Each evening when I review the next day's events, trying to figure out who's going to have the car and what time we need to be ready to leave in the morning, I can feel the panic start to rise. Sometimes throughout the day when we're behind schedule or something new pops up, I can feel the panic start to rise. When I get nausea/vomiting the one evening I was suppose to go grocery shopping and I have to rearrange my schedule, I can feel the panic rising. The planner, organizer, hater of-last-minute-changes in me can feel my heart racing and my adrenaline coursing. But I keep telling myself to fight off the feelings of obligation, the panic, the hatred of the busy schedule. Very soon will come a day when I will long for the simplicity of life with "just" a toddler. When I am carrying a carseat in one hand and holding Abigail's in the other as we venture across the parking lot, I will wish for right now when I can juggle Abigail and a load of groceries or a stack of books at the library or a dish for a potluck play date.
So I take a deep breath and try to enjoy this week. Even if next week should be slower, more restful. Time goes by quickly enough without wishing it would hurry up.
It got a lot easier to appreciate the extra errands this week when I walk out of Kroger with a receipt that said, "You saved $72 percent!" I got $100 in groceries for $28. That was worth the time it took out of that afternoon, to be certain. I'm one month into this couponing lifestyle and loving the mega rewards. I'm honestly bringing home more food every month and taking less money out of my purse. This week I got two Campbell's slow cooker sauces for free. I got Teddy Grahams at $.79/box. I got two large bags of a name-brand rice for $.49/bag. That's all stuff I would never normally buy. Sale-shopping Jacqueline would see Teddy Grahams on sale at 2/$5 and would walk right by them to buy store brand crackers (sometimes their animal-shaped graham crackers, sometimes their sea creature-shaped cheddar crackers) for $1.50/box. Slow cooker sauces? I wouldn't have even considered it; I would have just made my own or picked a dish that didn't require a special sauce.
I feel like I'm being a good steward(ess?) of the resources God is giving us. I could spend an entire post talking just about that topic, but maybe we'll save it for another day. Instead I'll end this coupon-love with two additional bonuses I've found:
1. We can [finally] afford to donate things to the grocery collection at church without pulling the money from our standard tithe. When I can get a few packages of free disposable razors or shampoo for $.84 or canned diced tomatoes for $.29, I just pay for it out of my food and household budgets. I consider it tithing my stockpile.
2. Constantly getting different brands of crackers and cereal/granola bars for less than $1/box is giving Abigail a ton of exposure to new foods. (Remember, with food chaining, it's not about getting her eating healthy at first, it's about getting her eating period). I can't believe how many flavors she'll eat now! Plus she's much less hesitant to try new foods.
* * * * *
Matt and I toured the local hospital's maternity ward this week; I had heard really good things about it, but I was refusing to get my hopes up until I could confirm them for myself. Goodness = confirmed, me = really excited. Each room has a large shower that can fit a birthing ball (one of those big yoga/exercise/stability balls), the nurses encourage laboring mothers to walk the halls, the beds are made up of moveable pieces and have attachable features that would enable me to push in a kneeling or squatting position, and all the nurses have a minimum of 20 hours of breastfeeding training (in addition to four special lactation consultants). Even in the event of a C-section, the hospital tries very hard to encourage skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth. At one point I asked the tour guide, "So if we're able to walk and move around, does that mean all the heart monitors and stuff are wireless?"
She looked at me a bit surprised: "We don't leave the monitors on all the time if everything is fine."
Can I get an Alleluia?
I had a not-very-VBAC-friendly doctor tell me early on that I would be spending the entire labor on my back hooked up to about a million devices if I attempted a VBAC.
Almost everything that came out of the tour guide's mouth felt like a direct response to a fear or concern I had. I'm so excited to give birth to this baby.
This tour was such a massive contrast to the last one we took. Matt and I were the only ones on that tour. We spent a lot of time in the NICU. We didn't talk about alternative methods to pain control. She made a point of taking us to the ORs where I could be and where Abigail would be if she needed immediate heart surgery.
But on Tuesday, we left Abigail with a babysitter and showed up to a big group of people. For the first time since March 2011 (when began the Baby Heart Saga), I was in a hospital and had a clean slate. No one knew. Matt and I were just this normal pregnant couple like everyone else. Hell, we could have even been first timers - I'm only in my 20s! People smiling as they shuffled past us in the hallway, happy for the group of soon-to-be parents. No trips to the NICU. Just a quick, "the OR is through these doors." Lots of time spent talking about skin-to-skin and breastfeeding. Even time spent talking about how to order food after the baby is born. So normal, so mundane. So very appreciated.
I'm ready to pack my bag now! The birth healing class I attended in February talked about how the smallest thing could bring back panic-inducing flashbacks of my traumatic birth, the more extreme cases becoming full-blown PTSD, and talked about some techniques to help deal. After working so hard on healing and doing so much reading/studying about labor and birth, I'm so incredibly excited about labor and delivery and bringing this little girl home. I have a mental list I'm holding myself back from packing right now:
-Special swaddling blankets so the baby will feel like mine and not the hospital's (especially in case she does end up in the NICU)
-A flame-less wax warmer (à la Scentsy) with a special scent I picked out just for this occasion - dragon fruit - no special meaning with the fragrance, it just smells good (something that will go right no matter what else falls apart)
-My yoga ball in case the hospital's supply is being used and a back massager (alternative ways to relieve pain since I'm determined not to have an epidural)
-A few blankets from home (so I will have a few comforting things around me when pain gets intense)
I could spend an entire post just talking about all the preparations I've done and how excited I am! Perhaps I'll save that topic for a day closer to my due date. In the meantime, I'm going to try to relax and enjoy this time I have right now: with one little girl in my arms and another still growing inside.