A Birth Story: Meet Logan.

I love reading stories of labour & delivery. Here’s Logan’s, our fourth baby. You can read about our 3rd baby’s water birth in England here.


Pregnancy: I Finally Got a Plan

When I moved from the UK to the US during my second trimester of pregnancy, I was totally lost about what kind of birth experience I wanted. We opted for a traditional US approach and went with OB led care.  There were no practical options for midwives- they were already committed to their maximum number of patients for July.

Through readers on the blog, I found two hospitals in the Dallas Fort Worth area that offer nitrous oxide, my first preference for pain management. Both were 45 minutes from our house, and we decided proximity and practicality trumped gas and air.  My friend recommended a doctor 10 minutes from home, and I went with her.

My doctor is very traditional. I had trouble readjusting from the UK model- where birth is a natural and beautiful process not to be interfered with unless absolutely essential. I am a huge advocate for merging the art and science of birth. There are so many labs and checks and sonograms in the US by comparrison. You can read more of my thoughts on the differences between the two models here. 

Baby is Breech

At 36 weeks, the ultrasound revealed baby was in the 4% of babies who are breech. Unless I was willing to try an external cephalic version (ECV) or he flipped in the next week, my doctor said I would need a c-section. An ECV is a procedure involving two obstetricians physically rotating baby in a procedure at the hospital.  An epidural is placed for pain management, and also in case baby or Mom become distressed. In that instance, the version escalates to an emergency c-section.

I cried. Also that week, my toddler hurt her leg. The x-ray came back negative for a fracture, but she wasn’t tolerating any weight bearing. She needed me to carry her everywhere. I couldn’t imagine the recovery from a C-section. I was already exhausted and wasn’t sure if my toddler needed serious intervention or just time and rest.

Flipping Baby

The external cephalic version has a high success rate, but it is expensive and isn’t without risk. I researched less invasive options- chiropractic care, hypnosis, acupuncture, and a website devoted to positioning techniques to entice baby to flip.

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I got busy. I found a chiropractor who specialises in the Webster technique. I nicknamed him “Dr. Fip.” He touts a 70% success rate. His magical remedies involve chiropractic pelvic adjustments multiple times per week combined with physical therapy and home exercise.  Essentially at every available moment, I was somehow lunging or hanging upside down. I spent a week doing headstands, hanging off the couch, lying backwards down slides at the park and doing handstands at the community pool.

The neighbourhood kids applauded these handstands while their parents gave me the side eye. I’m sure it was a sight to see with my cankles up in the air. I must admit, my handstand is pretty darn good- especially considering the circumstances. Years of gymnastics came in handy.

I was relieved when my 37 week ultrasound revealed he was head down, and at 38 weeks, he had stayed down. I was 3.5 cm dilated and 50% effaced. My doctor suspected I wouldn’t make it to my due date.

What specifically made the baby flip? I have no idea, but James swears it was his summoning, “Come down here little guy!”

My Birth Plan A

I told my doctor my preference to labour at home and come in at the very last minute for her to catch the baby. She was hesitant, much preferring an induction. I gave my reasons- if I was going to be going drug free, I wanted to have maximum freedom to labour in the comfort of my home, eat and drink, and stay calm. My doctor was worried she would miss the whole shebang. She reminded me how likely I was to have a fast delivery.

My plan had to change when labs revealed I was GBS+. Group B Strep is harmless to mothers, but can be very dangerous for baby. It has a meningitis like presentation. Two doses of IV antibiotics are administered four hours apart during labour to minimise risk of transmission. I was disappointed, but stayed optimistic. I took a class on labour and delivery at the hospital to have a better expectation of the US non-medicated birth experience, and found out that as I expected, the hospital didn’t have much insight or passion for the natural birth process, but I enjoyed the class. Our bodies are incredible.

Thankfully, my toddler had started using her leg again.

The BIG Day

The morning after my 38 week appointment, the kids and I went to the lake. I didn’t recognise it as labour. It didn’t feel like labour. My back just hurt. I huddled in quadruped in the sand and murky water and watched the kids build sand castles. I suspected something was different because as adamant as I had been about natural labour, at that moment, I was fantasising about a c-section.

I just wanted the baby out of my body.

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When the back pain didn’t stop at 4:30 pm, I finally called the doctor. “Back labour” she suggested. “Come to labour and delivery.”

I was annoyed. The last thing I wanted to do was to sound the alarms, arrange grandparents, pack the bags and get to the hospital only to be sent back, sans baby. I begged for an office evaluation instead, but both my doctor and her partner were already at the hospital. I’m only 38.1 weeks, I kept telling myself. I can’t be in labour, plus there wasn’t any detectable pattern of contractions. It just hurt constantly. As the back pain grew stronger, I finally relented. My baby needed 2 dosages of antibiotics four hours apart, so if my doctor was right and this was labour, I needed to be admitted.

At the Hospital

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My mom drove my husband and I to the hospital. I stayed outside in the parking lot stepping on the curb with one foot and off the curb with the other, trying to get baby boy to rotate and relieve my back pain. Passersby wished me luck. I nodded. I’m sure I looked drunk walking on that curb. I kept telling my mom and husband, as soon as I go in there, I can’t eat, drink or leave. I wanted to make sure I was ready for “hospital prison” as I call it. You give up control when you are a patient. I refused the hospital gown. “I’m not sick,” I remarked. I wished I was in a birthing centre with a pool and gas and air, but I was thankful to see my doctor.

Plan B. Back Labour

My plan was no medical interventions, but back labour is something else. Essentially baby’s faces the front instead of the back, creating significant pressure from his skull on your pelvis. They gave me some IV pain meds which made me crazy- telling all kinds of stories and feeling very drunk. I dilated from a 3.5 to a 5 in one hour.

My doctor asked if she could break my water. Did I want a fast and furious or slow and drawn out labour? I picked the faster option- I couldn’t tolerate the back pain much longer. When my water broke, the contractions went full force ahead coming every two minutes just as the high from the drugs subsided. Baby repositioned and the back pain lessened.

We all laughed in the breaks between contractions. I danced through each contraction while eating popsicles.  I tried to convince the security guard that the nurses told me he was going to deliver the baby, and whistled to keep my breathing steady. When the contractions got really bad especially in my back, I crawled down the hospital corridor to the horror of my sweet nurse who kept trying to get me back on my feet. This was effective though. It helped rotate baby.

The nurse estimated only 1% of patients do a natural delivery in this hospital. They aren’t really prepared or set up for labouring mothers without drugs. I could tell my nurse didn’t have much experience with a patient in my kind of pain, but we had fun.

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Begging for an Epidural

I crawled into the shower. I thought I was going to bust open at the seams, so I started begging for an epidural. I didn’t want my breathing to get out of sync, so I just sang my request. “Doctor, they told me I could change my mind!” and “SOMEONE get me the anestesiologist now.” I joked with my doctor. She tried to convince me that the epidural and an induction would make for a much smoother ride, and I was pretty adamant for the last month that I wanted a beautiful natural labour. 

This didn’t feel beautiful or natural at all.

“You are just trying to punish me for all the grief I gave you about this natural labour, aren’t you?” I asked her. She told me I would be disappointed, and didn’t call for the anaesthesiologist. She affirmed me. “You can do this.”

Then she went and took a nap.

I didn’t count on the back pain. Contractions are brutal, but with the back labour which came back (no pun intended), there wasn’t a break in between to regroup.

Pushing + Delivery

The contractions kept going. My mom prayed. My husband prayed. I sang and sang and sang. Mostly to Jesus- songs of hope, songs of power, songs of claiming our dependance upon God. I sang LOUDLY. I mean soooo LOUDLY.

James says everyone thought I was a good singer. That makes me laugh. What else are they going to say?

I wonder what the other mamas down the hall thought as they tried to rest. I think I made them really glad they had an epidural, and I bet they wished I had one too.

They gave me something in an IV for pain. It might as well have been saline. I put an eye mask over my face and just pushed down when I felt pressure. I told the nurse to grab the doctor and quick.

I pushed as I sang and baby was out. A voice in the room called out, “11:26 pm.” We had arrived at the hospital at around 5:45 pm, so although it was agony, it didn’t last long.

I had my eye mask on, but I could see the whole thing happening. I could see the ring of fire, the baby crowning, the head being delivered, the shoulders, the purple colour of my baby. I saw it all.

That night, I kept wondering if what I visualised was just a memory from a video I saw in class or on YouTube, but the angle I saw it at would have been impossible to record. Is this a thing mothers experience?

I didn’t know my mom recorded the delivery.  When I watched the video, I had already seen the birth happen (in my mind), but this was an entirely new perspective. Other than the angle, it matched my visualisation in my head 100%.  Isn’t that strange/weird/amazing/odd/powerful?

I would be so interested to hear from anyone else with this experience.

Delivering the Placenta

When he came out, I couldn’t even look. It felt like glass had exploded between my legs. The baby didn’t cry right away.  To make it worse, my placenta wasn’t delivering and minutes were ticking by. I heard them shout out the baby’s weight, 7 lbs 12 oz. I asked nervously what the Apgar score was. 7/10. That didn’t surprise me. I could tell from his colour (in my mind’s eye) and the weaker cry.  I was thankful it wasn’t less.

It was agony as the doctor tried to massage the placenta from my uterine wall. I begged her to stop. I pleaded for her to let James do it instead. I cried for pain meds. I made James promise to buy me a boat for a push gift. He promised me one, then added, “from Toys ‘R Us.”

I’m still waiting for it.

I feel like I started to really panic. In my head, I was losing it. From the video, I was a lot calmer externally than I was on the inside- I just kept asking the doctor to pull the glass or the needles out. She promised she wasn’t even touching me.

The atmosphere started to shift a bit. The doctor told me pretty sternly, “You have ten minutes left to deliver this placenta, otherwise you are going to surgery.” She pushed and tugged on my stomach and it felt like murder. She told me I had to relax. She mentioned bleeding to death for the second time. I squeezed the hand of the nurse on the left and James on the right and relaxed so the doctor could push. My baby started crying stronger. It felt like an hour. Eventually, the placenta came out and everyone breathed again.

Love at First Sight

I reached up, still with my eye mask on to touch my baby being held by James. I slowly took my mask off and greeted my little bundle of absolute perfection. He looked just like his brother and sister.

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I’ve said this with all four of our children. It’s like they have always been here. I can’t remember what life was like before Logan. He has grown my heart a million sizes already. Welcome to our family, little person. We do adventure here, and you are loved.

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Reverse Culture Shock

Experts say no matter how long you have been gone or where you went, moving back to your home country is unexpectedly difficult. My British husband, James talked about his reverse culture shock when we moved to England after being in the USA. He never settled back into British life.  People sympathetically ask how he is adjusting to Texas after leaving “home” a second time. James didn’t miss a beat. I think it helps that he has a career that organises his time and schedule for him. It also gives him an instantaneous network of people- even though he home offices- so he has less time to fill, and less decisions to make.

Meanwhile, I feel a bit lost. As a stay at home mom, particularly during the summer, it is up to me to figure out our day, how we spend our time, what we buy,  what we eat, and who we hang out with. I am beginning to see the difficulty of repatriation, although it is hard to put into words what is missing and different. Is it me? Is it America? What specifically is making it challenging to feel ‘at home’ again?

I could mention all the things I do love about America. The list is long. I’m glad to be back, but miss my friends in England, the depth of the culture, the landscape, our routine, and knowing which products to buy, what a good price was for produce, and where to spend weekends. I had a niche in England, too. I was “the Texan.” People always had something to ask me about- and I could get away with things my English friends said they couldn’t- like bartering or asking for upgrades at theatres.

Moving back, I’m now a parent to older children, just far enough away from my old neighbourhood and friends, and just changed enough in myself that I have refigure out almost everything.  I feel like I “should know” how to operate, but feel a bit alien. I feel clueless about how the school system works, even though I’m a product of it. When I saw a police officer with a gun at the elementary school, I made a seriously awkward shocked comment about it.  I only remember seeing an armed guard or police officer in England on very rare occasions.

I find myself sitting at long red lights where I could make a right as long as it’s clear, being shocked by sales clerks who are overly helpful, awestruck at the size of houses, people, cars, and portion sizes. I can’t revert back to using the word “restroom” and automatically request the “loo” or more awkwardly, “the toilet.” I picked up a weird inflection in my accent, but the kids are rapidly losing theirs. We’ve held onto words for Meredith like “dummy” for pacifier and “nappy,” but even she is using the American ‘diaper’ more regularly. My 7 year old drew me a picture and I was surprised that she wrote “Dear Mum” because I think she says “mom” most of the time.  I’ll ask how many pounds something costs and prefer weather updates in degrees Celsius. I’m still on the Facebook pages for my old community, and find myself scanning them looking at things people are selling or people posting about missing pets.

My son ran into our bedroom in tears because of the raining and “yellow banging” and I found myself scared for my life at the thunderstorm just this weekend. I had forgotten how intense the thunder and lightening can be. The poor kids didn’t even know what it was.

My dreams are weird amalgamations of American places with English loved ones and very frequently, I wake up expecting to be in my old house. I despise how readily medication is given out by doctors- even though I felt the UK national health service was slow to intervene when it was necessary.

I am sad that the range of diversity is so much more narrow than England. I can’t even say I miss the English, because most of my friends came from around the world. I used to joke at my friends’ coffee mornings that we basically made up the United Nations. I’m sad my kids (and I) won’t be exposed to as many cultures.

I miss walking to the grocery store and going almost everyday. I miss my daily loaf of fresh bread- buying baguettes even though the packaging was too short and the end of it touched the basket and the conveyor belt. I was accustomed to a slower pace of life and one of less competition and expectation and options. Sometimes I’m paralysed by too much choice. There are 368 restaurants in my city alone. Buying peanut butter is exhausting. I have to shop at Aldi in America. I cannot yet cope with the numerous options at your typical grocery store. Living in such a consumer country- with drive-thru pharmacies, dry cleaners and banks,  pay-at-the pump petrol stations- where every store stays open until 9 pm Monday-Saturday and 7 pm on Sunday is so convenient, but hard to get my head around again.

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I find it crazy the amount of organised sports for four year olds and how happy and positive Americans are in general. It’s like everybody drank happy juice. I missed that when I lived in England, and now I’m puzzled by it in Texas.

I always said in England that the English don’t notice one another, and I’m constantly thrown by how much Texans notice and respond to you. I’m not invisible anymore. It sometimes takes my breath away. I had forgotten how connected you can feel with strangers everywhere you go- I used to be the one putting forth the effort to make connection happen. I used to play a game to see how many people I could get to make eye contact and smile at me. It was hard work.

America is a whole different place. People hold doors, compliment your parenting, engage your children, offer you their unused coupons, recommend a product to make your life easier– all without asking or wanting something in return. England is such a culture of fear and suspicion. I have been surprised by how much that penetrated into my psyche. The niceness catches me off guard a bit. My daughter asked me, “How do we know ALL these people mom?!” When I told her they were polite strangers, she glared, “It’s very creepy, don’t you think?” We just aren’t used to it yet.

I adjusted well in England. My husband always said it was a 3 year move for our family, but I kept meeting expat after expat, who intended to be in England for a brief period of time, but as life goes, settled and didn’t leave- 10, 20, and 30 years later. I didn’t want to half live in England. I insisted we sell our house, our cars, everything in America to commit to living in one place. As it turns out, my husband was right- we moved back to Texas after 2.5 years, and with less than 2 months of real notice.

Having to sort out the logistics of downsizing to 7 suitcases while pregnant and still parenting 3 young children and organising all of our new life from abroad- I haven’t had much time still to process the change in my head. I am having trouble buying things “for real” because it all still feels so temporary. Seven houses in 9 years will do that for you, I guess. I still feel like I’m in this transient space. Not really here nor there.

I didn’t want to half live in England, and I don’t want to half live in Frisco. I think I’m a bit emotionally and physically drained from the transition- and making friends, making a home and making breakfast, lunch, and dinner takes a lot of energy– and I suppose, making a baby. I’m going to have to put the same level of energy into making this home as I did England- accepting everything for what is and not for what it isn’t, and establishing the culture of our family regardless of our location or surroundings.

I’m still working on how and when is best to connect to old friends and family, constantly wishing the time zones weren’t so different. I’m thankful for FaceTime, WhatsApp, and Facebook. I guess, I’m thankful for the opportunity to have lived in two great places. I need to give myself permission to miss the old and welcome the new- to give myself time to find my groove again and be patient as things settle.

It’s 30 days until baby #4 comes. That feels almost too big to think about right now. On top of it all, I’m going to be nursing a newborn and lacking sleep. And yet, in the next breath, we have had so much transition and so many kids, what is one more?

We are slowly getting furniture in the house. Most of the downstairs is empty, but the kids rooms are getting there. Baby’s room is missing some details, like curtains and a crib skirt. There are a few blank spaces for shelves and photos, but I’m happy he has a place to sleep. The giraffe picture makes me ridiculously happy and set the inspiration for the whole room. I just love him.

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America: Patriotism or Bravado?

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I’m glad to be back in America. I appreciate aspects of America like never before- especially the personal liberties. However, have you ever gone on vacation and come back home to something you lived with for years that sticks out majorly when you return? That’s what repatriation has felt like.  I’m seeing America with fresh eyes and a new perspective, and in some ways, I’m grossed out.

Notes on Patriotism

In England, vigorous support for one’s country was highjacked by intoxicated football fans who plastered St. George cross flags at games. In conversations with the English, many feel that displaying national symbols highlights them as racist. That is problematic and sad. England lacks a cultural identity which the Brexit move partially brought to light. People want a sense of unity back that has been dissolved by open borders and accommodating other cultures who did not offer reciprocity in return.

Brexit will not evoke patriotism.  The English would do better to invite the cultures who now live there to express a new unified spirit of collectiveness and integration, redefining Britain, rather than trying to return to a less multi-cultural land. As long as it is an “us vs. them” kind of spirit, the country’s potential will be limited. Visit London and you can go down streets that are 100% populated by occupants of one country or another. These people are very proud of their heritage and celebrate openly- flying flags, hosting cultural events, dressing and eating in line with their home country’s traditions. Meanwhile, the English are quietly and politely proud, as being “English” is becoming less and less definable.

Now back in the USA,  I was shocked by just how much national paraphernalia and symbolism there is by contrast. I would guess that 90% of my friends own an American themed outfit- particularly for this time of year. (I always did!) I don’t know any other place where that would be true. America loves showing that they love America. For Americans, it feels like a civic duty to display American flags- they are literally plastered everywhere. I checked out an entire CD of kids’ songs celebrating our heritage. We teach our children to be proud of America. Children as young as five pledge allegiance to the flag everyday at school. That never struck me as odd until I moved back. But I think that’s intense and very weird. Everyday? Really? 

(Please note the fans to make the flags wave in the store)

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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

When I look at the US,  I can’t imagine donning those statue of liberty emoticon earrings right now. We have too much work to do, folks. In the pledge I recited everyday as a child, America is “One nation, indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

“One Nation:  with Liberty and Justice for All”

The headlines don’t reflect those values. I’m not seeing much submission to God or justice for all. I’m seeing division between political parties, neighbours, and racial tension. The white part of red, white and blue still creates first and second class citizens.  We actually have a movement called, “Black Lives Matter.” It still has to be said.   Teenagers are killing themselves because of bullying, family systems aren’t broken because without commitment, they were fractured from the start. And justice for all? People with money, notoriety and privilege are disproportionately protected under the law.  We are seeing this play out over and over. I am embarrassed and dissatisfied. 

I am passionate about America’s values. It just seems we aren’t collectively holding up to those ideals. Instead, we compare American strengths with the weaknesses of other countries and celebrate that victory. I don’t want to win just by comparison to other countries.  I want to resemble the ideals in the pledge and defining documents.

“Under God”

As a country, we continually move away from a standard of morality that defines right and wrong, and then are surprised by the results- violence, infidelity, immorality, and deteriorating mental health. The beauty of a country that touts to be “under God” is that religion has the unique ability to create a sense of external accountability, establish a moral code, and provide a platform of culture that can be shared in community.  So religious persons, live up to your convictions, or drop the label of your faith. Americans, seek justice, opportunity, and freedom for all or consider taking down the flag if that doesn’t describe you. Let’s continually create a culture worthy of celebrating.

I do believe the United States of America is the greatest country in the world, but I believe it is still a far cry from where we think we are. We have hurting neighbours.

Let’s rectify that.

I’ll start with me.

Ironically, I’m off to a firework show to celebrate independence from England. This puts me in a weird spot.

This sign- ((face palm!))

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SUMMER!! / (bummer)

We have had an exciting last few weeks of school- Field Day, end of school parties, awards assemblies, and less homework. I’ve been counting down the days, and today we made it!  We got a bit excited and didn’t set an alarm last night. Thankfully, it was pyjama day, and luckily, Scarlett woke up 12 minutes before we needed to be out the door, so we still made it on time.  Zero tardies for this year. Celebrate!

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Field Day, 2017

Today was perfect. I was so happy all day that Scarlett gets to be home during her good hours. I hate how school gets her best. I get the sluggish mornings and the tired evenings.  So when I picked her up today, I felt like Olaf in the carpool line. I rolled down the windows and started shouting excitedly,

“We are driving to SUMMER! SUMMER here we come!”

Remember that feeling of the last day of school? I felt it rush back to me just like when I was 10. I’m footloose and fancy free.  I can stop the treadmill of packing lunches, homework, and carpool lines. I congratulated myself on transitioning Scarlett from English to American schools, moving houses, and making it to the finish line of first grade.

Wahoo, Summer! More lazy days by the pool.

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We got home, and all three kids played absolutely beautifully together upstairs while I cooked for our first dinner guests at our new house. My kids made blanket castles upstairs, breaking out in roars of laughter. I felt the warm glow of nostalgia remembering my three brothers as a child.  I smiled. THIS is what being a kid is all about. But reality came crashing down. It sounded like glass shattering.

Because it was.

Meredith dropped my cup of ice water all over the floor. Meanwhile Evan and Scarlett started having an altercation over Evan smelling her smelly marker. After sorting that out, Evan tripped down the stairs, landing head first saved by his wrists. Please don’t let that be distal radius fracture, I prayed. But first, I have to shush him up as quickly as I can so my husband’s conference call stays professional.  Keeping the home office a good working environment is a juggling act I’m pretty good at with two kids. Next month, I’m going to have FOUR  kids at home arguing, playing, getting hurt and breaking things. I just picture myself as homegirl from the BBC. Oh my.

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Fifteen minutes later, Evan’s recovered,  the kitchen floor was swept and mopped, the marker is returned safely to it’s secret location. They are back happily playing. Ahh- summer bliss again. Evan’s scream interrupts my solitutde.

“SHE DRANK THE SOAP! MEREDITH DRANK THE SOAP!”

I look at the packaging: If swallowed, seek medical attention immediately. Pulling out my phone to call poison control, I seek council from my most reliable, trusted advisor first. Trying to remain calm, I ask nervously, “How many days until August 21st?”

Siri answered back, “It is eighty days until August 21st.”

80 days until school starts again.

Oh Summer.

Wish me luck, friends.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s No Place Like Home.

It feels great to be home. We closed on the house and move-in went spectacularly. We are pretty well unpacked and set up with the essentials- meaning kitchen stuff, toilet paper and beds. Thankfully, the only boxes lying around are the ones repurposed by the kids as pretend cat crates and royal castles- covered in chalk, crayons, and stickers. I think I’m going to order large items online so the kids have a steady supply of fresh cardboard. It’s a hot commodity around here.

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A special shout out to our realtor Kathryn Taylor at Halliday Realtors. She is truly remarkable, classy, and professional. We had a blast working with her.

In other news . . .

We found a couch. Holy smokes Batman, I thought we would never find one. James & I previewed 200+ couches trying to decide on the perfect seat. Too firm, too soft, too deep, too modern, too grandma, too pricey, poor quality, wrong texture, bad colour, arms too square, arms too short- you name it, we had a reason to nix it.

James looked at me hopelessly, “We are never going to agree on a couch.”

We looked into custom order sofas. Ethan Allen tried to convince us that waiting 60-90 days for a couch was nothing compared to the years of enjoyment it would bring us. I showed the designer this picture of my living room:

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I’m really sure I don’t want to be nine months pregnant or nursing a newborn and still be sitting on the floor-  even for the perfectly upholstered piece. Right?

(65 days until baby #4 is due. I have a feeling time is going to go by really fast.)

We found the sofa at Ashley’s furniture store, but we initially walked into Ashley’s furniture for one reason only. I had been there the week before, but nothing sparked joy expect the complimentary cookies. Delicious. But our eyes immediately sparkled when we saw this couch.  James and I saw it, looked at each other, and knew. We found the one. But first, I informed him, “I want that cookie.” Excited to have this bad boy in our living room within a fortnight. And we ordered a bed that comes this week, too!

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One reason, we are a bit behind on the furniture shopping (other than free coffee and cookies) is the massage chairs we keep finding ourselves sitting in at the stores. Wow. Those puppies are incredible. The pictures are terrible because neither of us wanted to get out of the chair to take a decent shot.

Oh my soul, I love these things.

We found a desk, but of course, it wasn’t on the store floor, and James didn’t want to buy it sight unseen. So James’ home office is functional, but not pretty. The previous owner left us that chair. You see how it has some light wood showing? I wish we would have noticed it sooner.  About an hour later, it broke. The yelp James made as he crashed to the floor was loud and dramatic. So we are back to one camping chair and the folding chairs. But we are happy.

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We keep ourselves busy in the evenings constructing outlines of furniture. We do this for two reasons. #1 We don’t own a tape measure and keep forgetting to purchase one, and #2 I have absolutely no spatial skills- so we paperclip strips of paper together and move them around the room to figure out where stuff should go and how it will fit together.

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It’s very helpful, but you should hear me fuss at the kids, “DON’T STEP ON THE COUCH!” They just look at me like I’ve lost my mind. Partially, that’s true.

There is so much to figure out; so many decisions to make. To add to the list, we started seriously shopping for the second vehicle. But mostly, I’m glad to be here-

There’s no place like home.

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