What is a Postpartum Doula?

So, maybe you think you know what a doula is, right? She’s the lady who’s grabbing the fruit juice popsicles while your partner walks up and down the halls with you just after your water breaks and that woman holding you as you breathe through your next contraction…

…Or she’s the person who shows up at your doorstep two days postpartum to cook your dinner and fold your laundry while you and your husband take a nap with the baby. She might be the woman who takes your four year old to play outside while you give your newborn a bath. She could be the one who comes over with the bag filled with different kinds of cloth diapers and baby carriers to try and then helps correct your latch as your figure out how to nurse that new baby.

A postpartum doula helps with all those things that come after the birth of your baby, whether it’s helping around your house with cooking, shopping, and some light cleaning, or helping you become more familiar with the things you said you wanted to do (baby wearing, co-sleeping, clothe diapering, breastfeeding), but now that the time has come, you’re not entirely sure where to begin or how to troubleshoot.

I have recently decided to begin the certification process (through Birth Arts International as DONA does not offer a postpartum doula training in New England) and have started offering some postpartum doula services.

What does this mean for you, my lovely potential client?

I will:

  • Allow you time with your newborn by helping you with cleaning, cooking, shopping, your older children, or other chores/activities
  • Give you time to rest and relax by providing some care for your newborn
  • Can give you information and instruction on cloth diaper use and care
  • Can give you information and instruction on use of a variety of baby carriers (slings, soft structure carriers, wraps, etc.
  • Can give you some guidance in breastfeeding

Above all, I will help you to create and hold a safe, peaceful, and happy environment within which you and your family can adjust to your new roles.

Things I cannot/will not do:

  • I will not transport you or your older children barring an extreme emergency
  • I cannot perform any medical tasks (beyond CPR/First Aid, for which I’m certified) like baby well checks or checking c-section scars
  • And while I have a lot of positive and successful breastfeeding experience and knowledge that I believe is an asset, if you are having a lot of difficulties with latch, engorgement, infection, etc., I will suggest you get in touch with a lactation consultant (and I can happily help you do that!)

And a last word on safety – Obviously you want to be sure that whomever you bring into your home to spend time with your family is a safe person. I currently work for a public school district, which means I have to be fingerprinted and background checked stringently. I sort of feel the same should go for a doula, particularly a postpartum doula as she is potentially with your family a lot. I absolutely have no issue showing you my CHRC (Criminal History Record Check) certificate that I have been issued by the state of Maine (just like any other public school employee).

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Dreaming

It’s been one of those restless days, where I want everything at once. Dreaming about staying home with my babies (something that’s finally coming true…). Dreaming about our would-be farm with veggies and chickens and goats and cows, freshness radiating from our table, honest and hard work driving our day. Dreaming about the school I want to start. Dreaming about the degree I really ought to get if I want to start that school. Dreaming about that (those) university(ies) where I’d like to get that degree (UMF, Antioch, Harvard…). Dreaming about ditching our house. Dreaming about revamping it completely. Dreaming about dreaming about dreaming. 

The hubs took both kids out with his friend to the store, so I wandered about our yard a bit aimlessly, trying to sort out my toughts. It’s less than two acres, but it’s depth is tremendous. The previous owner was a prolific gardner, but unfortunately was unable to keep up the yard a few years before we bought the house, so it’s a daunting piece of land in terms of care. The yard is almost like an outdoor house, an old one, with many heavily detailed rooms. 

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No, I may be dreaming a great many things, some that may come true, others that may not, but at least I lay my head here, in my sweet little house in the woods, in my sweet, sweet life. 

Week 39

Week 39 (February 1 – February 8) 

Estimated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: I’ve been getting really crampy, as well as have more Braxton Hicks and the very rare (maybe two?) more painful contractions (but nothing too exciting). 

Body Changes: Achey hips and pelvis, and my baby belly has dropped 

Cravings: Peanut butter and chocolate, for a change; Raisin Bran!!

High Point:  Continuing to have a happy, healthy baby growing inside of me! 🙂

Low Point: I’m just tired, sore, and ready for this pregnancy to be over. What’s more, I was checked again and there wasn’t any change. Again, I know it’s incredibly foolish to care this much about the status of my cervix, but it’s hard to not take it to heart.  

What I did to prepare this week: Continuing to struggle to keep things organized and clean. 

Paranoid Moment: Every little thing feels like it could be labor, or prelabor or SOMETHING, but ends up not. Very frustrating and disappointing and it puts me on edge.

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: 

“Your baby’s waiting to greet the world! He continues to build a layer of fat to help control his body temperature after birth, but it’s likely he already measures about 20 inches and weighs a bit over 7 pounds, a mini watermelon. (Boys tend to be slightly heavier than girls.) The outer layers of his skin are sloughing off as new skin forms underneath.”

37 Weeks – Full Term!!

Week 37 (January 18 – 25) 

Estimated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: I’ve been getting really crampy, as well as have more Braxton Hicks. AND my first real contraction!

Body Changes: Achey hips and pelvis, and my baby belly has dropped 

Cravings: Peanut butter and chocolate, for a change

High Point:  I had a really lovely surprise baby shower at work this past week. It was put on by some great co-workers who brought in cake and other tasty refreshments. I received some really sweet gifts for the baby and was especially pleased to get lots of clothes in the 6-12 month range, because I’m really lacking in that department! I felt so welcome and loved, especially since this is my first year working at this school.

Low Point: I had another appointment with my OB this week, and while everything was great, she “checked” me again and nothing had changed, even after having a real contraction. I know that the state of my cervix really has nothing to do with the ability to predict when I’ll go into labor, but I was hoping for some sort of change, especially since so little happened when I was in labor with E. I’ll admit, I was bumming pretty hard.

What I did to prepare this week: More cleaning and organizing. It’s a challenge to keep on top of everything lately because I’m super tired and I have a husband and kid. It’s not to say they aren’t wonderful and big helps in their own way, because they most certainly are, but they’re not the cleanest bunch 🙂

Paranoid Moment: I’m very much at the same point I was with E. when I was pregnant with her, where everything could be a possible indicator of something wrong. I’m not harping as badly as I was when I was pregnant with E. (mostly because I’m working this time around and have things to occupy my mind), but I still worry more than I characteristically would. 

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say:

“Your baby is now considered “full term,” even though your due date is three weeks away. If you go into labor now, his lungs will likely be mature enough to fully adjust to life outside the womb. (Some babies need a bit more time, though. So if you’re planning to have a repeat c-section, for example, your practitioner will schedule it for no earlier than 39 weeks unless there’s a medical reason to intervene earlier.)

Your baby weighs 6 1/3 pounds and measures a bit over 19 inches, head to heel (like a stalk of Swiss chard). Many babies have a full head of hair at birth, with locks from 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long. But don’t be surprised if your baby’s hair isn’t the same color as yours. Dark-haired couples are sometimes thrown for a loop when their children come out as blonds or redheads, and fair-haired couples have been surprised by Elvis look-alikes. And then, of course, some babies sport only peach fuzz.”

Experimentation

Back in December I talked about a few of my New Year’s goals. One of them was to start changing our diet at home to something more wholesome and grounded in real and whole foods. Well, as if the bloggy internet gods had heard my prayers, this series cropped up on Keeper of the Home, one of the homemaking blogs that I follow. One of the first posts was about what you can start changing and eliminating in your diet to go down the real foods road. Keeping that in mind, when I went to make breakfast this morning, I came up with this recipe. 

First of all, it’s loosely based on my standby pancake recipe from Martha Stewart. Secondly, this is a sort of cobbled together, vaguely “real” food recipe. After I list what I used I will sum it all up with how I will change it next time around to make it a real “real” food recipe. 

Here goes: 

2 cups whole wheat flour

5 tbs. raw honey

2 tps. baking soda 

2 cups of water

6 tbs. canola oil

2 large eggs

2 apples, chopped

To cook, I threw all the ingredients together in a bowl, mixed everything together until well blended, then over medium heat in a well-greased skillet, poured a 1/4 cup of batter in for each pancake. It made about 12 pancakes. 

How did they taste? Really good, especially with some syrup and butter. However, the texture is a bit different because of the wheat flour, and that also alters the taste a bit. It definitely had a more wheat-y flavor. 

What would I change the second time around? Well, for one, I would replace the canola oil with either coconut oil or butter (preferably raw and/or organic). Also, instead of water, I would consider using either low fat, organic milk or full fat, raw milk (“raw”, by the way, means unpasteurized). Reasoning behind this? One, there are lots of nutrients in whole, raw milk. Like, a lot. And most of those nutrients are lost during the pasteurization process. Two, I think butter and milk are a lot more yummy than oil and water. That said, the water, I’m sure, cuts a whole lot of calories from the pancakes.

So, this is my first venture into the real food world, modified as it is. One of my short term goals that I just set for myself recently was to try to cook at least one real food meal a week, so I suppose this is kind of my first for the week (which works, considering I don’t really have the ingredients I want at home right now and won’t be grocery shopping until the end of the week).

Next on my list of things to do in this area? I’m going to do some pricing tomorrow at a couple of local shops (a farm stand and a co-op) as well as our local grocery store.  

The Official List (Hospital Bag Edition)

Last month I wrote a bit about my experience staying at the hospital after E. was born and some of the stuff I really, really wished I had with me. After much thought and some actual packing (and having to dig out my HUGE suitcase that has

been living at my parents for the last six or so years), I’ve got the list. 

Now, keep in mind, I am the ultimate over packer. I really dislike being without, and, if for whatever reason, I’m stuck at the hospital for more than a couple of days, I’m going to be very grumpy if I don’t have everything I think I’ll need. That said, should I not use even half of what I pack, that’s totally okay with me. 

So, here’s the list: 

Wallet

Cell/Charger

Blackberry/Charger

Nook/Charger

Deodorant (buy travel size)

Toothbrush (buy spare)

Toothpaste  (buy travel size)

Brush

Makeup

Lip balm

Hair elastics

Hair clip

Shampoo/conditioner (buy travel size)

Ratty t-shirt for labor

Bathing suit top for labor in tub/shower

Bathrobe

Jammies

  • Night gown
  • Pants and top
  • More pants and top

Pair of socks

Nursing bra

Roomy underwear

Snacks

Pillow with pillowcase

Notepad (buy)

Pen/Pencil

Going home outfit

  • Black sweats or yoga pants
  • Comfortable top

Shampoo/body wash for Mike

Jammies for Mike

Swim trunks for Mike

Changes of clothes for Mike

  • Two pairs of pants
  • Three shirts
  • Three pairs of underwear
  • Socks

Sleep sacks for baby x3

Going home outfit for baby

Receiving blanket

Boppy pillow

Nursing cover

Cloth diapers

Nipple cream

Doula gift(s) (gift card/certificates to Beth’s Kitchen and something else…)

(I apologize for the weirdo formatting – this is what happens when you copy and past from Word, apparently.) So that’s all of it. The clothes take up the most space, but I wanted to have something clean to change into each day, especially if I end up having another c-section. I also wanted the hubs to have access to come clean and comfy clothes, too, since he’ll be hanging around the hospital with me and sleeping there as well. 

And, despite the apparent simplicity of it, I did put a lot of thought into that going home outfit for me. I wanted something basic, but also not totally schleppy looking. I’m obviously not going to try to look like a movie star, but I want to feel put together as well as comfortable. 

I found when putting this list together that there were a lot of little things and a lot of stuff I didn’t just have on hand, particularly the travel size stuff. As I’ve packed my bag I’ve added things slowly over the last couple of weeks. I just bought, for example, the travel size shampoo/conditioner and deodorant during our last trip to Target. I had to set aside just the right kind of undies each time I did laundry. And I haven’t even come close to packing the electronics, and those likely won’t go into the hospital bag until we’re ready to go. It’s definitely not a trip you can pack for all at one time! 

And, a note on snacks. I’ll be honest, I haven’t even asked my OB or the hospital when we did our tour last week about their policy regarding eating during labor. I plan on feigning (sort of) ignorance. Because, I will eat. And what did I choose for snacks? So far, I grabbed three different of granola bars and a box of pineapple popsicles when I went grocery shopping last week. I may add to my small collection when I grocery shopping next Friday, but I’m actually pretty happy with what I have for now. The granola bars, I think, will be good early on in labor, when I will want something more substantial and the popsicles will be nice when labor is more intense and I might want something more filling than water, but still light. 

What’s going (or has gone) in your hospital bag? 

Week 36

Week 36 (January 11 – 18) 

Estimated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: I’ve been getting really crampy, as well as have more Braxton Hicks. Also, breast tenderness has resurfaced.

Body Changes: Achey hips and pelvis, and my baby belly has dropped 

Cravings: Peanut butter and chocolate, for a change

High Point:  We got the co-sleeper this weekend! I was so, so, so excited! We have it all set up next to the bed and E. has had great fun putting her baby doll to bed inside of it. I can’t wait until it’s filled with our real baby and not dolls, books, and electronics. 

Low Point: Some of my pregnancy paranoia has sufficiently subsided this week, so I’ve been feeling emotionally all right. Physically, however, I’m starting to really feel worn down. The baby is so low in my pelvis I can feel a lot of pressure from his big ol’ noggin. I felt really lousy on Tuesday (lots of headaches and heavy headedness along with crampy, though fairly mild contractions). I ended up going in to see my OB and having a non-stress test and exam. While everything looked good baby-wise, my OB said I was definitely having consistent contractions, but they weren’t strong enough to make anything happen (which is fine, because it’s not quite time yet for the babe to make his appearance). And when I had my exam I was not quite a centimeter dilated and my cervix was becoming soft and stretchy. All good stuff (and sorry if this is a bit TMI). My OB said she was leaning towards thinking I’d likely go on my own and quite possibly have the come out the “old fashioned way”. So, so good to hear. 

What I did to prepare this week: Got that co-sleeper! I pestered and pestered and pestered the hubs to go to the big city with me to hit up Babies ‘R’ Us, and he finally agreed to go, even though he was feeling completely miserable. This is the one we got. We also picked up a the starter set of these bottles at Target. I’d like to get one more package (I have a set of 5 oz. bottles and I’d like another set of the 9 oz.), but that can go on the back burner until after the babe shows up.

Paranoid Moment: Feeling much better this week. 

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say:

“Your baby is still packing on the pounds — at the rate of about an ounce a day. She now weighs almost 6 pounds (like a crenshaw melon) and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. She’s shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered her body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected her skin during her nine-month amniotic bath. Your baby swallows both of these substances, along with other secretions, resulting in a blackish mixture, called meconium, will form the contents of her first bowel movement.

At the end of this week, your baby will be considered full-term. (Full-term is 37 to 42 weeks; babies born before 37 weeks are pre-term and those born after 42 are post-term.) Most likely she’s in a head-down position. But if she isn’t, your practitioner may suggest scheduling an “external cephalic version,” which is a fancy way of saying she’ll try to coax your baby into a head-down position by manipulating her from the outside of your belly.”

 

 

Week 35

Week 35 (January 4 – 11) 

Estimated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: I’ve been getting really crampy, as well as have more Braxton Hicks. Also, breast tenderness has resurfaced.

Body Changes: Achey hips and pelvic joints

Cravings: Carby carb carb carbs…and chocolate!

High Point:  Two very fun things this week: First, I went out and bought some really fun fabric for a couple of nursing covers and a baby quilt for the little guy. I love, love, love fabric shopping, so that alone was great. But it was also nice to go out by myself and take my time looking for just the right stuff. It’s something that’s rare now as it is and is bound to only become more so. I’ll try to post pictures as I finish everything (I’ve already done one cover and have started on the quilt). 

Secondly, I finally got to meet officially with my doulas (yes, plural)! I’ve been meeting with these ladies on a monthly basis anyhow, because they’re the student midwives I see for prenatal check-ups at the Birth House. I was so excited to finally get to sit down with them and talk about what I wanted this baby’s birth to be. Early on in the meeting we decided it would be beneficial for women to attend to birth for a variety of reasons. For me, the biggest was I liked the idea of having two different styles of care and experience and the guarantee that at least one of them would always be there. Plus, I would have had a really, really hard time choosing between the two. I feel incredibly lucky to have happened upon this service, because in the typical doula situation, I would likely be paying quite a bit more (I’m only paying $50), would only have access to one talented lady, and wouldn’t have had as much opportunity to get to know and speak to a doula (they have been with me from the beginning, including pre-concpetion!). They’ve made me feel so much better about my birth. I know it will be great!

Low Point: The pregnancy fears have started to settle in, though this time around, they aren’t necessarily specific to pregnancy. More below. 

What I did to prepare this week: More cleaning and organizing. Also, meeting with my doulas and getting some baby related sewing done. 

Paranoid Moment: Well, I had a bad dream and it all sort of devolved from there. I had a rough couple of days worrying about things that were out of my control. I had also developed a bit of an irrational fear about losing E. I remember at this point in my pregnancy with her I worried about some pretty random things, mostly related to possible birth defects or SIDS. This time around I’m feeling very confident in our little guy’s health, but I’m more focused on my fear of losing my relationship with E. once the new baby comes. While I know I won’t love her any less (how could I?), I do fear that I won’t be able to give her what I have for the last four years. In fact, I pretty much know I won’t, because, let’s face it, baby’s take up a whole heck of a lot of energy. I think a lot of the fear I’ve had about “losing” E. stem from the very real fear about the upcoming change in dynamic in my family. 

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: “Your baby doesn’t have much room to maneuver now that he’s over 18 inches long and tips the scales at 5 1/4 pounds (pick up a honeydew melon). Because it’s so snug in your womb, he isn’t likely to be doing somersaults anymore, but the number of times he kicks should remain about the same. His kidneys are fully developed now, and his liver can process some waste products. Most of his basic physical development is now complete — he’ll spend the next few weeks putting on weight.”

New Year Goals

Okay, I make resolutions every year. I make a big fuss over it. I get super excited about it, make a plan, charts, lists, and blog about it. Usually it falls pretty flat (though I will pat myself on the back with following through with my weight loss goals from last year). I am definitely one of those people who loves to plan, plan, plan, but has horrible execution, most likely because my expectations are waaaaaay to high. 

But I still keep doing it. 

I’m not entirely sure what’s wrong with me, because here I am, ready to jump in again, ready to fill my plate up with hopes and dreams, even when I have a pretty huge event looming ahead at the beginning of this upcoming year. 

I always feel like it will be different this time, but maybe, with a little bit more hindsight, it will be different. 

Here are my goals (let’s not even call them resolutions) for the upcoming year: 

Start the switch to whole/real foods (emphasis on the word “start”). I need to pick one area to start eliminating or changing what we’re eating and just do it. Once I feel confident in that area, then maybe move on to something else. We’ll see where I am a year from now. 

Eliminate one hour of screen time for E. and myself (the hubs, too, if he’ll get on board). I feel like we don’t watch a ton of T.V. in our house, but I can feel it starting to take over. I’m going to give myself a break in the first few months that the baby is here, but once summer vacation hits, I’m hoping to subtly remove some screen time for E. and myself (this means laptop/tablet time for me). 

Read one longer “chapter book” to E. I want to start looking up good books that will be more or less on her level. She’s a smart cookie and we did read Charlotte’s Web this year. I’d like to find something else she’d really enjoy, too. 

Read at least two books that are just fun for me. Minuscule goal, I know, but I have such a hard time reading for pleasure now. Hopefully the two books will turn into twenty, but considering I have a new baby on the way, I’m not holding my breath. I might have to try to reach this goal in the next few weeks!

Write more. It’s my perennial goal. Maybe this will be the year. Ordinarily I’d need a way to measure how much “more” would be, but at this point, writing anything on a regular basis besides blog posts would be more. 

Play more. I’m crappy at playing. Really. I need to spend more time with E. just having fun, unstructured time. I have found in the past that I can take a half hour, at least, out of our evenings at home and play a game, play with dolls, coloring, or reading extra books. I hope as I make more time for play, the easier it will become. 

Reintroduce exercise to my lifestyle. I’ve been really crappy about working out through this pregnancy. Granted, I move around a lot when I’m at home and at work, but I had hoped to keep up with walking and working out like I had prior to getting pregnant. I want bring it back into my life at least to the point it was before I got pregnant, if not more so. 

Maintain a cleaning schedule. I suppose if I’m going to maintain a cleaning schedule I need to create one. And I kind of had and was keeping up with it up until the onset of Thanksgiving and whatnot. I might have to throw it up on my calendar again and get it going once more. 

So, there you have it. I think it might seem like a lot, and maybe it is, but I also feel like the goals are vague enough that I can feel good about them even if minimal amounts of work actually gets done. We’ll see what happens…

Baby Prepping

 

So, at some point I might post pictures from our Christmas, but my brain moves fast lately and as soon as dear old St. Nick laid his head down to rest after the big night on Monday into Tuesday, the gears started turning towards the next big event in our life. 

E.’s fifth birthday. (Trust me, it’s already crossed my mind, a mere five months ahead of time.) 

The arrival of the baby. 

So, post Christmas, here’s what’s left on my Must Have/Would Really, Really Like to Have List: 

An Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

I’ve officially decided that we’re going to get, somehow, someway, the Convertible Mini, because it’s smaller and less expensive. Apparently the weight limit is 30 lbs., but considering E. just hit 40 lbs. at 4.5 years old, then that weight limit is more than enough. 

I also have a few smaller things that need to be purchased, like bottles (we only have three), baby shampoo, and, yep, I’m gonna say it, nipple cream. But really, they aren’t huge things, and it’s stuff, other than the bottles, maybe, that I can add to my grocery list and pick up a little bit every couple of weeks. 

I’m not worried. 

The next big project I have for the next few weeks is my hospital bag. Well, actually, hospital suitcase. Because I don’t know for sure how long I’ll be at the hospital and because home isn’t as conveniently located as it was with my daughter (45 minutes vs. 5 minutes), I need to think really carefully about how and what I’m going to pack. 

The biggest help in this process? Pinterest (link is to my “In My Hospital Bag” board). I love that site, because I can be an equally verbal and visual communicator. I like pictures and then the captions underneath are like the icing on top. 

Anywho, off the top of my head, these are the things I know I MUST have in my bag, because I didn’t have them last time and it suuuuuucked

  • A couple of pairs of my own jammies

  • Hair clips (purchased some today) and hair elastics

  • Shampoo and conditioner

  • Razor

  • Make-up

  • Snacks, for both labor and during the hospital stay

     

     

 

I do have other things on the list, particularly baby pertinent items (you know, like clothes and stuff) and items for labor, but these were the most important for me to remember, because, like I said, I didn’t have them last time, and, honestly, I probably wouldn’t think of packing these things without thinking about it ahead of time. 

But why do I have all these little beauty product items? Because, after you push a multi-pound baby out of your va-jay-jay or are gutted like a farm animal up for slaughter, you kind of feel and look like…crap. Or I did, at least. When I got to the hospital to have my daughter I already felt crappy (and you would too, at ten days over due) and gross – forget how I felt after a c-section and four day hospital stay. I was stuck using hospital shampoo and conditioner, a cheap-o razor, and a piddly travel brush to get myself back to human status post-birth. And then I put on the clothes I came to the hospital in. 

I’m not doing that again, no thank you! 

So, while I will be haggard and exhausted after this little guy comes around, I know I will feel better for having my own shampoo and conditioner, a decent razor, and some make-up (I should add to my list above a cute buy comfy going home outfit for me). 

As for the jammies, snacks, and hair stuff – 1.) You want your own clothes. Johnnies are not cute, not comfy, and way too revealing no matter what the situation. I’m packing a ratty t-shirt for labor and delivery (because that’s going to be a throw-away afterwards), and then a couple comfy pairs of my favorite jammies. 2.) I plan on eating as I please during labor, though of course, I’m going to try to pick items that will help boost my energy, more than anything else. I pinned some ideas on my Pinterest board. 3.) Believe it or not, I did not bring hair elastics with me to the hospital. My hair was a mess the whole time, got in my face, drove me nuts. And it was a totally gross rats’ nest after delivery, too, and stayed that way until I went home. Not happening this time. In fact, I’m thinking of asking one my best friends to come in and French braid my hair for me after the baby comes, so it’s out of my way, but looks nice (and I can get away with sleeping in it for a couple of days). 

And, speaking of hair, in addition to buying some hair clips and elastics today, I also got my hair done, because it needed it and I’ve vowed to not go into the hospital looking like a total slob. 

Whatcha think?

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It so, so needed to be done and feels so, so much better! I’m totally ready to have another baby, right?