Hello, 2016

It’s the new year, and this season always makes me reflective (whether I’ve been in the habit of blogging or not). As much as I’ve been reading this year that it’s an arbitrary change, that you can make a resolution to change or choose a word any day, just start!… it’s hard to ignore how refreshing it is to turn the page to January and have a whole year ahead of you to start over.

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2015 was a really great year; at the start of the year, I was emerging from the fog of new motherhood and beginning to see how I could fit my old self into my new life. Instead of one little word, I chose “just start” to inspire 2015, and I think I did a pretty good job of keeping that in the back of my mind. I started taking Ben to classes at the baby gym, I became a member of the local MOMs Club (and a regular member of their book club, which I’m so glad I did). I even exchanged numbers with a few moms, I mean, who am I even.

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And then at the end of the summer, we found out that we’re going to have another baby, which is so exciting and hard to comprehend all at once. I’ve been finding it almost hard to remember that I’m pregnant the past few months, despite my intense aversion to all meat (huh? so weird) and the fact that I spent most of Ben’s naptimes from September through November napping myself just so I could make it to 9pm each night. Taking care of Ben all day every day has a way of completely taking over my brain space. We found out in early December that it’s a girl and you guys, I’m still SO surprised. Although basically everyone we know had decided it was a girl, I became convinced it was actually a boy (as a way to be contrary? I don’t even know). So then I think I ended up being the only one who was surprised by the news.

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But you guys, a girl. A daughter! In some ways, being the mother of a daughter scares me so much more than having a son. How do I make sure she doesn’t have the same anxieties that I do? How do I help her be strong and brave and kind? (I mean… then I think about it and of COURSE it’s going to be just as hard to help teach Ben these things. But I don’t know. I always had more male friends than female and don’t even get me started about my aversion to glittery pink things and princesses.)

But then I picture a little dark-haired girl with bangs and I can’t imagine not having a daughter. I’m so excited. Now that the holidays are over and I’ve had a little more time to get used to the idea that this baby in there is a girl (it is seriously so weird to know already, after not knowing for almost 40 weeks with Ben!), now that it’s 2016, it’s like oh RIGHT. We’re having a baby in a few months. Maybe we should like… prepare or something. (Oh my goodness, you have no idea the task ahead of me cleaning out the craft room closet…. just thinking about it gives me the shivers.)

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Ben is … well, he’s Ben. He’s exhausting and funny and SO strong-willed and sometimes kinda impatient and obsessed with anything with wheels and busy busy busy. He understands so much, and although he doesn’t say any of the “normal” first baby words like mama or dada or bye, he learned windmill this week, so, you know. I feel like that says a lot about him in general. It amazes me how fast he’s learning, and watching him figure things out is so much fun. Honestly, half the time, I just hang out and watch him, like what’s he going to do next? He gets so MAD at me when I tell him not to do something and it’s hilarious because he lays it on SO thick with the crocodile tears and hurling himself to the floor… but it’s also SO frustrating (especially when it happens in places like Target). Dan and I wonder a lot about how much of this is just toddler stuff, like the pre-terrible twos, and how much is his personality. I guess we’ll find out in a few months. Oof.

When I get started wondering how difficult a terrible-two Ben is going to be, and then I realize that’s about when we’ll have another baby to take care of, I start to get really freaked out. It was never a question for either of us that we wanted to have at least one more baby; having siblings has been one of the absolute best things for both me and Dan. Giving Ben siblings is something we have wanted to do from day one. And I know it will be an adjustment, a few months of survival mode, for all of us. On the days when Ben is being an extra big handful, it’s hard to imagine needing one of my hands for another person. …. And then I think about tiny onesies and newborn baby smell and getting to watch another baby learn all of these things for the first time and I’m back to being cool about it. (It’s complicated.)

So…. that’s about a million words about what’s happening these days. As much as I don’t miss blogging per se, or the pressure to figure out what to write about on a regular basis, I do miss having a reason to write stuff like this out. I’m always glad to have moments captured in time after the fact. So while I’m not saying “I’m back!” I’m also not going to stay completely away, if that makes any sense.

Happy 2016, dudes. 🙂

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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.

(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.

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.

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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.

20 Weeks, or Halfway There

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Well! I’m 20 weeks pregnant, which means I’m officially halfway there. That idea is hard to get my mind around (as is … most of this whole pregnancy business, if I’m being honest). It feels a bit like I’ve been pregnant for an eternity already, although I have a feeling the second 20 weeks will go by a LOT faster than the first have.

Dan has been taking belly photos once a month, this is the first month in which I think I actually look pregnant, instead of like I ate a few too many burritos. I’m really excited about this, even if finding maternity clothes that work has been a lot harder than I expected. (The number of pairs of jeans I’ve ordered and returned is … high.) I can still get away with my normal sweaters and t-shirts for the most part, but those days are dwindling. And I haven’t been able to use those ridiculous belly bands (just wear your own jeans unbuttoned! Because that’s not awkward and super uncomfortable, even with a stretch donut of fabric preventing them from totally falling down!) in little more than a month, and good riddance.

I’m still pretty tired. It’s big news if I can stay up until 9:30pm these days, and that’s an improvement. I keep waiting for this mystical “second trimester energy boost”… and fearing it may never come. I’m kind of used to it now, and don’t really expect to get much done on weeknights other than sitting on the couch for a few hours. We’re also unpacked now, so I’m not staring at boxes feeling guilty while I sit around. Otherwise, I have been feeling pretty good, and feeling very grateful for that. I have some heartburn here and there, and I’ve been more congested as winter progresses (pregnancy rhinitis! It’s a thing!).

01.06.2014 :: halfway!

I had my 20 week ultrasound yesterday, which is the big anatomy scan where most people find out whether they’re having a girl or a boy… but we decided to wait and be surprised in May. In the interest of full disclosure, knowing that we could know (and having to look away from the screen to avoid knowing yesterday!) is a lot harder than when it’s just an idea. I totally understand now why people find out as soon as they can. But after a few scary test results earlier in my pregnancy, we will really be relieved to have a happy, healthy baby in May, no matter whether it’s a girl or a boy. (We had extra testing to confirm that the baby is, in fact, okay, but the whole thing was SO scary and it’s hard to forget how that “omg what if the baby ISN’T okay?!” felt. It makes us that much more grateful for every glimpse of the baby, for every “things are looking great” from a doctor or nurse, to be sure.)

No one seems to have any very strong guesses so far, other than Dan’s sister and my mother-in-law, both of whom are convinced that the baby is a boy. I’m wondering if it’s a girl (partially in direct response to all those “well I’m sure it’s a boy” folks?), based on the fact that there are four generations of eldest daughters who also happen to be the only ones in their generation with brown eyes (me, my mom, my grandmother, and my great grandmother). So naturally, that makes me think it’d be pretty cool to have a brown-eyed girl to make it five generations. However, I have hunches that lead me to think the baby’s a boy almost as often, so who knows, really.

It still doesn’t feel entirely real, except when it’s terrifying to imagine the two of us being allowed to take a newborn baby home to take care of all by ourselves. I have been reading blogs long enough to have read some scary birth stories and scary stories of sleeplessness and everyone in the house crying and how hard it is to learn how to be a parent. I know we’ll figure it out together… but it still doesn’t stop me from being a little… completely unable to process how it’ll all work. As a planner who likes to know ahead of time what I’m getting into, accepting that I can’t know this ahead of time will be my project for the next four and a half months. But I know Dan and I are a really great team, and we have so many people in our corner (in person and on the internets!). So as much as I’m terrified, I also know, somewhere in there, that we’ll work it out.

Oh hi, 2014.

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2013 was by far the biggest year of my life. We didn’t really set out to, but we ended up cramming about as many Life Events as we could in one calendar year. It was a huge, unforgettable year, full of changes big and little, and in a way, I’m a little sad that it’s over. Just because it was the year we did so many awesome things.

4.52 :: the forest for the trees

Obviously, marrying Dan was 2013’s high point. Because so many other big things have happened since then, it seems like a million years ago already. People love to ask how married life is, and to be honest? It isn’t all that different, except for this undeniable sense of contentment. It was one of the best days either of us can ever remember, and sometimes I wish I could go back and live it again because it was just so happy. I’ve even gotten mostly used to the new last name; I thought it would take longer, for sure.

cider and Indiana Pale Ale

I finally started feeling settled in my new-old job, and Dan moved into a new position at his company. He’d been searching for a good fit for a long time, and while I know as well as anybody that switching jobs is never easy, I’m awfully proud of him.

at last, greenness

We finally took our first real vacation together in June, which was something we both needed SO badly. With Dan’s job-switching stress, and the absurdly intense stress of our house hunt, it was so amazing to get on a plane with my favorite person and just escape everything and everyone for a week. I don’t know if I’d recommend to others to delay their honeymoon as long as we did; it was so hard to have to wait so long. But the one unexpected benefit (other than the obvious one: being in freaking paradise) was that it felt like the wedding phase of our lives got stretched out just a liiiiittle bit longer.

Antiguan beach

Buying a house was not fun. We did not enjoy the process even a little. We did get some hearty laughs at some of the places we saw, don’t get me wrong … but holy hell did it suck. Even after we fell in love with the house we ended up buying, the inspection/negotiation/closing process made it hard to relax and believe it was really going to happen up until we had the keys in our hands.

house hunting adventures

Getting settled felt like it took a long time, but now that we ARE settled, we both love our house so much. We feel really at home here, and we have so much space. We took some time and got some furniture that fits really well where we needed it, and other than getting some decorations and curtains hung, it feels like we actually LIVE here. Like we’re going to stay a while, or something. And that feeling? Is so, so good.

what can I say, he's an artist

And as if getting married and buying a house weren’t big enough deals, we ALSO found out I’m pregnant on the first day of fall. And even when it’s something you’re hoping for, it’s hard not to be blown away seeing that plus sign. The rest of the year was a blur of tiredness, disbelief, awe, and hope.

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So if you’ve been following along, in 2013, I acquired a husband, a house, a pregnancy, and a kitten. I don’t know how I got so stinkin’ lucky. The roads to each of those things were a little bumpy at times, which means I feel even luckier to be here, with so much goodness at the start of the new year.

Yep, she climbed the tree.

It’s hard to think of anything but our impending baby when I look forward to 2014. It’s finally hitting us that yes, we are actually going to have an actual baby in May, and that yeah, maybe we should start… preparing, or something. Having wanted to have a baby for most of my life, I am finding it basically impossible to comprehend that in a few short months, it’ll be really real. But it will be. 2014 will be a year of challenges and impossibly huge love and wonder and learning and forever changes. I’m going to need to be brave and resilient and flexible. But most of all, in 2014, I’ll become a mother. Watch Dan become a father. Finally get to meet this little baby of ours. Even though I still can’t quite believe it, I can’t wait. It’s gonna be so awesome.

The Life Changing Thing I Haven’t Been Able to Write About Yet

We found out on the first day of fall, a quiet Sunday only a week after we moved into our new house. We had an idea that it might be possible, but after a few disappointments, I couldn’t really let myself believe it was actually real. I always thought I’d be the girl to buy 20 tests and take them for days before it was possible to get a real result, but I waited. And waited. And waited. I had all these cute ideas about how I’d make Dan check, because I’d be too nervous to look myself… and the + appeared before I could even set the damn thing on the counter. Within seconds.

I made myself wait a whole 24 hours before I ordered the tiny red Converse.

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I also ordered myself a new pair of chucks, partly because I needed a new pair of black ones, but partly so I could assemble my method of telling people. I nestled the tiny sneakers into the adult-sized shoebox, with a book and a few other random things to weigh it down and make it feel like it had big-sized sneakers inside.

A week later, a few hours into a birthday dinner for my sister, I told my family that I had bought a really crazy pair of Converse – maybe the wackiest pair yet – and I brought them for show and tell. I passed the box to my mom first, who opened it, looked at me in utter disbelief, closed the box, and handed it back. Then I handed it to my dad on my right side, who opened it, gave me such a Look, and handed it back. Meanwhile, my brother-in-law is all, “Well FINE. We didn’t want to see your new sneakers ANYWAY.” and I’m wondering how everyone is being so quiet as I try not to shake. Finally, I opened the box so my siblings and their significant others could see, and my sister screamed and jumped out of her seat, and chaos ensued.

It was pretty amazing. And the best part? They all honestly believed that it was just that I’d bought a pair of neon glitter-striped Converse and was so excited to show them.

We told Dan’s family in a more traditional way (well, by him pointing in triumph at my belly and waiting for them to catch on) but the reaction was equally chaotic. Waiting all this time to tell The World was really, really hard.

So I haven’t really been writing here, partly because of how tired I’ve been (which, yes, has been due to my moving hangover, and getting used to my new commute, but also because of my…condition), and partly because it’s really hard to say anything at all when you can’t talk about the ONLY THING you can think about, ever.

It has been hard to get this whole real-actual-baby idea through my head, still. I have been feeling (mostly) normal (and don’t get me wrong – I have been thanking my lucky stars to the moon and back every day for that), and I still look the same. It has felt a little bit like I just stopped drinking all that beer and diet coke to play some “let’s pretend I’m pregnant!” game. I think my appetite is finally coming back, although if I eat anything even closely resembling a normal-sized meal, I feel like I’ve just eaten four Thanksgiving dinners. (I’m truly worried about Thanksgiving itself; I may have to make my mom give me a dessert-sized plate to prevent me from causing my own misery with my inability to exercise any semblance of potatoes-and-stuffing self control.)

But we’re really just so excited. I have a million ideas for the baby’s room, and I’ve started crocheting granny squares for his or her blanket. Sometimes it all hits me – that there’s a baby in there – like a ton of bricks (like when I saw a tweet around Thanksgiving about how pregnant women have not one but TWO creepy skeletons inside them! ack!) I’m definitely afraid of many of the pregnancy symptoms people like to scare you with (“I hope you aren’t too attached to all those Converse! They won’t fit before this is over!!”) and hoping that above all, things go well from now until May (and, obviously, after that), and that this little one is healthy. This is such an adventure, and I’m so thankful to be starting it. And thank you all so, so much for all of your happy wishes – it was seriously SO grin-inducing to make all of our various posts public and see so many people sharing our excitement 🙂