25 Weeks: Loosey Goosey

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Other than first trimester yuck, my most persistent pregnancy symptom thus far has been lower back pain. Particularly SI joint pain, particularly on the right side!

This week, I described my hips, back and pelvis to my yoga teacher like this:

“If my body were held together by screws, I would guess that every one of them is loose right now”

I feel like my whole skeleton might crumble to the ground with just one step sometimes! Getting up from the ground, out of bed or up from a chair isn’t hard on my muscles or strength, but I feel like if I’m not careful and slow, something holding me together might rip apart. In our yoga classes, Jen emphasizes keeping the hips square whenever possible – such as getting out of bed with both legs swung over the side instead of the usual leaps that I do! I have a tendency to want to get from point A to point B as swiftly as possible in life!

Jen says that right about now – 25 to 27 weeks – the hormone relaxin that is responsible for relaxing ligaments and allowing the pelvis to open up during birth – is going through somewhat of a growth spurt. She said my loose screws should calm down in a couple of weeks and I’ll feel normal again.

Such a strange cycle!

I have noticed that I am more flexible in general now, and my squat depth has definitely improved since I have been pregnant. Probably a combination of yoga and hormones.

Since I started having the SI joint pain early on, I’ve been seeing Dr. Tate regularly for chiropractic adjustments.

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My hips are usually pretttty even. At my appointments (about every 2-3 weeks), he does a few SI stretches on the joint that make me feel immediately better.

I recently suspected that the pain could be caused by my Snoogle body pillow since I was only getting pain on the right side and sleep with my pillow on the left (and therefore my right leg draped over it). However, I’ve since been experimenting with the pillow on both sides and nothing has changed except that I’m sleeping worse!

The pain has been on and off. I’ve had weeks when it felt great (at 23 weeks it was great) and suddenly it’s worse again. I think I’m going to blame the hormone rather than something I’m doing.

One last line of defense: I went to see Cindy Janechild, who is known in the prenatal yoga community as a miracle worker for pelvises. She does different manual therapies of the body (including Zero Balance therapy and CranioSacral Therapy) to put the pelvis into proper alignment for labor and help with ailments like my back pain. She wasn’t covered by my insurance (chiropractic is) but I really enjoyed my visit with her. She spent about an hour teaching me about the anatomy of my pelvis and lower back and showing me stretches to do to keep my pelvis neutral and body limber. The best part, though, was the pressure and massage she did. I left feeling straight and even – although loosey goosey for sure! I may go back and see her again if my loose screws and pains don’t get any better in the next few weeks.

I suppose this post was more of a journal than informational, but the message is that I’m surprised how much pregnancy has affected parts of my body other than my uterus. The aches and pains are no joke! But at the same time, it’s also a period of life to take it easy in general, so it’s not like I’m having back pain and trying to do some of the harder physical things I used to – like run a half marathon. My hope through the physical treatments is to get my body as prepared for pushing out a baby as possible. Despite the loose screws, so far, so good.

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25 Weeks: Thoughts On Childbirth Class

If you checked into KERF, you probably know that this past weekend Matt and I attended a “Fast Track” childbirth class at our hospital, Martha Jefferson.

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When I first started to think about childbirth classes, I looked into what was available here. There wasn’t a ton. From what I heard, there’s a Bradley-like class 45 minutes away for 8 weeks, a few classes at a birthing center nearby and the standard class at the hospital where most women deliver. I do think if the Bradley-like class had been held in Cville we might have done that instead, but neither of us could even imagine a regular hour and a half of driving on weeknights (we hate to drive 5 minutes!), so that one was quickly crossed off the list. As someone who is hoping to deliver naturally in a hospital with a doula, I felt that the hospital’s class was the best for us. I wanted to hear what the place where I would be had to say. Having completed the class, I’m SO glad we went this route.

I’ve listened to tons of podcasts on birth options and different hospital procedures, and it was invaluable to have the class taught by a L&D nurse who knew all the protocols we could expect. And for the most part, I really liked what I heard.

We had the option of doing an “every Wednesday night” class or this one weekend one and I asked some of my mom friends around which they did and was it enough. Two of them had gone through the Fast Track and also had natural births with the same doula that I am using and they said they felt more than prepared, so we moved forward with our $100 weekend course. I think I can probably gain everything I would have learned in a long weeknight regular class from lots of reading, minus the mingling with other couples, which I’m trying to get in through other outlets, so this was definitely the best investment of time.

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The Friday night portion of the class talked a lot about the stages of labor and what to expect in a normal birth. Here are things our instructor shared that I found helpful:

-The instinct to clean the house by scrubbing the floors on hands and knees is actually a really good position to get the baby prepared for labor

-Women need to feel safe and secure in a relaxed mental state before their bodies will allow them to go into labor (this is obviously not scientific, but it makes sense). When you think about animals who go find a quiet place alone to give birth, you can imagine we humans might mentally seek a similar peacefulness for labor to begin. (Ina May’s book confirms this!)

-A big part of labor is pain perception. What are you focusing on and how does that affect the hormones in your body? Are you allowing the maximum oxytocin to flow or are you fearful and scared? If you’re tense, pain will be perceived as worse. If you’re relaxed, you will feel less pain (again, not necessarily scientific, but I like this concept)

-Laughter is a great tool to minimize pain perception. Our instructor listened to comedy during her labor and laughed her way through

-Getting in a tub with the water line at the nipples stimulates them and can help progress labor (while the warm water relaxes)

-Hands should be placed to the side during pushing because putting them under the knees actually makes the pelvic floor more tense

I was glad to hear so much information on how to handle labor naturally in the class – because you never know when the epidural won’t work…

Much to Matt’s happiness (I kid) we did have some role playing, but it was pretty fun : ) Clothespins on the ears and ice in the palm simulated early and active labor. I loved being all over the ball and rolling around while Matt put his hands on my back.

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After practicing with the pain, going to prenatal yoga for a few months and thinking about my personality and previous pain experiences, these are things that I think I will like during labor:

  • Massage
  • Touch
  • Moaning (because I have a history of moaning during hangovers to make me feel better :mrgreen: )
  • Popsicles (duh!)
  • Getting in the tub to relax
  • Yoga ball and yoga-like stretches

Interestingly, during my prenatal yoga class when we are asked to hold poses that I find really tough, I do my best when I take my mind outside of the class. I think about what’s for dinner or an upcoming event and before I know it the pose is over. However, if I really focus on the pose – the pain in my quads, the teacher telling us to put our breath into our quads – I can’t handle the pain. It’s too much perception. I think this is one of the most helpful realizations I have made in preparation for labor. I would have predicted that I’d be the kind of person to really focus on a contraction and what my body is doing to cope. But I actually think I’m going to be one of those “mind goes to a deserted island” types who gets in a zone to get through a contraction. Only the real deal will tell!

I really enjoyed learning more about our hospital during the class, and I got a lot of my questions answered. Here are a few facts about where I’m headed:

  • The hospital has jacuzzi tubs and yoga balls in every room (although water births are not permitted)
  • They have a security system to prevent the theft or mix up of babies (I had never heard of this! It’s like a clothing store alarm!)
  • Skin to skin is promoted
  • You can request to have the first bath done in the room
  • Eyeball antibiotics and vitamin K shots are standard (although you can opt out of either…we probably won’t)
  • Babies stay with the mom in the room and don’t go to a nursery unless requested
  • You are asked to give a blood sample upon admission to type your blood for a transfusion and the IV will stay in while you’re there. (I am NOT happy about this at all and will probably agree to the blood draw but will decline the IV line unless I actually need an IV. I don’t want the psychology of having that in my arm..)
  • Monitoring is done once an hour in early labor, every 30 minutes in active labor and every 15 minutes during transition
  • The beds are really cool and can morph into all kinds of pushing positions – including a squat bar and mirror capabilities
  • They don’t do walking epidurals or the kind that are patient-controlled in intensity
  • 2010 stat: 62% of vaginal birth moms got epidurals (that means 38% didn’t!)
  • 2010 stat: 32% c-section rate (This surprised and disappointed me)

We did talk about interventions and role-played an epidural and a c-section. Obviously if the baby’s health is a concern, thank goodness for interventions, but that doesn’t take away the fact that I am scared of anything but natural birth.

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My only wish for the childbirth class was that they combined a hospital tour with it. The tours are separate on Tuesday nights and require another trip there yadda yadda. It would have been nice to see the L&D area either just before or just after class and save an extra trip back.

Overall, the class made me much more confident in myself, my husband and the place we chose to deliver (sans the C/S rate number..). I’m glad we took the weekend to go through the class together, as the partnership was something we could not have gotten from a book.

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25 Weeks: Stretch + Grow

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25 weeks doesn’t seem that far along to me, but when I think that I’ll be in the 30s in just over a month, it feels like there’s not that much time left! Of course you do spend a lot of time in the 30s, but it still sounds so advanced!

Remember how last week I said I felt like my stomach was still flat? Totally turn around. It’s started to get in the way now, and when I lean against things or look down, I’m not surprised to see a big bump.

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In fact, it’s getting HEAVY! When I’m tired, I sometimes pick it up like so:

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It’s only going to get heavier and heavier too! I’ve worn a belly band a few times when I got particularly tired, but my chiropractor warned against wearing it too much or the important muscles I do need to hold up my stomach when I’m not wearing it might weaken.

I’ve been feeling lots of movements – a few that actually felt like LIMBS! It was like he was juuuust on the other side of my muscles and pushing his foot right out into my hand. So weird when it feels so small and real! Generally the movements still feel like twitches in there, although sometimes I get a real “humany” one Smile

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I’ve felt more tired lately – on and off. And my body literally feels like all the screws in my pelvis are loose! Sometimes I wonder if my pelvis and lower back joints are just going to fall open and I’ll split in two. I think it’s too early for relaxin, so maybe it’s just the weight shifting to the front that is causing all of this. I’m still having SI joint pain – some proactive things I’ve done on that for another focused post. I just don’t think I can do as much physically as I used to.

Right and left!

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Matt said that he’s noticed more people looking my way when we’re out and about. Not really staring in a mean way, but just that my stomach is turning heads. I guess people find pregnancy exciting and interesting! I certainly seem to notice all the pregnant women more often now! I have strangers ask me when I’m due all the time now, so I think it’s pretty obvious from the outside – probably even more in real life than photos because roundness is more evident in 3D. Maybe I’m due for a video soon?

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I think it’s sooo cute to imagine him in there doing baby things – taking naps, drinking some amniotic fluid, stretching or kicking his feet. I like to think he’s already on a schedule since he’s almost always very active in the evenings. Cuteness!!

26 weeks….here I come!

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25 Weeks: Laundering, Stuffing, Folding

If you remember from this post, blog reader Stephanie passed on her collection of cloth diapers to me (she was finished using them) in a huge recycling effort. There were tons of them and I was totally overwhelmed! I ended up mailing part of the stash (the girliest part) with another blog reader who was hoping to give cloth a try, so I’m down a reasonable amount of diapers and brands to give a try when the time comes.

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A few weeks ago, my friend Holly came over and gave me a wonderful hands-on tutorial on how to use them. I thought that they would be really technical – “this liner can ONLY go with this brand” but it turns out the whole process is easier than I thought. I think the worst part of the cloth diaper system is that you’re not supposed to put them in your dyer! Line drying does save energy though, but it takes human energy to manage and a lot of time to dry. Probably worth it though to prolong the diaper life and minimize drying cost.

[We also have a cloth diaper club that meets here in Cville, so I might head over to one of their monthly meet-ups and try to learn more!]

This weekend, I took the box out of my attic and washed them all in preparation for a nice organization event (you have no idea how much I was looking forward to lining these up in drawers!

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Stephanie included this box of detergent when she sent them, and it’s approved for cloth diaper use. (I’ve heard Rockin’ Green also rocks!)

I put the entire box of diapers in my washer and pushed go. Since they were already technically clean, I don’t really have any feedback on settings since I just used normal. I need to figure out the best system for my washer…

Holly recommended I buy a drying rack at Target, so I found this collapsible one. Since it was warm out, outside they went!

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I was surprised that the diapers themselves felt nearly dry upon coming out of the washer:

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But the liners took much, much longer to dry. About a whole 24 hours.

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Direct sun helped!

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Once they were all dry and clean (too bad these eco detergents don’t get fun laundry smells : ( ), the fun part started. Here’s our changing table in progress:

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And here are the diapers all ready to go! I used the whole top drawer to fill with diapers and left the bottom two drawers for clothes.

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Clothes, especially newborn clothes, are on a shortage at the moment!

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I decided to go ahead and fill the diapers with the liners because I want to get this system as realistic as possible and think that stuffing while I’m doing the laundry and putting them away, although annoying, makes more sense so you have less to do when there’s a wiggling baby on your table.

On the right there are two bins of pocket diapers (multiple brands) all stuffed with a single newborn snapped liner and diaper.

I called Matt into the room and gave him a tutorial. He is sometimes even more “earth dad” than I am, so he is all for using the cloth. I think he liked the tutorial Smile And I know I enjoyed showing him the system!

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Stuffing each one was annoying! I think this is why people like all-in-ones. But I do like the versatility of the pockets – you can add more or less liners depending on time of day and they are adjustable in size from small baby to big.

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To the left, you’ll find a smaller box with just the tinier diapers for newborns – or maybe a little older.

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So little!

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As well as a few prefolds tucked in the back. I don’t have any small covers for these, so I don’t know if we’ll go the prefold route (but if I were buying these all from scratch, I think I definitely would have considered it..)

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And on the far left – the extra liners.

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Back in the way back are a few non-adjustable diapers that are probably for closer to 1 year olds:

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I hope to get a cloth diaper pail and put my wetbag inside to the right of the dresser. The bathroom is literally 3 feet away and we are planning to get a sprayer for the toilet for when that is necessary. Also going to try out elimination communication at transitional times during the day (like after naptime) since the bathroom is so close (Matt is on board for that too). I’m all for giving things a try. If they don’t work, at least I tried.

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We’re going to use cloth wipes too – makes sense to wash everything rather than throw away the disposable and then wash the diaper in two places.

We ARE planning to use disposables for the first month or so – or until we feel we’re ready. I might throw some tiny cloth ones in in the first weeks or wait until 3-4 months. It all depends on how things are going and if the bulk of my diapers fit.

These boxes will probably hold the disposable newborn diapers and then whatever else we need at changing time (wipes, etc.)

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Once I got a tutorial from a friend, all of the cloth diaper information made so much more sense to me!

Here are some good resources – and there are many, many more online!

Padded Tush Stats (all stats and reviews!)

All About Cloth Diapers

New Moms, New Babies Podcast (this was very helpful!)

Also lots of blogger posts on how the system works for them.

We shall see how it goes!

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25 Weeks: No Woman No Cry

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Continuing on the documentary tour!

The Business of Being Born

Pregnant In America

My friend Hillary brought over No Woman No Cry this week as a very ironic and extreme contrast to Pregnant In America. Unlike the latter, No Woman No Cry follows the stories of four high-risk pregnancies in four parts of the world and how women’s lack of access to healthcare puts them in danger – including death.

The film was directed by supermodel Christy Turlington Burns who herself experienced hemorrhaging shortly after giving birth to her daughter. Burns shares that she was lucky to be surrounded by a medical team at the time, but wondered what would have happened if she had been somewhere remote.

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Janet

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For me, the most moving story was the first one told of Janet, who lives in Tanzania where 1 in 22 women die in childbirth (many from preventable causes). Janet lives in a remote village where the closest midwife clinic is 5 miles away. At 40 weeks pregnant, she walks 5 miles to the clinic and is told that although she is experiencing contractions, she must return home because she is not dilating yet and the clinic needs beds for other patients. Janet then walks all.the.way.back. That’s 10 miles in 2 days. A few days later, she does the walk again – this time in more active labor. While at the clinic, it is determined that because her labor isn’t progressing, she needs to go to the hospital, which is an hour (bumpy bus ride) away. It also costs $30 – a monthly salary for Janet’s family. Her husband doesn’t get involved in the story until she leaves for the hospital, and it is mentioned several times that she doesn’t have any food or money.

Janet’s story just breaks my heart. I can’t even imagine the fear she must have experienced as she makes the trek through the wilderness, much less in pain, worrying about her baby and perhaps her own health and life. It frustrated me that I couldn’t just reach into the screen and share with her some of the things that I have – food, a bike, a car, a comfortable bed. I also can’t imagine how she managed without food or water on her journey. She may have had snacks that we didn’t see, but it didn’t seem likely. For Janet, survival was all that mattered. She was one brave woman. It surely makes me feel a bit different towards birthing in a cozy hospital room surrounded by healthcare professionals. And health insurance. And Pandora playing spa sounds. What luxury.

Even less major parts of pregnancy – like morning sickness – could be a huge complication for someone so isolated from medical care. I am so thankful there was a medicine that could help me take the edge off of my nausea, but what if there hadn’t been? I probably would not have eaten for a month and a half. When severe morning sickness hits these women and there isn’t much food around in the first place, they are really in danger of starvation.

Guatemala + The United States

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In Guatemala, abortion is illegal, even for rape and incest. The film follows the story of one woman who had been hemorrhaging for THREE DAYS before going to the hospital. Once there, the doctors discovered perforations to her fallopian tubes (that would be plural) that were likely caused by a home abortion. Even on the verge of death, the woman was reluctant to admit how this happened.

I can’t even imagine sticking something inside of me to do that kind of damage. But if you think about how horrible the pain must be, remember the women are choosing this option instead of having the child – which – in their eyes, in the context of their lives – must be worse. In these impoverished situations, women don’t necessarily have birth control pills that fail or perhaps even the power to say no to their husbands. Either choice has life-changing consequences.

One of the issues brought up in the movie is what would happen in any country if abortion was illegalized. Last year, 92 anti-choice measures were passed into law across the United States. [Source] If our country turns away from a pro-choice climate, would women will start making dangerous medical decisions to take matters into their own hands like the Guatemalan woman did? It’s easy to suggest they just have the baby and give it up for adoption, but that choice is much more complicated than it sounds. Every situation has unique circumstances. A sticky debate, for sure.

The film also interviewed a clinic that assists women who don’t have health insurance. The cost of a doctor (hospital not included) is $2-4,000, and hospital births can run upwards of $20,000. Sure some of these women could have midwife homebirths in their houses, but what about the ones with complications? Where do they turn? The film states that one in five women in this country has no health insurance. I remember a few years ago when I first got private insurance when I went back to school and I realized it did not include a lick of maternity care (which was sold a la carte). While we didn’t have plans to get pregnant, unplanned pregnancies do happen with all forms of birth control. Imagine if you did get pregnant without insurance and then had a very high risk birth – like triplets that required a c-section. The cost to those who already have little is more than overwhelming. Unfortunately, when faced with the high medical bills, women without insurance are often just not getting the prenatal care they need, which puts both their babies and themselves at risk for serious health situations.

Bangladesh

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The final story was that of Monica, a woman living in a slum in Bangladesh. She shared sentiments that she was embarrassed to go to a hospital and that most women hid in their homes to hopefully have a quick and quiet labor. She also had experienced three years of infertility that was an embarrassment to both her and her husband in their culture. Shame is put on the woman if conception doesn’t happen, and she said her husband might have left her to pursue a more fertile woman (even though it could have been a problem on his end!) When Monica does go into labor, she chooses not to call the midwife support team that is there to assist women who don’t have any medical help. After some scary bleeding, she ends up going to the hospital, at 2am, after hailing down some kind of taxi in the middle of the night. Like Janet’s story, it’s easy to forget that if you live in a slum you probably don’t have a phone to call 911, a car to drive you there or money for a cab. All major barriers to simply get from one place to another. Monica does have a healthy baby and the next day she is back at home carrying on. I couldn’t help but wonder about post-partum practices – was she wearing a “pad” of sorts? Did she tear and have stitches or was the tear expected to heal on its own? Did she have the means to properly treat herself to heal? My guess… probably not.

Missing Pieces

While I understand that the purpose of this film was to show high-risk pregnancies, I wish there had been some attention given to normal births and how they are handled within each culture. I was surprised that Janet’s village didn’t have a woman experienced in childbirth to help her. Maybe it did and Janet just knew her complications went beyond that of the woman’s capabilities. Maybe the village was just too small. My impression of how womankind has handled childbirth throughout the ages is that sisters, mothers and midwives all came to help a woman in labor, but it seemed that Janet was all alone. I had lots of questions about her circumstances that went unanswered – and about births that weren’t in medical trouble.

At the end of the film, they touched on a clinic (I think in Peru) that had a very high maternal mortality rate that had been cut in half thanks to some new practices and education. I would have liked to hear more in the end of the film about education and change and what has worked to help reduce complications and mortality. The film does shadow a doctor, Linda Valencia, MD, who works for Planned Parenthood Guatemala and is working hard to make changes in her country.

I really enjoyed this film as a contrasting perspective to the home birth movement in the US. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with homebirths, nor do I think our hospital system is anywhere near ideal, it’s still an ironic situation. Childbirth is very normal and natural – except when it’s not.

Read more at Everymothercounts.org.

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25 Weeks: Saturday Snapshots

My uterus is supposedly the size of a soccer ball now.

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That is HUGE! Do you believe it?

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Mother’s Day gift from my mom!! Love it!!

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As the librarian of the family, she is also filling his bookshelves. In honor of the late Maurice Sendak.

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Little books for little boys

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These two are new too!

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Lastly, new sheets from Target for the bed!! $14.95 and such a cute print!

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1 week till 26!!

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