Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Waiting Game: Week 37

Teresha: So last week I experienced a period of manic activity otherwise known as nesting. I washed all of Marlie's cloth diapers and hung them to dry, organized her drawers, packed the bags, got the car detailed, and had Damon install the car seat. Last Wednesday I had some intense Braxton Hicks contractions that felt different. Hubby told our midwife about them at our prenatal appointment on Thursday while I was in the ladies room checking the PH and protein levels in my pee. She asked me to describe them and silly me says, "they are spasms 'inside,' but they kind of hurt." I guess she is used to clients who lack a grasp of medical terminology because she turned around without a puzzled look and said, "it sound like your cervix is opening up. Let's take a look." Sure enough I was almost 2 cm dilated. She tells me this is unusual for first-time mommies, but great news because I will probably have a fast and easy birth. Yay me! On the other hand, she prefers the babies she delivers to be at least 37 weeks, so no physical activity for the next 7 days (this meant S-E-X too in case you are wondering). She ended the visit by predicting our baby will come in the next two weeks. My heart soared. I could be seeing our honey bunny soon, which was my hunch anyway. Since our appointment, I have on hyper-vigilant watch for signs of labor. This week, a weird calm has come over me, and I have been taking crazy, long naps like a lazy dog in summer! Is this a sign? I have also been looking for the telltale "biological" signs such as shedding of my mucus plug or 'bloody show' and the obvious breaking of my water. But I have a feeling that it will be more subtle for me, like I will start with a slow leak instead of a gush. Several people have also told me that their bodies "cleansed" themselves just prior to going into labor. This would be a welcome change for me! Okay, enough of the over-sharing. I set up a baby birth date pool. The widget is located on the upper left-hand sidebar (the one with the teddy bear graphic). So go take a guess as to when Marlie is going to be born. Will she stay put or will she make an early escape?

Damon: I was kinda worried that Marlie would be a bit early. I think we are physically ready for her to show up, but I don't know if we are mentally prepared yet : ) I still need my three weeks! Butters also wants to have a little more time as a single child. All I can say is bring on the baby.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Got Christmas Presents!

A few weeks ago I signed up for my first blogger swap. I have done scrapping swaps before, but this was a different experience. This was Christmas in July! First let me say, that the swap hostess Angie's Spot did an outstanding job organizing this goodie exchange. She is hosting another swap in November with another fun theme, so go subscribe to her blog to receive the post to sign-up.

I had the best time getting to know my swap buddy Six Flower Mom. We hit it off right away and sent each other several five-paragraph emails. On Wednesday morning there was a package on my porch decorated with Christmas stickers. Inside was individually wrapped items that I couldn't wait to tear open. Be forewarned that my buddy completely spoiled me! Try not to be jealous as you read the list of presents she sent me:
  • Scrapbooking supplies (a scrapper can never have too many)
  • Burt's Bees chapstick and a packet of herbal sitz bath (will come in handy before and after labor)
  • A Target reusable bag (fits nicely in my purse so I'll never forget to take it when I go shopping like a good environmental cheerleader should)
  • Stuff for baby (natural baby wash, a handmade Scrubby, an organic toy, and a maple teething ring made in VT)
  • Serendipity on DVD (to add to my John Cusack movie collection)
  • A journal and writing pens (the journal cover has butterflies, my favorite animal in nature)
  • Yummies (herbal teas bags and Vermont Maple candy-I had to remember not to eat all of these before I took the picture)
  • BOOKS!!! (Motherhood Rising, The Continuum Concept, The New Age Herbalist, Love You Forever. Now I have to decide which one to read first)
I can't thank her enough for all the cool stuff! This was a blast and can't wait to do it again!

UPDATE: Visit Six Flower Mom
to see what I sent Amy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In the Home Stretch (Literally)

Teresha: My apologies if the picture grosses you out, but I wanted to give you an illustration of what I mean by literally being in the home stretch. I'm 36 weeks, and my belly looks like an over-inflated balloon. I don't think it has the capacity to grow any farther. Throughout my pregnancy, people have commented on how tiny I look. I just think I seem small because the bump grew entirely outward giving the deceptive impression that I'm not pregnant from the front or back views. From my profile, there is no denying that there is a bun in the oven, especially now! In the past two weeks it feels like my abdomen has been stretched to the limit. Even my belly button, which has stayed hidden this entire time, has popped out. Oh, and I found two stretch marks while doing my weekly belly inspection in the mirror! So much for the old wives belief in cocoa butter and vitamin E oil. I also developed a "pregnancy" rash and started itching beyond belief. Thank goodness for Standard Process USF ointment. It has lanolin and other good stuff that took care of that bit of unpleasantness. Ready for more TMI? I have struggled during the last week to pay my taxes to the porcelain king. Every day is an exercise in pain, strain, and little gain. If you don't get it, let me just add that I now own stock in Metamucil.

In other news about stretching, I have been obsessing about not tearing down there. My holistic doctor back in Atlanta advised that I begin perineal massage at 35 weeks. He swears by it (well his wife does...she delivered two babies naturally without an episiotomy and didn't need any stitches). So, I sat down last week with my olive oil and gave it a try. It felt too weird. I haven't done it again. I really want to avoid tearing though, so I asked my midwife if I should resume the massage or any other preventative measure. She shook her head and said she doesn't believe the massage makes a difference. What she does advise is in the form of postpartum perineal care by pre-freezing kotex pads (whic can be soaked in soothing, antiseptic herbs). I also read that a sitz bath is really helpful in the days after giving birth.

Marlie is almost here, so I am dedicating this week to the final preparations, including making sure the birthing and diaper bags are packed and ready to go! I have a two-foot to-do list, but it is impossible to get it all done. So I have priortized tasks by things that will be disappointments (getting a small water fountain to listen to during labor) or disasters (installing car seat, hello hubby!) if we don't get around to doing them. I have a feeling that she will come way before my August 20 due date. I can feel it in my soul. I have been dreaming of her every night for a week. Plus she has already dropped and is head down. She is ahead of schedule and following nature's directions, just like her mommy before her.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It Takes a Village to Party

Teresha: Last night we threw an Hawaiian Luau to celebrate three milestones this year: our first year in our new house/city, our ninth wedding anniversary, and the upcoming birth of our daughter. Moving last summer took a brutal emotional toll on me. I left behind in Atlanta ten years of memories (our wedding, our downtown loft, our friends, my work in youth development, our favorite restaurants and farmer's market--to name a few). Plus, I had no job waiting for me and knew no one in Dallas. I thought I was going to die of loneliness. It took me awhile to end my pity party and start to reach out. I have met some truly wonderful people in our neighborhood, at Damon's job, and through our journey into parenthood. Last night was affirmation that it's going to be alright and that we have people here who love and support us. Sometimes, it takes a party to realize just how good life is!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We are 9 Years Married Today!

Teresha: We met at the University of Florida in 1995 through a mutual friend. I was instantly smitten and something told me that he was The One. He was playing it cool though. We actually started dating after an argument about the same mutual friend. I just marvel at how divine intervention works when I look back at our fourteen years together (five dating, nine married). Yes, we work hard at our relationship, but I truly believe that God brought us together, has kept us together, and will hold us together forever. There is just no other way to explain how we've managed to survive as a couple through some pretty rough stuff (break ups, being broke, living in separate cities while married, illness, a move halfway across the country). I also credit the grace of God for all the happy times and joyous milestones in our marriage (our travels abroad, buying our first home and the impending arrival our firstborn next month). I can't imagine sharing these experiences with anyone else. He's my wing man, my road dog, my ace, my everything.Happy Anniversary boo!

Damon: I think she was playing it just as "cool" as I was when we met - maybe a bit more. When I look back over our fourteen years together, I can't believe how fast the time has passed. I don't know if there was ever a time when I felt that Teresha "was the one" but I have always felt that this (being our relationship) felt right - it just came natural. For instance, the first time I told her that I loved her (and she is the ONLY woman I have told this to outside of my family) we were out watching a movie and having a conversation about a love scene and how it related to our relationship. Without getting into too much detail, I causally blurted out that I loved her. The weight of it hit me as the words came out of my mouth - it was like I was watching my self say it: "I L-O-V-E Y-O-U". But it felt right and natural. So the other example of feeling "right" is a bit morbid. When I think of being on my death bed and who I would want to be there to comfort me, Teresha is the first and only person who comes to mind - even before we were married. She calms me and makes we want to be a better person. So that is how I knew this was right. I can't imagine sharing my quirky ass life with anyone else. I love you buttmunch!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Most Beautiful Woman in the World: Take that Angelina and Halle!

Teresha: My family is full of women with smooth skin ranging from cafe au lait to dark chocolate in color. In addition to their perfect complexions, they tend to have narrow features. I have a round face and struggled with acne all my life until a homeopath diagnosed me with a gluten allergy. My point is that I grew up being told I was ugly or the more PC "not very pretty," and I believed it. Even as an adult, I have a hard time accepting compliments about my looks. It took being pregnant for me to finally recognize my own beauty. I may still not fit society's definition of beauty (or my family's), but it doesn't matter...I am gorgeous! To prove it, the hubby and I recently had maternity photos taken. We were both sick with a stomach bug, and I threw up and fainted during the shoot, (I think I've discovered the models' secret). But our photos turned out perfect and I can't stop looking at them...does that make me vain? I don't care! So this is what it's like to feel like the most beautiful woman on Earth!

Damon: Yeah - so despite the vomiting and fainting, the shoot went really well. I have always thought that Teresha was the most beautiful girl in the room (no matter what room we are in). So - I love the shots and I can't wait for our next turn in the studio when Marlie gets here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Finding a Spiritual Home to Raise Baby

Teresha: I have struggled with the concept of religion and church since I was young. I was the type of child that asked questions...lots of questions. My curiosity often drove my family and teachers crazy because they frequently did not have a good answer to my inquiries. This was especially true when it came to religion. Most of my mother's family are Seventh Day Adventists, and me and my siblings would attend an SDA church with our grandmother when we visited for summers. What I remember most is that we weren't permitted to watch television from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday and going to church on Saturday for hours on end while other kids watched cartoons and played in the streets. Why? My mother was a Jehovah's Witness for a few years when we were very little. I recall suddenly not being allowed to celebrate birthdays or holidays anymore and having to give up certain toys that were deemed devilish by the elders. Why? Life in the Kingdom Hall was particularly hard for a six-year-old who was already dealing with her parents' divorce. So my first memories of religion was that it equated to a lot of rules, rigid regimens, and restrictions. By the time I entered high school, I had enough of "church." Friends would invite me to their place of worship in hopes that they could save my soul from certain damnation. I would go, but always left feeling unsatisfied. I began seeking out spirituality in other forms and wrote my senior paper on Transcendentalism. My English teacher gave me a copy of The Celestine Prophecy and my suspicions of organized religion was intensified. In college I decided to give church another try when I started dating my future husband who was raised Catholic. We started attending service at a Methodist church where I first learned about grace and free will. I liked these tenets. We married in a Methodist church and were members for many years. Then my foundation was shattered over a dispute between the outgoing pastor and the church board over leasing the annex to a gay youth organization. When we moved to Dallas last summer we visited several churches, but I need more than scripture readings and singing hymns on a Sunday morning. I want open dialogue and community engagement. I also want to raise our daughter (and any future siblings) in a spiritual home, but I don't want our child(ren) growing up resenting religion like I did. I had almost given up when we were referred to a small, non-demonitional church that met at the recreation center in our neighborhood. Church in the Cliff is casual, welcoming, progressive, and interactive. On the Sunday we visited, the message and discussion was about body prayer. We actually practiced yoga-inspired prayer! Yesterday we attended Wednesday dinner at member's home where we fellowshiped over Ethiopian peasant food and talked about fasting using Jesus' 40-day lent in the desert after he was baptized as a central theme. When the time came to go home, I was making mental notes for Sunday's service. Damon and I talked all the way home about the topic. Isn't that how "church" should inspire its congregants? I have a good feeling that we are home.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Project Nursey: The Big Reveal and How We Did it on a Budget

Take a look at our baby girl's nursery! We are even more proud of it because we did it ourselves (and with the help of family and friends). Do you want to guess how much it cost to decorate this entire room? If you are thinking around $1500+, try again. Our outlay (excluding the crib and glider, which were gifts) is in the $500 ballpark. Our nursery just looks expensive, but anyone can design a nursery like this on a budget. Ironically, the biggest hurdle is resisting the urge to spend. This being my first pregnancy, I wanted everything to be brand new, designer, and top-of-the-line. Then I came to my senses, realized that the baby does not care if she is sleeping in a $1,000 crib, and that our family would be better off putting that money in a trust fund. Besides, who can really afford to splurge in this recession? Here are my nursery-on-a-budget tips:
  • Step away from baby stores or go with a list and stick to it. Any product that is labeled as a baby item is priced at 500% markup (a bit exaggerated, but it seems that way to me). That $75 everything-but-the-kitchen-sink diaper bag? You can find an equally practical tote or "un"diaper bag for $25 or less. That $40 must-have diaper pail? You can get a similar 5-10-gallon garbage pail for $15. Another reason not to go to the baby store is that you wind up buying a lot of things you don't need. Those places are designed to tug on your emotional heartstrings as an expectant parent and get you to buy, buy, buy! Think...does baby really need a wipe warmer? Skip the hoopla and save your dollars to buy diapers. There is no skimping on these!
  • Shop at discount stores and outlets. Tuesday Morning carries closeout nursery bedding, plus lots of other baby items like blankets and layette sets. Sign up for their eTreasures newsletter to get first dibs on special offers, new arrivals and markdowns. Big Lots, Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshall's are my favorite stores for great deals on decor items like rugs, pillows, lamps, and picture frames as well as baby clothes and toys. Instead of purchasing a nursery collection with matching accessories, which can cost you upwards of $500 or more, pick a few colors or a theme (like underwater or shabby chic) and search for decor pieces that work. I like Target and Wal-Mart as much as the next gal, but you will always find me in the clearance racks. I purchased the shag rug in our nursery for 50% off at Target. You will be surprised at how much more flexibility and value you get when you bargain hunt.
  • Go for second-hand. There are big savings in buying gently used items and even items that someone bought, but never used. Craigslist was my go-to web site for finding baby stuff for sale. I once saw a post for a brand new crib and dresser set for $100 that had only been used for display in a model home, but it was snapped up quickly. Lesson: you have to be vigilant and act fast. I also checked my local thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army. Hand-me-downs are also nice if you can get them. Someone in your family or community might have baby furniture they can pass down to you. We got a custom-built dresser/changer that was offered for free on our neighborhood parents' email list that we painted to match. Freecycle is a good place to look for baby goods that people are giving away. You can also post items that you want. Remember to check the national recall list before you buy or accept a second-hand item like furniture, toys, gear, or clothing. Then inspect the item for damage. Don't be afraid to politely decline an offer if you think it's unsafe to use with your baby.
  • D.I.Y. A little elbow grease can save you big bucks. It takes time, but the feeling that you get from doing it yourself is priceless. If you can sew, knit or quilt, why not make your own bedding, blankets, curtains and pillows? Those wooden hanging letters that cost $15-25 each at baby stores can be found unfinished at a craft store for around $2.50 per letter and then painted. We did this and think it looks better than store-bought! The same goes for painting the nursery. Throw a painting party and invite a few family and close friends over to help you. Murals are very popular right now, but artists charge anywhere from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. There are several online companies that sell mural kits that come with stencils or transfers that make it easy for you to do it yourself. The mural in our nursery is the Splendid Garden theme available for $100 from My Wonderful Walls (disclosure: I won a gift certificate toward the purchase of the kit from the blog, 3 P's in a Pod). We couldn't be happier with the results! Wall stickers and decals are another inexpensive way to produce the desired effect on your nursery walls.
  • Re-purpose.This may be a little harder to imagine doing, but here is an example. For ten years, we lived in a 750 sq. ft. loft that had no closets, so we bought two armoires. Last year we purchased a 2500 sq ft. house and brought our meager furnishings with us. Our new house has closets (lots of closets), but we kept the armoires anyway. We are now using one in the nursery in lieu of buying a new dresser. So, go rummage in your attic, basement, or garage. You might find a forgotten rocking chair or nightstand that can be painted or re-stained or a floor lamp that fits perfectly to go in your nursery!
Have fun designing your nursery and don't break the bank!