Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On Making Breadcrumbs (or Parenting Three Kids)

My mom and two sisters left this afternoon. They left me with dinner cooking in a crock-pot. They left me with a freshly cleaned house in perfect order, and with two children in their rooms for their nap/quiet time. They left my little girl, potty-trained when she wasn't before. They left my little boy with words of love, and admonishment to be a helper, a listener. They left my baby with a kiss on her soft cheeks, each of them. And me - crying - rather pitifully, asking if they weren't absolutely sure they couldn't stay just one more day?

I made a batch of my multi-grain sandwich bread this morning, in an effort to get one last cooking project in before they were gone, and to teach my Sister, McKenzie, a thing or two about making bread before she left. I've done this recipe literally dozens of times now. And . . . my loaves turned out like this:

Flat, heavy, golden brown loaves. Great as doorstops, or bread crumbs. I'm thinking LOTS of bread crumbs. Maybe even bread pieces for stuffing next week? Trying to look on the bright side, here.

I just realized that having to make breadcrumbs out of my tried and true sandwich bread recipe, is a perfect metaphor for how I'm feeling about parenting three littlies right about now.

I've done this before. Given birth, and nursed and cared for babies through their toddler years. Now, I have another one. (A sweet, calm, easy little baby at that. *Fingers crossed she keeps it up.*)

But, I've also watched my mom, two sisters and I all run around all day to care for these children and this home of mine for the last two weeks. And now they are gone. And it's just me. . .

Plus, when I walked back in the house after my family drove off, I heard Lincoln yelling for me to wipe his poopy bum, Jocelyn crying for me to change her poopy diaper, and Atley - who was much too-quietly sitting in her bed - rubbing a whole pump bottle of shower gel all over her hair, her bedding and stuffed frog. All at the same time.

And I cried some more.

My midwife told me about a family who is about ready to welcome their fourth baby, all 4 years and under. The husband's sage advice to his wife was, "All you have to do is keep them alive, honey." I like that advice.

I have a feeling that we'll be eating lots of breadcrumbs - literally and metaphorically - for the next few months. Healthy, happy, multi-grain, heavy, golden brown bread crumbs, made with all the love and effort I can muster while short on sleep. 

And so it begins!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jocelyn's Hypnobabies Homebirth Story (Jami's Perspective)

Baby Jocelyn, 1 day old
Reader's Digest Version:

  • Jocelyn Lily Hepworth was born at 11:46pm on Monday, November 3rd, 2014. 
  • 7lbs. 14 oz. and 21 inches long 
  • This was the most comfortable birth I've had - dare I say - pain free?!* 
  • It was a home, water birth. I caught my baby and placenta myself. 
  • We now have a sweet, calm, healthy baby GIRL!!

*Pain-free didn't mean it was a numb experience. It was still filled with lots of feelings of pressure, movement and varying levels of intensity, but it was completely manageable. I was always in control, and nothing stood out as being excessively uncomfortable or stinging. Pretty amazing! Thank you, Hypnobabies!

And now - the **TMI** version with all the details I assume you want to hear, since you clicked to read a birth story. . . ;)

Leading up to "Go" Time:

The two weeks leading up to baby's birth, I had been having lots of pressure waves (Hypnobabies lingo for contractions), some that were pretty intense. I thought I was having baby at 37 weeks 5 days, because things were getting so strong and uncomfortable while I was out grocery shopping. I even called my midwife to come to my home thinking that things were really happening. I felt slightly embarrassed when things calmed down when we were all home. I'm a veteran mom and a childbirth educator - you'd think I'd know by now when it was really "go" time! My midwife assured me that I wasn't the first. "Those third babies - I've seen them throw off childbirth educators, midwives-in-training, all kinds of mamas. One mom called us on three different occasions before her birth time started. No worries! This is what we do!" 

I was very relieved that our baby didn't come that day. My home wasn't clean and ready, I wasn't done with all my errands or cooking prep, I wasn't yet on the maintenance program for my Hypnobabies, and I wasn't ready emotionally for a new little one to arrive. I wanted things in order at home, I wanted a few more days to just enjoy my kids in a calm, clean space before we welcomed another. Plus, my mom and sisters weren't coming for another week and a half. 

That experience really pushed Squire and I to get everything prepared. We even had that week to just enjoy our other two kidlets. I wondered if my mom and sisters would make it in time for baby's birth, but I knew that at least WE were ready.

My mom was going to come on the Monday before baby's "due" date (November 6th), but she decided to push through and drive 13 hours straight to our house so she could be here Sunday, November 2nd, just in case baby decided to come that night.

Baby did not come Sunday, which was very nice as my family was exhausted. So they had one more day to recoup, and to settle in. My mom and sister, Riley, were even able to visit a good friend of Riley's who is serving a mission for our church in Mesa. They took her out to lunch Monday afternoon and had time to come back to Tucson without missing any action.

Mom (a.k.a. "Mimi") offered to take us to dinner Monday night. We excitedly took her up on her offer and chose one of our favorite Tucson restaurants - Zemam's, Ethiopian Cuisine. Amazing ethnic comfort food. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the restaurant to eat, we discovered that they were closed on Monday nights. So we decided to head to Guadalajara Grill. We missed the news that the restaurant had caught fire at the end of July and was now closed. Very sad news. Plus, we were getting hungry. Third time's a charm, right? We headed over to Macayo's - a Mexican restaurant we passed on the way to Guadalajara that looked busy.

Starting with a splash:

We pulled in the parking lot around 6:30pm. I felt a strong pressure wave begin as I stood up out of the car. Then - *gush* - SURPRISE! "Umm, my water just broke!" Seemed to me that in the darkness, my mom and Squire didn't realized how wet I was because they were saying, "Let's just go in and get some dinner real quick." "No way! I'm not going in there!" I turned around to show them how my whole rear-side was soaked with amniotic fluid. We had driven in separate cars as we didn't have room for everyone in one. So, we made a plan for Squire to take me and Atley home and to get set up there, and for my mom, sisters and Lincoln to order some take-out from Macayo's to bring back home. Mom graciously let me borrow the quilt in her car to sit on as we drove back home. :)

On the drive home, I called my midwife Misty to let her know that things were definitely happening. With my history of short birthing times she headed right over. I called my friend Amanda and made plans to drop Lincoln and Atley off at her house for the night. Squire and I said a prayer together for the baby and birth as we drove home.

We got home and started tackling last minute preparations. Squire finished filling up the birth tub with air and was tidying up and getting other things in order. 

I snapped one last photo of my pregnant belly and a pic with Atley (before the camera died and I had to plug it into the charger!) I tested my wet pants with pH paper to confirm it was actually amniotic fluid and not the contents of a weak bladder. Blue! It was. :) Then I threw a load of towels in the washing machine we would need for the birth, and changed into more comfortable clothing.
39 weeks, 4 days - Time to meet baby!
Selfie with Atley before she became a big sister. Sorry I couldn't get another picture with your eyes more open, girly goo. The camera died.
I knew baby was still posterior, so I alternated between hands and knees positions on the rug and leaning over my birth ball for most of the pressure waves while rocking my hips from side to side which felt great. Turn baby, turn! 

Misty arrived at our house before my family did. She took my blood pressure, listened to baby and got settled in. Misty commented that I looked gorgeous as only moms in their birthing time can look. I was feeling great - this was the night to meet my baby! My family arrived back home around 7:30pm. In between birth waves, I gratefully and ravenously ate the massive chicken, cheese and veggie stuffed quesadilla while leaning over my birth ball.

Family Home Evening:

Once the kids were fed, dressed for bed, and their teeth were brushed I insisted we do a little FHE (Family Home Evening). I had the idea for the lesson come to me earlier in the day and I wasn't going to let a few waves get in the way of a great teaching opportunity for my kids. We sang "I Lived in Heaven" and I read Jeremiah 1:4-5

"Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."

I taught them that just like Jeremiah, Heavenly Father knew and loved all of us in heaven before we came to Earth. And the little baby who was growing my belly was coming from heaven. I taught that baby and every one of us is given something special to do while on Earth, we just have to find out what that is! We had a short object lesson with a glove to illustrate the relationship of their spirit to their body. "We need our bodies to do the special things Heavenly Father has for us to do. This new baby, just like each one of us, is growing in Mommy's womb or uterus and getting a body so he or she could do what Heavenly Father wanted him or her to do! And this little baby, who had just been with Heavenly Father, is going to be here with us by morning time! This is a special time, and this is a special baby. Heavenly Father loves the baby and each one of us. Our bodies are special and help us become more like Heavenly Father." 

We finished with a prayer, and my mom brought Lincoln and Atley to Amanda's.

Getting down to business:

Up until this time I had been using my Hypnobabies Fingerdrop to go to instant deep self-hypnosis through the pressure waves, and had been using my "Peace" cue to direct my mental anesthesia where I needed it. All along, my sisters McKenzie and Riley, mom, Misty, Squire and I were talking and laughing in between pressure waves.

Riley being a silly Minnie Mouse in her awesome jammies.
Me making a face at something Kenzie was saying.
I drank my Sprouts Coconut water to stay hydrated. A more natural alternative to Gatorade. Good times.

About 9:30pm, my pressure waves were increasing in intensity and closeness. I wanted to know how dilated and effaced I was. A perfect opportunity for Squire to practice the skills he had learned from his OB/GYN rotation. He checked me and then Misty did and she gave him some helpful tips on how to get more accurate assessments. They concluded I was 6cm dilated (the new "active labor") and about 90% effaced. 

Things were picking up so I set up my Hypnobabies birth guide CD and started to play the "Easy First Stage" track so I could focus a bit better. I leaned on my kids' Learning Tower while sitting on my birth ball as Squire, Mom and Misty started to fill the birth tub.

Are you noticing our birth pool fail? I'll explain more later.
Connecting the hose to the sink.
Speeding up the process a bit with buckets.
Me using my "Peace" cue to direct anesthesia to my belly as my midwife listens to baby through a complete pressure wave.
Water for birth - a fantastic thing:

I loved getting into the birth tub full of warm water. It gave me a renewed focus on my Hypnosis so I could relax even more through the pressure waves that were coming almost constantly at that point. 

Misty taking my temperature right before I got into the birth tub.
Listening to my hypnosis birth guide tracks in the tub. Using the "Release" cue to shut off completely through a pressure wave.
Snuggling in the water through the pressure waves.
Waiting, waiting and more waiting - and relaxing with Kerry Tuschoff's help.
Us laughing at the birth fail - the liner . . .
Yeah, so while we're talking about the magic of birth tubs, I have to mention that somehow the liner was put in, folded in half and we didn't make the realization until about the last 30 minutes of the birth time. But we had used duct tape to help secure it. It didn't really work. Kind of hilarious. When Kenzie pointed out the open corner to me I immediately said, "Birth fail!" We are all still kind of laughing about that one.

See the seam that we missed?! Completely open, the (ineffective) duct tape would have been completely unnecessary. Oh well. You live and you learn.
I think it was about 10:30pm when I got in the water. I made several trips out of the tub to use the restroom, my mom assisting me in and out each time. The second to last restroom break my body was starting to get a little shaky. I knew that these powerful waves were bringing my baby and soon. When I started to bear down a bit the last time on the toilet, my mom said, "You need to get back in the water or you're going to have this baby in the toilet." I agreed wholeheartedly, in my mind. I was very focused on what was going on within my body at this time and wasn't very interactive at that point. I just needed to focus on what was going on inside.

Misty and Sharon, looking over notes together during the birth. Love these ladies!!

Pushing or "Ahhhhing" Baby out: 

I got back in the tub. Squire wasn't in the water with me at this point. He got out to take a break. I was on my hands and knees in the water, breathing heavily with heaving sighs at this point. My open mouth helped to open me up even more. Then I felt big shifts and some involuntary pushes slide baby down my birth canal. I remembered what Misty and her partner, Sharon, taught me about holding my own perineum to help ease baby out. "It will give you more control and help you know better how to push in the most comfortable way." I wondered briefly what everyone was doing around me but I didn't want to focus on that - I needed to keep my attention on my baby. I felt a couple more buckets of warm water being poured in to the tub. I assumed that everyone was watching and knew just how imminent this baby's arrival really was. 

I reached down and felt baby's head crown. I felt a twinge of worry and nervousness hit me at this point. I felt the tight ring of the edge of my cervix around baby's head. I didn't want to tear, and I wanted to push baby out in comfort but I didn't see how that could happen with how tight things felt. I had a moment of panic and wondered whether I ought to just push really hard and get it over with? In answer to my worry I heard in my mind, "Just wait." And with that, I felt a couple of waves come but I fought the urge to push with them and waited as I had been instructed. When the waves passed, in the calm moment, I told myself, "Open, open, open" and with a little nudge of pushing effort my baby slid out - head, shoulders and body - in one smooth glide. I pulled baby up to my chest and laughed a cried with joy. Little did I know - with how calm I was - no one realized what was happening until I was pulling baby out of the water to my chest! Baby felt much skinnier and lighter to me than my other babies, but baby's cry was as strong as any of theirs.

Anatomy Lesson and Placenta Pulling:

As I have mentioned on this blog before, we didn't know baby's gender but we very much expected baby to be a boy. After baby was on my chest for a minute, I heard Squire(?) ask me to check baby's gender. I looked down and saw what looked like a little uncircumcised penis. "It's a boy!" Squire stood behind me in the birth tub and we looked at our new sweet baby and listened to "his" cry. "He even looks like a boy," Squire said. With the way baby's nose was flattened, "he" sure did! We noted the thick head of brown baby hair. I was thinking how one of our baby boy names would fit better with this dark-haired baby over the other. After trying to get baby to latch unsuccessfully in the water to help with the placenta detachment we had a few things to do. Misty clamped the cord which had stopped pulsing, and Squire cut the cord. I gave baby to Squire and focused on pushing out the placenta which wasn't coming on its own. Misty explained to me how she wrapped the cord around her fingers to give a light pull but the tug she gave was a little uncomfortable. "I'll do it," I said. Misty directed me to hold my lower abdomen to protect my uterus from flipping inside out. I did that and I wrapped the umbilical cord around my fingers a few times and gave a light pull. Within seconds I felt my pushing urge come back and my placenta slid out with ease, perfectly intact. Pretty neat!


Misty and Sharon helped me onto our futon which had towels and chux pads to protect it. They were doing some checks on me when Squire, holding the baby, looked over at me and said, "This baby isn't a boy - it's a girl!" "Really? Are you joking?!" "Really! She's a girl!" Apparently, my deep expectation that this baby was going to be a boy helped me lazily pass off baby's belly button - which was pulled out by the cord in a little tube an inch or two long - as a penis. I did notice the skin color of the belly button and the blue cord beneath, now that I think about it, but the power of expectation helped me dismiss what was weird and just see a baby boy. Will I ever live that one down? Probably not! Haha! Squire passed me our baby GIRL who I inspected with fresh eyes. We all laughed as I helped baby to get a great latch. Squire gave me a brownie to eat and said even though I got the gender wrong, my good work for this birth deserved some brownie points.
The tricky belly button . . . ;)

Delicious fudgey brownies made by Kenzie - gluten-free, for Sharon and Riley. Still enjoyed by all.
After the Birth Care:

Misty had prepared a great little herb bath for me that I soaked in while I nursed baby girl some more. When I was ready, I got out, got dressed in my nursing gown jammies. Misty and Sharon checked me for any tears, swelling or excess bleeding - there were NONE. Truly amazing news after having experienced an Episiotomy with the first birth and quite a bit of tearing with the second. I then got into my own bed where we weighed and measured baby girl. We all took our guesses. Squire and I tied in the guessing competition. I guessed 7lb. 11oz. and he guessed, "7lb. 17oz." ;). She was 7lb. 14oz. She got a little shot of Vitamin K for which she let out one strong cry but quickly settled with a comforting boob. Sharon packed up, thanked me for the "cushy" birth, congratulated us, and headed home.  

Riley holding baby girl for the first time.
Mimi holding baby girl while she watches something or other.
Squire helping Misty weigh Jocelyn.
A prayer of Thanksgiving:

We all sat on my bed - Squire, my mom, sisters and our new baby girl. Misty asked us if we would like a prayer of Thanksgiving. We would! She offered up the most beautiful prayer to the Lord in behalf of our family and especially our new baby girl. She prayed for our girl and dedicated her to the Lord. Very few eyes were left dry at the close of that powerful heartfelt prayer. We hugged, said our goodbyes and Misty made her way home around 3:30am. We snapped a few photos and went to sleep around 4am. 

We love you baby girl!!
It was an incredible night. Filled with sass and laughter, as well as quiet, still moments. There were surprises on surprises, as well as spiritual guidance and blessings. An abundant, heavenly experience - a gift from God - was what baby girl's birth was for me. If this birth serves as guide for what this girl's life will be like, it will be truly incredible. Welcome to the world, baby Jocelyn! We love you!! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Costumes 2014

Tonight, our ward had their annual "Trunk-or-Treat" around the basketball court of a local park.  Here are a few pictures to remember the evening and our Halloween costumes from this year!

Lincoln has been asking to be a snake for Halloween since the day after Halloween last year. We decided to make him a mouse being eaten by a snake, because I was drawing a blank on how to make a decent-looking snake costume without making him look like a lizard. Atley is a flower sprouting out of a Terra Cotta pot (credit for that idea goes to my mom - THANK YOU, MOM!!), and I am a gumball machine.

I love these sweet kiddos of mine.

Lincoln in his award-winning costume. He won the award for "Most Original" this year. (Last year he got the award for "Best Homemade" costume.) Here he is from the front:

And the back. That rattle on the snake actually makes a rattling sound, thanks to a small plastic spice jar half-filled with lentils. :)

And here is Atley - in all her sprouty terra cotta glory. I made the hat to be a thing to go around her face, but she refused to wear it that way. I think it still worked great horizontal on her head. I can't believe it has taken me almost two years, but I finally painted my little girls' toes last night. Bubble gum pink. I think doing that made her feel special. Gotta remember that.

I'm glad I got a photo of me in my costume before I gave birth. I'm 3 days shy of 39 weeks right now, and my belly made for a nice, round gumball machine. :) I actually wanted to be a gumball machine when I was pregnant with Atley, but I was too tired and pressed for time finishing Lincoln's Halloween costume that year that it didn't happen. Glad I got to put my red Savers sweat pants to good use!

Here is a picture that I never posted on the blog from that year I was pregnant with Atley that I'm going to slip in real quick because I love it. Lincoln was a cow, and Squire a cowboy. (Halloween 2012 - Lincoln was so little!!)


Back to the present! Squire wasn't able to make it to the trunk-or-treat tonight, but he has a costume and a nice little trick ready for the trick-or-treaters who come to our house on Halloween night. He is a hunchback:

 Here is his special trick. Some kids never grow up. ;)


Lincoln's costume was by far the most daunting for me to make. I have a whole new level of respect for people who design and/or make stuffed animals. That is a whole new dimension of sewing right there. I held off finishing the head and rattle on Lincoln's snake for a month because I was too intimidated to put it together. With some prayer, and procrastination to the day of the trunk-or-treat to push me on, I finally finished the job today. Lincoln loves his snake and named her "Mousel." I'm very pleased I was able to finish his costume before I had the baby, too. I really wanted to get this done for him in time.

A closer pic of Mousel's head.

I really thought I was having our baby last Tuesday. I did not - obviously. But baby really could come any day now. Squire and I did a deep-clean on our house, and I have gotten all the freezer meals I wanted to prepare done, so now I can rest easy. For the time-being, we are just enjoying the clean and each other until we get to welcome a new little one to our clan. Life is good. :)

Update 10/31/14 - Halloween!!

Me at 39 weeks and 1 day - Got a haircut, too! :)

With their spoils!

Happy Halloween 2014!

Monday, October 20, 2014

37 Weeks and Coming to a Close: Final Pregnancy Update

Today I am 37 weeks and 4 days along in this pregnancy. I can't believe how fast things have flown by. I have hardly had time to sit and think about what it really means that I will be having this baby - any day now! I've been so busy with my two busy-body toddlers, and preparing every needful thing for the arrival of this little one, and for Christmas. I want as much done as possible beforehand so I have time to just chill with my babe and not have to worry about food, or holiday planning, etc. Seriously though - when did I become a mother to such a brood? It seems like yesterday I was starting my first day at BYU.

And now?

I have a husband half-way through his last year of medical school and in the midst of interviewing for residency programs. *Brag moment aside: Squire got interview offers from every school he applied to!* :)
A spunky little girl (2 in December) who is certainly not a baby any more.
A goofy little boy (who will be 4 in February!) who makes me laugh (and sometimes cry) every day. 
And soon - a brand new baby to shake up our routine and lives, in a really good and crazy sort of way!

I wanted to take some time to write a bit about this pregnancy before it is over, because if these last 6 years have flown by this fast, I'm pretty sure the next few weeks are going to pass before I can even think to blink.

Lots of people keep asking about names for the baby (we didn't find out the gender this time), but they are still pretty up in the air. We have one girl name we particularly like, but several others that could be chosen if that one doesn't match baby. And we have a pile of boy names and none of them have stuck with us both yet. We just have to know #1 Baby's gender. #2 Baby's look, personality and spirit. So no name for babe. I am getting excited to meet baby and know for sure whether baby is a boy or girl, though. I'm excited for that magical first moment of meeting. I know this little baby is strong and healthy and responsive to our voices and interactions with him or her. It will be great to see how this little one fits in with the dynamics of our family, and baby's gender will definitely play a role there, I'm sure. Squire and I are still thinking this one is a boy. Lincoln has decided now that he wants a brother and that baby IS a brother. Atley thinks baby will be a girl. What do YOU think? (Let me know in the comments section!)

Other things about this pregnancy:

Homebirth midwifery for prenatal care has been the best. thing. ever. I think I feel a lot more balanced this birth because the support from my midwife in my care has been so excellent. I truly feel we are friends. And it is so nice that she comes to my home for appointments. No wrangling kids to get to an office across town, or in that office across town. I love it. 

I've also learned several things about general (and pregnancy/birth related) health that I have incorporated into my and my family's daily routine, about which I feel great. Culturing my own Kefir grains being just one of them. Green kefir smoothies, every day. Delicious!

I started this pregnancy at a lower weight than my other two pregnancies, and I exercised more consistently and longer than my other two. At this point, I just do some floor exercises and walking a couple of times a week. By about 30 weeks, my regular more intense exercise teetered off into the once a week range. Now, my exercise is just keeping my house tidy and chasing my kids around. I wanted to do more, more consistently, but this pregnancy - from about 20 weeks on or so - I have had a LOT of Braxton Hicks. They come often when I exercise, and when they get too strong or consistent, I know that is my cue to tone it down. So, I did. I am looking forward to regaining my pre-pregnancy body strength and form so that I can really move and breathe again. 

My healthier eating and exercising habits this pregnancy have really paid off. My energy levels have been pretty great. I have slept very comfortably throughout this pregnancy. (Maybe I just have my pillow nest mastered after so much experience?) :) I have only had one or two days with a little sciatica which were alleviated with some exercises that my midwife shared with me.  The few occasions of bad heart burn were alleviated by eating smaller meals. That said, things are starting to get a little awkward up in here. I really only like sitting in my rocking chair. Everything else makes me feel like I can't breathe, have a kink in my side, or pains my poor rear-end. But I really, really can't complain. This pregnancy has been truly beautiful and as easy on me as a pregnancy could be, I think. Definitely my most comfortable yet.  

We can fit all three of our car seats in our jeep. (What a relief!) I'm glad we have been able to get the full use of our Chicco infant seat by getting three babies through it before its expiration date. And I'm glad we don't have to worry about getting another vehicle for at least 6 months or so. 

Baby is currently posterior - just like little Atley was. But, I feel confident baby will turn. I'm doing my part (see http://www.spinningbabies.com if you want to learn more about turning babies - and www.Hypnobabies.com if you want to learn more about using hypnosis to help turn babies) to help that along, and I have a lot of peace about it. 

At the 20 week ultrasound, the doctor saw that my placenta was close to my cervical opening. So, I wondered if partial/marginal Placenta Previa would dash my dreams of a home birth. But, we did another ultrasound just a few weeks ago and my placenta has shifted up with baby's growth (as it does 95% of the time.) My midwife wasn't concerned with the original finding. She said that is totally normal so early and that most of the time the placenta moves with the stretching uterus as baby grows larger. I felt pretty confident the placenta would move far enough away (or at least peaceful that what was right for our circumstances would happen), but still felt that release and relief when I found out with the confirmation ultrasound. 

I think baby is a bit smaller than my other two were at this point. I think it may be my smallest yet - though, we'll see. My babies have been nothing to sneeze at (8lb. 13oz. and 9lb. 3oz.) Here's what baby looks like from the outside. Me at 37 weeks, 3 days:

Hypnobabies practice has been going wonderfully. I seriously have the best naps and sleep of my life listening to those tracks. You should see the drool on my pillow after each session. Kinda gross and TMI I'm sure. Sorry! Haha! I'm just a few days away from getting into my maintenance for the program. My hopes and dreams for this birth are set for a totally pain-free birth. I know it can happen. I'm excited to see how the environment at home compares, even to the birth center. I think it's going to be awesome.

Last Thursday, on my 37 week mark I started having some intense Braxton-Hicks. Some held tight for up to 7 minutes. They kept on rolling for about two hours. My body is really getting ready to have this baby, and SOON! I've been having a lot yesterday and today, too. I'm really hoping that this baby won't come until my mom and sisters get here on November 3rd. (Mind you, my guess date is November 6th.) I really want them to be here for the birth. If not, it will be ok - but a little disappointing, you know? So, unlike some (probably most!) who pray for their babies to come out early, I'm praying mine stays in. Please, pretty please, baby?!

Nesting progress and work yet to be done:

I've been nesting and I'm not done yet, which is another reason I want baby to stay inside a while longer! We had this really fun thing happen about a month ago. Our washing machine broke, and it was down for about 3 weeks before we got it repaired. Long story. In the process though, we learned how to wash our clothes by hand! (Yay for acquiring new prepper skills!) AND, how to produce less laundry by just wearing the same clothes every day for a week . . . or two. Haha! (I'm not kidding, though.) Needless to say, I've been doing laundry like a madwoman to get everything prepped for baby. 

My house is generally pretty tidy these days, but it is also really dirty right now, too. So, Squire and I need to tackle that project together to get it in tip-top shape before baby comes. Side note: I finally found the secrets that help me keep my house tidy, at least. #1 ALWAYS getting at least a full load of dishes into the dishwasher and started before hitting the hay at night. And usually washing any big dishes by hand at night, too. And #2 Working with my kids every day to maintain their toys in their rooms (after going through and getting rid of lots of stuff, too.) **If you could school me on how to keep a house actually CLEAN and tidy - I'd love the tips!** At least tidy, I can maintain my mommy cool.  

Plus, I'm trying to stock my freezer with meals to the max. I really don't want to have to cook. . . for like, 3 months or so. I got 4 loaves of sandwich bread, and a 6X batch of our favorite whole wheat banana muffins in the freezer on Saturday, a couple bags of split pea soup yesterday (thanks to Squire for cooking!), and hopefully 7+ quart size bags of sweet potato burrito filling after tonight. (Check our Hepworth Preparedness cookbook for recipes for all of these if you are interested.) AND - more to come this week. I've gotten some major shopping done for non-perishables done. I'm just hoping to get one more trip in to stock up our fresh fruits, veggies and dairy and eggs before baby comes.

My little old school Bernina has been working round the clock to help me get Halloween costumes, birthday and Christmas gifts done, and several other projects - and the end isn't yet in sight. A few more checks on my to-sew list would be ideal before baby comes, too.

What will be, will be.

But, in the end - with as much speculation and preparation as I put in - this birth will be what it will be and all will go as it should, and in God's timing, too. Oh baby. You're coming so fast. We're so excited. And anxious to have everything ready. And excited. Mostly just excited - to meet you! Lincoln and Atley talk about you and kiss you through my belly every day, you know that? They are looking forward to your arrival, too. You're really coming! You're almost here! Where did the time go?!

Thanks for taking the time to read my random rambling pregnancy post if you made it this far. 

Please, take a guess at baby's gender in the comments section. You don't have much time to speculate before the truth is revealed to us all! This baby is coming - SOON!!! :)


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