34 before 34

It hit me about a few months ago that I had completely forgotten about my 33 before 33 list. I suppose impending parenthood can sort of take over your life in that way. That list wasn’t a total bust, but because I forgot about it so thoroughly, I don’t think it’s really fair to consider it done. Some years, I plan my lists for weeks ahead of time, but today is my 33rd birthday, and I still want to do all those things I thought up last year. So I decided to start a new list for my new year. The first 19 items are from 33 before 33, and the rest are new or just slightly revised for this year. When I turned 32, I was a newlywed who had a lot of high hopes, and adding them to a list helped me feel a bit like they weren’t as crazy as they felt. Now I’m 33, and we bought that house and I had that adorable baby, and I need a list like this more than ever, as I’m learning how to be BOTH the new me who’s a mom and the old me who really needs to create. So here we are. And even if I forget about this list by January, I think it’ll be a pretty good year.

  1. go on dates with Dan
  2. host a party of some sort (dinner party, housewarming, football party) for more than 4 people
  3. shoot at least one roll of film each with the AE-1, instax, polaroid
  4. make a wedding album
  5. make wedding albums to give to our parents
  6. visit the ocean (at least 5 times)
  7. walk across a bridge in NYC
  8. visit a new local brewery
  9. make pom poms
  10. eat at Pete and Elda’s
  11. make quote wall art
  12. crochet a giant scarf
  13. get another tattoo
  14. hang a photo gallery wall in our new place
  15. go to a Patriots game with Dan to celebrate six years since our first spark
  16. make a new dessert
  17. get a sewing machine
  18. and sew something simple
  19. make a wreath for each season (summer, fall, Christmas, winter, spring) for our front door
  20. decorate the living room and the dining room
  21. write in a paper journal three times a month
  22. blog more
  23. learn how to be a mom
  24. try NOT to overthink things so much
  25. go on a photo excursion (by myself or with friends)
  26. thoroughly purge my closet (again)
  27. start building a new wardrobe
  28. collect more bracelets for an arm party
  29. grow out my hair
  30. plan an awesome first birthday for Benjamin
  31. eat healthy food and exercise (and okay, also lose weight) to really stave off diabetes
  32. keep up with Project Life and Ben’s baby album
  33. choose a positive outlook even when things are hard
  34. laugh more. feel the wind. go for walks. read books to Ben. savor the snuggles. tell Dan how awesome he is. love big. breathe deep.

Motherhood, six weeks in

Benjamin turned six weeks old a few days ago, which means I’ve also been a mother for a month and a half. I’m not quite sure how that happened, to be honest. (Well, duh, I know HOW it happened… you know what I mean. I have to figure out how to put sentences together after all this time somehow.) I have wanted to be a mom for basically my whole life, so I had a lot of ideas about what it would feel like and how I would handle it. But obviously, it’s simultaneously everything and nothing like I imagined all those years.

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Benjamin is amazing and adorable and perfect. More often than I should probably admit, I just stare at him. (Or if he’s sleeping and I’ve already stared at him? Then I go through the photos and videos I’ve taken of him on my phone.) I can’t believe Dan and I made him, or that we created someone so absurdly beautiful. Am I biased? Of course. But he’s also ridiculously cute. He’s littler than I expected, and after all those weeks of being afraid gestational diabetes would mean I had a giant baby, he fit into newborn sized clothes for over a month. He’s starting to lose his baby hair, which makes me sad. But bald babies are pretty adorable, too. His eyes continue to be a mystery. For a while they were gray with brown centers, but now I’m not sure if they’re tinging green or maybe brown? (I CANNOT HANDLE the suspense. We waited nine months to find out he was a him, and now I’m still waiting to find out his eye color? I just want to KNOW.) In the last week, his face has filled out and he’s gotten bigger again and he suddenly looks like a totally different baby to me. I know it happened gradually, but it felt like all of a sudden he’s bald and almost chubby. He’s still a tiny little guy, but he’s also so much bigger already.

06.14.2014 :: tiny photoshoot

I was worried about depression and being alone with him and being able to handle all of the huge emotions. I didn’t really think to worry about recovering from major surgery, and luckily, that part has gone remarkably well. I am feeling more like myself, physically, and so grateful for that. I blame the diabetes for the weight I have lost already, but let’s face it: I started pregnancy at a much, much higher weight than I was okay with. And I have some work ahead of me to get more healthy so I can avoid type two diabetes in the (near) future (not to mention gestational diabetes in any potential future pregnancies), since I learned this week I’m at a pretty high risk for it. (My doctor wondered if maybe instead of blaming diabetes for my postpartum weight loss so far I should perhaps CREDIT it. … Oh. Right.) I am having trouble with that part, honestly, because most people do magically go back to non-diabetic as soon as their babies are born. Emotionally? As far as I can tell, I’m doing okay, most of the time. Other than the exhaustion-induced crying that happens many days around 9pm. And if I could find a way to take everyone’s advice and nap during the baby’s daytime naps (…instead of writing blog posts, I GUESS. Priorities.) that would probably get easier.

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Breastfeeding did not work out how I wanted, and that has been really difficult. I thought I had prepared myself for either eventuality, that some people have wonderful, lengthy nursing relationships, and others have a really hard go of it, but it turns out I hadn’t really prepared myself at all. It broke my heart that I couldn’t nurse him the way I was supposedly designed to do. It made me angry at my body for failing me, after I felt like it had already failed me with diabetes and labor. It made me jealous of all the people I know who produced enough milk to keep nursing or pumping for their babies for months. I had read all the books and was so prepared, intellectually. Except that, like having a baby, you don’t know how it’ll go for you until you try. So I cried about it. And then we bought some formula, and oh, duh. The baby doesn’t cry so much when he’s not STARVING. And then it got a lot easier.

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Do I feel like someone’s mother? Most of the time, I’m not sure I do. I’m not sure I feel like my old, pre-pregnancy self, either, though. I’m sort of in this middle ground, learning how to be this new version of myself, while also trying to figure out how the old me fits in. It’s a blur, for sure, and I rarely know what day it is. I knew I’d be beyond exhausted, but I also figured I’d be unable to function at all. In reality, it’s more like I feel mostly okay most of the time, until I hit a brick wall and everything makes me cry. Is that what it’s like for other new moms? I don’t really know. Some days, when Dan gets home from work, I’m so far past the end of my rope that I want him to take over everything and go sit somewhere else. But other days, Ben’s alert and cooing and adorable, and then he naps in the wrap snuggled below my chin and our breathing syncs up and everything feels exactly like I always imagined. But we’re learning day by day, and it’s the greatest thing ever, even though sometimes it’s simultaneously really, really hard.

He’s here!

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After a very long, difficult labor that ended in a c section, our son Benjamin was born at 2:52pm on Thursday, May 22. We’re over the moon, and so glad that both he and I are recovering well. More photos and stories to come very soon.

Life at 34 Weeks

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Somehow, I’m 85% done with this pregnancy. I’m not sure how that happened; time went SO slowly during the fall and winter, and it feels strange to be so close to the end…with still quite a ways to go. I’m now getting comments from strangers – in elevators, at the sandwich shop, even undergrads – which catches me off guard, even though it’s kind of hard to ignore this sizable basketball belly. (I said to Dan over the weekend, “Look at this basketball! Isn’t that crazy?” and he said, “Ummm that’s definitely bigger than a basketball.” And he’s not wrong.)

I am still feeling physically great. The epic heartburn continues, to be sure, and they’ve even confirmed on ultrasounds that the baby does, in fact, have a bunch of hair already. (Apparently heartburn = baby hair is one of the only old wives tales that is true.) I’m starting to get tired again, and my back hurts if I do too much in a day, but all things considered, if I didn’t have this hilariously large belly containing someone who kicks me with enthusiasm at regular intervals, I might be able to forget that I’m pregnant.

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We’ve made amazing progress on the baby’s room, too. I’m finalizing some art for the walls, and we still want to go buy some gutters to turn into bookshelves. I’m also saving some projects for maternity leave: setting up a baby album (oh man I can’t wait to share my plans for that!) and making a simple mobile. But we have furniture and a rug and a little lamp and it all looks so great. We’ve had the bassinet set up in our room for a while, and I’m almost used to seeing it there. I’m nearing the finish line with the blanket I’m crocheting. And even more awesomely, my baby shower this past weekend meant many generous gifts (and so! many! books! eeee!) for this little one from our friends and family. It’s overwhelming, really, and it makes me so excited that so many people are so pumped to meet this kid.

04.16.2014 :: hard at work or hardly working?

The other stuff? Is harder. Working toward my maternity leave has meant work has been extremely busy and stressful, with no signs of it letting up until my last day on May 2. My commute has been worse than ever. Five and a half weeks after my diagnosis of GD, I’m feeling like I have a handle on things. I wasn’t able to manage my blood sugar with just diet, so I’ve been on medication to help manage it. They tell me that it will get harder to manage the later into pregnancy I get, and that does seem to be true. But starting at such a low dose means I have a lot of wiggle room. I’ve figured out what to eat, mostly. I try not to sneer when we walk past the candy aisle at the grocery store. Sure, I miss candy and drinking things other than water and unsweetened iced tea. But my weight has leveled off, which is great. And I haven’t ever eaten this healthfully.

04.07.2014 :: can't stop staring

I’m now going in twice a week for monitoring – once a week, I have an ultrasound, and twice a week, I have non-stress tests. Seeing the baby and hearing his or her heartbeat that often is really awesome, I have to say. Less awesome? When it feels like at every other appointment, there’s something new to worry about/try not to google. My blood pressure is trending high, and I have polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid, which is common in people with GD). It feels like the doctors are constantly telling me “the baby looks great! I don’t want you to worry, BUT…” and then I’m supposed to … not worry? Have they met me?

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So it’s a lot, emotionally. I feel like there isn’t much room left in my head to worry about normal things like “will I be an okay mom?” and “I sure hope breastfeeding works out” and “will we want to kill each other when we’re both sleep-deprived?” and “do we have enough tiny socks?” and “will the kitten hate us?”. Instead, I’m trying not to google things, and worrying about whether all of this means this baby will show up early on its own, or I’ll need to be induced because one of these conditions gets worse (and instructing my belly daily that baby needs to stay put until May). Somehow, it’s even harder to deal with all of this because I feel so great physically, if that makes any sense. In all the years I imagined what it would be like to be pregnant, I knew to expect nausea and puking and discomfort and aches and not sleeping. I expected headaches and stretch marks and hitting numbers on the scale I’d never seen before. But I didn’t expect all of these “might be a big deal but maybe it’s totally fine” complications. I wonder, sometimes, if this happens to other people, but they just don’t talk about it, and I’m weird because I AM talking about it.

People keep telling me that I exude this aura of calmness and “dude, I’ve totally got this” serenity. And I sort of just stare at them open-mouthed. Inside my head, I don’t often feel like I’ve got this. I feel totally overwhelmed a lot of the time. And then other times, I remember that the doctors say that the baby looks great and I’m doing wonderfully and that I shouldn’t worry. I know Dan and I will get through whatever we need to get through, do whatever we need to do to make sure both the baby and I stay healthy. I suppose the back and forth between “stealthy raving lunatic inside my own head” and “zen mother-to-be gently placing her hand on her belly” is part of this whole pregnancy deal. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself. And still, despite it all, in the end, I get to meet this little baby in a month or so. And that’s a wondrous thing.

Springlonging

Spring begins today, and it doesn’t feel like spring much at all. Hell, it’s spring break on campus and I’m still walking around wearing my winter coat. But spring is officially, FINALLY here, and I celebrated by combing through my photo archive for some of my favorite springtimey photos. To get us all in the mood.

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March 30, 2007

signs of life are everywhere

blue skies and hope

dogwood pretties

gritty meets pretty

April 16, 2010

it's March now, can we get to the good stuff?

at last, greenness

seriously, magic.

Currents

morning kitten snuggles

03.10.2014 :: post-work sunlight!

03.12.2014 :: tiny signs of baby spring

03.13.2014 :: decisions, decisions

It’s been a tough week. The strange, up-and-down weather didn’t help much; we had one of the prettiest days in months and then one of the gloomiest. But I keep seeing and hearing more signs of springtimey hope (birds chirping in the mornings! new growth on plants!) and I’m deciding to pay attention to those, rather than the fact that I’m back in my winter coat again today.

I had a bit of a meltdown this morning, and if there’s any type of crying I hate most, it’s “I’m about to leave for work” crying. Somehow, it all hit me at once – the frustration of getting bad blood sugar numbers without understanding how to fix them, how tired I am of wearing the same damn six shirts over and over and over (and how my family is probably thinking I only actually have ONE, since they only see me in the one “weekend” shirt that I love but can’t wear to work), how much I hate to stop wearing my wedding rings because they’re too tight now, how unfair it is that I can’t just be that stereotypical pregnant woman eating giant bowls of ice cream and entire bags of Doritos, how annoyed I am that the new stylist I tried this week fucked up my bangs so badly, and just how TIRED I am.

I suppose it all overflowed because of the hormones, but it WAS a long, frustrating week. And I’m tired. But I had my first real dream about the baby last night, and it was REALLY real. The baby even had a name in my dream. The baby kicks so hard now, and as weird as it is to see my belly move from the outside, it’s pretty freaking amazing, too. And next week at work is Spring Break, which means it’ll be quiet and I can catch up so I feel more on top of things. This weekend, we get to see some friends (and puppies) we haven’t seen in a while, plus celebrate my dad’s birthday. I might even get some time to work on some crafts.

So, you know. Good, bad, frustrating, hopeful. As ever.

(Pregnancy) Plot Twist

03.11.2014 :: new normal

On Friday, I learned that I failed my three hour glucose tolerance test, which means I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I know it’s strange, but I just had a feeling, and really wasn’t shocked when I got the phone call. I had a pretty epic freak out on Monday of last week when I learned that I had failed the one hour glucose test and had to go back in for the three hour one, and in retrospect, I wonder if it’s because somewhere in there, I just knew I was headed here.

I spent the weekend alternatively freaking out, feeling sorry for myself, feeling okay about it, and googling way too much. I am admittedly bitter that I now have to give up sweets (Reese’s! Ice cream! Cookies! Sour patch watermelons! My daily cherry coke!), which I have been craving constantly since September. It’s not like giving up beer and diet coke and all those other things is a cakewalk. (Cake!) I also will have to cut down on my carb consumption, and I mean… my entire diet lately has been carbs and sugar, honestly.

But the bottom line of all of this? Whatever it takes to keep this baby healthy is whatever I will do. Regardless of how difficult it might be, or how far out of my comfort zone it is, or how many times I have to make myself bleed every day. The potential risks to my baby if I don’t manage my GD are really scary and I don’t want to think about that. I have tried on and off to be more healthy over the years, and always have a reason to cheat. Knowing now, that if I cheat, it will have a direct impact on this baby is a pretty damn un-ignorable incentive NOT to cheat.

I obviously have a lot to learn, still, and haven’t even really started with the changes I need to make. This morning, I had an appointment with a diabetes counselor who taught me a lot about what GD is and how to start tracking my blood sugar. GD happens for all kinds of reasons (and not only to people who are overweight or eat sugar all the time), but it basically boils down to the fact that the massive amounts of hormones in my body are blocking insulin from doing its job. So my body needs to produce way more insulin than normal to counteract that… and it isn’t doing that. So here we are. I have a moderately cute glucose meter, test strips, and sharp pointy things with which to stab myself five times a day for the next two and a half months. It wasn’t as painful or freaky as I expected… but it also took me four sticks to get a reading when I tried it for the first time by myself. I know it’s going to take some trial and error to get my diet on track, and I’m trying to be easy with myself if my numbers aren’t within the good ranges yet. I will meet with a nutritionist on Friday afternoon to learn more about what I should be eating, and I’m sure that will be more helpful than all of my googling so far.

To be honest? During the past few years, when I was struggling to lose a little weight, I would joke that I just wanted someone to tell me how to eat to be more healthy. And now? I have an appointment with someone who will tell me just that, and a REALLY REAL reason not to fuck this up. In a lot of ways, this feels a bit like a blessing in disguise. In an effort to keep my baby as healthy as possible, maybe I’ll learn how to get MYSELF healthier. That can’t be a bad thing.

Even if I can’t promise I won’t whine about all the candy and cookies I won’t be eating. I’m still human.

On Daily Photo Projects

01.15.2014 :: frozen fog

I seem to have signed myself up for another year of daily photos without fully intending to. My fourth round of Project 365 (from July 2011-July 2012) didn’t feel like much of a success, considering how I had to drag myself kicking and screaming through it. Which isn’t to say I haven’t gotten to that kicking and screaming stage with each round of Project 365. But after that last time, I said I really, really wouldn’t do it again, and I meant it.

02.05.2014 :: iced over

And then, just like every period between Project 365 years, I kind of … totally stopped taking photos like I used to. This time, it’s been different, because sure, I’m still taking photos almost every day, but they’re for my scrapbook. There’s a subtle difference in my head in photo quality based on where I share them: instagram is all phone photos, and has now become the place where I share photos just for fun, or something funny I noticed. It’s also the place where I interact with others the most; many of my old flickr friends have moved entirely to instagram, and I’ve made quite a few new ones through the #projectlife hashtag, which is awesome. Flickr is still the place where I post my “real” photos, the ones I am proud of or think are slightly better than the everyday stuff I share on instagram (although there’s definitely overlap between the two). And then there are the photos that only ever make it into my scrapbook: every day photos that document life or an event simply or less artfully but that aren’t “worthy” of sharing on the internet at large (like blurry photos of Luna playing or being crazy). Sometimes I can’t even describe how I make this decision on a particular photo.

02.19.2014 :: baby kitten/baby belly

All of that to explain that I’ve been taking plenty of photos, but the purpose is totally different. I’m documenting everyday life, but the art and creativity isn’t always there. I haven’t added very many photos at all to my Ones I Like Best flickr set. I’m not going on photo walks or taking photos just because or bringing my “real” camera around with me anymore. When I was in the throes of the first three rounds of Project 365, I ALWAYS had my dSLR with me. Sure, that’s how my beloved XTi got so beat up, but I also wasn’t missing out on photos like I am now. The excuse is surely that the iPhone camera is better than any other phone camera I’ve had… but even with the photos I take on the iPhone that I love, somewhere in there, I know it could have turned out just a bit better.

02.23.2014 :: lazy Sunday

A few of my flickr friends are still working on daily photo projects, and a few others started new ones on January 1st. I took a photo on the first day of the year, and tossed around the idea of doing a photo a day for the month of January… and then got a whole bunch of capslock-filled comments urging me to just keep going for the year. I couldn’t really argue with them; 2014 is going to be a hell of a year, and how awesome would it be to document it like I always used to? To get back into real photography just in time to have the greatest photo subject of all on the scene?

02.24.2014 :: sunset drive

I’m 64 days into the project, and I’m beginning to wonder if it was a super great idea. But then, Project 365 is always the hardest in the winter, when it’s cold and there’s no light and you don’t DO much. I really do miss photography and taking photos I’m proud of, stretching that particular side of my creativity. And if there’s anything I’ve learned about myself, it’s that when I start a project that involves numbering, once I’ve started, I’m pretty unlikely to give up out of stubbornness or an OCD need to not miss a day or end on a random day. So here I am. Again, apparently. Even though I said I’d never do it again.

Never say never again, I guess.

The Baby’s Room: Before

One of the most tangible things in this whole “hey, you’re having a baby!” business has been the baby’s eventual room. We never really had a plan for the third bedroom in our house, other than that it would be an eventual nursery… and finding out I was pregnant only a week after moving in meant we didn’t have much time to fill the room with other stuff.

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the view from the room’s doorway. I knew I wanted this to be the baby’s room because of that bay window.

When I tell people that we don’t know whether the baby is a boy or a girl, their concerns are focused on two areas: buying clothes for the baby and the baby’s room. “But how will you decorate a room without knowing whether the baby’s a girl or a boy?!” was a very frequent question. Truthfully, I doubt either Dan or I would plan a nursery totally based around the baby’s sex (all pink/purple/blue? just not our style). But I will say that it has taken some creativity to think up plans for a nursery that don’t feel slightly more girl or boy. Even if you’re not talking pink or blue, some color combinations definitely feel more “girl” or “boy” to me, and I really want this to be a happy space that works either way.

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this is the wall facing the door; we figure we’ll put the crib here. we also have to find a way to hide that damn cable moden…

The walls in the room started out a pale periwinkle blue. I knew right from the get-go that I wanted gray walls. Gray walls and white furniture, actually. I love that combination SO much I’d probably have every room in the house that way if I didn’t have a husband to keep me in check. (Or a house that didn’t really need to be painted at all when we moved in.) I convinced Dan to take the double doors off the closet, primarily to keep them from taking up half of the available wall space when open. I saw some nurseries on Pinterest that used a super vivid color on the inside of the closet, and I LOVE that idea as a way to bring in a bright color.

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so the closet’s got SOME crap in it. but much of this stuff is awesome stuff our amazing friends have handed down; it’s kinda crazy to have actual baby gear IN OUR HOUSE.

People love to ask what the “theme” of the nursery is, and while we don’t really have a theme in the way most people think of it (beachy or owls or what have you), I definitely have a general goal: mostly white and gray with LOTS of pops of vivid, primary colors. We have started painting the inside of the closet yellow, and it looks pretty awesome. I also realized that the red desk of my dreams (which has gone unused as an actual desk since I moved in with Dan) fits this theme perfectly AND would be a pretty sneaky way to store diapers. I figure we’ll bring in lots of colorful artwork, and maybe get a night table in a crazy color. I’m also working on a blanket for the baby that’s all bright colors that will hopefully tie everything together.

the baby's room (before)
the red desk of legend. also? the old paint color doesn’t look too bad in these photos. trust me, it was not cute in person.

As of this writing, we have put two coats of paint on the walls and inside the closet. We still need to paint (ALL) the trim, because for some reason, the trim in this room is off-white, despite the rest of the house having bright white trim. I’m a little daunted by that task, just because of all the cutting in and not dripping on wood floors it’ll involve… but I know it’ll be so worth it. We need to decide if we want to get some help installing an overhead light fixture or ceiling fan, and we definitely need to address the heat in the room, which is kind of … non-existent. (This room is the farthest from the furnace and significantly colder than the rest of the bedrooms. Granted, it won’t be an issue for the baby since he or she will be making his or her grand appearance at the start of summer, but we still need to figure it out.) I finally found a rug after a LOT of online shopping, which I’m super excited about. I’ve got some diy ideas for some wall art, and we’ve got some closet organizey plans in place, too. So while we maybe can’t say that things are coming together yet, we’ve started, and that is pretty exciting.

(Pregnant) Confessions

(Confessions One) (Confessions Two) (Confessions Three) (Confessions Four) (Confessions Five)

  • I still feel guilty that I didn’t really have any morning sickness.
  • I didn’t have a magical moment when the + showed up on the test after which I was consumed with love for my unborn baby. It was something a little more like stunned disbelief.
  • I still feel mostly gobsmacked by the whole thing.
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about ice cream and seasonal Reese’s peanut butter cups. (Seasonal ones have a much better peanut butter to chocolate ratio.)
  • I’m inordinately terrified that my feet will swell and never go back to their original size. Size ten is PLENTY large enough, baby. (Think of all the converse!!!)
  • I don’t seem to be having stereotypical cravings, but obsessions with certain foodstuffs that burn hot and fast, and after they’re over, I want NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with said foodstuff. (The now-unappealing list includes pumpkin squash ravioli frozen dinners and strawberry Newtons, most notably).
  • In the last week, the baby’s kicks have gone from gentle little rumbles to shockingly strong actual KICKS that often make me gasp out loud. But the new strength means Dan felt one from the outside for the first time, and that was kinda amazing.
  • I’m still caught off guard by people being extra kind and taking care of me (when my sister- and brother-in-law each grabbed an elbow walking through an icy parking lot; when a friend walked me back from lunch to make sure I got past all the ice safely). Not because it’s weird that they’d be nice, but more that I forget, a little, that I need to be 50x more careful.
  • I am surprised that I haven’t had too many overly emotional sobfests (which is not to say that I haven’t had any). I have been SUPER irritable, though.
  • I really, really, really miss beer.