Friday, January 31, 2014

21 Weeks: Exercise During Pregnancy

When I was at Body Pump this morning I noticed the bar was starting to consistently hit the bump on my clean and presses and I realized I'd been incredibly lucky so far with working out during pregnancy. I thought I'd write about how it's gone for the first 21 weeks, knowing it could all change any day now!

This summer, I think I was in the best shape I'd been in since high school. I was also eating plenty, so I don't think I necessarily looked more fit than I had in the past, but I felt strong, I had endurance, I looked forward to working out, and I wasn't injured for the first time in years! (I credit the chiropractor 100%).

Before leaving for Slovenia, I was in a groove of happily working out 4-5 days a week. The mix usually included 1-2 runs, 1-2 Body Pump classes, and/or 1-2 swim workouts. I think the combo of cardio, strength training, and low-impact swimming was a good one for my body, emotionally and physically.

I didn't work out while we were in Slovenia, but we did do lots of walking. The week we got back, I was sick as a dog with laryngitis so I think I went to 1 Body Pump class? The week after that, I could definitely tell that my inactivity was taking a toll emotionally and physically, but I had that positive pregnancy test in the back of my mind and I was a little nervous about messing something up.

After reading in numerous books, though, that exercise was okay-- good for the baby, in fact-- I knew I needed to get back in the routine. The general school of thought is that as long as you were in a routine of working out pre-pregnancy, there's no reason you can't maintain that as long as you feel okay with it in pregnancy. Even the old rule of keeping your heart rate below 140 isn't really applicable anymore. Instead, they recommend going by how you feel: if you're dizzy, lightheaded, or feel like your heart is racing, stop.

Now we know that there are many benefits of exercise during pregnancy, for both mom and baby.  Safe, moderate exercise improves mood/body image, helps maintain a healthy weight gain, strengthens muscles, and prepares the body for childbirth.  Some studies have demonstrated a link between exercise and a lower risk for complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.  Furthermore, “Previous research has indicated that exercise in the first trimester, when the placenta is formed, helps forge extra blood vessels so that there is more opportunity to exchange nutrients between mom and baby” (source). And last, but certainly not least, when the mom exercises, the baby’s heart benefits, too – resulting in a lower and more efficient fetal heart rate (source). 

Sounds good, right? The CDC actually recommends that healthy women get at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, during and after their pregnancy. Furthermore, they say that healthy women who already do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as running, or large amounts of activity can continue doing so during and after their pregnancy provided they stay healthy and discuss with their health care provider how and when activity should be adjusted over time.

I keep reminding myself that if I think it's hard to fit in a workout now, it's going to be infinitely harder to fit one in after the baby is born! For now, it gives me something tangible to do to take care of the baby and to take care of me.

I've been aiming for 3-4 workouts a week, and barring bad work weeks and sickness, I've been fortunate enough to make that happen so far. So far, my workouts have been a mix of running (now elliptical), Body Pump, and Zumba. I have a feeling these will start to transition toward walking, swimming, Body Pump, and yoga as I get farther along.

In the first trimester, it was HARD to drag myself to the gym, but working out got rid of my nausea every single time. I did notice things starting to get harder as my blood volume expanded, but I was able to make small modifications during those workouts to get through without a problem. Now that I'm in the second trimester, I've been reaping the benefits of extra energy without (too much) extra weight holding me back yet. (Although I do tell myself that pregnancy weight gain has been a good way to raise my squat weight without adjusting the bar- ha!) As long as I remember to bring water to the gym and eat right after my workout, I'm good to go. At this point, many workouts are more mental than emotional, and I figure it's good practice for labor... you can't quit because you're tired then, right?!

Sadly, I did have to stop running around 15 weeks when my IT band started to hurt again. I was hoping pregnancy would loosen that sucker up, but I think in loosening my hips, it actually put more stress on my IT band. I started tilting my chest press bench at 18 weeks, and I stopped doing situps at 19 weeks and switched to side planks + a few Pilates moves during the abs portion of class. At 19 weeks I also noticed the bump starting to get in the way of my clean and presses.  It's not affecting my form yet, but it'll be a little bittersweet when it does. The upside is that when we do deadlift rows, I don't have to pull as far to get the bar to my belly button ;-)

If I've learned anything in the last 21 weeks of working out, it's that I'm not in control of my body nearly as much as I think I am. It's been really weird to watch the scale rise when I'm working out and eating more or less the same. But I love that it's something baby and I can do "together" right now that's good for both of us.


Cravings: Vegetables! I have eating way too many grains and way too few vegetables this week. It's hard for me to eat a lot of greens in the winter anyway, but it's also hard because not everything is appealing all the time and sometimes the thought of forcing vegetables down keeps me from even trying. We're going to Cafe Gratitude for dinner tonight and I'm so excited... veggies always seem to taste better when someone else prepares them!

Aversions: I haven't really had any for weeks, but this week the aforementioned vegetables haven't been too appealing. My nausea has also started coming and going, although it's not nearly at first trimester proportions. I think there's been a major hormonal swing and growth spurt going on.

Overall: Last week was EXTREMELY emotional, and this week I've noticed the return of a few first trimester symptoms, telling me that perhaps my growth spurt prediction from last week did indeed happen. The scale jumped up 2 pounds (no doubt because I'm hungry and eating every 1-2 hours), parents at work (who knew I was pregnant) have started commenting that it's visible in scrubs now, and I can feel baby moving more and more-- Ross is even able to feel occasional movement when I lay down in the evening giving the baby the freedom to move around.

I can tell my abs and my skin are stretching. I used to joke that with my IBS, if I ate something that didn't disagree with me, I looked 5 months pregnant thanks to bloating. Now I know that's not quite true. Bloating is really uncomfortable, higher up on my torso, and painful but possible to suck it in and get my jeans on. Now I know that for me, 5 months pregnant ACTUALLY looks like a round but hard lower abdomen that's visible when I lay down at night and I can't suck it in for the life of me. It's looking normal from the front but foreign from the side. It's not minding nearly as much as I thought I would when I hit a new weight bracket on the scale, officially surpassing my highest-ever weight. It's feeling pretty foreign from the ribs down, but looking fairly normal from the ribs up. My OB said this week that she thinks 20-week uteruses (uteri?) are the cutest thing ever and I might have to agree. It's so distinct, but still so tiny! I think I'm finally reaching the point where I'm starting to feel pregnant in a good way, and it makes me so happy!

I'm starting to understand people who say they looove pregnancy. Last week's ultrasound took an awfully long time to sink in, but now I'm starting to believe that that baby boy, the one who has been growing away for 21 weeks, is actually in there. I absolutely love him and we cannot wait to meet him!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Never Enough

(I wrote this a few weeks ago, and was too afraid to post it. Things are getting better, but these thoughts are still a legitimate part of this pregnancy and I want to remember it.)

Wondering why there's complete radio silence lately between my weekly pregnancy updates? I was prepared for the physical discomforts of pregnancy, but I'm having an immensely hard time dealing with the hormonal outbursts, irrational thinking, and anxiety, and I feel like I finally need to talk about it a little bit.

First of all, I'm sad that I'm sad, because I wanted pregnancy to be so blissful. Don't get me wrong, I love the weekly changes I notice taking place, and it's so completely surreal to be on this side of the exam table for once, but I'm grappling with a loss of expectations and I feel like it's something no one really talks about during pregnancy. For me, a lot of my anxiety and remorse centers around-- what else? Work. The axis around which it feels my life has revolved this past year. I miss the simple days of having one job. I had no idea how good I had it!

[The meat of this post may be a bit of a pity party. Please proceed with caution. And allow me to say that I know things could be SO SO much worse. This is simply a reality that I'm having a hard time with right now.]

My first 5 years as a nurse, I hoarded my PTO for an ever-elusive maternity leave. This time last year, dissatisfaction and a lingering feeling of restlessness drove me to leave my full-time day shift position for a Monday-Friday job in a high-risk OB clinic. By June, I was finally ready to admit that the clinic was a terrible fit for me. Of course, by then my day shift position was long-since filled and the NICU census was down, meaning they weren't hiring at all. So I left the clinic without a backup plan.

I searched for 2+ months, managed to find two jobs to cobble together an income, and got pregnant. On the one hand, I'm so grateful. Unemployment was much rougher than I had anticipated, and I'm very thankful that it only lasted two months. I do enjoy my current jobs and the variety that they provide, but it's hard to juggle two very different schedules. And so I still find myself where I started this whole mess: with a lingering sense of dissatisfaction. Without all the side perks of a job with benefits. It's a harsh reminder that the problem really lies within, not without, right? It's been an expensive lesson to learn.

When this baby comes, I'm looking at 8-12 weeks without a paycheck. No PTO to receive base pay for a month or two, no FMLA to receive partial pay for a few weeks after that, no free delivery at the hospital I worked at... It's entitled and bratty, I know. But truly, it's just not the picture-perfect scenario I imagined and planned on having in place for our first child. (Six years of neonatology and perinatology experience reminds me that there are an infinite number of things worse than no PTO for maternity leave. I do know that. But again, this is simply what I'm struggling with at the moment.)

I'm SO VERY GRATEFUL to have a baby on the way, and I'm so completely lucky that Ross has a stable job with benefits. We're blessed in many, many ways and we know we're able to live on one income if we have to... we've been doing that for roughly half of our marriage in one capacity or another. But to be honest? It's a really hard pill for me to swallow that I'm barely contributing now, and I'm going to be contributing even less in another 20 weeks. I'm used to being the provider. I'm used to having the backup plan and the job security and the good insurance. It's really humbling to know that I'm working my butt off on nights and weekends and home visits and I bring in less money than ever. Tax season has been a lovely reminder of that. It's really true when they say, "don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?" All those hours of unused vacation, all that planning... gone.

I know it's selfish, but this has been surprisingly hard for me to deal with. A large part of my emotional response to all of this is probably due to this time of the year, which is always rough for me. Pregnancy hormones and massive life changes on the way are definitely not helping. Then getting all 4 of my W-2s in the mail this month was a slap in the face. 2013 was an expensive lesson in what does and doesn't truly satisfy, and my tendency toward remorse and regret and anxiety has never been stronger.

You know what? A job will never satisfy or fulfill me. How many times have I said that and then turned back toward the work and tried to make it a tidier picture of what I want it to look like?

On a good day, I can still see that nothing is an accident. God has so precisely ordained every one of these circumstances. Even if my decisions were selfish or downright sinful, he is using them to show me more of His goodness and provision. But some days? I miss my old job so much I can practically taste it. I get bitter when I hear old co-workers complaining about the very job I was complaining about 12 short months ago-- they don't realize how lucky they are. Day shift! Insurance! PTO! I'm realizing I have a bit of a self-pity complex, and my problems always have to be bigger than everyone else's. That's not right and it's something big that I need to work though. (Then again I also tend to make reckless decisions that cause bigger problems with ever-rippling repurcussions! I need to work on that too.)

I don't know. This is all ugly, but I feel like I need to get it off my chest. Get it onto this page and turn to a new one. I desperately need God to break into my dark heart today and get past my stubbornness to once again remind me of his grace and truth. My mom and several sweet friends have been reminding me of this, but it's hard to hear through the tears. Some days, I feel like my bad decisions are bigger than God's provision and God's love, and that's just not true.

This sermon has been sitting with me all week and it couldn't have been timed better. (It really got pertinent for me starting at 20 minutes in, if you want to listen to it-- which you should!) There are so many truths in it that I needed to hear: Sometimes Jesus' delayed response isn't a contradiction of, but rather an expression of his love. I can't measure God's love by the absence of frustration and pain in my life. These are truths that I know deep down, but my pride has gotten in the way of my belief lately. I need these to wash over me again and sink in even deeper. Because a paycheck will NEVER be enough. The dream job will NEVER satisfy. And paid 'maternity leave'? Well... that's still a sore subject for now.

Friday, January 24, 2014

20 Weeks: It's a BOY!

We had our ultrasound on Wednesday and we were shocked to find out we're definitely having a boy! We got some sweet shots of his little face and feet, and a few good 3D images as well. My favorite sonographer from my old clinic ended up calling us back and I was thrilled. I knew that if anything was remotely off, she'd find it, which gave me some peace of mind going in.

Honestly, it was such a monumental and emotional moment for us that it's going to take some time to process it, but it was so fun to share that surreal, emotional moment with Ross. We love having a pronoun to use now, instead of saying "he/she," "it," or "the baby" all the time. It seems much more real, yet it's still incredibly hard to believe that there's a legit baby folded up and chilling out in there. He's changed so much since our 12 week sono!

The ultrasound also confirmed my suspicion that I have an anterior placenta, meaning there's a nice big cushion between my abdominal wall and the baby, which keeps me from feeling a ton of movement. I feel more movement every day, but it's still around the edges of my belly more than in the middle.

After the sono appointment we went to Pottery Barn Kids with a little bit of store credit we had and things really became more real when, instead of wandering the whole store imagining things, we knew we had to stick to the boy side. We're having a baby boy!!!

Afterwards, we celebrated with a serendipitously-planned dinner at Capital Grille for restaurant week! It was a really fun way to mark the occasion, and the Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, and flourless chocolate cake totally hit the spot. (It was one of the few times in my life I really craved a glass of red wine. I did not partake that night, but I think I will next time!)

The night before our ultrasound we decided to look at old wives tales just for kicks. Of course, all of these have a 50/50 chance of being right. We were kind of convinced it was a girl going into this week, but when the majority of the old wives tales pointed to boy, we started to realize hey- that's still a possibility. Of course, there's no doubt in our minds now that he's a boy!

Here are a few of the less ridiculous old wives' tales, and our corresponding answers:

-If you're carrying high and round, it's a girl. If you're carrying low and pointy, it's a boy. (BOY)

-If baby's heart rate is above 140 it's a girl, if it's below 140 it's a boy. (GIRL)

-If your hair becomes thinner, it's a girl. If it becomes thicker, it's a boy. (BOY)

-If you're craving sweets, it's a girl. If you're craving salty or sour foods, it's a boy. (BOY)

-If you have morning sickness, it's a girl. If you don't, it's a boy. (UNDECIDED. I definitely had nausea, but I never threw up.)

-If you break out more, it's a girl. If you don't, it's a boy. (GIRL)

-The Chinese Gender Predictor lets your plug in a few calendar dates and predicts what you'll have. (BOY)

-Mayans supposedly determined a baby's sex by looking at the mother's age at conception and the year of conception. If both are even or odd, it's a girl. If one's even and one's odd, it's a boy. (BOY)

-If Dad gains sympathy weight, it's a girl. If his weight stays the same, it's a boy. (BOY)

-If you're moody, you're having a girl. If you're happy, you're having a boy. (GIRL)

-If your legs stay the same size during pregnancy, it's a girl. If they get bigger, it's a boy. (BOY)

-If you have a dream about having a girl, you'll have a boy. And vice versa. (BOY)

-If you're graceful, it's a girl. If you're more clumsy, it's a boy. (BOY)

-If you can only agree on a name for a boy or a girl, you're having the gender you agree on a name for. (GIRL)

Pregnancy-wise, it's incredibly hard to believe we're halfway there! Simultaneously terrifying and exciting. I don't feel terribly pregnant yet, although "20 weeks" sounds much more legit than "19 weeks," and the belly is almost big enough for maternity shirts to look non-ridiculous on me (I've been layering long tanks from Target under my normal tops and it's worked well so far. Maternity jeans have been necessary for weeks, though).

Time is just flying by with the amount I've been working lately, and that makes me a little sad. I feel like my mind hasn't had time to catch up with the baby's gestational age. But then again, it might not catch up until I'm holding a brand new baby in my arms that belongs to me, for once?

Really my only symptoms this week have been out-of-control emotions and fatigue, which really might be two sides of the same coin. Both of these get worse every week, and also correspond with the number of night shifts I've worked that week...  But also, I'm TIRED. More than night shift tired, which I didn't think was possible. It doesn't help that I toss and turn after about 3am and I can't seem to feel rested.

When I had my doctor draw my labs a few weeks ago, it turned out that I had grown anemic already. I'm very glad I asked her to check, because they otherwise wouldn't have drawn labs again until 28 weeks and who knows how low my H/H would've been then! It was a relief to have a diagnosis (I'm not crazy! I'm tired because my hematocrit dropped 10 points in a 10 week time span!) but also a frustration (My numbers were so good in the first trimester. I eat meat 1-2 times a day, and we cook red meat 1-2 times a week. I take my prenatal vitamins. What gives?).

Two weeks ago, I started taking Floradix in the morning with a small glass of orange juice about 10 minutes before breakfast. About a week ago, I was starting to notice a big increase in my energy and endurance levels, but they've fallen again. I'm going to be asking my OB several questions about all this at my appointment this week.

And emotions. Where to begin? I can see objectively that I'm overreacting to everything, but I can't seem to not feel overwhelmed by things like tax returns (someday I will just have one W-2 in one state) and finding childcare and finding a house and renewing my RNC-NIC certification and applying for mortgages and... everything. I can't seem to be rational, and everything makes me want to dissolve into tears. Poor Ross. I'm having a hard time dealing with daily life right now and he's been good about picking up the slack.

(I feel like when I cry, it's for reasons more legit than this, but "tragedy-maker" is a good description!)

No real cravings this week, just eating more carbs and sugar than I'm really hungry for, simply because I'm tired. I am also starting to notice that my normal meals and snacks just don't keep me as full as they used to. I'm wondering if we're entering another growth spurt with the uptick in emotions, fatigue, and hunger. I seem to gain weight in huge overnight leaps, and then stay steady for a while. So far the leaps have occurred at 7 weeks, 14 weeks, 16 weeks, and 18 weeks, so I'm definitely due for another one. Baby boy was already an estimated 14oz at our ultrasound, and he's supposedly as long as a medium banana, so surely the belly will pop any day now...

Friday, January 17, 2014

19 Weeks and Grouchy

Nineteen weeks and I still don't feel like I look terribly pregnant when I wake up in the mornings. But once I eat breakfast, I'm shocked at how much my belly grows. I'll try to limit my babbling this week because it has been an emotional one: I knew pregnant women cried all the time, but I didn't expect to be so irritable, selfish, easily angered, and easily offended. I just hear myself talking sometimes and I wonder, why can't I stop talking?! And what happened to my filter? It's been really humbling.

I know most pregnant women also have a list of phrases that really bothers them and given my mood swings this week, I'm no exception. I thought I'd be a blissful pregnant woman, but I'm still working on some serious attitude adjustments. In the meantime, do not tell me I look too tiny to be __ weeks pregnant. Don't tell me, be careful, you don't want to gain too much weight! Don't advise me that I'm eating for two when I barely have self-control as it is. Don't insinuate that by working out, eating heated lunchmeat, or eating cooked sushi I don't care about my baby. Don't even tell me that healthy mom = healthy baby because then I will feel like an utter failure if anything ever goes wrong because that must mean that unhealthy mom = unhealthy baby. (See, I told you. Total brat.)

One other thing has been on my mind as we approach our next ultrasound... When people ask if we want a boy or a girl, we have been saying we don't care as long as it's healthy. But that phrase really really bothers me now. It sounds so conditional. If people only loved me when I was healthy, I would be very unloved. And if our baby needs special care, or is born early, or if we learn some sort of terrible news at this next ultrasound, I would like to think we'd love him or her all the more, right?

I worked three night shifts and three clinic shifts in the last 7 days, so it's safe to say my fatigue isn't improving, and while I'm functioning physically and intellectually on a shockingly small amount of sleep, I can't say that it's doing my emotions any favors. But let's end this on a positive note, because really this week really has been good overall.

The sweetest thing happened last Saturday. I woke up from my nap after working all night, and I made it all the way to the couch to lay down again. But at that point the baby started with some tiny, consistent little kicks on my right side. I could feel them inside and out, so I got Ross to come over, and he got to feel them too! It hasn't happened again yet, and most of the movement I feel is limited to vague shifting feelings when I'm bent over, or moving from an active to a resting position or vice versa. But I'll take what I can get! And I could tell Ross loved it. It's hard to believe this is all happening! We cannot grasp how completely our lives are going to change come June.

Symptoms: Other than the emotions, acne and evening nausea have flared up again this week. Starting to feel more movement, and more hip and lower back pain. Things are starting to readjust to prepare for baby. And it's so bizarre that a lot of the time, I can lay down, feel my stomach, and tell which corner the baby is hiding in! I'm looking forward to feeling more movement.

Cravings: Citrus fruit and sleep. Also, brownies-- I think I can blame sleep deprivation for that sugar craving!

Aversions: Mexican food. No idea why, since I've been loving it for weeks and weeks. Bland and/or sweet food sounds better this week.

Friday, January 10, 2014

18 Weeks: Ramblings

Well, I guess it's not just the holidays. Time is starting to speed up! I don't mind for now, because our anatomy ultrasound is at the end of the month and I'm so excited to see this little baby bouncing around again!

This week was pretty boring in pregnancy-land, which is awesome. I'm definitely in the sweet spot of the second trimester. I'm starting to look just a tad pregnant, but I don't have the nausea of the first trimester and I don't yet have the assumed physical discomforts of the huge belly. I have energy to work out, I love vegetables again, and it feels GREAT. Life is good! Especially when the baby decides to throw a tiny little punch from the inside once a day or so.

Although I do have the energy and desire to workout, I've noticed myself getting much more tired overall. I've mentioned this before, I know. I didn't really have fatigue in the first trimester but it's getting to me now. The dark days don't help at all. Neither does the Arctic cold. It was -23 on Monday and I'm not even exaggerating! I've also been FREEZING cold indoors when other people seem to be okay. So of course the perinatal nurse in me assumes hypothyroidism or anemia and I'm having my labs drawn today. Even if all my levels are normal, at least my doctor takes my requests seriously. I live in fear of being one of "those patients," ya know?

Speaking of labs, I got my MSAFP drawn at my last visit and the results came back this week totally fine (although it kills me to no longer be an employee and see the hard copies of my results myself, I will take the nurses word for it). This simply mean that there seems to be a very low risk for open neural tube defects, and the placenta is chugging away like it should.

[Insert graceful subject change here] So... maternity clothes? I'm definitely only in maternity jeans or my old leggings or athletic pants these days. It's much better for my self esteem to not feel a waistband digging in! My normal shirts are getting mighty short in the front, but maternity shirts still look a tad silly. I'm sure it won't be long before I switch over to those, though. And can I just say that vanity sizing is alive and well in maternity-land? I'm bigger than ever, and wearing smaller sizes than ever at places like Gap and Old Navy, where I've been shopping for ages! So weird. And pointless. It just goes to show you that numbers are more meaningless than ever and they certainly can't define you or your self-esteem.

I'll stop rambling soon, but I guess I've been mulling over a lot of topics! This week I've been especially fascinated with pregnancy cravings. I'm starting to believe the theory that your body needs something in the food you're craving. You know, as long as it's not excessive amounts of chocolate cake or something. When my craving is for anything besides sugar, I really do try to meet it. (And I'm not trying to sound holier-than-though. I also get my daily allotment of sugar, to be sure). I'm loving green leafy veggies this week and craving kale salads, kale chips, etc. (Sadly kale chips are too expensive for something I'd eat in one sitting, so haven't satisfied that craving yet).

In my first trimester, I was craving cheese like a madwoman. I've been dairy free for almost two years, and cheese and yogurt are certainly the thing I miss most, but it hasn't been difficult to eat dairy-free day in and day out. Until pregnancy. I was literally dreaming about cheese around weeks 7 and 8. I gave in a few times, and while it tasted phenomenal, it tore up my stomach. So I started taking calcium supplements, thinking maybe there was something in the cheese I needed. Sure enough, the cravings completely disappeared. Yeah, I still looked enviously at Ross' cheesy leftovers sometimes, but I wasn't drooling over them like I had been. About two weeks ago, the cravings came back and I realized I'd run out of calcium supplements. Started taking them again last week and I'm totally fine now. So bizarre, right?

Pregnancy appetite in itself also seems like it will be a constantly changing game. I'll be fine one week, and ravenous the next. I'm finding that it's important to have the fridge and pantry adequately stocked with HEALTHY food to snack on. Last week we came home to an empty fridge and I found myself eating mindlessly because I was a little hungry, but nothing we had was filling (read: lots of sugar). It brought up a whole vortex of old eating disorder thoughts, which was surprising, but shouldn't be I guess. There's a lot of change going on physically, emotionally, and hormonally right now!

The last few days I've been famished while preparing dinner, so I'll snack on something healthy, but then not be really hungry for the dinner I just prepared. I usually eat it as well, but it doesn't taste as good as it would've if I'd waited. Aaand I realize if THIS is my biggest concern of the week, I'm thanking the good Lord. A healthy baby, and a mom who's learning more about herself. God is good.

On that note, God really is good to let all this pregnancy stuff happen slowly. It's a LOT of change to take in. As excited as I am to find out if the baby is a boy or girl, and to actually meet her or him, it might be too overwhelming if we didn't have 38-40 weeks to prepare for it!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Proof is in the Pudding

I feel like I need to start this post by saying that this little baby I'm carrying is awesome. I sure hope I'm taking good care of him or her, because he or she is certainly being kind to me. I mean, the baby appears to be craving veggies?

I was at Whole Foods this week grocery shopping on an empty stomach-- always a bad idea. I figured I'd get one of those flourless fudgy chocolate cookies in the bakery as my treat (I was addicted to them last spring). But as I walked past the bakery case, suddenly I realized that what I really wanted was... kale salad? Garlicky kale salad. So I got some from the salad bar, and it was awesome. Who am I?!

It's been a huge relief to crave savory, salty, or spicy foods the last few months instead of sweet stuff. Like, a huge mental relief. That being said, it's still really hard to stop once I do start on the sweets. And I'm still enjoying plenty of sugar, as evidenced by this post! But by and large I feel much more free (freer?) of that vicious sugar craving cycle than I used to, if that doesn't sound too melodramatic.

But that brings us to this dessert recipe. I've been wanting to make this vegan pudding for a while, but never really got around to it. Until I tracked my protein intake a few days ago. Did you know that pregnant women need 60-100 grams of protein a day? It appears that I hover around 60-70g most days. So I thought upping my protein might help with my waning energy levels, and this pudding seemed like a delicious way to sneak some in. It contains 12g of protein per serving! I feel compelled to tell you it also contains 28g of sugar per serving, so don't get too excited. Either way, it's truly delicious. Even my husband agrees. Don't knock it 'til you try it!

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 10-oz bag of vegan chocolate chips (Trader Joe's chocolate chips are the cheapest vegan ones I've found)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12oz silken tofu, drained (make sure it's silken tofu)

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler. Of if you don't have one, put them in a microwavable bowl and warm in 30-second increments, stirring between each one. Meanwhile, dump the tofu, milk, and vanilla in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and blend again until silky smooth. Refrigerate for at least one hour and enjoy!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Single-Serving Granola

I love granola. It might be a little indulgent to make one serving at a time, but hear me out: I'm one to eat an entire batch of granola, regardless of size. Ergo if the entire batch is one serving, it's not a problem! This recipe is really simple to make, only dirties one bowl, and makes the entire apartment smell amazing.

1/4 cup gluten-free oats (I get mine at Trader Joes)
1/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
salt to taste
cinnamon to taste
(walnuts would be an amazing addition, but I'm out right now)

Preheat the oven to 325. Melt the butter in a microwavable bowl (it takes about 30 seconds in my microwave). Mix in the maple syrup and vanilla. Stir in salt and cinnamon to taste (I like a good 4-5 twists of the salt grinder in this recipe, to get a sweet and salty effect, but yours might be different so taste as you go!) Add the oatmeal and coconut to the bowl and mix well until everything is coated. It's that easy!

Then spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. DO NOT OVERBAKE! Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and you're done. Now enjoy!

Friday, January 3, 2014

17 Weeks: Someone is actually IN there!

Starting this week with a disclaimer: I feel kind of vain posting weekly updates, but I know our parents and grandparents appreciate them! And I know I will love looking back at this time, so please bear with me. Pregnancy is fascinating to me. After spending the last year and a half working directly with women in pre-natal and post-partum states, it's completely bizarre to see some of the same changes occurring in me at long last. It's quite surreal and quite humbling!

As for my thoughts on reaching 17 weeks: the first ten weeks of pregnancy seemed to feel like forever... forever 'til I could announce the news, forever to see an ultrasound, forever to hear a heartbeat, forever to be legitimately pregnant (whatever that means). I'm not sure if it's the holidays or the burgeoning belly, but the last 4 weeks have gone by much faster than the first 4 weeks. Before we know it, we'll be halfway to meeting this little jumping bean. So exciting! And terrifying.

The absolute best part of pregnancy thus far happened this week (well, technically, it started last week). I jokingly told the baby all I wanted for Christmas was to feel it move. I fully expected it to be too soon, and sure enough Christmas day felt the same as every other day. But we drove home that evening and as we pulled into our apartment complex, I unfolded after a three hour car ride and felt a completely bizarre flip in my lower abdomen. It was subtle, but quite different from the normal GI grumbles I'm used to. It really felt like a little person turning from one side to the other to get comfortable!

It took a few more days for me to believe that was really the baby moving and not Christmas dinner digesting, but sure enough I've felt the same sensation 1-2 times a day since then. (On the 26th I remember feeling feeling the baby move in the car on my way home from work... I wish I'd written all the other early times down since I've forgotten specifics already! I do notably remember feeling it move while eating Fuzzy's Tacos in Dallas on the 29th, which was awesome!)

me, Ross, and Emily in Dallas
Also, my belly isn't really clearly identifiable as a pregnant one yet, but by the end of the day, my belly button is definitely threatening to become more 'outie' than 'innie.' I had an umbilical hernia as a toddler, so I'm a little nervous that this is happening so early in pregnancy. My OB says there's nothing to do about it at this point, though.

Symptoms: I'm still much more tired than normal, and still breaking out more than I did immediately post-accutane, but overall I feel like myself most days and tend to forget something's drastically different now!

Cravings: Last week and this week I've been a big fan of grapefruit. Really just craving clean, healthy food overall after all the indulgences and stomachaches of the last month. Also craving exercise again. The bad thing about all the travel we've been doing is that I'm totally out of routine! Finally, can I just say thank you to this baby? Thank you for craving savory foods and diminishing my raging sweet tooth! I'm not turning down sweets by any means, but it's really really nice to not feel an insatiable 'need' for them.

Also, this AMAZING vegan 'cheese' tray that Ross got to-go from Cafe Gratitude for New Year's Day.
Aversions: I won't be wanting any more greasy roadtrip foods for a long time...

P.S. This is an awesome read in light of my body insecurities lately.