Taming my inner mama bear- why jumping in might not always be the best solution

So it happened, earlier than expected but, it happened. At play group last week my 15 month old daughter was intentionally pushed to the ground when she tried to play with an older child who wasn’t in the mood to share that day.

My heart just about broke into a million pieces. I watched in disbelief as this unknown to me child put her hands on my baby and forcefully pushed her to the ground. I stood there dumbfounded and processed what had just happened. I mean, I somehow thought that I’d have at least a few more years before I’d have to deal with this sort of thing – she’s still a baby for crying out loud.

My reaction was probably pretty typical. I ran over, picked up my kid and comforted her because that was what my momma instincts told me to do. (To be fair, although shocked by what had happened Margs wasn’t hurt, crying or otherwise upset) I watched the other child simply continue playing with really no awareness of what had just happened.

 

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I spent the rest of the day pretty upset. I was sad that Margs had been excluded. I was angry that she was put in a situation where she was vulnerable and defenseless. I was infuriated that another child took my daughters agency away and may have potentially showed my daughter that physical displays of aggression are okay when things don’t go your way.

Then I realized my kid wasn’t even upset by it and I realized that all I want for this little girl is for her to be comfortable in her own skin, set boundaries and not let this sort of stuff upset her the way it upsets me.

This was about me and not herIt’s 100% about my insecurities about dealing with these types of situations and my own feelings of inadequacy when it comes to parenting.

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Mer and I had a long long long discussion that night about how we’re going to deal with these types of situations. Sure, she’s small right now but soon enough (sooner than we’re probably comfortable with) our little girl will come home upset because of something similar – what then? Do we jump in and help her “deal” with the issue, do we leave her to her own devices to figure it our for herself? What is the right approach? What method will help her foster independence, boundaries and self love?

As we discussed it our attitude changed from helping her deal (mediating the issue) to taking a very very passive and supportive role. Although Margs will have to proverbially trip and fall a few hundred times before she figures it out – neither of us truly feels like it’s our place to get involved in issues between children (we’re looking ahead here to when she’s old enough to understand these types of situations for herself). It is not my job to find out why, it’s also not my job to scold someone else’s child for behaviors I perceive as inappropriate, it’s not my job to resolve these types of issues – it’s between the children.  My job is to make sure my kid is equipped with communication skills, empathy and the confidence to deal with these situations herself. Sure, they may not always go her way – but my job is to make sure she’s as equipped as possible to deal with whatever is handed to her and not to solve it for her.

But bullying said Mer. What are we gonna do if she gets bullied? Just stay out of it?

Of course not I responded! If her safety whether that be emotional or physical is threatened to a degree that she is unable to manage with her communication skills then clearly we’d get involved – my goal is to raise her to be a strong, confident little girl who will come to me to discuss what is going on. I’d like to think that I’m raising her to be aware of her needs, to acknowledge what makes her uncomfortable and to admit when she needs help.

In retrospect, I’m not sure if I handled the situation correctly. At only 15 months old my instinct was to run to her and comfort her. Yet, I question if she really needed to be comforted or if my instincts were somehow to make me feel better about the situation. Parenting is hard. Decisions even harder – we often have to react in the moment and are then left to question if we made the right decision.

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How do you handle these types of situations?

 

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Highs & Lows – Week of February 20th

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This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission (~4%) if you make a purchase using the links to any of the products mentioned below.


Morning!

I can’t believe it’s time for another installment of Friday Highs and Lows. If you want to read the previous weeks you can go here and here.

Highs

Building up my consignment store cash flow! With the weather warming up I realized that it was time to top up our consignment cash flow so I could start working on creating a spring and summer wardrobe for Margs. So, I spent a few days sorting through Margs’ winter clothes and toys and ended up dropping off a bunch of things that will help cover the cost of buying her enough outfits to last us through the summer. In this haul, I brought over her Infant Car Seat (Graco Click Connect 35 if you’re curious), a V-Tech Sit to Stand Walker, a fisher price ride on toy, and 2 boxes of clothing she’s outgrown.

We found a new groomer for our pup. Our dog is the anxious type and we’ve been struggling to find a groomer that would be patient with her. After trying a few different ones we finally found a lovely lady who grooms pups from her home. Puppy had an amazing experience and didn’t want to come home! Here she is with her new “summer” haircut!

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Absolutely gorgeous weather! It’s been sunny and well above freezing all week and it’s unbelievable how a little sunshine can improve my mood and energy levels. Margs and I have been taking advantage and getting out for walks. The sun is setting later (around 5 pm) which makes the days longer and so much more cheerful. Spring is on the horizon and I couldn’t be happier! Sunday is supposed to climb up to 14 degrees!

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Lows

Margs ate laundry soap at the end of last week. My mum was here visiting and we got caught up in a conversation and the next thing we knew Margs had powdered laundry soap all over her hands, face and inside her mouth. I washed her mouth out and promptly gave her a bottle of milk. I then spent the next 45 minutes trying to get through to Poison Control and then a local emergency health line in our area. Both agreed that an ER visit wasn’t necessary and that it was unlikely she ingested enough to cause issue. I was told to watch her for any unusual symptoms but that she should be just fine. Thankfully, Margs experienced no side effects. We’re now in the process of child proofing this place – she’s so mobile and fast that we’re not taking any chances.

Basement reno costs are getting a little higher than we anticipated. I haven’t discussed much about what’s going on within this TTBH have I? When we bought this home, we knew we were going to transform the basement into a small 1 bedroom apartment for my mum. Her lease is up at the end of April and she’ll be moving in with us. Work on the basement has been slow because we have an arrangement with a contractor where we are saving on labor costs (FYI we bartered a hot tub for the labor costs of finishing our basement. Said tub came with the house and we did not want to keep it). But, because of this the process has been long and drawn out. We’re nearing the end which is wonderful but I was calculating the costs of materials and my heart sank a little. We’re about 3000$ over budget but considering we aren’t paying anything for the labor I suppose it’s still an awesome deal.

We’ve reverted to co-sleeping. I hate hate hate that we’re back here. We had made so much progress with Margs and then one night she just would not have it and exhaustion on our part took over and we put her right back into our bed. Since then, she’s refused to sleep anywhere but our bed. We’re going to keep trying but this week she’s slept in our bed more often than not. This kid seems to have some sort of sensor – the moment you try to put her down in her cot she freaks out.

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of February 20th?

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A few more things we do to save money – toddler edition

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the links to any of the products mentioned below.

Morning! How was your weekend?

Ours was quiet but we did manage to get outside and enjoy some fresh air despite this terrible cold snap we’re under. Late Friday I ended up running to my dentist because I broke a premolar almost to the gum line . Talk about karma. I’d just posted about having an emergency fund and issues popping up when you least expect it and then bam the tooth broke and I found myself sitting in the big chair getting prepped for a crown. There goes our January budget (FYI, Mer’s insurance covers 80% of preventative dental but anything restorative is at 50%. So, I’m looking at approximately 1000$ out of pocket to fix my tooth). To be fair, I knew this day would come because I’d had a temporary fix done to this tooth last March when it broke the first time. I was told it should only last approximately one month but I was able to stretch it to 8. I’ll be heading back to have a permanent crown placed at the end of January and hopefully apart from my routine cleaning (approximately 36$ after 80% insurance coverage) I wont be spending any more money at the dentist in 2017.

I’d also like to apologize to anyone subscribed to my blog who has been getting spammed by weird zero content posts. I was playing around with the theme last week and it looks like my blog somehow was sending out “temporary posts for theme detection”. I’m so sorry if your reader or inbox got spammed as a result of my indecisiveness. I’m pretty new to all this so I had no idea that you’d get alerted to all the changes I was making. Thank you to a dear reader who alerted me to the problem last Thursday! I think I’ve finally settled on a theme that works (I don’t love it but also refuse to pay money to buy a theme when there are so many perfectly acceptable free options).

So, let’s talk about saving money

If you missed my first post about how we save a couple of bucks in TTBH you can find it right here. In a nutshell, I told you guys that we buy used whenever we can, sell whatever we don’t need/use anymore, stockpile essentials, clip coupons and grow our own produce to lower our monthly and yearly costs. All these things helped us pay off $21000 in credit card debt and build up a sizeable down payment to buy our first home.

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Margs new pre-loved shoes. Shes still wears them daily.

Today, I wanted to share the methods we use to keep tabs on our spending when it comes to providing for Margs. Kids are expensive – more expensive than we ever imagined and so we took to finding frugal ways to provide for her pretty early on. Above and beyond the immediate necessities: diapers, food, clothing and medical/dental care we had to think ahead about how we’d eventually help fund her education so saving money right now is a huge priority for us. The following list is a few things that we’ve come up with that work for us and help us add to her education fund regularly without necessarily compromising her day to day life. We don’t feel that being frugal with regards to baby care is about deprivation – instead, we strongly believe that we can still provide a great lifestyle for our kiddo without spending a fortune.

Making Baby Food

You can save a ton by making your own baby food. In the early days when we were first starting experimenting with solids I’d make large batches of things like squash, sweet potato, carrots, fruit compotes and soups and blend them in a baby bullet. A blender or food processor would probably work just as well though. This Magic Bullet Baby Bullet Baby Care System was on sale last spring and I had a coupon so I couldn’t pass up the deal. Best decision ever because I made all of Margs’ food myself and ended up saving a ton.

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My lovely bullet which I ended up selling for 20$ when we no longer needed it.

My only qualm about the bullet is the lack of freezer storage options that comes with the system. The set I bought included one silicone freezer tray which simply was not enough to freeze the food I’d make. When I’d make baby food I’d make sure to make enough to last me at least a month and unfortunately the tray only accommodates 6 freezer portions at a time. At first I’d freeze, pop them out, freeze another batch and so on and so on until all the food was frozen but this became really annoying and time consuming and some batches ended up taking about 3 days to freeze. I got really lucky in early summer when I managed to stumble across 2 more silicone trays for 50 cents each at a garage sale. A Baby Bullet Storage Completer Kit is available through Amazon if you can’t score them second hand. I was beyond excited because freezing 18 at a time was going to make things far more efficient in my kitchen. Sadly 18 wasn’t even  enough and eventually I stopped using them altogether and turned to muffin tins instead. It made freezing portions far easier and it also allowed me to control each portion size as her appetite grew.

Not all diapers are priced or made equally

.. and we use this to our advantage.

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When Margs’ was first born we experimented with different diaper brands to try and find one that provided enough absorbancy at a fair price.

We figured out pretty quickly that our best bet was to go with a combo of Parent’s Choice (Walmart store brand) and Huggies Little Movers

On average, I change about 10 dirty diapers a day. Of those 10 diapers we use Parents Choice brand during the day (9ish diapers) because although far less absorbent than big brands like Huggies they do the job perfectly well. I change her so often that a day time diaper is rarely soaked and so I can hardly tell the difference that she’s not wearing a designer diaper.

Nighttime is a completely different story. In the early days, Margs would wake once or twice throughout the night for a feed which included a diaper change so using the cheaper diapers worked just fine. As she got older and started sleeping through the night and drinking more throughout the day she started producing more urine and the cheaper diapers started to fail us. We’d have blow outs and pee stained sheets night after night. That’s when we decided to buy more absorbent diapers by Huggies and use one as a night time diaper. So far, it’s working out quite well and we’ve been blow out free since making the switch.

Now for a little frugal math

Daily diaper usage costs – combination method: (0.14 x 9) + (1 x 0.24) = $1.50 per day = 547.50 yearly

Potential diaper usage costs – designer diapers only: 0.24 x 10 = $2.40 = $876 yearly

Potential savings: 876.00 -547.50 = $328.50

So, if my kiddo is in diapers until the age of 3 that’s a savings of $985.50 which is a heck of a lot of money I’d literally be throwing in the garbage.

*Note: cloth diapering is far more inexpensive and it’s by far the cheapest choice. I was just so overwhelmed with motherhood that washing poop stained diapers just wouldn’t have worked for me. Chapeau to those ladies & gents who do it though!

Clipping/Printing coupons

There are coupons available for just about any and all baby products. When we need to buy diapers, wipes, soap and formula I hunt down a coupon to save a little cash. If you’re feeding your baby any Enfamil formula product they have an awesome program where they periodically send you coupons by mail. The coupons include savings for formula in addition to Fisher Price products. I’ve actually used one of Margs’ coupons to buy a birthday gift for a friends son.

These are the websites I use the most. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a coupon for Parent’s Choice Diapers.

Money savings tip: when I use coupons and rebates I pretend that I’ve paid the original amount. I then transfer however much I’ve saved directly into our savings account. It’s never a huge amount because I’m not an extreme couponer but every little bit helps. Some months I’m able to add about 60$ of padding to our savings just by transferring out “coupon” money.

Bartering baby stuff

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My kiddo loved her jumperoo- boing, boing.

After moving, I joined a local play group where I met a wonderful woman who showed me the ins and outs of frugal motherhood. I will be forever grateful to her for suggesting I find barter buddies. Basically, I’ve found a few other moms with children Margs’ age who barter their toys with me. I met these ladies at a baby playgroup and an afternoon kiddo reading hour hosted for free by our local library. Trading toys helps keep Margs entertained because she’s basically playing with new stuff every few months and this keeps our costs next to nothing. I’ve traded a Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo for a Graco Walker and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ve also traded a few toys that she’s outgrown to a mom for a second convertible car seat (she had older children who had outgrown it.).

In addition to having barter buddies who I keep in touch with via email, I also periodically barter through online garage sales in my area or on Craigslist. Not everyone is open to an exchange but asking kindly wont hurt. I’ve been able to trade a few items this way as well. Namely, Margs’ snowsuit was obtained by trading a bunting bag she used as an infant in her carrier – again I was dealing with a mom who had an older child and an infant so the trade was mutually beneficial.

I’ve also bartered at the consignment shop. Sometimes I’ll have an item that Margs no longer needs and head over looking for something specific and ask if a trade would be accepted that day. More often than not, the owner is more than happy to trade with me assuming the exchange is fair. My latest trade was 5 warm winter footie PJs for a diaper genie that we were given but never used. This way I don’t touch my consignment balance and avoid having to wait for my items to sell to earn store credit.

Cycling her toys

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A recent photo of her toys after I'd purged out half.

Margs is easily distracted and she’s also not always easily amused. I keep her toy collection to a minimum and find that she’ll easily get bored if the rotation of toys is always the same. As a result, I cycle out her toys and keep some stashed in her closet where she doesn’t have access to them. Every couple of weeks I trade them out and they are brand new and super exciting again. This kiddo likes to keep things fresh!

I’ve also started planning ahead and bartering and swapping out toys that she no longer plays with to accumulate toys that she’ll enjoy playing with as she grows. I was on the hunt for wooden puzzles for months after seeing how incredibly pricey they were at both Toys R Us, Walmart and online. Luckily a couple weeks back one of the ladies in my barter group had a set of 5 wooden puzzles up for grabs and we came to a mutual agreement. 5 puzzles for a gift basket of Bed Bath and Beyond products I kindly received as a housewarming present from a relative but cannot use because of my sensitive skin.

So there you have it folks. This is what we’re currently doing to save and stash away a little extra cash for our little girl.

What money saving tips do you use in your house?

Ever bartered with someone to get something you needed? If so, tell me about your swap!

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10 tips to survive bed rest from a former bed-rester

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Me at 22 weeks. Day 54 of bedrest.

When Mer and I embarked on our journey to start a family way back in 2012 we never imagined where that road would take us. We naively thought that every pregnancy led to a take home baby and that pregnancy complications were rare – so rare in fact, that we’d never be affected.

Sadly, we we became a statistic and were faced with cervical incompetence, repeat pregnancy loss, a uterine septum and then some strange form of secondary infertility that was never explained.

When we finally got pregnant again in 2015 the plan was simple: cervical cerclage at 14 weeks and strict home bed rest for 23 weeks with the threat of hospitalization if I didn’t follow the rules. My doctor was intense; she was on a mission to get my rainbow here full-term and so her plan was more conservative than most.

I took 22 pills per day, held my breath and gestated horizontally for 161 days.

I took one seated shower per week for a maximum of 10 minutes. I walked only to use the washroom and ate laying down. One day when I was bored I timed myself – I spent 17 minutes on my feet over a 24 hour period. 16 steps to the bathroom and 16 steps back.

It was hard. I’ll never lie and say it was easy. However, I do think I made the best of it by keeping my eye on the prize and reminding myself what the alternative could be. I was determined not to be a statistic again.

Here are a few tips that I’ve come up with. These are things I did that really contributed to keeping me sane and in the best possible head space considering the circumstances.

1/ Stations.

Mer set up bed rest stations for me throughout the house. We lived in a one floor apartment and the distance from washroom to the bedroom, kitchen, living room, patio and nursery was virtually the same. He hunted down a couple of lawn chairs that reclined back completely. This allowed me to eat in the kitchen, spend time outdoors and spend time in the nursery.

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The change of physical space was crucial for me. It gave me the opportunity to create a routine that made my days structured which normalized my unusual situation. When on bed rest small things like eating with your family, spending time outdoors or being able to read a book somewhere other than your bed is a huge highlight in your day.

2/ Routine.

Establishing a routine was key. My days included scheduled self care, internet use, reading, outside time, television, phone time, meditation and hobbies. Without this structure I’m positive my days would have been consumed by endless amount of television making the days longer and far more unbearable.

Every day, I sponge bathed myself and got dressed in real clothes. I then had breakfast while watching the morning news.  Late morning, I’d  read or color mandalas and then have lunch. Afterwards, I’d spend a few hours outdoors on the patio before coming in to surf the internet and make phone calls. After dinner Mer and I would watch a movie or catch up on episodes of whatever television show we were watching on netflix.

I also never napped because I did not want to disturb my sleep patterns. My doctor had warned me that sleeping away the day could result in sleepless nights so I never allowed myself to nap. As a result, I never dealt with sleeping issues while on bed rest.

3/ Community.

There are a number of wonderful online communities related to conceiving, pregnancy and high risk pregnancy. I became part of a community where I could go to chat with other women who were in similar situations. It was nice to discuss my situation with other ladies who understood and it was so incredible to be encouraged and supported every step of the way. My favorite community is Then Comes Family.

4/ Vulnerability.

Some days were harder than others. With Mer away at work most days there were moments where I felt so overwhelmed by my situation that I felt I couldn’t continue. In those moments – I became vulnerable and I told anyone who would listen to me how I was feeling. It’s okay to lose it sometimes, it’s okay to cry, to be angry or to be fed up. Bed rest isn’t normal – there’s clearly some element of grief that comes with a bed rest pregnancy. Grieving the normal pregnancy I  would never have made me angry some days.

Instead of fighting it I just allowed myself to feel those emotions. Usually, I’d get a grip on the situation quickly. I’d move through the anger and frustration by reminding myself that the alternative was far worse. What worked most of the time was reminding myself how fortunate I was to be growing a healthy baby. My “funks” would usually only last a few days and then I’d be back to my usual routine.

5/ Accepting Help.

Accept help. Ask for it. Ask anyone who will be willing to lend a hand. Take it and do not feel bad about. My husband, mom, mother in law, aunt, cousin and neighbours were a blessing. When you’re on bed rest your home life is thrown upside down. Mer now had to work a full-time job, care for me and care for the household all by himself. It was a lot and he realized really quickly that he couldn’t handle it all on his own. Tell people when you need something. If you’re chatting with a friend and they mention they are going to the drug store don’t hesitate to ask them to pick up a few things for you that you need. Most people are more than willing to help if you just ask. If you’re mother in law wants to come and do laundry – let her. If your mom wants to cook your meals- let her. If your neighbor wants to bake you something or lend you books – let her. Take all the help you can get and don’t feel bad about it.

6/ Take care of yourself.

I was limited to one seated shower per week for a maximum of 10 minutes. Greasy hair basically became the norm and I just had to accept that I couldn’t do much about it. Having said that, I made it a point to sponge bathe daily. Mer would set up a large bowl of warm water with soap and a wash cloth so I could clean myself up. I found this was such an important part of my routine because it helped me feel human. Feeling dirty which is inevitable when you are not allowed to shower really takes its toll on your morale. A small 10 minute sponge bath, combing my hair, putting on makeup and real clothes really helped me feel like myself. I also always felt I looked my best (my best with greasy hair mind you) so I could welcome in last minute visitors or anyone who decided they’d pop in to spend some time with me.

7/ Eating well.

Eating well while pregnant is so important. Eating well while pregnant and on bed rest is even more important. Being bed bound means you are burning far less calories and so to keep weight gain to a minimum it’s super important to have healthy meals and snacks ready and waiting for you. Our system for food was simple – Mer would prepare snacks (fruits, veggies, cheese, yogurts) and place them in a small cooler near my bed. He’d also prepare bottles of ice water so I could stay hydrated throughout the day. You’d really be surprised by how much water you consume. Most mornings he’d load up about 60oz of ice water to sustain me throughout the day.

8/ Counting up.

When trying to get pregnant I used an app called Fertility Friend. Once pregnant I used it to to count up my days of bed rest. I really looked forward to updating my progress- every morning I upped the number and reminded myself how lucky I was to still be pregnant an extra day.

Some ladies use calendars where they mark an X, others keep track by ticking off a chart – it’s just so important to see the progress so you can remind yourself how well you’re doing and how far you’ve come.

9/ Small achievable goals.

At one of my first appointments with my doctor I told her “I don’t know how I’m going to do this”. She told me to set small goals. My first goal was passing my loss milestone, then it was passing viability. From there I worked my way up to 28 weeks (the original goal my doctor set for me), then 32 weeks and finally 37.

If you approach it any other way the burden is just too hard to handle. Keep your goals small and attainable. Take it day by day and minute by minute if you have to.

10/ Accept what is.

This one was the most important for me. I had to accept that my pregnancy was not normal. I didn’t get to experience pregnancy the same way most women do and although it was hard to accept I did. I reminded myself frequently that despite the unusual circumstances I was carrying our miracle baby. I was so fortunate to be given this chance and there was absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do to get Margs here safely. We cannot change the circumstances we are given – we cannot alter the path the universe has handed us- we cannot control the past but we can accept the future and do the absolute best we can with what we have been handed. As a result, I followed the rules. I never broke bed rest. Never. I followed my doctors rules despite my aches and pains and restlessness some days. Bringing Margs home was my number one priority and I just did what I had to do.

I wrote this post after realizing that I’ve gotten a good chunk a traffic from people googling “bed rest tips” or “surviving bed rest”. If you’re currently on bed rest and need someone to talk to please do not hesitate to reach out. I’ve lived it and I know that it is probably the most emotionally draining thing you’ll ever have to do. There’s fear, anxiety and anger all wrapped up in a journey that should otherwise be full of happiness and excitement.  I can be reached via email at thistinybluehouse@gmail.com, on instagram and even on twitter.

three hundred sixty five days

It’s the first Friday of December and one week from today my little Margs turns one. I can hardly believe that this tiny little girl is nearly 12 months old.  At this time last year I was off bed-rest and dealing with awful leg and joint pain wondering when the big day would come. 161 days was rough on my knees. For a woman who was at such high risk of pre-term delivery I shocked everyone and held out until 40 weeks. My miracle baby was born on her due date via induction. I still smirk when I think of it because I crushed the odds.  Take that cervical incompetence!

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We’re planning an intimate birthday celebration for little Margsy. Eleven people total. It feels fitting considering the nature of the pregnancy and how removed from the outside world I chose to be – I really turned inward and tried to focus my energy on being positive. The only people I really kept in contact during that time (apart from my mother) was my aunt and her children and my in-laws. They were the only people who really understood how terrified I was, how I was essentially holding my breath and hoping and praying that we’d get to take this baby home alive. It only feels right to celebrate her first year of life with the people who held me up during the most difficult journey of my life.

*sigh*

Now, enough about that because the more I type the more I remember and the more emotional I get. One day, I’ll tell you the whole story – I promise.

Like last week and the week before that and the week before that

here are the items that found loving new homes this week.

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20 or so bras & a corset from my wedding

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Hoodie. Never fit.

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22 baby bibs

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a dress.

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and another,

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and another.

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and another.

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one more.

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okay two more.

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last one.

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psyche.

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Tiny baby shoes!

Total: 0$

All these items were donated to loving new homes. I hope the lovely people who took these items home enjoy them as much as we should have!