Chirping