cleaning out my coups (and how I organize them)

With the new year fast approaching, my coupon binder is overdue for an overhaul!
I use baseball card holders in a zippered binder (remember trapper-keepers anyone? ahhh childhood memories from the 90′s).
The binder has a mini-filing section where I can file my inserts by date. I keep the oldest inserts toward the back and the newer ones toward the front. They are also separated by SS (SmartSource), RP (Red Plum), and PG (Proctor&Gamble). I have a few extra empty files that if I get a large page of target coupons or a “superbowl” extra I will stick them in there so I don’t have to clip them until I need them.

I had a bunch of inserts that I hadn’t gone through yet. So I did that too!

I don’t clip every coupon. That’s just silly and a waste of time. I only clip either
a.) Things I regularly get (cinnamon buns, cheese, pasta, etc)
b.) Things that I know go on sale (dawn, toothpaste- I’m brand specific, Josh isn’t so I clip it all and get it when it’s cheap, dishwasher soap, etc.)
If a store is running a sale on something that I didn’t clip, I’ll run to to see where I can find the coupon (insert name and then the date- example: SS 12/4- SmartSource December 4th). I’ll flip to the filing section, grab the insert I need, and clip the coupon! So much easier than clipping every.single.coup! There have also been times that I have come across an unadvertised deal at a store. I’ll whip out my iPhone, search for what insert/date I can find a coupon to that product, find it in the filing section of my binder, and clip it right there in the store. It takes a few seconds, and sometimes there isn’t a coupon, but it’s totally worth it when there is! Also, I don’t print many internet coupons. If southernsavers posts a good deal that uses an internet coupon, then I’ll print it. I’ll also flip through the coupons on (that I get through swagbucks) and look at what coupons are posted, but I usually only print 1-2 every couple of weeks. If I want a brand specific coupon, then I’ll go to the manufacturer’s website and sometimes they’ll have it there.
separate my coupons in sections (separated by laminate pink dividers, labeled with my label maker):
grocery- I have this section organized by aisle in the grocery store (although within the last few weeks ingles has changed all their aisles… bummer- but things are still basically together- coffee with cereal, popcorn with snacks, etc). I only put coupons in here that can be found in those aisles (so no produce, refrigerated, or frozen coups here).
cold- hmmm pretty self explanatory :) Anything that is in a fridge or freezer at the store. There are hardly any coupons for produce, but when there are they go here.
personal- This is anything thing besides food that goes in my body or on my body (toiletries, medicine, vitamins, etc)
house- all cleaners, paper towels, sponges, paper plates, hand soap.
Rite Aid-Whenever I do Rite Aid’s video values I typically print the coupon immediately so I don’t forget about it. I will put all those clipped coupons here. Remember, Rite Aid lets you stack video values with manu coups!
baby- Unfortunately this section is getting more and more deserted :( It’s where I kept formula, diaper, and baby food coupons. Also diaper cream and things just for baby (even if those things are found with adult stuff). In my mind it’s easier to keep it separated so the coupons don’t get lost.
target- They have alot of store coupons (that you can also stack with manufacturer’s coupons). These can be found on their website and in the newspaper. I will keep them here until I’m ready to make a trip and then I’ll match what I need to the manu coup.
misc- Here I keep pet coupons, restaurant coupons, and other random coupons.
So when I cleaned it out, I went section by section and baseball card holder by baseball card holder. If I have multiple coupons of the same item, I’ll put them behind each other, so I had to pull out every coupon, and every double and triple that was behind those. to check the date. There are TONS of coupons that expire on 12/31/11 and many that expired at the beginning of December that I hadn’t cleaned out yet. Not even gonna lie- cleaning it out took over an hour. But spending the time to do that now saves tons of frustration later when I find a coupon and it is expired.
Also I had a pile of coupons that I had clipped from magazines, or I received at the doctor’s and dentist offices that I just hadn’t filed yet.
And the winner of the oldest coupon lurking in my binder was for Outback. It expired on 8/4/11… ironically my least favorite restaurant and that’s my birthday! hehe
I wanted to share one more trick that I’ve done to make couponing a little easier for me. I have compiled a list of “good deals”, really the best deals that I have found on a particular item. There are similar lists on the internet, but since prices vary from region to region and even store to store, this list is custom to my needs. I try to remember to check my supply well before I run out so I can keep my eyes open for a deal. When I see an item dip to a cheap price, I’ll check the list, and snag however much I need, even if I haven’t completely run out. Now of course, there will be times that we’ll run out of something and I’ll need to pay full price- but from saving pennies here and there, it’s not a big deal when that happens. My best month of all was October of 2011. I had $50 left in my food/toiletries/house budget for that month. It was incredible! Also I’m not sure if it helps, but I only pay with cash. It helps me visualize exactly how much $ I have and when it’s gone, it’s gone. This handy paper stays in the back of my binder for easy reference. And I can add on to it as I need to!
I’ve found that saving money can be so satisfying (especially since I don’t feel like we’re having to give up anything). We can still buy everything we need, plus some, and still end up saving money. It took me 3-4 months to get the hang of couponing, and I never feel like I’m caught up- for instance, my binder is perfectly clean now and I’ll get another newspaper tomorrow- but oh well!
As for how many newspapers to get: I only get 1. Most people recommend getting 2-3. My mom usually gets 2 delivered to her house and she passes her inserts on to me… so usually I end up with 2-3 inserts between her papers and mine.

December all wrapped up

ummmm phew…. it’s over until next year!!!
I am always in a funk after Christmas. So much anticipation and excitement and then it’s over waaaaay too  fast.

So on that note… here’s what was accomplished this past month (here’s the original list).

negative 1. Finish the BATHROOM stripes- argh! It’s been on my to do list since September.
5. Make Luke a Christmas shirt. <—- I actually scrapped this idea. I had one all picked out, but I couldn’t find an applique that I LOVED for boys. And I figured it limited how long he could wear that shirt so I just didn’t do one. I made one last year for his 1 year pictures, and I loved that applique but I didn’t want to repeat it. Here is last year’s shirt:
On top of the “goals” that were accomplished, many other things got done as well!
Luke’s party was a hit:
I made a pillow slipcover-
The hallway got a facelift-
I finished Luke’s birth story 2 years later…

There was alot of DIYing of gifts: here,  here, and here.

Our master bathroom got a huge facelift. Here is a sneek peak taken late last night. There are a few posts (5 to be exact) coming next week detailing exactly what we did along with before and after pictures.
and this pretty creation that fits perfectly in this new space!

Our deck is getting a coat of weatherproofing sealant as we speak- It’s been installed for 4 1/2 months and this was super late in coming (you’re suppose to do it within 8-10 weeks of installation). So glad it’ll be protected for many years to come!

And here are some of my favorites that didn’t make it into my 365 photo challenge!

He LOVES to paint… on himself a little too much so we moved the fun to the bathtub!

Christmas Eve! Yes Sadie dog is quite spoiled.

LOVE my little man

On Christmas night we went to see lights at Life University in Marietta. For $5 a car it was pretty great!!
So long December! Can’t wait til’ next year so I can decorate with all the fun things I got on sale this year!!!

Lastly, our 2011 Christmas card (we have a Christmas memories book that we update each year- so it’s already safely tucked away in there):
Be looking for my January goals!

Homemade gifts=bliss

This year we decided to do mostly homemade gifts for our families as well! (I showed you in the last post what I made for hubs).

Measures about 5ft 2 in long. I used 2 kinds of fleece (solid black, and black/white squares). Sewed them together straight down the middle (using the lightening bolt stitch) and cut the fringe. Fleece is glorious because it won’t unravel.

Homemade Laundry Detergent:
We’ve been using this mix for months. I seriously will NEVER go back to storebought JUNK. Here’s the recipe I use (I’d be interested sometime in making liquid, but for now the powder works!)
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/2 cup oxiclean
1 bar of soap (I use Dove unscented becasue we have very sensitive skin in this house) grated.
Also, I leave out the bar of soap for my Cloth Diaper Recipe. I do use Tide every couple of loads for the diapers for some microfiber stink issues I’m having. I would love to switch out the microfiber inserts for some hemp or bamboo but that’s a totally different topic for a different post.
When I use it in the wash, I always start with warm water to dissolve the powder. Then turn it to cold.

Wool Dryer Balls:
The biggest trick to this is finding 100% wool yarn. I wrapped it around a tennis ball, sent it through a hot wash/dry in a sock tied tight with string. Although I haven’t made one for myself, they are supposed to be a natural fabric softner. We don’t use dryer sheets anyways, but this is supposed to soften clothes in the dryer. Some sites I visited said they can last up to 2 years! Woot to saving moolah and being eco friendly!

Hand or foot scrub:
I eye-balled this one. I started with 2 cups of organic sugar and added peppermint essential oil to preference (haha I almost said taste, but this is not for eating!). Next I drizzled in so Extra Virgin Olive Oil until the sugar was wet but not soaked. I tested out what was left in the bowl after I filled the mason jars and I was SHOCKED at how soft this left my hands! I also added some coloring into the mix. I used soap dye from hobby lobby.

This idea I got off pinterest (which is where most of my ideas come from). I found some cork at a thrift store (wally sells it for $5 for 4 panels). I found my template online and cut the cork according to it. Cutting the cork was the.hardest.part. Next I cut the fabric a little smaller. ModPodge the fabric to the cork and then a coat of modpodge and sealer…voila! I wish I had taken a picture of the backside. Because the cork is smooth, it will slip on the desk-top, so I put some hot glue dots on the back and left it to air dry. The hot glue sets and creates a rubbery slip grip.

Christmas Tree Shirt:
Scraps of ribbon- heat sealed on the ends. Sewn to a shirt!
4- 4×4 tiles. Printed pictures, glued to tile. Spray sealer to set ink. ModPodge picture to tile (4-5 coats). Then I added 2-3 more coats of sealer. I wish I could say this was as easy as it looks, but it was annoying. At first the ink smeared. Then the pictures bubbled up. ARGH. :) I added felt “feet” on the back.
Initial Ornaments:
Made these for my co-workers. Acrylic paint, sealer, and ribbon scraps.

Josh's DIY Christmas

I’ve mentioned before that we are tackling our debt this year. We’ve paid off our deck, and we are looking to pay off student loans and the truck, so the only debt would be our house (which I totally don’t see as debt). Of course we know we may have to purchase an a/c until this year, and depending how things go we may do our siding too. Lots of obstacles that come in the way of our ultimate goal… So we decided we would go simple for Christmas this year. I told him I was fine making his gifts, and he could just go really cheap for me (of course he’s already given me a gift and it was new stainless steel pots and pan… way to stay in the budget babe).
Anyways… here’s what I came up with for him:
This canvas will go in our master bedroom collage that I hope to finish soon. I found the idea on pinterest of course. But it’s sweet, simple and I look forward to seeing it every day.

Next up was a “secret” compartment book- sort of like a book safe. I’m not even sure where this idea came from but he must have mentioned it at some point in our relationship- so I went to pinterest to look for tutorials. I knew the basic concept, but I wanted a step by step walkthrough. I found the book at the thrift store for $0.25 and went to work. The farther I went in cutting out the pages, the harder it got, so that’s as far as I got- I could have gone farther, but my patience was gone. It’s around an inch deep. The book is probably 2 inches deep cover to cover.

No idea what he’s going to keep in this, but I can assure you it won’t be anything of dire importance, and it’s really not all that deep- but I think it’s cool and he LOVED it!  And it really does look just like a book on the outside.
YAY for homemade! I think everything cost less than $5. I had the paint for the canvas already, and the sealer that I applied on top of it… the canvases were $7 for a 2 pack, and the book was $0.25. The modpodge I already had, and I used a utility knife to cut out the pages (which again I already had). So for less than $5 2 great gifts! And he’s waaaay more sentimental than most people know.
Of course I had other things for him, and he isn’t lacking in the gifts department between all our families :) It just goes to show that you can stay “within” budget and make something great!

Documenting possessions in pictures

Although I DON’T feel like the stuff we have makes our house a home- I would be devastated if a natural disaster or fire robbed us of the things we own. We’ve both worked hard to be where we are today, and I feel like being a good steward of our money includes documenting what we have so that if God-forbid something were to happen, it won’t be such a crisis at that time. Of course most of the things we could never replace are the things that mean the most (Luke’s artwork, love notes, wedding album, etc…), but I do feel like having the basic things documented is a wise move (furniture, dishes, clothes, jewelry, etc.) Also things that are in garages, sheds, and attics should be included too.

When I had this as an idea to add to the list, I originally thought about taking pictures of everything. But as I was doing some research online of what to include, they suggested doing a video diary of everything. So that’s what I did. Of course I’m not going to post the video online, because that’s personal and I’d rather not advertise to the world what’s in our home.

The information I found online also suggested to write everything down along with serial numbers. I’m not going to do that, but I did say brand names and the sizes of things (computer, TV, etc…)
These  need to be stored in a safe place, and seeing as a natural disaster could take everything from your home, your house isn’t a good place for it. Although a safe deposit box is ideal, we don’t have one- but we do have a fire proof, waterproof safe that we will store this in. It has a copy of our wedding CD and other things that we feel the need to protect. It literally weighs a ton, so we’re not too worried about it blowing away. Also another idea is to store a copy at your house and at a relatives house (under the assumption that one house will be ok, if the other isn’t)

I plan to update this video yearly or as often as we feel necessary. And BONUS- this is #91 off the list!
Here are some of the websites I used:
This website is the one that suggested the video. Genius.
This website had a great idea that suggested using drop box to “drop” your photos onto a friends computer so they are not all stored on your main computer.

Christmas Pillow

When I shared our decorations for Christmas, I showed a picture of a pillow slipcover that I made. I promised a post to show how I did it, so here goes.
I started with a pillow in perfect condition and a slipcover for it that needed to go! The original princess fabric had been white at one time.

I cut the seam on the princess fabric and pulled out the perfectly white pillow.

Next I went about assembling my ideas. I found my inspiration off pinterest here and here. Love the tree idea in the second link and the buttons to close the slipcover in the first link.
I did alot of measuring, but really didn’t use the measurements too much. I really just eyed it and worked as I went.

First I laid out my design on a scrap paper. Honestly I’m not 100% sure I can decode it anymore… T for Tall, M for Middle, S for small, CC=candycane fabric, G Polka= green polka. I actually think I changed the order of the layout too because I accidently cut a tree out of the wrong material and I didn’t want to waste it.

Next I free-handed each tree and stump. I first drew it on notebook paper, then transferred it to heat and bond lite, cut it out of H&B and then ironed the H&B to the wrong side of the fabric. Last the fabric gets cut out.

After I cut out the design on the fabric (with the heat and bond already attached), I figured out the placement on the pillow. I found the center of the main fabric and started ironing my design down. (this picture is actually after I did the stitching, but pretend the stitches aren’t there). When I ironed I started from the top of the tree down so at the last second I could stick the trunk in there. I wanted to trunks to be under the bottom stitch, not just touching the tree.

Next I stitched all around the edges. This was the most tedious part. You have to keep equal spaces on each side, and turn the corners at pretty much the same place. Also the trunks were relatively small, so it was only 4-5 stitches per side.

I also changed up the thread to make it more interesting… green stitching on the red fabric and red stitching on the green fabric.

I did make a mistake on this and when I do another slipcover I will change the order I do this: On this one I stitched the top and bottom seams of the pillow first, leaving the ends to do last. Next time I’ll sew the ends first, then do the top and bottom. I ended up with some awkward seams on the ends. Although I’ve fixed it to where it won’t unravel, it looks weird from the side IMO. The buttons were just a basic button hole. My machine practically does it for me so not much to talk about there. I did make sure that when I sewed the button on, that I made it neat since you can see the stitches on the back of the pillow. My machine has a setting to sew the button on for you, but I’m not brave enough to try it yet- something about a needed moving really fast and a really hard button and sharp needle…
I’m hoping to make a slipcover for each season… I already have my fall idea, but I need to come up with a winter, spring, and summer. And yes, I categorize “Christmas” as a season ;)

Teacher Gifts

I always struggle with ideas of gifts for my co-workers. I’m waaaaay too unorganized to “shop throughout the year”, and I refuse to pay $8 for an ornament at Christmas time. We are trying to stick to a budget to get some student loan debt paid off, so this year is all  homemade!! (I also did mostly homemade for our families- more on that later).

Here’s what I came up with-

The “J” was a practice one and I kept it :) But the rest were for my co-workers. I got the box of ornaments on sale last year after Christmas. I knew I wanted to do something with them, but I wasn’t sure what. I think I paid $4 for 12.

All the paint is acrylic and it’s sealed with the Martha Stewart sealer I used here. The sealer also made it shiny. Just the paint has a matte sheen and in my opinion makes it look unfinished. I used ribbon scraps I already had for the topper. 3-4 pieces of ribbon and some tulle, all heat sealed at the ends. The ribbon is just threaded through the ornament hook (no knots).
Simple, easy, and I think really cute!! :)

2 years

It has taken me 2 years to get up the courage to write a post like this… (well I haven’t had the blog 2 years- but I did consider writing this when I had the old blog- but I just never did). December 16th, 2009 is a day that I will never forget. I remember so many details of that day, but I have never actually written it out step by step- so before I forget here goes (trust me, it won’t hurt my feelings if you decide to x the screen now).

Everyone who’s ever had a baby has a story to tell. Some people have a story that seemed like it was written in the stars… others have a traumatic experience and vow to never relive it. Mine would fall somewhere in between… but closer to the traumatic side (at least it was traumatic for me because it went absolutely NOTHING like I expected-but isn’t that the way life always is?).

I guess I should start out by saying that I had no expectations about my birth expereince before I went into labor. Some women make up elaborate plans of exactly how they want their birth experience to be- others go into it totally blindsided not knowing what to expect. I was educated on the whole birthing experience- I knew all the ‘facts’, attended childbirth class, watched “The Business of Being Born” and talked to countless people about their experiences. I wasn’t scared of labor; in fact I was more apprehensive of actually spending the night at the hospital than I was of giving birth. I’d never been admitted to the hospital in my life.

I knew I was ok with pain medicine, I was fine with them breaking my water if need be, I knew I’d probably end up with an epidural- but I didn’t want it until I absolutely needed it, I was open to walking, bouncing on a ball, taking a shower, IV, etc…  My only request was that I didn’t want a C-Section…. it’s amazing how God laughs at our plans.

On Dec. 10, 2009 I went to the Dr. for my 39 week check. I was progressing well and everything looked great. She asked me if I wanted to go ahead and schedule an induction because we were getting close to Christmas and I was adament about having my midwife there. My due date was Dec. 12th. I agreed that we should schedule it (they wouldn’t let me go past 1 week, which put us right at the 19th-20th) just to have it on the books and I’d pray that I wouldn’t need to be induced. I worked up until Dec. 11th. We scheduled the induction to start the evening of Dec. 15th (our 2nd wedding anniversary) knowing that he’d probably arrive sometime the 16th.

Work ended fine, and my due date came and went. Monday the 14th was the only time I was told how miserable I looked and that I must be due any day (by the bell ringer for the Salvation Army). I said “yep, 2 days ago actually”… I felt crummy the whole day and wasn’t able to do much besides lay on the couch. Looking back I was clearly in the very beginning of labor.

I went to sleep that night and woke up around 1am (Dec 15th) with killer contractions (ironic because my mom went into labor with me at 1 in the morning). I thought sure I could sleep them off and I’d deal with them in the morning. If you know anything about me you know I need my sleep. I throw up if I don’t sleep well and I knew that if I was going to labor the whole day that I needed my precious sleep. I fell back asleep for what seemed like HOURS, only to peek at the clock and it had been 5 minutes… this went on the.whole.night. I knew my contractions were consistent, and I knew they were getting stronger, but I didn’t feel any need to rush to the hospital, or even wake Josh for that matter. At least one of us needed to be level headed and there was no point in timing contractions that soon. I laid there from 1am-6am knowing that I had a LONG day ahead of me. I think I was secretly hoping they would stop and I could get some sleep.

6am Josh’s alarm went off and I told him what had been happening. Of course he immediately jumped into action asking why I didn’t wake him, or if we should rush to the hospital… Although the contractions were still 4-5 minutes apart, I just wasn’t convinced that I was really in labor. I was so shocked that I actually went into labor, because I was scheduled to be induced later that day. As he saw how much pain I was in, we both decided it was time to call the doctor and head to the hospital. We learned in our birthing class that if you got to the hospital before 7 or 7:30am that you’d have to go through the ER and I really didn’t want to mess with that, so we waited until the outpatient center opened so we could be admitted there. I did feel a little pressure to get to the hospital sooner rather than later becuase I had tested positive for Group B Strep. I knew they’d want to get antibiotics in me ASAP. Had I not been GBS+ I would have stayed home as long as possible.

(this was 40 weeks 3 days- 7am the morning we left for the hospital)

We were admitted to Labor and Delivery and told that I was for sure in active labor. We were put in the last room on the hallway (room 109) and the waiting game began. The got me situated, started my IV and put me on my first round of antibiotics. No lie, throughout my whole birth story, the IV was the.worst.part. I don’t do well with needles anyways- the one time I gave blood they had to throw icepacks on my head and chest and give me gingerale and a rice krispie treat because I almost passed out. The IV was no different and they had to throw the bed back to keep me from passing out… it was scary and I remember the nurse asking me if I was ok, I said “no” and I started breaking into hot chills and I begged for a cold rag on my head… all the while still having contractions.  yuck. This was around 8:30am the morning of December 15th (again I should say our 2nd wedding anniversay). We were SURE he would be an anniversary baby.

From after the IV until 1pm it was pretty uneventful. I walked the halls, bounced on the ball, and breathed through all the contractions. We were able to watch some TV and I was happy. At 1pm my midwife checked on me, and I was 6 cm dialated. Everything looked good, and she broke my water, hoping to speed things along (12 hours into labor). Up until this point my labor was storybook. Also Josh had ordered flowers for our anniversary. They were delivered to the hospital room- a bouquet of white tulips… my absolute favorite. He also had my wedding ring rhodium plated and surprised me later with that. I could wear my rings up until the last week of pregnancy. Then my fingers were just too swollen.

She came back at 3pm to check me, and nothing had changed. I had walked, bounced and my water had been broken for 2 hours, and nothing was different. I had made no progress.  I was so disappointed, and knew that they were going to want to start Pitocin. At this point I had been in active labor for 14 hours. She said that she would come back at 4pm to start the Pit, and I insisted that if they were going to start Pit, then I would need an Epi. I’m all for natural labor and I give 2 big thumbs up to the people who can do it without the meds, but 14 hours in with no sleep since the night before my contractions started and no pain meds, I was flat out exhausted. I gladly welcomed the relief of the Epi and I knew that the Pit contractions would be nearly unbearable. I wanted this experience to be a joyous time, not one so painful that I never wanted to do it again.

Also being in a small hospital, there was a possibility that if I needed the anestesiologist, that he could either A.) be in emergency surgery somewhere else in the hospital or B.) he’d be home and might not make it back in time to give the Epi. Both of those possibilities weighed heavily on my mind, and I knew the right decision for me was to take the Epi while I could.
Epi in, Pit started, and  I was able to rest for the first time that day. As I watched the contractions on the screen, the intensity of them doubled and I knew that if I had been in painsobadicouldn’ttalkthroughthem before, there was NO WAY I could have done it without the Epi.  We relaxed for the next 2 hours, and the only downfall was being bound to the bed. I know that laboring in bed is not ideal- gravity and walking are the best, but like I said before, this was the best decsion for me at the time. My midwife came back and…. Again I was so disappointed, but she assured me that the Pit needed more time, and having the Epi at the same time possibly stalled things, but that it should pick up in the next few hours. She mentioned that she would have liked to see me dialate 1 cm an hour.

Things picked up and when she came back around 8pm and I was 8cm,9pm=9cm…. progress was sweet. Sometime during all this my mom showed up and our really great friends Holly and Wade brought Josh dinner (or maybe mom did… I wasn’t around for all that because, well eating was the absolute last thing I wanted to do). Wade waited outside and Holly was there until the very end. I had to choose 3 “important” people who were the only 3 people allowed to see me before I delivered because we were in the middle of the swine flu epidemic (which I had at 24 weeks pregnant…).

At 10pm I was on track and 10cm and she told me that whenever I felt the need to push, then I could start pushing. I didn’t think I’d know when to push because I couldn’t feel anything from my stomach down, but as soon as I felt the need to push, it was pretty obivious that I knew it was time to push! I hit the button to call the dr and nurse back in and told them it was TIME!

All the way up to this point Luke was tolerating labor SO WELL. Although we had some rough stalling points, his heart rate was strong.

After the first couple pushes I knew something was wrong. Things between the midwife and nurses went from a happy “giddy-ness” to really serious, really fast. They made me lay on my left side to push and then I’d flip to my other side every few contractions. I felt like I had really good focus until I started turning on my sides… I started to get worried because I knew this wasn’t ‘normal’… or at least no one told me it was normal.

They gave me an oxygen mask, which was totally a weird feeling. I didn’t really feel like it helped me breathe better, but I guess I was getting more oxygen to Luke which is what he needed.

The next 1.5hrs are a total blur…. as we neared the 1.5 hour mark Luke started clearly showing that he was over labor. From what I was told later, babies’ heartrates normally decline during a contraction. Luke’s was dropping after/between contractions.

I will NEVER forget how the nurse and midwife communicated via thier eyes (without saying anything) and I knew things were not good.  I knew I could feel his head dropping, but it just wasn’t dropping enough. The idea of a C-section never crossed my mind until this point. It was almost midnight and my midwife looked at me and said that it was time we talked about a C-section. I had pushed my heart out (23 hours into labor) and there was absolutely NOTHING I could have done differently. He wasn’t dropping properly and his heartrate showed clear distress. I cried, and felt like a failure, and got over myself pretty quickly- knowing that my ultimate goal was a healthy baby and I could have cared less  in the end how he got here.

The OR was ready in 30 minutes. It was a blur of confusion as I signed my life away on C-section papers. The anestesiologist came back to give my Epi a booster for the surgery. Also at our hospital when you have a C, they move you to a different room to recover. So mom and Holly jumped into action packing everything that we had just unpacked. I remember my earrings being pulled out of my ears and my hair clips being taken out because no metal was allowed in the OR. I was worried about how my hair would look in pictures and that stressed me out for all of 2 seconds.  They did the catheter and asked if I wore contacts. I begged and pleaded for them to let me leave them in. I had backup glasses, but at that point I had NO IDEA where they were in the hustle of moving rooms. I am legally blind without glasss or contacts, so not being able to see was going to stress me out more. They agreed that I could leave them in under the assumption that if I had to go under general, that they could take them out. I agreed and that is one of the things I am most grateful for- the opportunity to actually SEE my surroundings (to be able to remember all this-and to see my baby for the first time). Josh was whisked away to change into scrubs and I was left, terrified about what was about to happen. The nurse gave me something nasty to drink (later I found out it was an antacid- it tasted like salty strawberries) and I was told to lay back on the bed with my legs straight… and I remember not being able to straighten my legs… because all I could feel was the pressure of his head.

They whisked me out of the room (It felt like a movie how they rush you down the hall), and all I wanted was to see Josh and have him tell me everything would be ok. He was waiting for me in the OR and I remember being surprised at the sheer number of people who appeared seemingly out of nowhere. One nurse took our camera and promised to get all the best shots. I remember being freezing cold and my teeth chattering. They put up a sheet 1 inch from my nose (it really surprised me how close that sheet was- on TV it looks like it’s a good foot away) and they started asking me if I could feel what they were doing. I couldn’t. The anestesiologist told me that if I felt sick, I could turn my head and there was a pail to catch it….that made me relax x’s 100 because one of my biggest fears is needing to puke and not having a place to- sounds crazy but I think I was scarred in third grade when I threw up all over the classroom floor- yes I was “that kid”.
Surgery started and the OR was totally.silent. NO ONE told me it would be like that. No one talked, or laughed, or said anything. I was terrified and exhausted and I almost wanted to just fall asleep so I wouldn’t have to listen to the silence. Sounds crazy now that I wanted to sleep through his birth, but I was just plain exhauted. I felt TONS of pressure, like they were dancing on my belly and the next thing that happened I will never forget for as long as I live… A HUGE suction sound came from my belly…. his head had been so lodged in my pelvis or birth canal or whatever, that he was stuck. No stinkin’ wonder I couldn’t push him out. Both the dr. and midwife couldn’t believe how well he was lodged and it took a lot of pulling to get him out.

There was still silence and I knew at that point he had been born. I didn’t even ask how he was, or if everything was ok because I think deep down I was too scared to know the answer. I remember thinking…. hmmm… I wonder how they would tell me if something WASN'T ok…. or if the unthinkable happened…. or if…. and as I was thinking, they brought me Luke swaddled and perfect as can be. He was breathing fine, but he never cried. I later found out that most C-section babies DON’T cry (when a baby is born the birth canal sucks all the fluid out of their airway- c-section babies don’t make it to the birth canal so they don’t get their airways cleaned until birth).

12:37am was the magic time and he even got his own birthday (not a shared anniversary with mom and dad) December 16th.  They took Luke away and I wanted Josh to be with him. I was on the table for another 30 or so minutes as they stitched me up. I remember falling in and out of sleep and thinking about the events that had just happened… and how the ONE thing that I DIDN’T want to happen, just happened, but that it was ok because Luke was perfect.

Proud daddy-

I was wheeled to room 101 and I remember being so thirsty. I asked for water and they advised me not to drink because I might throw up but I insisted that I needed water . I never did get sick, but that was the best tasting water I’d ever had… C-section or not I did just give birth! They brought me Luke to hold and I couldn’t believe he was there and it was over. I asked how much he weighed- 7lbs. 11oz. which was shocking to me. I never measured big (infact the opposite and I struggled to gain weight during pregnancy) and I think everyone just assumed that I would have a 5 or 6 pound baby. His head circumference was 14 inches. I remember not wanting to hold him for a long time because my arms were shaky and numb. At this point I had nearly missed 2 night’s sleep and I just wanted to go to bed.

(I’m seriously looking rough here- but it was such a special moment to hold my baby on the outside for the first time)

At 3am we opted to have Luke room in the nursery with the nurses because his journey into the world had been so dramatic and his lungs needed to be monitored. I knew I needed rest if  I was going to be recovering from major surgery. I guess the nurse came back every 30 minutes or so to check vitals but I was OUT. 8am came pretty quickly but I felt remarkably better on just 4 hours of sleep. Liquid breakfast was delivered and it was the first time that I was able to stomach breakfast without medicine (zofran or phenergan) for 9 months. They brought Luke in and the rest, as they say, is history. He was born early Wednesday morning and I was discharged Friday morning. I was eager to get home, but being home was hard without the nurses’ help. I was understandably sore and I wasn’t allowed to lift anything but Luke. Alot of sleeping and healing happened around here for the next 10 days or so. He was a great baby and had a wonderful appetite!

We had a newborn screening test scare where 2 of his tests came back positive for Cystic Fibrosis and Gluteric Acidemia- the 2 weeks that we waited for a second round of test results to come back almost killed me and I really think the “baby blues” hit me hard because of the emotional rollercoaster we rode. The fear was crippling and I remember rocking him and just crying my eyes out thinking that this perfect baby could have some serious health issues. I seriously don’t know how mommies with sick babies do it. I think God knew that I wasn’t strong enough to handle that.

I can’t believe it’s been 2 years. It seriously feels like all this happened yesterday. I guess, looking back, I was disappointed that I didn’t know more about C-sections. We went to the birthing class at the hospital a month before Luke was born, and found it amazingly helpful- but out of the 8 hours of class that we attended- 30 minutes was devoted to c-sections and it was a planned c-section. At the end of the day I got a happy healthy baby and that was all that mattered. I didn’t appreciate pregnancy like I should have and I have some serious baby fever- until I feel slightly nauseated and remember that I spent 22 weeks puking… But it was seriously the most amazing experience of my life. It still amazes me that he lived inside me.

So here are the stats today:
33 pounds
Favorite food: pizza, spaghetti, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese
Funniest saying: Coooooold, Brrrrrrrr. He makes the funniest sound in his throat when he does the ooo’s in cold.
He says over 30 words on his own, and will repeat whatever you ask him to repeat. Bobo=Barney; toot, toot=Thomas; blagggg= flag, goo gurl= good girl (Sadie dog); nana= bananas; nigh nigh= blankie.
Shoe size: 6
He loves books and any kind of block or stacking toy.

and if you made it this far I’m seriously impressed! Just over 3,650 words and I feel that his birth story is complete. It is a day I never want to forget!!!