A Not About Baby Post

Here’s something refreshing: a post not entirely dedicated to our new little sunshine, bundle- of-joy, sweetheart, booger boy, Michael Ryan (who is doing spectacularly, I might add).

2014 is going to be a redemption year. Late 2012 and 2013 were sprinkled with a long list of quite expensive expenses: a new roof, an ill advised koi pond project (it is pretty cool, but…), ten days in Europe, our third visit to Dry Tortugas National Park, and birthing our first baby and paying for my healthcare out of pocket. All of this minus about seven hundred dollars was paid for in full with cash,  which I commend us for, no matter how unnecessary the spending might have been in the first place. But, as you can imagine, all this checkbook action has left us depleted, to say the least. Redemption of our original plan to live within our means, nay, below our means, is sorely needed.

It is high time to get back on track.

We are about to get super serious about paying off our mortgage. This house is perfect for one baby and might be manageable with two. A third child would send us into chaos on the home front. The fact that we will need to either build here or buy something else is clear.

I will be using this blog for its original purpose again soon, I promise, as we start this serious journey of debt destruction.

Creatively titled series coming soon.

 

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What You Really Need to Keep a Baby Alive

I’m still working on our birth story. The writer in me wants it to perfectly portray the truly amazing experience that was our son’s birth and so it has been a slow process ripe with revisions. Long story short, we had a lengthy, unmediated home birth and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Michael Ryan will be six weeks old on Sunday and I finally feel like I’m physically recovering from the most strenuous thing I’ve ever done and mentally recovering from the postpartum fog. We’ve got the sweetest little babe in the world whose only newborn issue is a little projectile spit up and an aversion to me consuming dairy in even the most minuscule amounts.

Although we tried to keep our baby preparations simple and really didn’t purchase much of anything ourselves, we still managed to accumulate as bunch of baby stuff that’s been not so useful. If a bundle of joy is in your near future, here are five things you really need (assuming that you’ll be breastfeeding, cause you ought to… I’ll  jump on that soapbox in another post):

1. A Boppy Pillow (or another brand horseshoe-shaped nursing pillow)- I didn’t successfully latch MR without the use of this thing for almost a month.  Newborns are floppy. New moms are exhausted. This invention prevents head flopping and tired arms. After a few days practice, you’ll be able to nurse hands-free with the support of this pillow, facilitating the application of a little mascara or the enjoyment of a plate of spaghetti.  Baby can also easily doze in you lap between feedings. The Boppy is also great for grandmas, grandpas, and little cousins who aren’t accustomed to the strain of supporting an infant.

2. Nipple shield: I was committed to breastfeeding 100% and had prepared myself for every imaginable problem. Nevertheless, nursing my child has been ten times more difficult than twenty-one hours of natural labor. It just so happened that a friend popped one of these lifesavers into her shower gift. Lactation consultants and the like usually don’t recommend nipple shields for a variety of reasons. So far, mine has relieved me of horrific engorgement on day three and protected a cracked nipple for almost a month while it healed. MR had no issues going back to nipple au naturale and my supply didn’t suffer. It’s nice to know that if I’m terribly sore for some reason, I can always pop it back on for instant relief. Do your own research, but this thing provided a ray of hope during my darkest breastfeeding days. Nursing with a shield is better than giving up and not nursing at all, no matter what the experts say.

3.  Sleepers with snaps from neck to toe- Putting a newborn’s head through a neck hole is traumatizing for them and the nervous new mama or daddy who just changed the diaper that exploded all over his or her last outfit. Newborn gowns seemed like the smartest option and so I asked everyone for them and collected about twenty. They’re the most annoying garments imaginable and will wind up around baby’s chest in an instant.

4. An assortment of nipple butters/ creams/ salves- Up until a week or so ago, I had only used lanolin. I found a tube of lanolin-free nipple butter in my shower stash and oh my goodness, it is heaven. I should have branched out sooner. Lanolin is great for protecting cracks, but other problems will creep up on you, too. Even six weeks in. Get all the nipple ointments you can find and use them all until you find one that helps.

5. A rocking chair- No need for a custom designed glider upholstered in special ordered fabric. Beg for your grandmother’s tried and true rocker like I did or get an inexpensive but sturdy one from Cracker Barrel. The combination of back-and-forth motion and a little boob is a baby tranquilizer.

These five things alone will get you through the first six weeks of motherhood without tripping over brightly colored playmats, fighting with the buttons on tiny baby blue jeans, having reoccurring dreams that you nipple is falling off, or going broke.

image

Cost of a Home Birth

Tomorrow, I’ll pay the balance we owe our doula and Michael Ryan’s birth will be paid in full. Here’s a break-down of what a home birth cost in our particular situation:

Midwife fee (including a first time mom’s fee for extra assistants and mileage for a 72-hour home visit) $2900.00

Blood work at 12 weeks $100.00

Various supplements and herbs $100.00

Birth kit $110.00

Doula fee $500.00

Bradley Method Classes $350.00

Travel to Bradley classes (60 miles each way) $200.00 (!)

Travel to Chattanooga for prenatal visits $420.00 (!)

That comes to $4660.00. We were able to access $1900.00 from an insurance policy to pay towards the birth, making our out of pocket costs $2770.00 since February.  One cost I wasn’t expecting and didn’t calculate in the beginning was all the gas we’ve purchased while traveling to and from classes and appointments. That’s added  over $600.00.

We still may have to pay for a hotel room in Tennessee for a night or two, depending on the length of my labor.  I’ve also got at least one more major trip to Wal Mart for snacks, batteries, supplies, etc. to use during the birth. My midwife has encouraged me to visit a chiropractor several times. I haven’t yet because I’ve met none of my health insurance deductible and would be paying entirely out of pocket. If baby has any positioning issues or I begin to feel a little off kilter in the next few weeks, that might be another expense to consider. Of course, if I should require transport to the hospital for any reason, we would have a massive medical bill to attend to. That’s a factor we took into consideration when we decided to pursue midwifery care and a home birth.

An uncomplicated vaginal birth in a hospital (assuming I could make it without an epidural), would cost roughly $6000.00, depending on the hospital we chose to go to.With a C-section rate hovering close to 40% here in Alabama, the reality of a much higher medical bill for an operative delivery must also be considered. Also, these numbers do not include any prenatal care.

I include this balance not because I feel we found a bargain in home birth or because I feel that the cheaper route is better when it comes to something as important as the safe and healthy delivery of a child. I include this information because I feel that I have received much better care for a lower cost. A lower cost that my insurance company refuses to pay. From a highly trained and skilled care providers who is not allowed to practice in my home state, partly, in my opinion, because her less expensive and higher quality of services would pose competition to (literally) lawfully imposed hospital births.

In Which I Get a Bit Political…

A quick glance at Facebook and ten minutes of the morning news informed me that DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act, was overturned today. I wasn’t too concerned with this tidbit of information because I was busy gassing up my vehicle, going to the bank, and driving ninety miles to Tennessee to visit my and my unborn babe’s healthcare provider.

Gay marriage honestly isn’t too high on my soap-box priority list; however, it really fires me up that so much thought, effort, concern, argument, and enthusiasm is put into the right to file a piece of paper at the courthouse (yes, I know there’s more to it than this) when I am legally forbidden from birthing my child in my home and must drive to another state to see the healthcare provider that I and my husband have decided, after much prayer and  research, is the most competent  professional to assist me in bringing forth a healthy life into this ol’ world. It disgusts me that so many resources are being wasted on this ethical battle when I must scrounge pennies to pay for cheaper and better healthcare that the health insurance I pay for out-of-pocket refuses to cover.

Does the sacred nature of birth and importance of the bond between a mother and the life which sprung from her very body not trump a volatile relationship between two adults? If two men or two women may marry  and interact as spouses in public, why am I not allowed to give birth in the privacy of my own home?

 

Pregnancy Update: Our Michael Ryan has made the big flip and is now an upside-down baby, which is a very good thing. Hopefully he will continue to hang in there like a possum for the next few months. Today was my last monthly appointment. From now on, I’ll be headed to Chattanooga every other week. We’re getting down to the nitty gritty now!

New Food Strategy

Food is a very important aspect of my life right now. Not only because I’m hungry pretty much all of the time, but also because my food-related responsibilities are about to increase significantly. As we approach the expansion of our family, I recognize that this time marks the beginning of several decades of planning, shopping, and cooking for who knows how many people. It is paramount that I get into a routine that works for us nutritionally as well as financially while there are still just two mouths for me to feed. If I’ve learned anything over the past few of years of marriage, it is that food is the area of our lives I have most control over and, in turn, has the most influence on our health and our budget. Frankly, we allot almost as much (and often more) on food each month as we do on our mortgage. And I’m the one who spends all that money.

Lately, even with all my weekly meal planning, I’ve been spending around $100.00 at the grocery store each Thursday and an additional $30.00-$40.00 during the week on Cody’s ice cream cravings (seriously, it’s never my idea!), snacks, and eating out. That’s simply way too much. It also recently occurred to me that I’m about to be shopping with an infant. Less trips to the grocery store might be a good thing.

So, I talked to Cody and we decided to re-arrange our June and July budgets to allow for an extra-large grocery shopping trip last week. My goal was to shop for three weeks. I literally spent an entire day planning our menu, looking through sale ads, searching Pinterest for frugal recipe ideas, etc. Sadly, I’m so meticulous about my grocery shopping that I’ve memorized the prices of most of my staple items, so I was able to estimate how much I would spend at each store. I went to Aldi and, unfortunately, WalMart (their prices combined with their price match policy lured me in). I actually spent around $40.00 less than I alloted. Twenty-one days of planned breakfasts, lunches, suppers, and snacks for $260.00.

I plan on spending around $20.00 a week on milk, lettuce, and fruit. Not a huge savings once it’s all averaged out, but anything helps and it’s saving me a day of shopping each week. Hopefully, I’ll become more adept at shopping this way and will eventually be able to spend even less. In any case, it’s nice to know I’ve got plenty of butter in the freezer and a bowl full of Clif Bars and Craisens to munch on.

Between my birthday last Friday, Father’s Day over the weekend, and a basket of food brought over by my neighbor yesterday, I’ve saved several meals. We’re also getting a good bit of veggies from our garden now, so I’m relying on that for sides and supplements to our main courses. I’m hoping to stretch what I bought until July 11th.

Third Trimester Checklist

I’m a lover of lists. They cover my refrigerator, take-up blank pages in all my notebooks, and clutter my purse. List making is how I function. Now that I’m pumped up with pregnancy hormones, list making serves as an anxiety-reliever and organizational strategy, not to mention a motivator to keep busy.

On Monday I’ll be twenty-seven weeks pregnant and headed into the third and final trimester of this my first pregnancy. Somedays I feel quite prepared, knowing that a newborn baby doesn’t really need much beside his momma to be happy and healthy. Other days, I feel like I’ve accomplished basically nothing in the past seven months and must rush, rush, rush to get everything done before the Alabama August heat renders me useless for the last few weeks of roundness. On those days, I make lists.

Since I’m being financially forced to take a hiatus from graduate school (another post, another time), I feel like these last three months are going to be the best yet, no matter how large I get 🙂 My number one priority is getting ready for Michael Ryan. I’m overwhelmed with thankfulness for that.

So, here’s the master list.

Things to Buy

2 more sets of Econobums diapers

Hamper with wet bag

Snappis

1 small wet bag or large zip-lock baggies

Several button-up blouses for the beginning weeks of nursing

Nursing bras

Good toilet paper, Cottonelle wipes, etc.

Hand soap, Germ-X, Clorox wipes

Order Birth Kit

Purchase extra items for birth (wash clothes, olive oil, etc.)

Purchase 65″ exercise ball and start bouncing

Camera batteries and SD cards

Things to Pay For

Midwife fee balance: $300.00 by August 20th

Bradley Method Classes: $350.00 (check made-out, first class tomorrow night!)

Doula fee: $500.00 ($200.00 down, $300.00 by by August 27th)

Things to Make, Do, Assemble

Hang nursery prints in correct location

Hang paper blinds in nursery

Make pallet bookshelves for corner

Organize laundry area

Clean-out all kitchen cabinets

Assemble nursing basket for our bedroom (bottled water, burp clothes, creams, etc.)

Clean-out nursery chest

Wash all baby clothes

Wash and dry all diapers at least 3 times

Make padcicles

Make birth playlist

Print just-in-case pre-term labor and transfer birth plans

Pack birth bags (toiletries, clothes for me and Cody, diaper bag for baby)

Food

Stock-up on snacks (Clif Bars, LaraBars, nuts, freeze oatmeal cookie dough…)

Stock-up on staples and meat

Plan birth menu and keep all items on hand after 36 weeks

Purchase breastfeeding herbs and supplements

Make a few freezer meals

Plan some breakfast menu options for Cody

Freeze and can garden produce

I recently read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (and it calmed my nerves tremendously about establishing a succesful nursing relationship). The authors recommended posting a list on the fridge for the first week or so after birth with suggestions for visitors who might want to help out. This gave me an idea. Since we won’t be having any visitors at our midwife’s home where I’ll deliver and won’t be seeing any family or friends until about twelve hours after I give birth, I suspect both of our mothers will be running around like mad women, having been denied the traditional role of grandmothers reigning over the hospital waiting room. So, I’m preparing a list of things for them to do while we’re up in Tennessee having a National Geographic-worthy delivery that doesn’t need any onlookers except my husband. This may sound harsh, but I want to make sure they have something to do and something that will make them feel like they are helping and contributing (and also something to keep them from calling us every half hour for an update). Here’s that list-in-progress:

While we’re in Tennessee, please…

Fill a cooler with ice and stock with bottled water, juices (for me), and Cokes (for visitors)

Finish any laundry that we might have left in the washer or dryer

Wash any dishes that might be in the sink

Make our bed

Feed the animals

Prepare snacks: fruit tray, cut-up veggies with Ranch dressing, crackers, etc.

Clean the bathroom

Sweep inside and both porches

 

Ok, any seasoned mommas out there, what have I left off?

 

To-Dos

update 5

 

Winter and spring are in a battle here in Alabama. Chilly rain one day, seventies the next. While I’m waiting for the official change of season, I’m satisfied with a little sun and a few stray daffodils. I’ve got lots to do anyways.

There’s what most call a flutter but I simply cannot explain in my belly sometimes, especially when I’m very still. Fourteen weeks down. Around twenty-six to go. If they fly by as quick as this first trimester has, September will be here before we know it.

So far, I’ve been surprised by just how little we have done and plan to do to prepare for Baby. It’s not nearly as complicated as some of my momma-friends and Pamper’s commercials make it out to be. My primary concern is to keep things simple. Hopefully, this won’t be the only baby we ever have, so I don’t want to use all of our resources (not just monetary ones) at the beginning of our parenthood. This is what’s on my to-do list between now and September.

Baby’s Room

No polka-dot painting, furniture-financing, remodeling projects for us. My mother has generously offered to buy the baby bed. One of her co-workers has a very nice white bed and changing table that she has offered to sell for $50.00 sans mattress. This high-quality bed should last us years and I’m glad my mother isn’t spending hundreds of dollars on a gender-specific investment we might never use again. The blinds in our extra bedroom have been chewed on by a mischevious cat, so they’re going to get replaced with cheap paper blinds and panels (probably sewn by me). We’re keeping all bedding gender-neutral also and what few decorations will be in the Beatrix Potter/ Peter Rabbit theme, appropriate for both sons and daughters. The closet in this bedroom is lacking shelving, so we’ll likely make or purchase some type of organizational system.

Here in the South, we do baby showers, which are a tremendous blessing. I’m confident that I’ll be given enough clothing, accessories, blankets, etc. to last for at least the first six months of Baby’s life. Still, there are a few things I either want to or need to buy:

  • 3 sets of Econobums cloth diapers (I’ve gotten virtually NO positive comments about this parenting decision, so I doubt I’ll be given any)
  • wet bags
  • a couple of cheap Beatrix Potter prints to frame and hang (eBay)
  • baby books
  • a Moby Wrap (again, not much on natural/ attachment parenting around these parts)
  • wooden toys as I find them

Carseat and stroller will undoubtedly be purchased by family members. Since we have such limited storage space and prefer to keep baby-contraptions to a minimum, we won’t be purchasing a high-chair, walker, play-pen, etc. until the need arises.

Birth

We still owe about $1000.00 to our midwife for her fee (still a drastic savings as compared to a hospital birth, even if my insurance covered it). Additionally, we must pay for a Bradley Method course ($350.00) and hire a doula ($300.00). I have a list of supplies and items to purchase for the birth and will be planning and preparing snacks and a homecooked, frozen meal for everyone per my midwife’s request (I’m thinking meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, and homegrown green beans sounds like the perfect post-pushing meal).  There’s a chance we might have to stay a night or two at a hotel before/ during labor since we’re birthing about an hour and a half from home. I’ll have money put aside just in case.

Food

I’ve been spending a good deal of time lately thinking about what I want to feed myself, my child, and my husband. I know that groceries are an area in which the effort I exert equals immediate savings. Self-sufficiency is always a good thing, too.

update 4

The McNuggets are growing well. We’re down to 34 from 41 after Geoffrey led a pack of neighbor-dogs to the buffet one afternoon. By the way, chickens are disgusting and mean and quite cannibalistic. I doubt I’ll be too sad on butchering day.

update 3

Our garden spot is tilled and limed and waiting on Good Friday for planting. We increased its size by about 50% this weekend because, you know, it’s not like we’re having a baby during harvesting season or anything. Our seed supply includes sweet corn, several types of green beans, squash, zuchini, peppers, tomatoes, watermelons, and cucumbers. I’ve started a stash of thrift-store Mason jars and am on the lookout for freezer bag sales. Nothing is going to waste and I’ll be counting on my parents’ garden to supplement our stockpile.

I’d like to slowly stock my pantry over the next few months, too. Dried beans, flours, sugar, salt, rice, butter, meat, etc. I’m trying to learn a little about freezer meals and hopefully will have at least a handful of dishes prepared for the first few weeks after Baby arrives. Not that we won’t be bombared with pizza and Popeyes, but that stuff can’t be good for nursing, right?

Rolling

It occurred to me today that although this blog was intended to be about our finances, it has come to be more about our life. Here’s a little money post.

change

We’ve got a long list of upcoming expenses to prepare for: midwife fee (thankfully we were able to retrieve some money from Cody’s old life insurance policy to cover the bulk of that), doula fee, childbirth classes, cloth diaper purchases, another big trip to Dry Tortugas National Park in April, several home improvement projects that need to be completed before the baby comes, etc. On top of all that, this last full semester of graduate school combined with the pregnancy exhaustion I’ve been experiencing has resulted in me working very little in the past month or so. Although I do plan to continue to work as much as possible, it is becoming obvious that I’ve got a full plate regardless. Our chicken project, big plans for a massive garden, budgeting and bill paying, housework, cooking, and baby-growing are also almost solely my responsibility. Whew!

Obviously, frugality is a top priority at this point in our lives and we don’t foresee letting our financial guard down anytime in the near future. After the list above is complete and the baby is born, we plan to really buckle down and work on chipping away at our mortgage. I’m spending much of my free time thinking about and planning ways to save money. Meal planning has made about a $30.00 difference in our grocery budget each week. I’m on the hunt for canning and freezing supplies and plan to put everything we grow plus bulk produce that’s cheap here in Alabama like tomatoes, peaches, strawberries, etc. into the freezer or pantry in the next few months. We’ve gone without cable before and I’m slowly persuading Cody to cut the ties again. I’m working on stashes of cloth napkins and rags as well as DIY cloth diapers to supplement the Econobums we plan to purchase.

Because my personal income is very little, I feel horribly guilty about spending money on things for me. I spent two days and went to countless stores last week before I finally broke down and spent $12.00 on a new bra that I desperately needed. I’ve purchased very little clothing for the baby because I’ve had such a hard time finding the gender-neutral items I’d like to stock-up on before we find out if it’s a he or she in early April. Thanks to Cody’s cousin, I’ve spent only $20.00 on maternity clothes that I’m now beginning to need. As far as the nursery, the McNuggets just moved out yesterday so I have yet to begin the obligatory decorating process. I bought a $1.00 Peter Rabbit book at Target a few days ago because I want to use a Beatrix Potter theme. We’re on the hunt for a baby bed to borrow or buy used. Linens, bedding, and curtains I’ll make myself with the help of my mother. I’m doing a whole bunch of Pinterest-looking, web browsing, and window shopping but precious little buying.

But sometimes, I just want some spending cash. That’s what this post is really about. I don’t keep extra money in my checking account, hate to withdraw funds out of savings unless it’s necessary, and feel bad taking money out of our vacation cash stash. Tomorrow, I’m meeting-up with my best friend, Alyson, for breakfast and thrift shopping (she’s a fellow frugal-minded gal). Frankly, my car is on E and my last $1.00 bill isn’t going to buy the gravy biscuit I know I’ll want for breakfast. So I rolled.

After digging through my car, all my purses, two baskets Cody tosses his change in, the bottom of the washing machine, and random drawers, I rolled $29.00 worth of change. That’s an entire day of entertainment for this girl! A squirt of gas, carb-loaded breakfast, and a few hours thirfting with a good friend… sounds like a wonderful time to me.

This goes to show you that if you don’t get into the habit of treating yourself all of the time, very little can seem like a fortune.

Midwife

Yesterday, we hired a midwife. Here’s why:

  • I have been disappointed in the care and advice I received from OB/GYNs in the past.
  • I am healthy and have no reason to expect complications to arise during this pregnancy.
  • Here in Alabama, the Caesarian section rate hovers right around 37%. Should I choose to birth in a hospital, I’d have greater than a one in three chance of undergoing major abdominal surgery.
  • We have particular ideas about how we want to parent and a hospital birth is not conducive to the aspirations we have for our child in the first few days after birth.
  • Establishing a good breastfeeding relationship is very important to me, and a hospital setting will not facilitate that as well as a homebirth.
  • I hope to establish a relationship with a trusted midwife who will oversee my physical and psychological wellbeing during my childbearing years.
  • We appreciate the role a healthy diet and active lifestyle plays in a healthy pregnancy, more so than unnecessary medications and procedures.
  • I (not we, because Cody isn’t so certain) am not comfortable placing a limit on the number of children we will have. That being said, I want to do everything I can to prevent a C-section and the need for subsequent surgeries should we want to have more children.
  • We want our birth to be centered on our relationship and the life we are bringing into the world. I’m not interested in getting an epidural so that I can still converse with my mother, mother-in-law, and best friend while I push then feel I need to fix my hair and put on some makeup so that I can hand-off my baby to assorted friends and family members hours after it emerges from my womb.
  • There are many standard hospital procedures that we are skeptical about and do not want to be pressured into making important decisions without being completely informed.
  • We want to learn everything we can about pregnancy, birth, and taking care of our baby during this pregnancy (our midwife has a first time mother’s program that requires us to read several books, take three courses in her office, and either a Hypnobabies or Bradley Method course).
  • My health insurance will not begin to provide maternity coverage until Oct. 1, 2013. Our baby’s due date is September 10, 2013. Financially, a midwife whose fee is $2,700.00 is a much smarter decision than a hospital birth that would cost upwards of $10,000.00 without an epidural or any complications (notice that this reason is lowest on the list).

There are probably several other great reasons that I’ve forgotten because pregnancy brain is, in fact, real. I cannot explain how relieved I was to find that the midwife we met yesterday met my expectations and answered all the questions I had perfectly. Our consultation lasted about an hour and she told us to expect all my prenatal visits to last an hour as well. My first official prenatal visit is at the end of this month. I’ll be twelve weeks and a few days then and should be able to hear a tiny heart beat.

We understand that we are first time parents with so many surprises ahead of us. We also understand that midwifery care isn’t for everyone. However, Cody and I are both so thankful that this option is available to us, despite all obstacles. You see, midwives are not licensed in Alabama and homebirths are illegal. Our midwife is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, about an hour and a half  away, and I will be delivering our baby in her home. I am so excited about this journey and sharing everything we learn with my scattered handful of readers!

Expansion

Eight weeks today and already feeling a little thicker in the middle. Not round, not necessarily even pregnant, just a subtle preparation for the expansion soon to come.

No, I do not plan to immediately begin wearing maternity clothes, accidentally making room for premature and unnecessary weight gain as I stuff my face for two; however, I do not want to walk around in jeans bordering on vulgar just because they still half-way zip or stretch-out my entire wardrobe and have nothing to wear after the baby is born.

That being said, I foresee a need for flowy tops and cute dresses within a month or so.

Cody has, I don’t know, twenty-five first cousins, many of whom are around our age and having babies left and right. One sweet cousin sent over a load of her maternity left-overs (she’s due with her third in about a month) for me to pick through tonight.

maternity 1

maternity 2

maternity 3

maternity 4

In total, I picked out seven tops, a pair of jeans, a pair of nice black trousers, a black skirt, another skirt, and seven tops… all for $20.00. Honestly, this should hold me through the summer. What a blessing! Some of the pieces are from Motherhood Maternity. I took a look in one of their stores a couple of weekends ago… I’ve never felt the desire to pay $30.00 for a shirt and I don’t foresee even the worst hormonal befuddlement changing that.