Sunday, December 28, 2014

Another Beginning

Tomorrow I have to go back to work. I know there isn't much sympathy there. I've been off of work for 7 weeks and I'm sure my coworkers would love to have me come back and relieve them of the additional duties they have incurred while I've been out. My leave has been absolutely amazing and I've loved every second of it. My children have loved it, my husband has loved it and I'm pretty sure that my neighbors who have benefitted from my time spent baking Christmas cookies have also loved it. I will mourn the loss of my 7 weeks as a stay-at-home mom with a paycheck as I return to work and the hectic chaos of a household with two full-time out of the home working parents resumes. Le sigh. Enjoy those Hot Pockets kids!

I do feel grateful for this time, because it has allowed me the opportunity to reflect on the past year and a half of hormones, doctors visits, blood draws, weight gain, love and beauty. I have been able to truly appreciate how awesome it is to be a surrogate. I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to participate in such an emotional journey. I am so lucky to be able to experience a friendship so full of adoration, love and joy. Jessi and Ben have said that there is no way to truly repay me and my family, but they already have. My friend, Hannah Wood likes to say, "As the Giver I am the Receiver" and I couldn't agree more. I am richer because of this experience. You already have repaid me. I don't regret a single day.

To answer a few FAQ's...

A: My body feels great. I'm totally healed and I'm looking forward to beginning to workout again. I pumped for four weeks, which was fine. I used a Hospital Grade pump that Jessi rented from a lactation consultant. I highly recommend this for anyone who is planning on exclusively pumping.

A: I am not sad. It was not hard to let go of sweet Sunnie. My hormones seemed fairly balanced. I am chalking it up to the strong as steel support network I have, the herbs and oils from Willow Crossing ( that I used-handmade by my friend Kori Gelinas, or the fact that I have gotten to sleep through the night because I don't actually have to take care of a baby. Sleep deprivation will wreck you.

A: I have seen her a number of times and absolutely adore her....and equally adore watching my friends as they work out how to do this parenting thing. I am elated when I see photos of her pop up on my newsfeed as the centerpiece of the Holiday dinner. As her proud Aunties snuggle and squeeze her. And as I watch her family members fall in love with her a little more every day.

A: NO. I do not want to have a baby that I keep now.

New Years Day has always been one of my favorite days of the year. 1. Because 104.7 The Point plays The Beatles A to Z. And 2. Because I truly do believe that setting resolutions are meaningful. My resolutions this year are centered around my husband and two children. It has been an incredible year and half and I am so fortunate that they surround me. This year, my energy will be focused on my home and creating peace within it. Since I have been home with my children the past 7 weeks they seem more secure and settled. They have benefitted from my presence in a way that I did not expect.

I resolve to continue to have my children feel this security even as I return to work. For me this means a reduction in outside distractions. I have decided to no longer teach fitness and to reduce any activities that divert my energy outside my home. To actually put my phone down when I am with them and not carry it around the house, as I do, from room to room. And to play more. Everyone needs to play more.

I resolve to pay attention. Good things are happening all around us. Bad things are happening too, but it is important to continue to recognize all of the good things. I believe this will help us have more compassion for the bad things.

And finally, I resolve to continue to write. It has been so helpful for me to document this journey- To process my thoughts and feelings and to share with people who have had experiences that they can relate to. No one likes to feel alone. So stay tuned for links to my next blog.

I actually can't believe how many people have read this blog-how many people have reached out and supported us through this. So much generosity and giving has resulted from our story: Fox44, Mini Mi Photography, Burlington Vermont Mom's Blog, Zutano, and all of the kind gestures and gifts Jessi and I have received from friends and family. I, for one, continue to feel held up by the feeling of community that this story has generated. Thank you for letting my soul shine.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Birth Story: Intended Parent Perspective (post by jessi)

For the past nine months, I debated whether or not to assign Maggie’s text tone to something unique so that I could easily distinguish her texts from others.  Part of me wanted to know right away if it was Maggie texting so I could drop everything to read and respond but the other part of me feared the brief moment between hearing her text tone and reading the message where I would undoubtedly jump to the worst case scenario in my deranged, anxiety-ridden mind.  Irrational, I know but this is what happens when a control freak has been out of control for such a high-stakes experience. 

Saturday before the membrane sweep, Benny and I went to our friends 40th birthday party in Underhill where AT&T service is practically nonexistent.  I instructed Maggie to contact the host of the party in case she needed to reach me.  While there, I finally decided (with some help from my friends) that it was time to assign Maggie a special text tone.  We picked out the most loud, obnoxious tone available – it sounds like a pinball machine on crack. 

As Maggie had mentioned in her birth story post, the induction process started on Monday, November 3rd.  And yes, I was sitting in the corner while the midwife scraped her fingers between the cervix wall and amniotic sac.  This was our first real experience with birth pain during the pregnancy.  I imagined it must’ve felt like the most horrible pain in the world.  I had flashbacks to the pain I experienced while having my first IUD placed and couldn’t help but hold my breath during the 10 second countdown.  It’s what I would’ve done if it were me on the exam table.  Maggie says it was no big deal, but I’m pretty sure that’s because she has the pain tolerance of a super ninja warrior.
Later that evening, the screeching pinball machine noise went off and Maggie let us know that she had a couple of contractions about 20 minutes apart; it could be nothing or it could be early labor.  She suggested we try to get some rest now because if the contractions become more productive, it would be in the middle of the night.  Following her suggestion, Ben and I went to bed immediately after this text exchange.  As you already know by now, the contractions stopped and then showed up again on Thursday but eventually petered out again that evening.  After an entire week of going to bed early and sleeping lightly with my phone two inches from my head it was finally induction day. 
Benny and I headed to the hospital Friday morning.  When we arrived, Nurse Karen greeted us, showed us to our birthing room and commented about how we could be there for days.  Benny and I looked at each other in shock because up to this point, no one had ever told us that the induction could take days.  Maggie and Jim showed up quickly thereafter and assured Nurse Karen that “No, it would not take days.  I’m already 5cm.”  The look on Karen’s face told me she was still skeptical.
Due to our unique situation, the hospital was flexible about the number of people allowed in the room.  Naturally, we took advantage of this and invited Kacie from Mini MiPhotography to help document the day for us.  For the next 3 hours or so, we hung out in the birthing room snacking, looking out from our 5th floor window, watching rain turn to snow and then back to rain again.  We took turns leaving the room (only 2 at a time, per Nurse Karen), visited the kitchen for refreshments, watched funny YouTube videos and passed the time with lighthearted small talk.  Eventually, we got bored and since none of the labor-inducing antics had jumpstarted activity, we agreed to try the vitamin P.   

Just as Nurse Karen was about to start the pit drip, she discovered that Maggie’s IV wasn’t flowing as smoothly as she’d like.   Karen decided to put another IV in, this time in the hand opposite from where all the medical equipment was.   The IV lines were now across her body, complicating her positioning as well as each move in and out of the bed.  I began to quietly panic thinking that the new IV wouldn’t flow nicely either.  Would they have to stick her yet again?  What if the vitamin P doesn’t go as planned?  What if this turns into an emergency situation?  Why is my imagination running wild?  There's no time to think rationally.  Everybody panic!
Just like Maggie’s account, the contractions started but at first they were mild.  At least, that’s what the monitors on her belly were showing.  The contraction monitor was placed up high on her belly because Nurse Karen needed to measure how the top of her uterus was squeezing – because technically, they’re supposed to start up high in order to push the baby down.  The problem was, however, that Maggie wasn’t experiencing the contractions up high but down low instead.  I remember staring at the monitor each time she had a contraction and the disappointment I felt when the lines barely moved.  I cannot even begin to describe how frustrating it was to watch the pain of contractions not register appropriately on the monitoring equipment.  As some time passed and the contractions became more uncomfortable to sit through, Maggie decided to walk through her contractions so she and Jim headed to the hallway.  Benny, Kacie and I remained in the room and I began peppering Kacie (who’s had 3 children) with questions.   “How long could Maggie have contractions 2-3 minutes apart?” I asked.   She replied, “Hours, it could go on for hours.”  Suddenly, I felt so very terrible for Maggie.  Her previous births were all natural, swift and free of complications.  Here we are on the day we've all been waiting for and she’s got two holes in her hand, she’s hooked up to a drug that’s forcing her body into doing something it’s not ready for and from what we can tell, the contractions are not happening in her uterus where they should be.  Again, my mind started wandering through various worst case scenarios.  No!  I can’t bear to witness Maggie in such pain for hours. What else can we do to make this happen with the least amount of intervention?  Why won’t they just put the monitor down low!?  Why can’t anything just go as planned?!

In the midst of these terrible thoughts racing through my head, Midwife Leah and Nurse Karen enter the room with a cart of items wrapped in sterile blue packaging.  They’re both calm but quickly begin rearranging the room and unwrapping items on the cart.  One of them turned on the heat lamp over the baby’s exam table and it became crystal clear that something big was about to happen.  Jim and Maggie shortly returned to the room in full blown labor. 
The baby nurse and the OB resident join us as Maggie’s breathing through some seriously painful contractions.  I’ve never seen a live birth before so at Maggie’s suggestion a few months back, I watched the Business of Being Born.  I’ll have you know that watching a birth in person is SO VERY DIFFERENT than watching Rikki Lake moan in a tub.  I don’t know Rikki on a personal level, I don’t know of her pain tolerance and it really had no emotional impact on me to watch her deliver a baby.  Maggie, on the other hand, was experiencing such severe pain that her entire body was shaking through each contraction.  No one else in the room (well, except for Benny maybe) saw this as abnormal but I just couldn’t get my head around how incredibly painful this must’ve been for her.  My heart was hurting for her and I couldn’t believe she actually volunteered to experience all of this pain and suffering for us.  The reward for her pain was going to be taken from her and handed to me.  I felt awful in that moment.  How incredibly selfish of me?  I am a monster.
The next few moments are a blur because it all happened so quickly.  Nurse Karen grabbed me and told me I needed to get in the Johnny immediately.  I stripped off my clothes as fast as possible while Maggie growled through another contraction.  I was cold in the Johnnie and started shivering uncontrollably.  My emotions were more than I could handle and I began to sob.  I wept for Maggie having to experience this pain and for Jim who had to witness and support his soul mate through one of life’s most painful experiences. 

When Leah said it was time to push I lost my breath.  Every emotion surged through me in anticipation of what was about to happen.  I had long feared the moment of birth.  Would BGJ come out alive?  Would she have to be massaged and suctioned to life?  Would something awful happen to Maggie?  But then, just as soon as Leah told her to push, Sunnie Violet Jacobs was born.  Our precious baby girl came out screaming with one arm extended by her head, her hand clenched in a fist.  She was a beautiful pink color and absolutely perfect.  They laid her on Maggie’s belly, she and I tightly grasped hands, Benny cut the cord and we all cheered in celebration.  Tears streamed down my face and the best sense of relief I've ever felt in my life washed over me.     

The baby nurse wrapped her in warm blankets and handed her to me. So tiny, so alert, so mine.  She grabbed onto my finger and looked directly up at me with big dark eyes for what seemed like an eternity.  All of the worry, pain and stress that accumulated over the last nine months melted away in those moments.  Sunnie Violet was here, Maggie was ok, none of the worst case scenarios happened and our lives had never been more perfect.    
In the time that followed, Maggie delivered the placenta and got cleaned up.  Sunnie Violet was weighed, measured and put through the standard newborn routine.  While time continued to go on outside of our little birthing room, it stood still on the inside.  I had just witnessed the single, most amazingly beautiful experience I will ever have.  We savored each moment during the hour or two that followed, oohing and ahhing over our tiny miracle baby.  Our world was forever changed for the better; our hearts full of love and gratitude.  Forever indebted, forever blessed.    

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Birth Story; Surro Perspective

Oh, how I've dreamed of writing this post. It's been over a year that we have been working up to this day. This post. I never imagined how difficult and trying and taxing this road would be. I never thought that there would be a single bump, wrong turn or misstep... And I guess there wasn't really, because now I'm writing this birth story, so I guess all of the plot twists and unexpected surprises were just part of the story.

I'll spare you all of the "what I learned" from this experience. For now. A: because this story isn't over until I go back to work, and B: because nothing should really take away from the amazing birth story of Sunnie Violet Jacobs!

As you may know because of Sunnie's "restricted gestational growth" the doctor's and midwives thought it best to induce me early. The plan was Pitocin, but the midwives, myself and the Jacob's were committed to trying everything (even the last resort!) beforehand.

So, on Monday, November 3rd, Jessi and I went in for the 38 week appointment where the "swept" or "stripped" or "scraped" my membranes. It depends on which form of reality you want to hear. During the "sweep" the doctor counted down from 10 to indicate just how long I would be feeling that discomfort. I used my yogic breathing while she "swept". Jessi winced and grimaced and held her breath in the corner like it was the worst pain ever! It really wasn't that bad. I mean, comparatively. And it was only 10 seconds. At this point I was 5 centimeters dilated and 70% effaced. We all expected that this would easily kick things into gear and we could avoid the Pitocin, or Vitamin P, all together. But, babies have a way of reminding you that you do not get to be in control.

At the appointment we also scheduled for the induction. Just in case. We tried for Wednesday, but apparently Fletcher Allen only takes 2 inductions per day and they were booked until Friday, so Friday it was.

I spent the next 4 days with cramping, mild contractions, nausea and a general discomfort. On Wednesday, I started bouncing on the yoga ball at work and didn't stop for two days. My coworkers panicked each time I took a breath, or thought for too long. I took every opportunity to walk as far as I could. It felt like someone had punched my in the crotch, but I kept bouncing. On Thursday, I started to have extremely irregular contractions. They were 15 minutes apart, then 8, then 20, and then a handful were 3 minutes apart, so I went to Maitri for a labor check.

Nothing. I was the same. 5 centimeters and 70% effaced. The docs and midwives said it could be tonight and it could be tomorrow. Like scheduled. I went back to work. I finished everything I could. I turned my "out of office assistant" on and I headed home, not to return for 6 weeks.

The contractions faded away by 6:30 and I begrudgingly went to bed, for one last time while pregnant.

Friday morning I was awoken with a phone call from FAHC. "Good morning, Maggie. We are ready for you to come in for your induction." Jim and I got Zoey off to school, got Emmet off to childcare and left the house with a final question, "Jim, do you think it's ok if I only bring this one pair of shoes?" Jim did not think it mattered which shoes I brought because it would be unlikely that they would play into any part of our day. So off I went with my bag and my one pair of shoes.

Jim and I arrived at the hospital at 8 ish and headed up to the Birthing Center. Jessi and Ben were already there. Leah, our midwife for the day and Karen, the amazing nurse met us all in the room. Karen said we should expect to be there for days, which we all scoffed at. "I'm having this baby by noon." I stated with confidence.

We started the day by having Leah and Karen break my water, fairly certain that this would be what would put me into labor. Leah described the process as "trying to pop a deflated balloon". Eventually it was popped and then we waited for contractions to begin. Nothing Happened. Not a cramp, not a twinge, not a pain of any sort. I was still 5 cms and 70% effaced. Because of the "restricted growth" and the Single Umbilical Artery (see previous posts) it was necessary that I kept a contraction and a heart rate monitor on my belly at all times, so we diligently watched the screen to see if maybe I was having contractions that I wasn't feeling.

I ran the stairs. I walked in circles for hours. I squatted through the hallway. I tried everything in my power to get this show on the road, but by 1 PM....still nothing.

So finally, at 1:30 we chose to start the Vitamin P.  FAHC starts you off very slowly, with just 1 mL/min and then increases 1-2 mL/min about every 20-30 minutes until you establish a pattern of contractions. I didn't start to feel my contractions until we had reached the 5 mL drip (around 2:15), but they were still fairly mild. I asked if we could turn it up to 11. 50% of the people in the room got my joke. I walked around in circles in the hallway, passing another preggo also working to get the show on the road. We smiled and waved and encouraged one another as we passed eachother. By 3 PM we were up to 9 mL and things were starting to get serious.

I had been having 2 contractions per lap for about 3 laps (technical, I know!), but at 3:10, I had a third contraction, right outside the nurses station. Multiple nurses yelled out, "that sounded productive!" Once my contraction had ended and Karen came up and suggested we page Leah and see if she can check in. We headed back to the room where Jessi, Ben and Kacie (our photographer) were sitting and waiting. Leah came in around 3:15 and observed a few contractions and said she was going to get things ready, just in case....

As the contractions proceeded, we continued to talk in the room...It was the first snow of the season and we were watching out the window. Ben was talking to me as a contraction began and I politely attempted to answer him and he asked another question, at which point Jessi said-"stop talking to her." I was grateful!

I crawled up onto the bed where I leaned over the end of the bed while my perfect, amazing, birth partner husband pressed on my back during each contraction. When I say Jim is perfect-I really mean it. He is the most unbelievably, supportive partner in the world. I apologize to all of you who thought your husband was the best. You are wrong.

The contractions continued. Jim pushed on my back. At one point I said, "she's coming down." Leah responded calmly by ensuring that the other medical professionals in the room heard me say that. I was wondering why on earth they were listening to me. I had no idea what I was talking about. I was sure that I was overreacting because after all, it had been about 30 minutes of this intense labor. This couldn't actually be happening this quickly, right?

And yet, I continued to have productive, intense, loud contractions. I turned in the bed, struggling to get the IV's over my head and around my body and the nurses and Leah placed the squat bar at the end of the bed. I would estimate that the time was 3:45 ish. Leah said if I felt the urge to push that I should. I thought, "for real? No way, this could take hours, I can't be ready to push this baby out. Did you look at the time?"

Lo and behold, with the next contraction, I was ready. Leah checked. 10 cms. I pushed three times and the baby came out crying.

And this:

This is the reason that I did this. These faces. This awe and inspiration and wonderment of the first time you see the love of your life.

I am so happy that I chose to turn around when I did because this is the moment that I'd been waiting for.

True love. There's nothing like it!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

How to get a baby out and other tips for the end of pregnancy

Both of my children were born prior to their due dates. Zoey was 2 days early and Emmet was 4. I prepared myself to be 2 weeks late with Zoey so it was a huge surprise when she came early. I also prepared myself with some responses for people when they said things like "I can't believe you haven't had that baby yet" or "you're still here?" Even when your due date hasn't yet arrived. I'm not that prepared with what to say this time because the doctors and midwives all predicted that they would have this baby out by now, so it's actually kind of a surprise to me that she's still in there. 

Anyway, about a week before the others were due I started all of those things that people tell you will work to get babies out. So I'm not sure exactly which one actually works. But no sense in breaking habit so I'll continue to try them all.

First step to prepare is a little Evening Primrose Oil. Truth be told, I'm not using it and haven't since my first pregnancy, but it's supposed to soften the cervix and get your body ready. My first pregnancy, the recommendation was two in the mouth and two down south, once a day. Yes, that's what I mean.

On Saturday, I started by making a delicious eggplant parmesan for dinner. I also ate it for lunch today. Why eggplant parm, you say? I have no idea. A midwife once told me that maybe it has something to do with eggplant being a nightshade and the mix of oregano and spicy tomato sauce....Maybe this is true.

I certainly plan to have some spicy Thai food this week. Probably early in the week. Maybe even Monday for lunch. Everyone has heard about this. Seriously, it works. Probably.

Today, I raked leaves in the backyard for 2 hours. Vigorous housework is supposed to do the trick. I was sweating, I bagged the leaves too, which was no small feat. Alright, I only ended up making two bags. There is still a huge pile of leaves in the yard. I wonder when those will get bagged.....

I've been stomping up and down the stairs each time I have to use them, which I know will probably help move this process along. 

Tomorrow I'm getting a massage, where my amazing massage therapist and one of my BFF's will use her magical, healing acupressure to get this show on the road. She's a certified Pre-natal Massage Therapist, so she's got just the right touch! Plus, she's got these amazing pillows that allow me to lay on my front. I actually might be pissed if the baby comes before my 10:30 appointment tomorrow.

Some other things I haven't tried, but probably should include eating dates. Apparently I should be eating 6 a day in order to increase my dilation. At almost 5 centimeters, if I start now, I should be delivering BGJ by midweek, right? 

Galloping is also a suggestion, but I prefer the idea of curb-walking....Please see this video for a short tutorial:

If by Friday, I'm still around, I will be spending the evening eating pizza, drinking a beer and then Jessi will drive me around on bumpy roads. This should do the trick.

And if not, hopefully that beer will get me in the mood for what every 39 week pregnant lady really wants. You know what I'm talking about, right? I don't have to spell it out do I? My dad is reading this. #lastresort #sorryjimnooffense

Friday, October 24, 2014

37 weeks! (post by jessi)

BGJ is a Scorpio!  After our appointment with Maternal Fetal Medicine on September 2nd we knew that if she showed signs of distress at any of the weekly checkups, Maggie could be induced right there on the spot.  I worried for Maggie having to experience an emergency birth and I worried for BGJ being born too soon.  As each week passed, we got closer and closer to full term – 37 weeks.  Ironically, yesterday also marked the start of what will be BGJs astrological sign, Scorpio.

See, I have a weird thing with Scorpios.  I’m not sure if it’s that there’s an unusually high number of Scorpios who’ve had a significant impact on me or if it’s a combination of coincidence and a Scorpio’s general nature that draws me to them.  But I love my Scorpios.  So, without further ado, here’s a list of my favorite Scorpios:

1.       Maggie Van Duyn, 10/30.  BFF for 20 years!

2.       Kate Jerman, 11/1.  BFF for 24 years!

3.       Colleen Boyd, 11/10.  BFF for 27 years!

4.       Jay Fish, 10/29.  My one and only totally awesome sister-in-law!

5.       Benny Jacobs, 11/20.  My love, my life, my one and only!

6.       Baby Girl Jacobs, TBD.  OMG, it’s destiny!

And a special shout out to all of my other favorite Scorpios – Jenifoo, Nurse Mo, Mini Mi Kacie, Katarina, Jeannine, Kare-bear, Dwade, Reyvan, Jenny, Baby Celia, Baby Hebert, Lori, Jim, Uncle Danny, Uncle Timmy & Alexa!    

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Musings of a First Time Expectant Mom via Gestational Surrogacy with a BFF (post by jessi)

  • In contrast to Maggie’s previous post about whittling down the unused belongings in her house, my house has exploded with baby paraphernalia.  I had no idea there was so much gear associated with childrearing.  Actually, I knew there was a lot of baby stuff out there but I thought I’d be that thrifty minimalist mom who’d immediately identify an item as frivolous versus the absolutely essential.  NEWS FLASH from the Department of DUH:  We have no idea what we’re doing.  If a friend offers us something, we’re taking it unless we already have something similar.  I would hate to have to buy something later that a friend offered us for free now.  So yeah, our basement is full of random things BGJ will most likely use at some point in her early years. Here's to hoping the wolf spiders don't nest in any of it.  
[Off topic rant - in the fall of last year I grabbed a coat from the basement closet because it was a little cool that morning.  Then, as I was driving 75 mph on the interstate, a GIANT wolf spider crawled out from under my sleeve and onto my hand.  It's nothing short of a miracle that I'm alive to tell you the story today.]
  • We’re also in a hand-me-down train with my dear friend Erin who has two daughters, one who was born in November last year.  Every time I see her she shoves a bag of clothes in my face.  I can tell that this arrangement is going to work out well for both of us. 
  • Does anyone actually fold newborn clothes?  I tried for half a second and then realized it's a futile effort.  They're now shoved in the drawers of the changing table.  Don't judge.  Also, those itty bitty socks are already driving me nuts.  Babe's going to wear mismatched socks until she's 5.
  • Speaking of baby clothes, I never really noticed how cute and adorable they are until I started envisioning my own child in them.  At my baby shower, I was schooled on Dreft.  How is it that I’ve never even heard of it before?  Anyway, the Seventh Generation Free and Clear soap was cheaper so I went with that.  I’ve washed all of the clothes, sheets, blankets, etc.  You guys, even the lint is adorable!
  • Our days of keeping the house at a cool 62 degrees and sleeping with the bedroom window open in the dead of winter will soon be over.  I tried explaining this to Benny a few nights ago and he pretended to be asleep.  Jokes on you, sucka!  You're going to pretend to sleep for the unforeseeable future.
  • Last night I got this.  
    I quickly took this picture, sent it to Maggie and then haphazardly taped it to the fridge. I woke this morning to a reply from her that said “That is amazing! You should save it forever.” So naturally, I marched right over to the fridge, carefully peeled it off and proceeded to laminate it before I even started the coffee machine. I then realized that for the rest of my life, I will do whatever Maggie says. Let’s all hope she uses her power for good, not evil.
  • I tried on the Boba wrap this week.  The picture on the box is a lie. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Nesting for the Surrogate

About a month and a half ago I decided that for Zoey's birthday we would redo her bedroom to make it more organized and complete. I perused Pinterest for good ideas for small spaces, I searched for new rugs and we painted a bed frame we acquired from our neighbors. It was very important that this project be complete and perfect. I even attempted to instruct all of the grandparents to only buy her presents for her bedroom for her birthday. They all ignored me.

That's when I realized what was happening. I was nesting. It occurred to me that this "non-baby nesting" could be super beneficial for my family. Jim was already working on the kitchen, which has been in various states of disrepair since June and I really couldn't help with that, so I moved on to all of the other rooms in the house. Jim has been thrilled!

I totally reorganized the playroom and threw out all of the broken toys, the toys that were missing pieces, costumes that don't fit, and things that I hate. I have to say, the kids haven't noticed and the feeling of getting rid of things has been exhilarating! Less is definitely more. We even have decided to tell the grandparents that for Christmas we only want them to get the kids gift certificates for activities instead of toys. (I wonder if they'll listen to me this time!)

I went through about 15 bins in the attic and separated the Good Will from the Sell to Once Upon a Child from the hand-me-downs for all of the adorable new babies in my life. I've offered every single unused piece of furniture in the attic to friends and family. If I could lift more things, my attic would probably be empty.

I utilized my friends to move my furniture around and plan to get rid of one of the couches we have to swap it for a chaise lounge that I have yet to find. I bought a house plant. I made a list of easy projects for me to complete while I'm on medical leave. I'm basically about to become a DIY queen. Those six weeks are going to change my home! It's going to be like a "While You Were Out" episode for Jim every day!

I'm actually really enjoying putting this much energy into my home. I'm feeling positive about the purging of belongings. I've never been sentimental about stuff and honestly I would prefer to have very little. The more I get rid of the more I want to get rid of. I just want things I love! Convincing my family to adopt this attitude is a little bit harder. We still have tons of stuff and piles of junk that I'm slowly sorting through, but I believe that I will get through it!  And when I do, my house will look clean and organized and Pinterest perfect!