Continuing on with the introduction of our CSP bloggers, meet Dana D, VP of Living Green. Dana and her husband, Reid, moved to Charlotte three years ago. Before moving to Charlotte, they lived in California and Austin, which is the heart of her green lifestyle. Dana is mom to fraternal twins, Austin and Maddox who are 2. When the twins were born, Dana set up a groovy contraption on her toilet for her cloth diapers. I was so impressed and live for her eco-friendly tips!
How did you find out you were having twins?
Well, that’s a story. My maternal great grandmother, my maternal grandmother, my mother and now myself have all had twins. I actually started showing quite early so they thought I was off on my due date. My mom just kept laughing saying “You are having twins, I just know it!” I thought, “Yeah, right, I have four older sisters and no one has had them yet. They are just off on my due date…” We went in at 8 weeks for an ultrasound and my husband, jokingly, asked, “There’s just one in there, right?” The woman said, “Well, since you asked, there are actually two.” I will never forget the look on his face.
What was the biggest challenge you had with IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction)?
Well, the challenge started from the very beginning. They thought one of the twins, Maddox, was going to be a vanishing twin. They didn’t expect him to make it and said he would be absorbed into the uterus. The doctor actually didn’t say it in such a pleasant manner but that’s a whole other story. So we were referred to a perinatologist at the Women’s Institute, and it turned out Maddox just kept hanging on. There was a definite size discrepancy so they did all kinds of genetic testing, etc. IUGR is referred to as Intrauterine Growth Restriction. So eventually at around 17 weeks they were able to determine that they thought it was a placental insufficiency (the placenta just had not adhered correctly to the wall of the uterus) and he was growth restricted due to lack of blood flow through the umbilical cord. I was instructed to be on modified bedrest and to lie on my left side as much as possible to aid in blood flow. They also said to be prepared and know that at any time he may not survive. I was getting ultrasounds every two weeks and sometimes every week. I was absolutely terrified! I left almost every appointment a total basket case. I am so thankful that I have a wonderful and supportive husband, otherwise I would have never made it through this. So our goal was to get to 30 weeks if we were lucky. The blood flow through the umbilical cord continued to decrease and eventually it stopped. We delivered the boys at 30 weeks. Maddox was 1 lb. 12 ounces and Austin was 4 lb. 8 ounces. They are doing wonderful. Maddox is still not on the charts for growth but boy, is he a little fighter!
How did your work experience as a nurse help you in dealing with your first three months with twins in the NICU?
This is tricky. Most nurses will tell you that sometimes when you know too much about what’s going on, that it can almost be worse than not knowing anything. On a tour of the NICU, one of the doctors kept repeating all the statistics of what could go wrong and what the long terms risks were, etc. So it seemed like this affected me more than my husband, because I kept revisiting all the potentially negative outcomes. On the other hand my nursing experience is great when translating and explaining things to my husband or family members. I was able to pick up on subtle issues as well. Austin’s oxygen levels kept dropping one night and I just knew something wasn’t right. I kept asking the nurses to check him out and I kept getting blown off until a nurse practitioner came by and I insisted they examine him or draw blood work. It turns out that his blood levels were extremely low and he needed an immediate blood transfusion. I don’t know if this was from my nursing experience or just plain mother’s intuition, but there’s one thing I have always told my patients or families. Don’t be afraid to speak up. One other thing, the medical equipment company almost sent them home with heart monitors that were set on adult settings. So if their heart rates would have dropped to dangerously low levels, the alarms would never have gone off. Thank goodness I picked up on that because it may not be something an overwhelmed parent, without nursing or medical experience, may have thought about at that time. We are truly grateful for the medical care they received and that we were able to bring them home safely. It was a LONG three months though I must say. The one funny story about our NICU stay is that I had gained so much weight ( 80 pounds gained in 30 weeks), that whenever my husband would drop me off at the front of the hospital after the babies were born, the employees would come RUSHING with a wheelchair. They would try to admit me because I STILL looked like I was about to deliver. I cried the first time it happened. This carried on for about a week and then they finally began to recognize me. Thank goodness.
What is your favorite thing about being a stay-at-home mom?
I just love being with the boys and seeing them at every stage, just knowing how lucky we are to have these beautiful children. I love being there when they wake up. I love seeing them interact with each other and their friends.
If you could pick one thing, what would you say could make the most impact for new mothers being green?
Yikes! This is a tough one. I would say to use cloth diapers. It’s really not that hard I promise! But if that’s too much for you, then try the “green” disposables, like Seventh Generation. I would also try to make the investment of an organic/natural mattress since our babies spend soooo much time in their beds. If you already have a conventional mattress then opt for a wool or organic cover to provide some separation between the bed and your baby. I know you said “one thing” but I must also include that we really need to be buying BPA, PVC and phthalate free cups, bottles and toys.
What is your favorite green baby product?
Oooh, there’s lots of them, but I would say the Klean Kanteens or Sigg’s as sippy cups.
What is your favorite green clothing line?
I buy a lot of stuff online. There is a brand called Zah for the kids that is reasonably priced and very cute. For myself, I look at all the chic eco designers and dream of when I can afford to buy something from them….Anyways, I have found some really fun organic t-shirts by Green Label at Greater Outdoor Provisions in Park Road shopping center. I also have purchased a few soy/cotton blend shirts for the boys from Shower Me With Love. It’s not organic cotton but at least we have the soy in there.
What is your favorite green cleaning product?
I really like Charlie’s soap. I use it in the laundry, especially for the cloth diapers, but it has many uses. Plus, it’s a local product! Don’t forget about the simple cleaning products, as well. Vinegar, baking soda and essential oils are great choices!
What is your favorite activity with your kids?
Oh, we love to go to the park and just hang outside. The boys are really into imitating daddy doing yard work, so I bought them a bubble mower that they push around the yard forever! NC Zoo, Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens and the Lazy Five Ranch would also be at the top of our list.
Favorite kid-friendly restaurant?
To be honest, we hardly “go out” to eat with the boys anymore. They are at that stage where it’s just not enjoyable. Other than Chick-fil-A drive-through, I would probably say Luisa’s Pizza. We were there a couple of months ago and the boys emptied every salt and pepper shaker they could get their hands on, as well as the sugar/sweetener containers. They didn’t kick us out and still kept a smile, so I would recommend this place!
Favorite date-night spot?
After living in California and since my husband grew up in Texas, we LOVE our Mexican food (and margaritas). Cantina 1511 seems to be our most frequent place although Senor Tequila off of Rea Road is a close second.
Best birthday party you’ve ever been to?
My Gym on Park Road. A great way to let the kiddos run off their energy. Recently, we missed a party that another friend had, where a miniature train actually came to their house. I heard it was quite a hit with the kids!
Minivan or SUV?
I am currently driving an older SUV and will need to make the decision between SUV or minivan pretty soon. I would love to have a Toyota Highlander Hybrid but the minivan seems really convenient. Also, everyone I know who has a minivan absolutely loves it. My husband is not really into the minivan though, so I would most likely choose a SUV if it were a hybrid.
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
This is such a great family-friendly city. Kids everywhere! We love that the beach and the mountains are so close for great family vacations.
I could not live without my…
Husband, friends and family. We have been through a lot with the boys being so premature and neither of our families live in Charlotte. So we really depend on each other and our friends here are like family.
I wish someone told me sooner about…
Preschool. I remember it so vividly. Jen P. asked me if I had signed the boys up for school. I had no idea what she was talking about. Needless to say, it was WAY past the deadlines. I completely lucked out and was able to get two spots for the boys. It was only one morning a week but it gave me some time to go to the grocery store by myself and the boys actually LOVED it!
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
Sharon Baptist playground. It’s shaded, fenced and we can walk there.