The Year We Never Saw Coming

Around this time last year, the world as we knew it, changed. There is no way that at the end of 2019 we could’ve ever imagined that 2020 would look the way it did. Its all so crazy and surreal to look back at a whole year later. Remember when the world ‘shut down’ and it was supposed to only last a couple of weeks to flatten the curve? Even then, when everything was first shut down, I don’t think we truly had any idea what was in store for us. Did anyone look at this and think we’d still be in a very similar spot a year later?

I’m grateful for the progress. There is more knowledge and security. There is more peace and hope. I’m very, very thankful for that. But its still hard to grasp. I’m still in a sort of denial that this is the new normal we thought would only have to last a few weeks.

Us, right at the beginning of quarantine

In the space of this crazy year, a lot of big changes have happened in our family.

We added our sweet little Flora to the family, thus having a pandemic baby which is the wildest of rides, and the thing that definitely rocked me the most in all of this. When I found out I was pregnant in October 2019, I truly had no idea that during much of my pregnancy I’d be stressed out about my health and a scary new virus taking over the world. I had no idea how much fear would be instilled in me about the health of my baby. I had no idea how overwhelming it would be to have a baby in the smack middle of a global pandemic. However, there were silver linings, too. Craig was working from home around this time still, so it felt like extended paternity leave. He got to help so much with the boys and the new baby. We didn’t see extended family quite as much as we would have liked to, but it forced us to really rely on one another in a way we’d never done before. It also helped me find my voice and be confident in my gut feelings, when it came to having difficult or awkward conversations with other people when it came to visitors, outings, etc.

We also moved, which is another thing we just didn’t see coming. Our new home has been such a blessing. It all happened so fast and was a lot like a whirlwind while it happened, so now that we are settled and comfortable here in our new place, I’m really seeing how great of a decision this was for our family. Our new home has space to grow and continue to build our family. This is where our kids will grow up and I’m so thankful we are in this place.

I’ve also learned a lot about myself in this year. We opted not to put Harrison in preschool this year and chose to do homeschool. Since Emmett is just two years behind him, I decided to do preschool at home with them both. I wasn’t sure how it would all go. I know I’m capable of teaching preschool level curriculum, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be an exciting ‘teacher,’ or if I’d be able to teach things in a way that my kids would be able to internalize. But thanks to online resources and approximately 8 billion prayers on my part, I found that not only can I do this, but I can be really good at it. The kids and I have had so much fun doing preschool together. I’ll admit, I’m a little bit sad that next year Harrison will go off to Kindergarten and Emmett will officially start in a real preschool.

We learned a lot about respecting others. I think we can all agree that wearing masks is a pain. They’re sweaty, they cause acne, they make breathing seem trickier, but I do think they’re something just fine to enforce right now. I’m definitely not against them. But even more than my feelings on masks, I’ve learned to see that wearing a mask in public is very much a way to show that I and my family love and care for others. Me wearing a mask is an outward way to show that I respect you and your health and well-being. Its also been a nice way to teach my kids about respecting others.

I learned that I’m resourceful. There was the period of time when basic food items were hard to find. I learned to be resourceful with the food I had in my pantry. I learned how to make fun, educational things out of the seemingly mundane things around our house for the kids. I was able to dive back into my love of scrapbooking in all the time spent at home, and made our families own Quarantine Scrapbook, that I really think I’ll cherish and hopefully my posterity will, as well.

My testimony grew tremendously in this year. I’m a worrier. My dad is a high-risk person. I was pregnant for a long time during this and wasn’t sure what Covid could do to a pregnant or breastfeeding woman. I imagined terrible things happening to the health of those I love, especially the people who didn’t take it as seriously as I was. I just worried constantly. I feared the worst happening. I knew the virus didn’t typically have bad things happen to young children, but I still wondered if my children would be the acceptation if they got it. I was a ball of anxiety. Well, I always am. But I was an even bigger ball. I would pray so many times a day and just beg Heavenly Father for clarity and calm. I’d pour my heart out for the well-being of my family. I’d ask for peace of mind, because at times, my mental health struggled so much under all the fear and uncertainty. Sometimes I had to learn some lessons first, or search hard for answers, but I definitely was comforted and felt peaceful. I was strongly reminded that God is in all the details and he is stronger than any earthly person, even stronger than a global pandemic. I was reminded that His plan is truly the plan of happiness, and He knows what He’s doing. I trust Him. I know He has me and my family, and everyone, securely in His hands.

We are a year into this now. I’m not sure when things will be ‘norma,’ again, or if they ever will. But I’m happy to report, that though this has all been crazy and unexpected, I’ve found joy, happiness and learning in the year of quarantine.

Us a few weeks ago

Love you all. I hope you’re all doing ok. Life is weird right now. Life is crazy. Things can be uncertain. But we can do this!

Birth Story

On June 11th, our little Flora was born at 8:30am after a quick and kind of crazy delivery. She is absolute perfection and has changed our family for the better. Life with her in it is pure magic. Yesterday, she turned two months old (how??) and I have finally finished up her quick birth story for you guys. I think about her delivery a lot. It was not what I planned, but it was really incredible.

Now how about a birth story?

On the evening of June 10th I’d started feeling contractions that were different than the Braxton hicks contractions I’d felt the past few weeks. These ones weren’t super painful or anything, but I could tell they were slowly and surely getting more powerful. Harrison had a soccer game and then we went to my parents house for a while and the whole time I could just tell some things were changing, but I decided not to get my hopes up yet at this point and just tried to continue to be patient.

That evening around 9:30pm I felt like there was another shift in my body. More pain. A little more intensity. But nothing serious, yet. I got some stuff done around the house after putting the boys to bed, then decided to go to bed myself around 10:30 to see if I could sleep off the pain. I could until about 1:30am. I woke up somewhere around 1:30 hurting significantly more. I decided to finally download a contraction timing app and laid there in bed, timing my contractions for a while. They were coming anywhere from every 10-30 minutes, their intensity varying all the while. I texted my sisters just to let them know I may be needing them to come over in the middle of the night, then went back to waiting and timing and breathing.

Finally around 4 I had a contraction that made me shoot up. I couldn’t do it laying down anymore. It was a real, painful and powerful contraction. I woke Craig up in the process and I just remember him rubbing my back. He told me a little while later than when he saw me sit up, he knew this was the real deal. As I stood up, my water also broke (but in the moment I wasn’t sure if it was my water or if I’d wet my pants), but when I went to the restroom and noticed blood – a true labor sign for me – I quickly convinced myself that this was it.

Craig and I got ready, I told my sisters to come over and we arrived to the hospital right at 6 in the morning. I was hooked up to the monitors and checked (I was at a 4, with contractions coming every 1-2 minutes apart) and was told I’d be monitored for an hour to see if I progressed, and if I had enough, I’d be admitted.

I don’t think it was coincidence that my nurse (who we loved) randomly decided to check me at 30 minutes. Turns out, I was progressing fast, so with that, she admitted me a half an hour early! She called for my epidural, I got my IV and things started getting real. I was in a lot of pain by this point and I was also as hot as I have ever felt in my entire life.

The next little while was just waiting for things to continue to move. I kept dilating and kept waiting for my epidural. My doctor came in to say hi and check me and asked where my epidural was and the nurses explained they’d called for it couple of times and it still hadn’t shown up. He told them to call for it again. Not too long afterwards he came back in to check again and we knew that it would be time to push soon. Its a good thing I was hurting so bad and just totally in my own head, otherwise I probably would have gone into panic mode. When I had Harrison, my epidural was only sort of working, and I just remember that hurting – so I didn’t want to have to have a painful delivery again. But I was too busy focusing on surviving each contraction and trying not to burst into flames (seriously, I was SO hot) to think too much of my anesthesiologist not coming very fast – although I sure wished he would have hurried.

Around 8:20 the anesthesiologist finally came in and administered my long-awaited epidural. This one hurt pretty bad. I’m not sure if its just because everything hurt so bad at that point or what, but I just remember so much pain. Also, Craig couldn’t fan me anymore while I got my epidural, so I felt so hot I wanted to scream at people. Immediately after laying back down after getting that taken care of, I was checked.

It was time to push. Now. She was right there. But guess what? I was told my epidural would take at least 15 minutes to start working. I asked my nurse and Craig if there was anything we could do to make it work faster (in hind site, I see thats a silly question, but I was desperate) and she very kindly told me that I could wait for the epidural to start working, but that things were moving and baby sister was coming out.

So I started to push. I can honestly say that delivering a baby with no epidural to help me was the most pain I’ve ever felt and a lot more awful than I’d ever imagined, but at the same time, doing it without an epidural made me feel powerful and strong – something I don’t feel about myself too often. It was really neat to literally feel her every move as she came out of my body. Delivering her head and shoulders were…there are no words. Just ouch, ouch, ouch. But thankfully I only had to push a few times – about five minutes – and she was born.

Everyone noticed that she was a “good sized baby,” or a, “big baby,” immediately (I’ve got that with all my kids now). Craig cut the cord and my perfect little girl, my first daughter, was placed on my chest. There is nothing more magical than those moments.

A while later she was weighed, measured, cleaned and cared for. She weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce and was 21 and 3/4ths inches, and 100% perfection.

We only stayed in the hospital one night due to Covid, and were able to go home the next day a few hours after noon. Only a couple of hours before we left, we finally named her Flora. The boys were beyond thrilled to meet their little sister. They greeted her so enthusiastically and sweetly, it melted me.

We are so, so happy to have our baby here safe, healthy and happy!

My Hospital Bag

So full disclosure, this is not going to be a long, elaborate list of things I bring to the hospital. I’ve found I’m actually quite minimalistic when it comes to packing for the hospital. With Harrison, I brought way too much to the hospital and touched less than half of it. For me, the hospital is a time to be laid-back and enjoy those first moments with this new, tiny baby. I didn’t need all the different things I was so sure I would. I followed lots of blogs and lots of friends advice, but found that overall, I didn’t need much at all, and neither did my baby. Plus, the hospital has everything you need. Seriously, they know what they’re doing and they’ve got you covered. However, if bringing nearly your entire home is something that works great for you and helps your hospital stay be more pleasant – then more power to you! You do you! This is just my personal opinion.

WHAT I’M PACKING IN MY HOSPITAL BAG THE THIRD TIME AROUND

FOR MAMA

  • Small, simple toiletry bag with whatever the essentials are for you. For me, my toiletry bag will have contacts, glasses, chapstick, my simplest skincare for morning and night, lotion, dry shampoo, hair brush, a cute hair tie, deodorant, toothbrush and paste, mascara, a brow pencil, concealer and makeup remover.
    • My tip for the toiletry bag: Likely, you won’t want to pack all of this stuff ahead of time because you’ll still be using it daily. So I stick a piece of paper in the top of my bag with a list of all the things I’ll need to grab last minute before we drive to the hospital. My list this time around for my last minute items include: toothbrush and paste, hair brush, deodorant, glasses, moisturizer, my simple make up items, phone and charger.
  • Robe. This isn’t necessary at all. The hospital gown is totally great, functional and there’s no pressure to ever take it off if you don’t want to. I just like having the option of a robe. I only wore my gown when I had Harrison and with Emmett I switched between a robe and the gown. This time around I have a robe that matches a swaddle and bow for Baby Sister. I can’t wait.
  • Phone/charger. Does this need explanation?
  • Socks. I have a lucky pair of socks that I only wear when I have a baby. But even if I didn’t have a lucky pair, I’d bring some just in case – you’d hate cold feet to inconvenience you during such a special time.
  • Clothes to wear home. This can be the same thing you wore in, too, keep in mind. With Harrison, I wore exactly what I wore to the hospital home from the hospital. With Emmett though, my water had broken, so the clothing I wore to the hospital was…not wearable (AKA gross), so I was happy I had a going home outfit for myself in my bag. For me, this outfit is something loose fitting and very comfortable. Don’t worry about being cute. Just worry about being as comfortable as possible.
    • Nursing bra. I forgot one when I had Harrison! I didn’t ever wear a bra during my whole hospital stay, but I wished I had one for the drive home (that wasn’t my regular bra that I wore in).
    • Shoes. Just wear something simple and easy to put on. Bonus points if you don’t have to lean over to put them on.
    • Underwear. But this is just a maybe. I’ve never taken my own underwear to the hospital. They provide you plenty of mesh underwear to wear that can be thrown away. You bleed a lot after birth, so its nice to just throw these disposable ones away instead of getting your own messy. However, this time I am bringing one pair of underwear for the drive home. I may not even wear them, I’m just testing them out. Mostly I got sucked into getting them because they’re supposed to be great for after c-sections, so I got them on a whim and decided to pack a pair.

FOR BABY

  • Diaper Bag. My goal is to fit everything both baby and I will need in my new Freshly Picked diaper bag. Its just easier to have everything in once space for me. It feels less messy, cluttered and chaotic, and I don’t want to be worrying about clutter after I’ve had my baby or worrying about what is in what bag.
  • Take home outfit. Bring something sweet and comfy for your new one to wear home. For my boys, they wore the same little navy blue footed, zip-up pair of pajamas. I decided for Baby Sister, she’d wear the exact same thing, except I found her a white one with little red and white hearts all over it. She also has a matching bow.
  • Mittens. Babies scratch the heck out of their little faces the second they’re born. You’ll want the mittens, believe me.
  • Binky. Everyone has their own opinion about when its appropriate to attempt to start your baby on a binky. I, personally, am fine with starting them on it in the hospital.
  • Swaddle. I’m actually bringing a couple swaddles this time for the pictures we’ll take in the hospital, but just one is totally fine.
  • Car Seat. Don’t forget to bring the carseat!! We install ours into our car a few weeks before the due date just so we don’t even have to worry about it when the time comes.

Thats it! I told you I was low maintenance when it came to this. In all honesty though, the hospital knows what its doing and provides all the essentials for you. They take care of you. Also, if you want to bring more things like your own pillow/blanket, a new outfit for you and baby each day, etc, then totally go for it! Like I said earlier, you do you.

 

Pregnant During a Pandemic

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I can tell you honestly, that when we found out that I was pregnant back in the end of 2019, I certainly did not foresee being pregnant during a global pandemic. I mean, who would even think that could be a possibility, right? Yet here we are. May 2020 and the world is still in the midst of the Covid-19 craziness…and I am due next month. 

Growing and having a baby during a pandemic was never, ever on my radar. I mean, I worry about out-there things happening all the time, but a global health crisis was never something I had thought up. At first, I didn’t think too much of it. I mean, I was already pregnant – so what good would worrying do? But in typical me-fashion, I started thinking and thinking more about it, reading more articles and listening to more opinions. I still, thankfully, can say that I’m not really too worried about it, but I definitely have more concern than I did a few months ago. Mostly, I just hope and pray and pray and pray and pray that me and my family will be healthy when Baby Sister decides to come. Because I am preeeeety darn sure that I’ll be having a c-section, we have this kind of weird situation where we (ok, mostly me) are stressing out about keeping Craig super healthy, because if he is ill, he can’t be in the operating room with me. That sounds like my worst nightmare ever. I had a c-section with Emmett and didn’t particularly love it, and Craig was right beside me! I can only imagine what my feelings would be about it all if my own husband wasn’t able to be next to me. I get it, but that doesn’t mean I’d like it to happen to me!

So what has helped me?

  • Accepting that this is my reality. Like I said earlier, what will worrying do besides cause me to sleep even less than I already do?  If I had the option, I wouldn’t take a time machine and not get pregnant at the end of last year – I want Baby Sister in June, exactly when she’s coming – so I’m just accepting and embracing that this is my life. This is exactly how its supposed to happen! In the long run, it’ll be cool to say I had a baby during a pandemic, right?
  • My doctors. My doctors have been so helpful. They’ve given me their honest opinions on how to navigate this crazy time, but have done it in a way that is comforting and calming and I cannot express just how grateful I am for that.
  • Talking about it. A lot. Craig, my mom and sisters hear me talk about this all the time and I bet they’re ready for it to be over, but its been super therapeutic for me and helps me process it all.
  • Sooooo many prayers. You guys, I’m already kind of a crazy, all-the-time pray-er, but now I just pray 1,000 times more. Like yeah, it can be exhausting, but its helping so much and I’m not ashamed to pray all. the. time.
  • Not dwell too much on the fact that I’ve recently found out I have to take the Covid-19 test before I have baby, because that test looks so miserable. (Sorry, I just had to add this because UGH).

In the end, yeah, I’m pregnant during a pandemic and thats crazy. Its rough and it is nerve-racking and can be a little bit scary. But its all going to be ok. Amazing women all over the world are having babies left and right during this and they’re rocking it. They’re doing well and they’re reminding me that the most important thing about all of this is your sweet tiny baby. I already know that as soon as I have my little baby girl I’ll forget all about the pandemic happening outside my hospital room door – my whole world will be my kids. Thats what’s most important. Thats the main thing that helps me, guys. Just knowing that I still have my perfect children and I get to be their mom.

If you, too, are pregnant right now and you’re stressed or you have big feelings about it, please reach out to me if you want someone to talk to! I’d be more than happy to listen, because believe me, I have stresses and big feelings about this, too!!

So Much Closer

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So its only just very, very recently occurred to me that this pregnancy is starting to wrap up. I feel like I’ve been pregnant forever, so the fact that its totally nearing the end is hard for me to completely grasp. I am due next month! I’m due in six-ish weeks. I am full term in just a couple more weeks. This is crazy! I am so close to the end! We are SO close to meeting our anxiously awaited Baby Sister, finally!! Its all just so mind blowing to me. All the sudden its just…here! Or, super almost here, at least. Its so exciting and rewarding!!

Her nursery is all ready for her. The only thing missing is her. Craig and I love to spend time in there just sitting and daydreaming life with her in it. Its magical. I can’t wait to meet her and see who she is. See what she looks like. And hopefully finally figure out what in the world her name is.

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At my latest doctors appointment it was basically loosely confirmed that she’d be delivered via c-section. This isn’t how I envisioned her birth, at all. I was really hoping for a successful VBAC, but she had other plans when she decided to be a breech baby. I really disliked my c-section with Emmett, but I’m pretty sure thats because his was a scary emergency situation and he didn’t come out looking very good, at all. I’m hoping and praying that her c-section will go a lot better and change my mind about c-sections. I’m not super excited about the recovery, either. But I realize all of these reasons I’m not thrilled about a c-section are because of me being selfish. What matters is her. What matters is getting her here in the safest manner possible, which is very, very likely – a c-section. I’d much rather have her come into the world in the best way possible instead of fighting for what my idea of my third birth would be and having something not go so well. You know? I do find it funny though. Harrison was a head down baby. Emmett was a sideways baby. Baby Sister is a head up baby. Does that mean my fourth will be a sideways baby, but her head will be on the opposite side Emmett’s was?

 

25-ish

I very recently hit 25 weeks with Baby Sister and this ones really feeling like an exciting milestone. 25 weeks! Thats 15 weeks left of this pregnancy at the longest! I’m so glad time is passing – and moving a little faster every day. I think thats a benefit of subsequent pregnancies. You don’t have as much time to dwell on time and how fast or slow its moving when you have other kids to chase around. Its a pretty great thing that I’m grateful for.

I’m feeling so thankful for a healthy baby girl growing inside of me. She’s already blessed my life and is starting to give me hints of her personality stronger than she used to, and I’m loving getting to know her better and better. I can’t wait to meet her and get to know her even better. This little girl is really going to change the dynamic of our family – I can just tell and I’m eager to witness it all happen. Craig and I are making great progress in her nursery and I need to start working on organizing her closet/clothes/bows/etc and I know thats going to make it feel all the more real and exciting!

Now, just to mix up these periodic bump update pictures, here is a little collage of my three pregnancies, all at 25-ish weeks! You have Harrison first, Emmett in the middle and baby sister on the right!

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One Great Guy

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Pregnancy, man. I am only barely exaggerating when I say that EVERYTHING HURTS this time around. Ok, so my arms are fine. But like – thats it. I. hurt.

I try so, so hard not to complain because there are people who would kill for this opportunity and I know what a precious blessing it is, so I really do try to focus on the good ad the amazing and not dwell so much on the less-fun side of pregnancy. But… can I just vent real quick? I promise it’ll be a quick little thing, k?

My pelvic pain is off the charts. I can’t even find words to explain the pain I feel but a good way to try is to say that it makes me cry on a daily basis, it takes me over 15 minutes to get out of bed (no joke) and sometimes it makes my legs/pelvis/hips go numb and tingly. Its quite something. My back always aches and throbs. My belly feels heavy and stretchy. My thighs have this dull, owie pain. Heartburn is of the devil – I despise it. Nausea is exhausting and gross and just gets really old after a while.

Ok. I’ll leave it at that. You get what I’m trying to say.

BUT NOW I have to say this:

I’m so, so, so grateful for Craig. I feel like there’s only so much a husband can do when his wife is pregnant to help her body out – but he helps in every way he can and I’m eternally thankful for him. He encourages me to vent it out and complain when I need to and he lets me talk to him freely about all the stuff happening in my body and how it feels. He is totally the reason I’m able to stay sane. He’s a good, good one.

Halfway!

Yesterday Baby Sister and I officially hit twenty (20!) weeks pregnant – also known as halfway!

Somehow this pregnancy has both been dragging on and flying by all at the same time. This pregnancy, though I think my most painful (but thankfully not my most sick – I think Harrison’s pregnancy will forever hold that title), has been my favorite. I’ve allowed myself to enjoy it differently this time. I feel like now that this is my third child, I feel a little more at ease just letting things be and not being so obsessed about knowing every single thing going on at all times inside my belly. Its been my very favorite so far though because this is the first time I’ve had a kid understand what’s actually going on. Harrison understands that a baby is growing in moms tummy, and he knows that in the summer she’ll “explode” out of moms tummy and he’ll have his new little sister. He talks to my tummy all the time and will often yell “love you, baby!” at my belly as he runs by me. Its the sweetest thing. What makes it all the sweeter is that baby sister totally responds to his voice. When he talks directly to her, she totally wiggles back in response. They’re already bonding and its phenomenal. Emmett has the example of his big brother so he, too, talks to my belly a lot. I’m not sure if he totally gets it though. He calls my stomach, “baby,” but now asks if his tummy is also called baby. I think he’s a little more confused. But once sister comes, I’m assuming it’ll click a little more in his head? I don’t know, I just can’t wait to see these two with their little sister!

17 Weeks and So Stinkin’ Thankful

Yesterday I had a doctors appointment – just the usual one to check on baby and make sure everything is going fine. I’m very gracious to say that all is looking well with our sweet baby. For some reason hearing its little heartbeat this time around was extra special and so exciting for me. It was such a peaceful and exhilarating feeling.

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I just feel so thankful right now. I’m grateful for a great husband who supports me and loves me endlessly – he means more to me than he’ll ever know. I’m thankful for my little boys who are the epitome of joy. They inspire me to be better, they are kind and friendly and they make me so proud of them. Then there is my sweet baby who I can’t wait to meet in several more months. I’m just very lucky. Very thankful. Very blessed.

First Pregnancy Update!

I’ve been really excited to start these baby updates! I don’t know why, but keeping this pregnancy a secret for those first several weeks, was particularly tough for me this time around! I mean, first of all, my bump made its debut so fast, and I’ve just been so eager to share the news!! I know a lot of people were suspicious, so it was also a relief to finally tell people they weren’t crazy and I wasn’t getting chubby – its a baby!

Much like with the boys, I’ve felt pretty miserable. Lots of throw up and so much body pain, especially in my pelvic area, upper thighs and lower back. Oh, and my c-section scar has been hurting a lot too as it stretches – thats something new.

I have been graving sweet/sugary things. Candy and fruit are my current cup of tea and some of few things I can keep down. I also have gone through phases of craving chocolate milk, hot chocolate, greasy fast food and mashed potatoes.

I have lots of aversions. Sometimes I feel like absolutely everything sounds revolting. The worst thing for me has been the smell of my fridge and the smell of smoke or heat (ha that sounds so weird, I know).

At first, sleep was coming easy, but I’m now reaching the point where sleep is rough. Laying on my sides hurts my hips so bad, laying on my belly isn’t possible and laying on my back gives me instant heartburn.

I’m very low energy, low motivation. I feel like maaaaybe that is starting to ease up a little bit, but for the most part I just feel like a slug.

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I’m so very excited to add this baby to the family. Three kids! Thats so awesome!! It will also be really fun to have a warm weather baby! Life is good!