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As baby girl’s due date gets closer I am slowly getting more and more anxious to get everything ready. Even though we have been through this before and I know that there is very little that has to get done before she arrives, it doesn’t mean I am not going to try to get it all done. Since Rob is in school and we have a toddler this time around, I decided to sit down and make a lengthy list of everything I want to accomplish. The length of the list really helped me put into perspective that even though I could have up to 7 weeks left, there is no time to dilly-dally around. I thought it would be nice to share what was on our list for any new or second times mammas who are thinking of doing the same thing.

THE HOME
A lot of people will tell you that there is no need to finish the nursery before baby arrives, especially if they will be sleeping in your room for awhile. While this is true in theory, try telling that to a nesting pregnant women and see what happens. I can’t speak for others but for me, it’s the excitement of putting everything together and seeing the final product. That makes the pregnancy very real, as if the kicks to the ribs at 2am weren’t real enough. I also like having it all done before hand because after the baby arrives things are crazy for awhile and having that unfinished feeling would just eat away at me. I don’t want to be decorating when i could be cuddling with a new squishy baby and playing with my toddler. Now that my son’s room is 98% complete (1 more project to go) we have turned our focus onto her room, which still needs a bit of work. Once the walls are painted I just need to decorate with all the items I have been collecting over the months that are waiting in her crib.

One thing that is helpful to do early on is wash and organize all the clothing you have received or purchased. Specifically the NB-3 month pieces that you will be using right away. Laundry is the last thing you will want to be doing as soon as you get home from the hospital. I also find that it takes time to figure out the best way to organize everything. This time around I have NB-6 month onesies, sleepers, and pants in drawers organized by size and outfits are hanging in the closet. The 6+ months clothes are separated into bins for the future. By selling Parker’s clothing, which I still have a lot of, I was able to buy a fantastic second-hand wardrobe for baby girl between consignment sales and online yard sales. Some of my favorite pieces are from Janie & Jack and Gap, especially since I got them for $2-$4.

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About 4 weeks before little one’s due date we are going to take a look at our registry and purchase the remaining items that we definitely need. Since this is baby #2, there isn’t all that much we need but it was still nice to create a running list and let people who asked know where we are registered. Most registries send a completion coupon for the items still on your registry a few weeks before your due date so you want to make sure to bring that along to help save a little money! Also, Buy Buy Baby will accept current Bed Bath & Beyond coupons so grab any that you can, 20% can really add up! You can’t use the 10% completion coupon and 20% coupons together but separate the transactions so you can get the 10% off any items after you run out of the 20% coupons. I know Babies R Us/Toys R Us and Target also have completion coupons.

If you are feeling really ambitions or won’t have much help after baby arrives grab some freezer meal ideas off Pinterest and spend the day preparing some meals. These meals will help tremendously when you are recovering and figuring out what life is like with a newborn. Parker would ALWAYS know it was dinner time and want to eat, making it hard for me to cook or even help prepare dinner. We plan to have about 10 meals prepared this time around to store in our chest freezer. We are also going to put together a grocery list of staple items we usually have in the house in case my parents decide to go grocery shopping while we are still in the hospital. You will also want to do an inventory of toilet paper, paper towels, tooth brushes etc and make sure to stock up on these essential items. This is very important if you will have company over those first few weeks you maybe going through everything a little quicker.

It’s is a good idea to take a look at your bills 4 weeks out from your due date and schedule any payments you have online or write any checks you need to. You can schedule online payments and date checks for the due date so the funds are not taken out too early. I did this last time and will definitely be doing it again. I addressed and stamped the checks to keep by the door (I put the mail date on the back of each envelope) and put them in the mail as needed. Any remaining I threw in the mailbox on our way to the hospital. You can also add it to a checklist that you give with your key to the friend or neighbor will be looking after the house.

BABY PREP
If you haven’t already, it’s time to start interviewing and choosing a pediatrician. If your pediatrician doesn’t have practicing rights at the hospital you deliver at, the in house pediatrician will sign off before leaving the hospital. Usually you have to have an appointment with your pediatrician already scheduled before they will sign off.  We were instructed to call from the hospital after Parker was born and they scheduled an appointment for the day after we got home. It’s a little rough leaving the house so soon, especially when recovering from a CS, but it was nice to have them meet Parker and double check that everything was good. It’s also a chance to ask some questions that come up the first day/night you are home, we had a lot!

Although schedules can be hectic in the last few weeks before baby arrives it’s a really good idea to try and go on a babymoon or at least out to dinner and movie. Babymoons are just a mini vacation before baby arrives. We were able to escape to Cripple Creek Cabins after Rob got home from deployment before Parker was born. If you don’t have time for a weekend getaway or it’s not in the budget, try scheduling a few date nights or a game night with some friends. While we have never felt constricted after becoming parents there are certainly things we enjoy doing that just aren’t regularly possible anymore. This time around we are not able to get away but have been going out for meals and catching a movie every opportunity we can.

Most hospitals, birthing centers, midwives, and even doulas offer birthing and childcare classes. We attend birthing, childcare, and breastfeeding classes that were hosted by our hospital last time. Overall, they were worth the time and gave us some basic knowledge that helped us prepare for birth and the first few weeks of parenthood. This time around our doula is coming over and providing a refresher course in addition to helping us prepare for the VBAC I am planning to have. I did find that the breastfeeding class was the least helpful because it is extremely hard to prepare for an experience that is different for every mother and child. I still think it is helpful to attend one to learn some tips and walk about with a few resources, it will be really important to have the contact information for someone to call after the baby is born to ask individual questions and possibly schedule one on one sessions.

It’s not too late to get some maternity photos taken and schedule someone to do birth photography and newborn photos. I wasn’t 100% happy with the way I looked towards the end of my pregnancy but I am so happy we had them done. The birth photography is the perfect way to help remember the experience because our bodies make us forget (so we are willing to have more!). A lot of photographers will do a discount if you book multiple sessions at once. This time around a friend is taking our maternity photos in Annapolis and newborn photos the first week. Our doula is also going to be our birth photographer. I like to look on Pinterest to collect ideas for the photographers for what poses I would like to do. This time around baby girl is gonna have a shot in her Audrey cloth diaper and a set of pearls, a Thirty-One bag, and hopefully a strawberry outfit if I can find one.

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THANK YOUS
Last time around I wanted to make something nice for all the nursers that would be helping me throughout the labor, delivery, and recovery process. I decided to make cookies and give a plate to each group along the way. I spent the day making cookies that I had planned to put in the freezer until we got closer to Parker’s due date. He had his own opinion of that and my water broke the next morning at 4:30AM. Everyone still got their cookies but they were in plastic bags instead of nicely plated with a thank you note attached. This time around I think I will either make them a few weeks earlier or plate them after making them so they are ready to go.

It’s also a good idea to get a head start on any thank you notes you will need to write in the first few weeks. I know it’s not possible to thank people ahead of time but you can make/purchase the cards. You can also purchase and label the envelopes with your return address and stamp. That way you can add a few cards to your nap-jail bag and write them when you are stuck for a few hours with nothing else to do. Everyone usually understands a new mamma has her hands full but I know I felt better if I was sending them out as I was receiving gifts. I also take photos of gifts I get when I open them to help me remember later who gave what.

THE BIRTH
It’s really helpful to have a “trial run” of what will happen when you go into labor. How to get there, where to park, and what desks you need to stop at. Most hospitals and birthing centers provide tours where you will learn that process and see a room. If you are planning a homebirth it’s a good idea to have the midwife come and walk through what room you will be using and where all of the equipment will go. It’s hard to be fully prepared when the time comes but this is one area where you can be prepared to help take a little stress off. If you live in a high volume area, you may also want to take a few test drives to see how traffic is and what alternate routes you can take. We are going to have to travel around morning and evening rush hour this time around which either means heading there and laboring in the parking lot for a while or risk not making it there on time. I know, wishful thinking for a quick labor but I would rather not need Rob to pull over and have her on the side of the road.

Ask your OB if there is paperwork you need to fill out to pre-register at the hospital or birthing center. In our case, you are suppose to complete your pre-registration 60 days before your due date. This will really help speed along the check-in process when the time comes. You also may be able to download the necessary forms to get the babies birth certificate done while in the hospital when you pre-register . Last time I filled out a form ahead of time and brought along a check. The day after Parker was born a woman came to collect both and the next day she returned with the official form for us to review and sign. A few weeks later we got his birth certificate and social security card in the mail. It was a great service and one less thing I needed to worry about in the first few weeks.

You will often hear about people writing out their birth goals, there are even a variety of books you can purchase off Amazon to help you write your list. The best tip  was  given was to keep it simple. No L&D nurse or doctor will have the time to review a 5 page document. Their job is to ensure a safe delivery for baby and mamma while keeping in mind the mother’s wishes. Some things I focus on for my birth plan is who will be allowed in the room, pain meds, preferred positions to labor in, and use of instruments to get the baby out. I make sure to discuss these goals with my OB/midwife, doula, and my husband extensively since he will be my main supporter. It’s important to remember that you will need to keep reminding the staff of your wishes as a longer labor could mean a shift change. Stay strong and don’t let anyone pressure you into a decision you are not comfortable with. One of the biggest pieces of advice I have is to keep an open mind as your birth plan may not go perfectly. The most important thing is that  you and your baby are healthy after delivery.

Since I am trying for a VBAC this time around I researched some natural induction techniques to help get this labor going as soon as my body is ready. After talking with my midwife and doula I decided to start taking Evening Primrose Oil at 36 weeks and visit an acupuncturist around 37 weeks. Iv’e been seeing a chiropractor this entire pregnancy but many women start going in their 3rd trimester for adjustments. I will also be baking cookies around 38 weeks since that worked last time! While none of these are proven to help, your body will go into labor when it’s ready, I don’t think it hurts to try. It’s also a good time to get a prenatal massage if you haven’t had one yet.

Aside from the nursery, one of my favorites things about Parker’s pregnancy was putting together the hospital bags. It really made everything seem so real and the added comfort of knowing the end was near. I shared what was in our bag and a critique afterwards of what worked, what didn’t, and what was missing. I am slowly putting together a list and plan to have almost everything packed 4 weeks out. I can’t wait to share what we are packing and how we are packing this time. I’ve learned a lot between then and now! I will also be sharing some helpful items I plan to have on hand for when we return from the hospital.

In addition to packing your hospital bags you may need to make some additional arrangements if you have pets or kids. Unfortunately, most of the time, labor is unpredictable. About 4 weeks out we plan to give some friends who live close our house key. That way they can stop by to feed the cats, check on the house, and bring in the mail if needed. As far as Parker goes, it really is just going to depend on the day and time I go into labor. We have talked with Parker’s daycare teacher, my parents, and close friends about some options so they have a heads up. We have a tentative game plan if I go into labor in the evening/middle of the night, weekend, and during the day. I have found it’s best to have a few different plans and make sure everyone who is involved has a heads up. Other than that, all you can do is wait and see what happens. Regardless, I have started putting together a document that includes emergency numbers, some of Parker’s favorite foods, his daily routine, things he shouldn’t or cannot eat, some quirks he has, and some of his favorite things to do or watch.

And for anyone who likes physical checklists, here ya go!

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