Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Triple coupon intervention

Dave and I have sunk to a whole new level of nerdiness.  I've kept it a secret until now.  It started about a year ago when we began subscribing to the Sunday paper and I started clipping coupons.  My motivation at the time was simply to make the subscription pay for itself. Then I heard about triple coupons at Harris Teeter and the sickness started.  Funny enough, that was the Saturday I found out I was pregnant with North.  I kept the pregnancy a secret that last special day of freedom.  That perfect summer evening, Dave and I went to a concert and I enjoyed one last beer without my husband giving me a deserved stink eye. Afterwards, we went to Harris Teeter and triple couponed the night away (as someone that holds an English degree, I have the authority to make verbs out of any word I see fit.)  Looking back, that's the night we officially became adults ...or losers, depending on your perspective and whether you still spend all your free time out in a bar.

Fast forward to now.  North couldn't have been born at a better time,  but it means I have gotten behind on my coupon clipping over the last month or so.  When I heard about the latest Harris Teeter triple coupon event, I knew I had a wonderful stockpile of coupons waiting for me.  First, I quickly poured through my coupon fliers and clipped only the $0.99  and under coupons for the products we will use (Harris Teeter will only triple coupons less than $0.99).  Then I visited Taking Stock by Sue Stock through the News & Observer's website and perused her picks of the best deals and figured out which items we wanted.  (If you like Sue Stock, my friend Michele hooked me up with a weekly e-newsletter called Here's the Deal that compiles information from several like-minded blogs.)  The big trick to increasing your coupon savings is using a coupon on top of a sale the store is already having for that item.  What I love about Sue's list is that she does most of the work for you.  

Because Harris Teeter only allows you to use 20 coupons per visit, I normally plan multiple trips to the store.  So I organize my coupons based on which items are going to disappear the quickest (i.e. the items that are free or close to it) for my first trip, then I sort them based on where they are found in the store.  This preparation took me about an hour today and then I was off to the store!  Each trip to the store took about a half hour.  If you have a husband and son that support your habit the way mine do, it makes for a much faster trip.  Plus, saving money should be a family affair!

The first trip was the more impressive of the two.  Many of the items shown below were either free or insanely cheap.  For $60.21 in groceries, I spent $15.32 which is a 75% savings and got the following items:

The second trip was not quite as disciplined as the first trip I took alone.  My husband spotted a case of beer that was on sale, then I grabbed a large bottle of wine that looked too delicious to pass up, and North begged me to get a carton of organic milk, so that skewed our tally by $20 or so.  But for $88.25 in groceries, we ended up paying $48.05, which is 46% savings.  I hope one day manufacturers of alcohol consider printing coupons for their products to make my triple coupon tallies more brag-worthy.

Today's two trips saved us a total of $85.09 for groceries that should have cost us $148.46.  So we ended up spending only $63.37.  We saved 57 % overall, not too bad for a few hours of work!

Free skin cancer screenings in Raleigh

May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, which is good for the hypochondriac that lives deep within each of us (or am I the only person that has googled skin cancer symptoms?)  On May 18, the Dermatology Center in Raleigh will hold free skin cancer screenings from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM to anyone interested.  Each screening takes a mere 10 minutes from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet.  Follow the link to schedule an appointment if you're in the area.  To anyone outside the triangle, do a quick search for any participating dermatologists in your area.  I'm sure you can locate a practice that is taking part in this great cause.  Just imagine what peace of mind (and time savings you would have spent pouring over images of moles) you will have once you finally take the time to get screened!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Introducing Mr. Fussypants

Never have I seen so many superstitious people as I have since giving birth. Through the duration of my pregnancy, I've had the pleasure of coming to know several other women that found themselves likewise knocked up. Now that most of us have had our babies (although there are still several that are finishing up their cooking time), it's interesting to see where these women (and myself) are at emotionally. We are wise enough to know that even when things are going well with our newest addition to the family, to admit this out loud tempts God to punish you for such pride. I've never been so happy to surround myself with so many wooden objects as I am now, in case the need suddenly arises to appease myself with the fates and knock on wood after admitting I have a well-behaved baby.

But sometimes no matter how bloody our knuckles, even knocking on wood cannot protect us from the condition of a fussy child. Strangely, it is a bit of a relief to admit we have a fussypants on our hands.  Afterall, I am well acquainted with the look of someone that silently loathes me for having a well-mannered child as they smile politely and say, "how nice for you," through clenched teeth. As the saying goes, misery loves company and this is particularly true of an exhausted and hormonal new mother.

In the interest of full disclosure, the last week has been particularly rough on me (which I hate to admit). But I set this blog up to document this experience and that doesn't mean creating an illusion of the truth I want people to believe. Since North's crying jags have begun, I had felt incompetent as a mother and ineffectual as a soother of a crying infant. The experience had me feeling numb and scared of my child. While I could still enjoy the good moments with my little boy, I dreaded the future outburst from him that I  had no confidence to calm.

I find myself knocking on the wooden desk I'm typing upon even now, feeling more secure in my newfound skills as a mother. While both Dave and I have developed new talents of calming a crying child, the more valuable mindset I've developed in the last week is that of not caring what any outside observer thinks of my mothering skills. I've learned how to convince myself that babies will cry and it is not my fault. It is not the fault of my clean floors when my baby has gas that he needs to work through. The fact that I failed to sleep when he sleeps for the upteenth day in a row is not causing his temporary colic. As of tomorrow, we've had this child in our care for a grand total of 3 weeks and you know what---I'm pretty damn proud of how far we've come in that time. And yes, today was a stellar day (even with a little bit of fussiness thrown into the mix) but we overcame the fear and enjoyed the beautiful day.

Really, I'm writing this for any new mother out there that has or will have similar feelings. I believe doubting yourself and what you are capable of is normal.  Just choose not to allow these negative thoughts to rule you (and if the people around you are making you feel this way, address this with them immediately). While everyone's experience is absolutely unique, I know such self-doubt will only lead to more bad experiences down the road.

While North is far and away my number one priority right now because he is at his most vulnerable; my husband, our pets, and my ambition are still on the forefront of my mind as well. Learning to balance all of them has been my mission in the last 3 weeks; but even before  that, the art of a well balanced life has always been my most important and never-ending challenge. Having a baby just adds one more ball to my juggling act.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

North Kilian's afternoon constitutional

As new parents, we do not get out much these days.  That is fairly obvious if you check out our latest video.  All sounds contained in this video are real and no sound effects were used to generate this hilarity.  You may want to turn your volume up.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Delivery tips for the hospital

There are a ton of articles online about what to pack in your hospital bag when you're ready to deliver your baby (most of these items are absolutely not necessary in my experience).  The only items that I feel were essential during my hospital stay were: chapstick, gum, hair tie, toothpaste, toothbrush, toiletries including soap and shampoo, make-up, lanolin, nursing bra,  cell phone, camera, laptop, going home outfit for baby and comfy going home outfit for you (although most women in labor show up to the hospital wearing clothes, so you could just wear those home if you really wanted to minimize your packing.)  All the other stuff you hear that you need like slippers, robe, nightgown, special pillows, etc is really not necessary or the hospital provides an alternative.  

But I've been thinking about my hospital experience and some of the useful information I knew beforehand and some valuable lessons I learned in retrospect that I'd like to share with anyone preparing to deliver so they are more prepared than I was.  So here we go!

-Eat something that is going to fill you up while you are still at home. I opted for lasagna and a root beer float (I did not get sick thankfully, although in my experience milk comes back up in a somewhat refreshing manner in case you were wondering.)  Most hospitals do not allow any food in the delivery room.  And most of the time you are only allowed water and ice chips during the later stages of labor.

-Don't pee right before you go to the hospital.  They will want a sample as soon as you get there. (Edited to add: I only live about 2 miles from the hospital where I delivered.  I shouldn't advise people on the requirements of their bladder coupled with the possible staining of their car's upholstry when I don't know everyone's precise mileage from their hospital.  Don't listen to me.)

-Discuss important details like donating the cord to the blood bank, Hepatitis B immunization, circumcision, etc. with your partner beforehand so that you are prepared to make your wishes known to the hospital staff when these issues come up even if your partner is not in the room at that time.

-Keep your packing to a minimal level.  Hilariously, I packed 2 encyclopedia-sized baby manuals (one for me and one for Dave so we didn't fight over them) that I was convinced we would want to speedread once the baby was born.  And we might have, had we not discovered the baby channel on our TV which played in the background for the duration of our stay in the hospital.

-Only bring the delivery essentials for the delivery room.  Keep the overnight bags in the car until you are moved to the postpartum room.

-Have your husband or labor partner take notes on your progression through labor, noting the time, dilation and any other labor details of interest.  Often these things can be blurry in retrospect and it's nice to have a detailed account of what took place to look back on afterwards.

-Have your husband or labor partner keep track of physicians (or contractors) names and the services they provide in case there are insurance disputes later on.  If someone walks into your room and asks for your insurance information, be sure to get their name as well.  Same goes for any bill paying that may be done during your hospital stay.  

-Be very vocal and extremely direct with your nurses if there is something you need.  I made the mistake of being too casual with my nursing staff and apparently that translated to them as me not needing anything.  For example, I mentioned my interest in speaking with a lactation consultant after North and I experienced some latching issues his first morning of life.  By 4:00 PM, no one had visited the room because the nurses hadn't relayed my request.  Be vigilant about your needs.

-Plan on wearing the gowns provided by the hospital.  You're going to be bleeding quite a bit and there is no need to ruin your pretty clothes you brought with you. Plus, their gowns have snaps at the shoulders and are great for nursing.  I recommend wearing one gown with the back open and putting another gown on backwards to create a makeshift robe.  It's fashion-forward and the nurses will respect the MacGyver in you.  Be warned though, you may surprise yourself with your nonchalance regarding who sees your ass hanging out after delivery.

-Order 2 desserts from room service.  No one is going to judge how much food you eat.  Be nice and give 1 of the desserts to your husband.

-Drink a ton of water.  If you have a catheter, it's important that you start peeing on your own as quickly as possible.  But if you're nursing, you need more liquids as well.  Plus keeping yourself well hydrated will help with constipation and any horribleness that may or may not be going on with the backside of your body.

-Take the stool softeners the nurses offer you.  And hell, take the pain pills too!

-If you plan on pumping and you already have your pump, take it with you to the hospital.  I had the lactation consultation look at mine to make sure that my breast shields actually fit me (she gave me better fitting ones for free). 

-Don't be modest.  There is no need to be embarrassed about delivery or nursing.  You are going to have lots of things going in and coming out of your body.  Doctors will be putting their hands in strange places and nurses and consultants will be grabbing your boobs to show you techniques for nursing.  Remember they are experts and not perverts.  Let go of your inhibitions and get as much knowledge as you can from their experience while you can.

-Keep the baby in the room with you if you want, it's good practice after all!  But don't be afraid to call the nurses to come take the baby to the nursery either. Remember, you just gave birth and you need some sleep too.

-If you have a boy and you plan to circumcise, try to make sure it is completed 24 hours BEFORE you leave the hospital.  North got circumcised (sorry to announce this to the internets son, but it's for a good cause I promise) an hour before we were discharged.  This led to a much more difficult first day at home for everyone than necessary.

-Make sure your spouse is present for all directions on paperwork and on baby care instructions.  More than likely, the mother will be exhausted and on some form of pain medication, so her memory may not be in the best shape for these details.  I still fail to understand why all directions and instructions were given only to me.  I think both parents need to be present if at all possible, that way everyone is accountable and not just the mother.

-Take any extra supplies provided by the hospital for both you and the baby.  Apparently, you are not supposed to take the blankets, but we did walk away with a few.  They may be ugly, but they are incredibly multipurpose.  Take the pads, wash basin, hats, baby shirts, mesh underwear, pads, take it all!

-The nurses may also ask you if you need anything else before you leave---do not be shy about asking for more diapers, wipes, pads, ice packs, etc.  We walked out of the hospital with an extra $40 in diapers and wipes when I explained I was using cloth on him and would need something to tide us over until the cloth fit him.  Not only did this save us having to go to the store, but it saved us money too.

-Bring reusable grocery bags to the hospital with you to carry all your free hospital loot home.

I hope to add to this list as more things occur to me.  I'd also love to hear any other tips you ladies have out there.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Meditation on poop and boobies

Again, I'm a bad blogger with a ton of things I want to share but lately I've had either no internet connection (the horror!) or no time to get a coherent thought out.  I assure you, as I clean pee off the walls and scrub poop off the latest location I find it (normally on the child) that I am thinking about all the things I want to share here.

Speaking of poop, Dave and I changed North's first diaper together.  Dave had never changed a diaper before and it had been more than a decade since I had changed one.  Not that diaper changing is difficult, but even the simplest of tasks can be daunting when you're out of practice.  So the moment North started fussing after being fed, we knew he had probably dirtied himself and prepared his bassinet for a changing.  Being his first real day of life, we experienced the joy that is meconium first hand.  If you don't know what meconium is, imagine poop the consistency of goopy tar.  Twenty wipes and one very frustrated baby later, the black glue poo was removed from his tiny behind.  Just as we were about the assemble the diaper on him, a strange yellow liquid shot into the air.  With the reflexes of ninjas, Dave and I put our hands over the gushing fountain so that the liquid fell um...onto our spotless baby innocently laying in his bassinet.  

Our room door popped open and Nurse Ratchet (names have been changed to protect the bitchy) sprang into our room to find my husband and I laughing hysterically while our pee soaked baby screamed in distress.  She removed his ankle bracelet and dryly explained that his urine had set off the security alarm in his anklet causing the alarm to sound and the entire third floor maternity ward to lock down.  She was not amused though and stood there watching us attempt to complete the diaper change.  Just then the photography lady brought the proofs she had previously taken of North into our room for our consideration and proceeded to stand there and watch us prove that we probably should have taken those baby care classes after all.  North continued screaming and finally, annoyed at the two of them staring at us, I simply snarked, "geez, no pressure."  They both excused themselves and finally we secured the second tab on that tricky diaper.  

Of course now that we've been changing diapers for over a week and a half, we're kind of professional poop cleaner uppers.  North's arrival has clued us into the fact that we were put on earth to feed things and clean up their poop (I'm looking at you Jake, Luna and Gollum).  Don't think we haven't noticed the fact that none of you pets have learned how to use the toilet yet!

As for North stats, he's growing like a weed.  Last Saturday, we took him to his first pediatrician appointment where he weighed 6 lbs 5 ounces.  He had only lost 5 % of his birth weight of 6 lbs 10 ounces, which was quite good considering the nursing issues we were having.  Per the doctors recommendation for my engorgement, I went home and pumped.  I may or may not have squealed when I saw the first drop hit the bottom of the bottle.  I pumped 6 ounces, which to those not in the know, is kind of super awesome.  Two days later, at North's pedi appointment on Monday morning, he weighed 6 lbs 13 ounces.  Let's just say that the milk runneth over and I'm deeply thankful for such a blessing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

North meets world

The ride to the hospital was the longest 2 mile car ride of my life and Dave had to pull over twice so I could work through some contractions that were coming every 4 minutes. We arrived to the hospital around 6:30 PM last night and were welcomed to the hospital by several tour groups of expectant families. Although in pain, it amused me to be the obligatory woman in labor character for the tour group.  I  know  I spent our tour of the hospital weeks earlier looking for noticeably laboring women moaning through the hallways and saw not one.  Please note, I was not moaning either, but I'm sure I looked distressed enough every few minutes to freak them out a bit.  They put us in the triage room to assess my progress.

Around 7:30 PM, I was 4-5 cm dilated and they administered an IV. We discussed an epidural and I decided to give up the ghost of natural childbirth after enduring more than 24 hours of regular and increasingly painful contractions. My fear was that dealing with the pain would tire me out too much to push. Moreover, I felt like I was impeding my own dilation and progression by tensing up during the later contractions. The earlier ones from the previous 24 hours were easier to work through and somehow relax during the pain; whereas, I found myself trying to freeze the pain and just wait each contraction out until it dissipated with the later more painful ones.

I'm so thankful that I wasn't stubborn about this decision because it would be another 2 hours before the epidural was put in around 9:30 PM. I've come to realize that this decision is truly a personal one. At some point during the experience, you have to weigh many more factors than just your tolerance for pain---for me, time was my most weighty factor. I really wanted North to be born on April 7, my Grandpa Kennelly's birthday. We had already decided to name him in honor of Dave's grandfather, Paul North Kilian, for his first name. And we wanted him to carry my maiden name, Miles, for his middle name. So having him on April 7 was my way of honoring a part of my other grandfather as well. Nothing like putting a little added pressure on yourself! But honestly at 9:30 PM when they gave me the epidural, I didn't think having him before midnight was remotely in the cards.

Fifteen minutes later, at 9:45 PM Dr. B broke my water, which was a relief and the I'm-going-to-pee-my-gown-feeling went away (because well...I did pee my gown essentially). She measured me at about 5 cm after she broke the water. The sweet epidural surrounded me like a warm hug and all become happy with the world again. I also stopped shivering like a madman, which I think was starting to freak Dave out. Neither of us were prepared for the uncontrollable shaking that overtook my body when labor started.  Dave wore his heavy fleece jacket for the duration of my labor, the room was so cold, but I couldn't feel a thing.

By 10:00 PM, I was 8 cm dilated. You got that right, I had progressed 3 cm in fifteen minutes because that's the way I roll. The problem with such quick progression though was that North's heart rate started dropping. They gave me oxygen, attached an internal fetal heart monitor to North's head and had me change positions to see if that didn't improve his heart rate. There was talk about a C-section at that point, but only as a last resort. Dr. B. really wanted to give me every opportunity to have him vaginally (sorry to any guys reading this, I know that word is upsetting to you). And although having him via C-section was not part of my grand vision, I would have signed up in a heartbeat if there was any real fear of distress for him. But he stabilized within 15 minutes or so.

At 10: 30 PM, I had progressed to 9 cm and 0 station. A catheter was inserted so I no longer had to be concerned about peeing my pants. I also think that catheters should be prerequisite for pregnant ladies throughout the duration of gestation. There should be laws about such things. Write to your Congressman ladies!

North still needed to move further down before he could be delivered. So I started pushing at 10:50 PM. I wasn't very good at it at first quite frankly. It probably took the third contraction to really get a good feel for what I needed to do. There was also a brief confessional period where I admitted I wasn't pushing with my full effort due to my fear of pooping. Everyone assured me that pooping was normal and they wouldn't be bothered by it. But, I still didn't believe them. It helped, but to be honest I could have pushed more the whole time. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't because I would probably have ripped up my body a lot worse if I did give it 110%.

Dave was, of course, awesome throughout the entire experience. When he wasn't texting friends and family with progress reports, he was holding my hand or making me laugh. As a matter of fact, the entire process was miraculously pleasant, intimate and enjoyable for all four of us. Dave held one leg, while Nurse Mary held the other and counted out loud. Dr. B, encouraging me the whole time, updated me on the progress down below and directions on what to do next. Meanwhile I held Dave's other hand, closed my eyes and tried my darndest to focus all my energies on the task at hand.

They positioned a mirror for me to watch, which surprised me that I actually wanted to see what was going on down there. I also thought it would help me to see what progress I was making and what kind of pushing was most effective. When he crowned, Dr. B asked me if I wanted to feel his head. That was the second most awesome thing I have ever felt. The first was a couple of minutes later, as North shot out of my body. That's the only way I can describe it because I had no idea the process would be that quick. I ended up pushing for 50 minutes, and North was born at 11:39 PM. As soon as he came out, they laid him on a blanket on my chest and laughter emitted from deep inside me at the realization that he was out. Never have such true tears of joy been shed from these eyes. Looking back on that moment now, I can clearly see that I have been building up for that one moment of pure joy my entire life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Damn, I really thought today was the day.  Contractions started last night around 6:00 PM and I tracked them through the night using the Contraction Master. (My helpful tip if you plan on using this application though---put a temporary sticker on your "S" key.  That little sucker is hard to find around 3:00 AM when you're half asleep and not wearing your glasses.  Other than that, this method is a lot easier than the stop watch, pen & paper method.  And there's even an iPhone application for all you nerdheads out there.)

I have never been so happy to see the light of day as I was this morning.  I guess I find solace in knowing I could call my OB's office during the daytime.  Whereas, feeling confident enough in my progress to go to the hospital in the middle of the night seems so foreign.  I almost welcome an induction at this point if that means I can avoid having to time contractions in the dark again.  Talk about a lonely experience, even with a sleeping husband lying right beside you on the couch.

North, this is your mother----I order you to give off whatever stress hormones necessary to kick start my body into labor.  A friend pointed out that you are not even born yet and you are already a tease.  You don't want your reputation to precede you do you?

OK, I called the OB and they want to check me out.  Stay tuned!

Edited to add:  3 cm dilated, thinned out, negative 1 station.  Doctor said the contractions needed to be 5 minutes apart for 1 minute durations  over the course of a 1 hour interval.  That happened while we were at the OB's office.  Since coming home and downing some lasagna and a root beer float, they're now on 4-1-1 levels.  I think we're headed to the hospital soon.  I feel like this kind of pain needs some medical professionals present to witness it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

North heading south? (thanks Elisa)

Last night had me making countless trips to the bathroom, which started me thinking labor was imminent.  Around 3:30 AM, the first contraction hit and I laid in bed opening my eyes only to see my alarm clock 10 minutes later each time a new contraction hit.  Around 5:00 AM, I figured this was the real deal and I got up to prepare.  Preparation equals cleaning my house even when I'm not nesting, so it's no surprise my noise upstairs ended up waking Dave downstairs.  He called to me as I was on my way downstairs with the laundry basket, "everything OK?"

This will surprise people, but I don't commonly get up at 5:00 AM to do a load of darks.  As non alarmingly as possible, I explained what was going on to him.  This was the third time in a week I had these contractions, but each time they had stopped before.  And I'm starting to get a Chicken Little complex.

Once Dave was out of bed, showered, packed and had completed his holy-shit-we're-going-to-the-hospital-checklist, the contractions stopped....again.  Dave went into work with instructions to call him if they started back up again.

I decided to stay home from work and eat pineapple while chugging Castor oil.  I deliciously slept most of the morning away (why didn't I take more naps during pregnancy?) And I took a leisurely  2 mile waddle around the neighborhood.  Finally, I got over the guilt of not going to work by realizing this was the last time in a long while I would have this kind of time to myself.  The walk was just what I needed to clear my head and gain some perspective.  North, you are a very lucky boy to be born at such a beautiful time of year.  You will be able to celebrate your own birth every year as the world blossoms around you.  It's like everything is coming to life now because you are on your way.

No promises, but as I write this, I'm timing contractions again.  Right now, they are about 7 minutes apart.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

D-Day plus one

Sunday was filled with blueberry pancakes, lots of sunshine, yard work and a big pan of lasagna---but no baby.  Dave used the extension to pet and baby-proof the deck by running some steel tension cable railing between the steel bars the length of it.  We can now let Jake out on the deck without having to worry about him taking a flying super dog leap off.  Meanwhile, I pulled weeds and dressed up like a pregnant farmer.  

I'll try again to have a baby tomorrow after work.  Word on the street is we might try some old wives tales for inducing labor in the coming days.  We'll keep everyone posted.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Due Date

My due date has finally arrived, but no action. We woke up at 7:00 AM and walked down the street and browsed around at a tag sale. Going through the possessions of the deceased always proves to be such a strangely calming act and I always walk away thinking differently about life and the stuff we choose to surround ourselves with. Leaving a tag sale always makes me want to minimize my belongings, and yet often makes me wish I had kept some mementos previously purged too. I guess I want some stranger to be able to go through our stuff one day and build the story of our joyful life the same way Dave and I built up and therefore honored the memory of our neighbor that has moved on to a better world. Sometimes, it's those strange little tokens someone has held on to for years and years that helps to form a clear picture of their life.

Today our plan is to spend the day working on the yard. I know, we're supposed to be relaxing---but that is how we relax! I will spend one more Saturday disturbing my neighbors by baring my enormous belly to them for possibly the last time. I'm thankful that North has stayed in the womb this long and that we get one more weekend before our new life starts. I'm setting my new sights on 4/7.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Smelling Roses

Just a brief progress report from my appointment yesterday with the doctor. I'm still 50% effaced, 2 cm dilated and -2 station. Not a lot of difference from last week really and that is fine by me since we're still tying up some loose ends on the home, work and life front. As for little North, the doctor didn't measure any growth since last week, so we've scheduled another ultrasound for next week to check on him again. If they are not happy with his growth at that point, they will deliver. Or they may be fine with his progress and let me go further past due. Either way, at the appointment next week, we will talk about the possibility of induction. But I'd prefer to avoid that if possible because I feel like an induction increases the odds of me wanting an epidural. But as I've said before, I have no real birth plan and all I ultimately want is for North to be healthy no matter how he comes out or what drugs I do or do not take to make that happen. Of course, I could always go into labor RIGHT NOW too.

Just as this whole pregnancy is drawing to a close am I finally enjoying it. These last 10 months have been filled with preparation, some of which was enjoyable like creating the nursery, baby shopping and creative ways to save money. But other aspects have proved to be very stressful. For example, preparing to leave my job for three months and finding the time to take care of all those last minute house projects that couldn't be put off any longer have been my greatest challenges. Both Dave and I have been so busy and distracted with our eye on the prize, that we haven't had much time to slow down and enjoy these last moments of just the two of us that we have left. So per the advice of some good friends, we've been trying to slow down a bit more in the past few weeks. Plus, it helps that most of our obligations have been fulfilled and we are finally able to stop stressing about it all. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change a thing about this pregnancy. But as I look back on the last year or so, I see all of this plain as day now.

But there's nothing like impending labor to motivate you to do something you would otherwise happily put off until tomorrow. Especially, in the last week, I have been annoyingly productive even when it's the last thing I want to be because by God, I could go into labor RIGHT NOW. I better take out the recycling RIGHT NOW while I still can. If I don't scrub my shower down RIGHT NOW, I will be mad at myself when I come home to a dirty shower with a new baby. I had better write those thank you cards RIGHT NOW so I don't forget and then everyone thinks I am ungrateful. I had better write a blog post RIGHT NOW to document as much about this pregnancy as I can before the baby is born. In this sense, I am growing impatient for North to make his way toward the light because labor is starting to sound very relaxing.

I've noticed a marked change in people over the course of the last 2 months, as my pregnancy has become much more obvious. The kindness of friends, family and even strangers has made this experience so much more enjoyable for both Dave and me. I will miss people seeing the weeble wobble pregnant me coming their way and stopping their car so I can cross or holding the elevator door that extra second for me to jump on. I will miss the phone calls from loved ones checking in to see how I'm feeling or to wish me good luck or just because they were thinking about us. And I'd like to thank everyone for making us feel how much you all care. It really does mean a lot. And it really makes us happy to be bringing a new life into such a loving community of souls that are waiting with outstretched arms to welcome him.