Friday, February 28, 2014

25 weeks: Already?!

I know I'm a broken record, but this week went by alarmingly fast. And did you know that we're buying a house and renovating and adding an addition, all supposedly before baby comes in June? Nothing like the last minute...

In the meantime, this week was a lot better on the pregnancy front. I was able to work through some of the emotions below the surface in last week's update, and I also feel physically better. I'm tired from lack of sleep, but my intrinsic energy level has gone back up a bit, if that makes any sense at all? Like last week I couldn't work out or anything. I was just drained. But this week has been business as usual, even though I'm sleep-deprived.

Meanwhile, baby must've packed on the ounces last week because I can tell he's really short on space in there this week as my body races to catch up with him.

just 2 weeks of growth!
Baby Development: Baby weighs approximately 1.5 lbs now, and hanging out with a NICU baby of a similar size this week just reinforced my gratitude that this one is tucked away safe and sound, as much as I'd love to see what he looks like now! (I don't know, maybe it's weird, maybe it's the NICU nurse in me, but I'm fascinated at the thought of what he looks like as he moves around right now. I feel like preemies come out looking like little old men, and you really get an idea of what they'll look like once they outgrow their baby fat! BUT I'm obviously willing to wait 'til he has baby fat to see what he really looks like.) Also entertaining... the little guy used to only be active after I ate or when I laid down, but now he's starting to get squirmy when I'm hungry. Either the growling stomach wakes him up, or he's reminding me to eat sooner rather than later!

Cravings: Still hankering for a Lamar's double chocolate donut, but a Minsky's GF pizza sounds amazing, too.

Pregnancy Symptoms: Hunger! Also, there's lots of stretching going on pretty much everywhere between my ribs and hips and it's a bit uncomfortable some days. Nothing terrible, just... weird.

Which could really just sum up the whole journey thus far, right?

oh, and my winter coat is getting pretty snug too. c'mon, spring!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Futility of Grasping at Straws

This week went by in the blink of an eye, but I feel gratitude slipping in to quiet the anxious heart I wore on my sleeve last week. I must apologize for last week's insecure rant about pregnant weight gain. I'm growing a baby. I'm going to gain weight. It's not that I don't know that, or don't expect that, it's just that wow-- my hunger is out of control like never before. It's a little frightening to me. It's a creature all its own sometimes. Over the years I've grown quite familiar with my own body and its needs, but all that packed-away knowledge has been flipped on its head since getting pregnant.

I was listening to a (quite skinny) co-worker discuss her 1200 calorie daily allotment the other day, and instead of making me feel inferior or jealous, it made me sad. When I limited myself to "1200" calories a day, I was a lost, cold, confused high school sophomore unknowingly being eaten alive by the irrational monster that is anorexia.

Even though I'd physically recovered by my senior year of high school, I spent most of college counting calories. Constantly trying to see how much food I could eat to try to fill the gaping hole inside of me, without gaining more weight. I would occasionally binge eat, I would often exist on "diet" foods with little nutritional value, and the worth of my entire day hinged on how "well" I did or didn't eat.

When I went "over" on my calories (set at a much more reasonable goal by then), I usually went way over and then felt a deep sense of shame and loss of control that made me physically uncomfortable in my own skin. It even made me long for the days of self-control and restrictive eating, but the more I tried to restrict, the more I overate.

This isn't to say that these thoughts consumed me all day every day. By and large college was a wonderful experience and I made some great memories with new friends. I learned so much about the world and about myself. I wouldn't trade that time for anything! But alone and at night and when I was stressed out, the food/shame thoughts are the ones I would turn to time and time again.

But by the end of college, I had grown tired of the game. Tired of the mental math. Tired of not tasting my food. I started trying to eat one fruit or vegetable at every meal, and I started to feel better. I also started working out again consistently. It's no coincidence that this phase of recovery occurred once I graduated college. Nursing school had become so... oppressive... for lack of a better word. I'd had some verbally abusive clinical instructors and I, the previous honors student who loved to study, felt like a worthless outcast amidst my intelligent friends by the time we graduated.

Note the recurring theme of disappointment and self-worth based on superficial things like grades and calories. How I wish someone had stepped in years ago and said, "you are worth so much more than what you eat! Your body may be a temple for your soul, but it's not an idol to be worshiped." Because even at its worst, metaphorical self-flagellation is still self-worship, right? It's saying that your body is the most important thing and everything else in your life revolves around how well you can control your physical self. But alas, no one said that to me back then. Or if they did, I wasn't ready to hear it.

About 6 months after college graduation, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and it really changed the way I thought about food. It brought me back to some of the things I knew in childhood: real food comes from the ground or can be made in your own kitchen with a few ingredients. Fresh food really does taste best. Kingsolver's novel simplified food in a way that had nothing to do with calories or diet plans, and I found a lot of freedom in that. I started going to the farmer's market, making fresh meals, and enjoying how food tasted.

I've been more or less in that realm ever since: focused on how food tastes and how it makes me feel more than how many calories it contains. But I will admit that old habits die hard. When life starts to grow out of control, as life does, I start grasping at straws and trying to control any little thing I can. Sometimes I don't even realize things are getting hectic until I see myself writing out what I've eaten that day. I have to remind myself that even when I did perfectly control my diet and my body, I wasn't happy. That's not the answer.

I may not have been ready to hear that even 3 short years ago, but I'm glad I can see it now. Control, once tasted, is hard to relinquish. Even harder when our society tells us that self-control is king. I'm thankful that over the past two years, I've experienced the most freedom I've ever had from my old disordered thoughts surrounding food. It's not that they're gone, but I've been so busy doing internal heart work that by and large, meals have become rote and body image has become secondary. Which is why I was somehow surprised... not when I got pregnant and the scale started to swing toward numbers I hadn't seen in a long time, but when my reaction to the weight gain was so severe.

I was really hard on myself for gaining 4-5 pounds right off the bat. Then I was disappointed when, early in the second trimester, I reached my previous highest-ever weight before I really had a baby belly to show for it. It led to internal confusion and, sadly, it resurrected that old shame. Not pride and awe in this awesome thing that God had allowed me to participate in, but shame that I wasn't being the perfect pregnant lady and that I was already being a selfish mom, somehow choosing food over the health of my baby. Or embarrassment as I wondered if wishing that I wasn't gaining so much weight was tantamount to being ungrateful for this gift of life.

Ironically, this week has been National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and I read an incredibly thoughtful post this morning that made me think back to where this all began. I'm filled with sadness over the years I lost to such futile, vain thinking, and obsessive calorie-counting. But I also feel gratitude that I've come to a place in the past two years where I don't consciously identify myself as an "eating disorder survivor" or anything like that. I'm so glad that even in pregnancy (and the ridiculous irrationality of the first trimester), I'm eventually able to step back and recognize that those thoughts don't belong to me. Shame isn't welcome here. I am not a machine that runs on calories alone, and my identity is not based on my intake.

I didn't actually sit down at the computer intending to share ALL of that, but there it is, I guess. A 12-year story of a girl's relationship with food, summed up into several tidy little embarrassing paragraphs. What I DID sit down to do was to share this post. Even if you've never had an eating disorder, I highly recommend reading it. The post is about orthorexia, which can be defined as the tendency to assume that every single physical symptom is a direct result of something we’ve eaten.

There is obviously some merit to the idea that diet is related to physical and emotional well-being. We all know that a well-balanced diet will give you energy, and a diet filled with empty calories will leave you drained. As someone who struggles with allergies, asthma, and IBS, I know there is an undeniable tie between certain foods and my physical symptoms. Certain people really don't tolerate certain foods.

But orthorexia is bigger than that, and it's certainly the trap I'm more likely to fall into these days, as opposed to restricting or binging. I'm very comfortable with the fact that gluten and dairy really do have tangible effects on my health. But grains, starches, and sugars have inhabited a gray area for me for a while. They're things I feel like I should eat less of, but I don't necessarily feel better or worse when I eat them in moderation. Ergo, I shouldn't beat myself up about it, pregnant or not!

I love the takeaway points from that blog post: Your body may be more resilient than you think it is. Be discerning with what you read. Variety is healthy. "Healthy" goes beyond nutrition. Eating healthily is not a black or white affair and it can look a little different from person to person.

That was the kick in the pants I needed to remember that my body is doing something it's never done before, and while it's not the be-all-end-all, my body deserves a little respect. I'm growing a baby. He's obviously going through a growth spurt and consequently, I am too. When I'm hungry, I eat what I can until I'm satiated, and 80-90% of the time I'm making pretty healthy choices. As long as I'm comfortable with this, the number on the scale is relative. Since I've not been 24 weeks pregnant before, I really have no idea what to expect. All I can do is try to respect the process and to learn wise freedom as the control I thought I had is taken away a little more each day that this little nugget grows.

To end on a positive note, this week I felt so empowered at the gym. I'm finally visibly pregnant and it's encouraging when people say, "you're awesome!" and tell me that I inspired them to push harder during their workout because if I can do it, so can they. Meanwhile, I refuse to be bothered by the guy who said, "good for you working out and not using pregnancy as an excuse to gain 30 pounds" because, well, I do still expect to gain 30 pounds over the course of a healthy pregnancy, despite working out. Maybe even more than 30 pounds if that's what it takes. But my self-worth is not set at an inverse relationship with the number on the scale. Not now, and not ever.

Friday, February 21, 2014

24 Weeks: Busy and Hungry

24 weeks came and went in a blur of work. I'm getting a little tired of my crazy schedule. I'm not working more than 40 hours a week, but I am switching back and forth between home visits and 12-hour shifts and days and nights and healthy babies and sick babies. It's pretty chaotic. But I should mention that Ross has been completely awesome! I try not to complain too much, and overall most of the pregnancy changes fascinate me instead of bothering me, but I had two really long and physically difficult days in the NICU on Thursday and Friday and I got this text Friday afternoon:

He's taking such good care of us already!

But back to the beginning of the week... I was sore and tired and just ached all over on Tuesday, and Wednesday I woke up and felt like the belly grew overnight! I'm hungry ALL the time and I'm starting to get lightheaded and nauseated if I don't eat every 2 hours or so. It's actually a little frustrating with the aforementioned busy schedule. I end up grabbing sugary snacks more than I'd like to, because they're convenient, even though I don't feel great afterwards.

Baby's movements continue to get bigger and they're so fun to feel! I'm incredibly nostalgic and I'm already well aware that you only get to feel a baby moving inside of you for so many months of your life, and there's really no way to capture the feeling or replicate it! Still so weird, but so cool.  It's hard to believe the scrawny 24-weeker inside of me can make such big movements that are even visible from the outside.

Baby is about as long as an ear of corn, or the size of a canteloupe all curled up, which I can believe. He supposedly gained 6 ounces in the last week alone! (And I gained, like, 2 pounds. Blah.) I've been gaining weight slow and steady overall, but I think I'm about to start gaining a lot more rapidly, which is a little uncomfortable. I didn't physically feel like I was carrying extra weight until this week. Now suddenly all my joints hurt and I feel so heavy, like I gained all of that weight overnight instead of over 5+ months.

I'm a little stressed about my weight gain this week, actually. All along, I've been riding the top of the appropriate weight gain curve, and it's a little aggravating to feel like I have no control over it. I'm certainly not cramming food in, or consciously "eating for two." In fact, it's been nice to feel and acknowledge hunger cues instead of eating based on what time of the day it is. I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full! I can't fit much in at one sitting, so I'm eating small meals/snacks frequently. I've gained 4 pounds in the last 3 weeks which is not surprising because I'm constantly eating. Yet... wow that's a lot of weight. I do feel like my belly is visibly growing at least, which helps me not mind it as much, but it's still nerve-wracking. I'm sure it'll even out in the long run, and as long as I'm keeping baby healthy it's all worth it. But I've taught too many diabetic education classes to not be a little anxious ;-) Also, I know that the healthier I am during pregnancy, the easier recovery will be.

22 weeks vs. 24 weeks. Pictures don't really do the growth justice!

In light of weight gain, I know I said I "popped" last week, but I think it was really on Wednesday of this week. Perfect strangers have now asked if I'm pregnant and when I'm due. (Sometimes I feel the devil tempting me to say, "oh I'm not pregnant," or "due for what?" to really make the other person uncomfortable. Ha! But actually, I'm excited that I look outwardly pregnant now.) Last week I also started having Braxton-Hicks contractions, which are totally bizarre. Usually painless, sometimes not. Labor is going to be... fun?

At 24 weeks pregnant, even imagining going into labor right now is hard to fathom. I have a new empathy for our NICU mamas who deliver too soon. No wonder they seem so shell-shocked! Having a baby right now is so unexpected. I'd feel so unprepared.

Cravings: Back to sushi, Chinese food, and Lulu's Thai food. Although I don't know that they're cravings so much as flat-out hunger.  Everything sounds good! One thing I can't get out of my mind is a double chocolate cake donut from Lamar's. I'm trying to wait it out, but there may be a gluten indulgence and subsequent stomachache in my future...

Looking forward to:
My GTT and 28 week labs. I know, I'm weird. And as much as I want time to SLOW DOWN, I'm also excited for our 28 week ultrasound! Really trying to savor one day at a time, though. There will always be next steps and milestones to reach. There won't always be today-- growling stomach, little kicks and rolls, hip pain, and all.

Anxious about:
-How quickly time is moving. I feel like A LOT has to happen between now and June and the weeks are just whizzing by.
-Also feeling a little unprepared for the fact that our lives will never be the same in 4 short months... I'm pretty selfish with the little bit of downtime I do get, and Ross and I are used to being just the two of us. It'll be weird to have our Saturday errands and last-minute dinners out interrupted with such a big life change. (Not that we're not excited! It's just hard to wrap your head around.)
-The aforementioned ultrasound. Praying that my placenta looks better this time and that baby is growing well.
-Please don't talk about stillbirths or cord knots around me. I've heard these words used too much this past week, and they terrify me.

Thankful for:
-A viable pregnancy and an active baby! Seriously. The first half of pregnancy was a hormonal and emotional mess, and I'm so glad the mood swings are starting to even out now. I'm starting to feel a bit more sane now that I look and feel pregnant, too. Can. Not. Wait. To meet this little guy.
-Ross. He's been such a good listener when I do complain, and he really is taking good care of us. He's also such a good sport every time I tell him to come feel the baby move, even though half the time the baby makes me a liar and stops moving then!
-My compression tights. They are a huge hassle to hand-wash every night, and a struggle to put on every morning, but my swelling and pain is so much worse on the days I don't wear them!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day

When I got married, I naively thought that the lonely ghosts of Valentines past would no longer haunt me. I thought that from there on out I had a built-in Valentine! To buy me flowers! And lavish me with gifts! What I didn't think about was budgets, shared bank accounts, high expectations, poor communication and... well... human nature.

This year, I'm finally realizing that it's just a day. A wonderful day that gives me an opportunity to remind my loved ones that I cherish them, sure. But more than that, it's a day that reminds me that human love is a shallow imitation of divine love. (Yes I went there. I had to.) It's a day that gives me the opportunity to re-evaluate and re-orient my heart's dependence once again.

Human love is never 100% flawless. It is never 100% selfless. It comes close at times, certainly. I hope that the closer I draw to God, the better I can mirror His love toward others. But honestly, I love myself most of all most of the time, and that's hard to admit out loud.

Today it's like I'm looking at myself in a great big mirror and I don't like what I see. I'm standing there with an innocent look on my face, but with huge flashing arrows above me pointing down at this person who just doesn't love well, yet expects perfect love in return. Marriage has been a wonderful sanctification tool in this respect. I'm sure motherhood will be the same, or possibly even more intense. But my friendships also provide a platform to love well... or not. Same with the family that love deeply but often take for granted.

Yet this isn't cause for distress. It's cause for hope! There's something better out there. There is one source of UNWAVERING, ALWAYS FAITHFUL, NEVER FAILING love. And oh, how much greater will be my joy and how much lesser will be my disappointment when I look to THAT love to fulfill me, instead of the love of another messed up human being. If my Valentine's Day-- or my every day-- is good or bad based on how well someone else loves me, well, I may end up disappointed more often than not.

But if my eyes are on God? He never wavers, and my heart simply can't grow faint when it rests in Him the way that it can when I have high expectations of other people and they don't meet them. Eyes on other people - - > roller coaster. Eyes on God - - > peace. Hope. Comfort. (Incidentally, I just realized that my friend recently wrote a post of this very thing that she's been preaching to me for ages. It's worth reading.)

As I look back on my short little life, I can see that I usually have no one to blame but my over-sensitive self for my Valentine's Day pity parties. My first Valentine's Day with Ross, we were engaged and he had planned a really elaborate Valentine's surprise that involved clues and a scavenger hunt and honestly I don't even know what else. Because I misinterpreted his intentions, got really upset, and ended up pouting at home in Ft. Worth and missing whatever he had planned in Dallas.

Thus for our first two married Valentine's Days Ross was, understandably, a little gun shy. He didn't plan anything. This upset me, too, and led to multiple arguments. The two years after that, Valentine's Day fell during tumultuous times in our marriage and it was hit or miss. I believe flowers or chocolate were often involved, but very much out of obligation and not sentiment.

Last year we talked about it, agreed to not spend money, and things started off great. Ross had filled out some cute kiddie Valentines with things he loved about me and they were sitting on my desk when I woke up. But then that evening... Ross may or may not have bought me a gorgeous necklace, and I may or may not have gotten horribly upset that he spent so much money on something I didn't even want. I ended up crying in our bedroom and missing out on the dinner he had planned. (Again, I have no one to blame but myself for these disastrous responses).

So this year, we talked about it again: we have a Friday night tradition of takeout and a movie after a long week. Valentine's Day falls on Friday. Let's just do that. No gifts. Just time together.

I had lower expectations, but in a good way. (Although Ross' post-it notes were fun to wake up to.) Friday was a day full of reminding myself to not react selfishly if Ross didn't stick exactly to the plan. A day full of reminding myself that it's unfair to place so much hope in Ross when I certainly hadn't planned anything. A day full of reminding myself that God's love is enough. Only and always.

{Lulu's takeout. His usual. My usual. Chocolate Truffles. Winter Olympics. It was good.}

And finally, on our seventh Valentine's Day together, I didn't cry. I didn't feel sorry for myself. It finally surpassed my previous favorite Valentine's Day senior year of high school when my sweet guy friends sent a bunch of candy-grams from their all-boys school to me at my all-girls school. I felt so loved yesterday, and I hope that I can share some encouragement: take their eyes off of your Valentine (or lack thereof) and realize that there's something more out there. Someone who accepts you-- who made you-- just the way you are, and loves you desperately.

Friday, February 14, 2014

23 Weeks: Viability and Visibility

I have to confess that the NICU nurse in me breathes a sigh of relief today. We've reached theoretical viability at last! I can actually picture holding this baby curled up in my cupped hands like so many tiny ones I've helped care for. While we are in no way ready to meet him just yet, it's nice to know he faces a bit of a fighting chance should he choose to come early.

This was a fun week, thanks in part to our awesome long weekend in San Diego, but thanks also to the ever-increasing movement I feel! I haven't been able to detect a sleep/wake pattern yet, and the only consistent times I notice movement are when I wake up in the morning and when I lay down at night. But I think I'm also starting to notice movement about 15 minutes after snacking on chocolate chip larabars when I'm hungry at work. He loves those things! (Although that seemed pretty evident as early as our 12 week ultrasound when I ate one on the way into the doctor's office and 15 minutes later we saw him literally bouncing off the walls in there.)

This past Saturday night, baby must've been in a particularly good mood. Either that, or we'd had such an active day that he was thrilled when I stopped moving so he could start! I was laying down after a delicious dinner and he was squirming so much. It's corny, but Ross and I just laid there feeling him move for a good 5-10 minutes. It started with a few big kicks on my right side, and then a flurry of activity with what must've been his hands on the left side. It felt like popcorn popping in my stomach, which was bizarre and hilarious. So thanks for putting on a show, little one. It was such a treat for us to feel so close to you that night!

This past Wednesday, I think it's safe to say I "popped"? I've been going to the same Body Pump class almost every single week for 2+ years. This week, though, my classmates and instructor were all suddenly like, "you're pregnant? We had no idea!" It was actually really fun and the first visual acknowledgement that there may be something in there besides a spare tire. I can lay down at night and poke around and feel bones and stuff. In my stomach! So weird.

On the pregnancy symptom front, things are getting marginally rougher. I thought that as long as I avoided gaining too much weight and didn't develop high blood pressure, I wouldn't have much swelling until the very end. Joke's on me. Turns out that my blood pressure has gotten so low during pregnancy (like 90s/60s) that blood is pooling in my lower body thanks to gravity and it can't adequately return to the heart the way it should... thus leading to swelling. I started noticing it around 15 weeks and since then I have developed some painful vericose veins. I got to go to an awesome pelvic rehab class at work and talked to the physical therapist there. (Did you know that there are physical therapist specializing in women's health?! I now know to recommend seeing one during pregnancy, not just afterwards!) She suggested some specific compression tights for me-- not just socks or shorts, but the whole shebang. Good thing it's winter! I finally bought them on Tuesday, and Wednesday was my first full day wearing them. They cost an arm and a leg, so I'm expecting miracles here. The PT said to give it a week of wearing them all day every day to see if they're helping.

That being said, this seems like as good a time as any to mention that in the last few weeks, I've been very grateful for the fact that I have access to good healthcare. Even as I struggle with the seemingly difficult decision of changing providers and deciding where I want to deliver, I can't help but realize that no option I'm considering is a bad one. I am so incredibly blessed to have the options I have. I live close to a good hospital should anything go wrong between now and June, and even little things, like a physical therapist suggesting support hose, are such a blessing. That I live in a place that offers good care providers who can help me deal with the little things as well as the big things, is something I don't ever want to take for granted.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sunshine and Waves

The ocean is so beautiful. I don't think I could ever get tired of it. It was fun to be on the coast for a few days, even though it was not swimming weather. I feel like we spent Friday re-calibrating our bodies to sunshine and an absence of cold, which was amazing! It was still a cool 50-60 degrees the whole time we were in San Diego, but that's a world of difference from the single-digits and negative wind chills we'd been experiencing at home!

First stepping onto the beach at Del Mar. So happy!
Friday morning, we ate an early breakfast at the hotel and then drove up to Encintas. Ross had sweetly looked up 2Good2B, an award-winning gluten-free bakery there that was supposed to be really good. It's so fun to walk into a place knowing you can eat everything on the menu! We had a hard time choosing what to get, so we got a little of everything: 2 mini cupcakes (and then one full-sized one when we realized how good they were), a lemon bar, a scone, and a 4-pack of muffins to eat over breakfast the next few days. Needless to say, we ate a huge snack there and weren't hungry again for hours.

By the way, their carrot cake cupcake tasted EXACTLY like the ones my mom made growing up, but it was gluten-free! I wish I had 1,000 more. Or the recipe!
After that adventure, we took scenic Highway 101 down to Del Mar and walked around for a bit. It was a really cute little town, and the beach was gorgeous.

Then we headed to our scheduled architectural tour of the Salk Institute. Honestly, I was kind of ambivalent about this tour, but it was the one thing Ross didn't want to miss in San Diego. In hindsight, I'm so glad we went! The tour was mostly outside in the sun, which I loved, and it was actually really interesting. One of the scientists working there gave an introduction on our tour, and it was fun to hear about the research his team is doing. Science + architecture = a happy couple. Baby must've liked it, too, because he bounced around a bit while we all stood around talking.

I even ended up being able to appreciate the contrast between the architecture and nature. It was a beautiful setting. How fun would it be to work here?!

After our tour, we explored the paragliding cliffs nearby for a bit before heading to lunch. Then we went to La Jolla for the afternoon. We explored the coast there, watched the seals, dug our toes in the sand, and watched the sunset from a pier.

We capped off the night with an amazingly delicious dinner at Puesto before heading back to the hotel. It was a perfect, jam-packed day, but somehow so relaxed! Just how vacation should be. (This was the least planning we've ever done for a vacation. It was freeing to not have much of an itinerary since our trip was so short, and we definitely found things to do once we got there!)

Monday, February 10, 2014

You Could Call it a Babymoon...

The past three years, March has been awful for us. As individuals and as a couple. Last summer, we said we really need to get out of town next March and go somewhere sunny for a few days. So we started hoarding money to make that happen. When we started looking for plane tickets this winter, San Diego seemed like an affordable option compared to some other sunny places like Arizona and Florida. But tickets were significantly cheaper in February than in March. Perhaps due to all the spring break kids?

We figured February would be a nice time to leave town too, and it certainly was this year! We got a massive amount of snow last Tuesday and Ross' office was actually closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Had we known that, we would've left Monday night! As it is, we left early early Thursday morning and still ran into flight delays. A good week to be out of the Midwest, yes, but a bad week to travel.

We eventually got to San Diego 7 hours later than planned, having taken none of our originally booked flights. We actually considered ourselves lucky only getting delayed by that much, because we squeezed in on a standby flight that we weren't expecting to have luck with-- we were numbers 7 and 8 in line for standby! Incidentally (not complaining) flying at 21 weeks was already less than comfortable. I'm very very glad that we left town sooner rather than later, now that pregnancy is part of the equation! Good to know in the future...

We got into San Diego, picked up our rental car, checked into the hotel, and made a beeline for dinner. Vacation at last! We went to a restaurant called El Agave in Old Town near our hotel, and totally lucked out. We were just thinking that Mexican food sounded good, but the menu and Urban Spoon reviews indicated that the place was known for its mole.  Well, that and tequila. We both ordered different types of mole and since it was a little cool outside and raining hard when we arrived in San Diego, steaming plates of mole and rice hit the spot perfectly. As did a few sips of a margarita.

We crashed hard that night, and thanks to the time change we woke up bright and early Friday morning! Hotel breakfast actually started at 6am so we were there right along with all the old folk ;-) Hey, we didn't wake up with an alarm, and we had an entire sunny day ahead of us, so we were happy.

For anyone thinking of a San Diego vacation, I thought I'd share this since we were on a budget and we had a hard time picking a hotel: After much deliberation, we ended up staying at a Holiday Inn Express in Old Town. We weren't really sure what part of town we wanted to hang out in, and places like Mission Beach, La Jolla, and Cornoado were increasingly out of our price range. Especially since all we were looking for was a clean place to sleep since we hoped to be out and about during the day. I think if it was actually warm beach weather there, we would've wanted something closer to the water, but at this time of year it didn't matter. I have no doubt that a resort or botique hotel would've been really fun, but we were completely happy with our choice.

Our hotel was new, close to the interstate, and service was great. Best of all, it was affordable and breakfast was free! Often hotel breakfasts are hit or miss for me, and if they just have fruit, pastries, and yogurt I don't get much use out of their complimentary breakfast. But Holiday Inn is legit. They had eggs and some sort of breakfast meat every morning that I was able to enjoy without issue. (Of course, I can't speak for everyone who is gluten or dairy intolerant, but this breakfast at this location always sat well with me.) Ross loved their cinnamon rolls, and we always left breakfast happy and full. As fun as brunch is, it really helped our budget to not have to go out for every meal. Our room also had a mini fridge and a microwave, so on the rare occasion that we had leftovers, we got to take them back to eat later and save some money that way, too!

Now that we know the area a little better, we might've looked for something a little farther north since we spent a lot of time in Del Mar and Encintas, but it was really just a matter of a few minutes on the interstate, and traffic wasn't bad.

Anyway, thus began our last vacation as just the two of us! Or the first vacation with the three of us, depending on how you look at it. Even though it was short, we loved getting out of town and hanging out with each other without the distractions and stress of "real life." I'm hopeful that this spring will be better for us for so many reasons. And knowing that life is about to get a whole lot crazier made this weekend away even sweeter.

Friday, February 7, 2014

22 Weeks: On the Move

To clarify, since I'm starting to confuse myself: I post these on the day I "turn" the number of weeks in the post title. So today I'm 22 weeks pregnant, and this post sums up 20w0d through 21w6d. I didn't forsee this happening, but I'm actually starting to lose track of how far along I am! This morning I had to go to my trusty Med Calc to figure out my dates.

Anyway, this past week started with my first bout of nesting. I painted my nails for the first time in ages and when I was picking out my nail polish, the messy bathroom drawer bothered me so much that I ended up throwing half of the stuff away and completely re-organizing the top two drawers before I got around to actually doing my nails.

Ross and I also had a fun date night that same night: we went to my favorite farmer's market to stock up on local, grass-fed meat, and then we ate dinner at the best vegan restaurant in town. Ironic, no? I haven't been craving anything in particular, but I've been quite hungry for warm, filling, healthy, savory foods. That dinner definitely fit the bill!

It's so weird that baby can taste amniotic fluid now, so he gets a hint of whatever I eat. I'm hoping for the best and preparing for the worst when it comes to his food preferences. I'm assuming that despite the variety in my diet, I'll end up with a picky eater- ha! If he likes all the food like I do, I will consider myself very lucky. (And here's hoping his intestines like all foods, too-- unlike mine.) Baby can also (hopefully) hear sounds and be startled by loud noises. Aw!

Speaking of baby, he's the size of a papaya this week and he has certainly made his presence known at last!!! It seems like it was an overnight change: I very occasionally felt him moving as early as Christmas, but it wasn't every day and it wasn't anything big. I knew that around week 20 he could make conscious movements like sucking his thumb or changing his position, and we saw plenty of movement on our last ultrasound, but I hadn't felt much of it yet.

Then the day we "turned" 21 weeks, I felt a swift kick in my side. I can't even explain how surreal and definitive that thump was. I happened to be laying down, so I even saw it from the outside! The next day I went to listen to him at work and he kicked exactly where I placed the doppler! Twice! I've felt very distinct movement every day since then and it's so weird and so absolutely amazing. Thanks to an anterior placenta, it's still rare to feel movement in the middle of my belly, but I can tell where his feet and hands are in the periphery and it's really cool. I love that every time he moves, it reminds me that he's there, and reassures me that he seems to be doing okay.

I think that change alone has made pregnancy so much more real for me. Well, that, and the fact that I can now wear maternity shirts without feeling like a complete idiot. My regular shirts are wayyy too short (which is saying a lot, because my torso isn't that long). But maternity shirts still seem pretty long and the bump is relatively tiny in them. Just give us time, I guess.

This is the first week I've started to feel physically pregnant in regards to a baby bump. I rolled over on my stomach to read in bed one night and it felt like I had rolled over onto a baby. Kind of alarming! I won't be doing that again. My range of motion in regards to twisting my torso and bending over is starting to decrease now, and I kind of grunt thanks to forced air exhalation when I do either of those things. Super attractive and bound to get worse before it gets better. I actually don't mind at all-- it's just embarrassing to sound like I'm having so much troubling picking up whatever I dropped. I drop things often!

Speaking of breathing, did you know your lung capacity expands by up to 30-40% during the second trimester, allowing my body to carry more oxygen to the placenta and remove more carbon dioxide? To accommodate for this, the rib cage increases 2-3 inches in circumference even before the baby gets high enough to push anything out. As someone with asthma who often feels like they can't take a full breath, this has been a welcome relief. I feel like I can breathe so deeply now!

My allergy and asthma doctor says that 1/3 of women find that their asthma worsens during pregnancy, 1/3 of women find that it stays the same, and 1/3 of women find that asthma improves during pregnancy. It's too early for me to call a definitive verdict on which camp I'm in, but so far so good. I feel confident saying that thus far, my asthma has certainly not gotten worse. Fingers crossed it stays this way. I like being able to take deep breaths! That being said, I know there will come a day when the baby is so squished in there that he starts pushing on my lungs and making it harder to breathe. I'll be enjoying my deep breaths until then!

All in all, this was a fun week.  I'm starting to get my energy back thanks to iron supplements, and I feel a bit pregnant, but not miserably so. Time seems to be moving more quickly now!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Currently: February

Watching: Ross and I are loving Downton Abbey. We're like 2 years late to the party, but we watched the first two seasons over the summer and we were quite excited for Season 3 to start this winter!

Eating: Frequently. Like every 1-2 hours. Not terribly picky about what I eat, although savory food still sounds better. (I won't say no to a cookie, but the thought of my favorite Thai dish from Lulu's makes my stomach growl!)

Drinking: Gobs of water. Still craving a glass of red wine. Must find a supportive friend who will buy a glass and let me have a sip ;-)

Wanting: My old NICU day shift job back! If they would just post a job opening...

Needing: Need is such a strong word. Thankful to have a toasty apartment this frigid winter!

Loving: Our ultrasound pictures from two weeks ago, and the increasingly strong kicks I'm starting to feel.

Feeling: So. many. feelings. Thankfully the hormones seemed to have leveled out for the time being, but my thoughts are still racing a lot... especially when I wake up at 4am.

Wondering: What I used to think about in my spare time, prior to getting pregnant? Probably myself and my momentary concerns, which isn't the worst rut to be breaking out of! Also wondering how a baby will affect our marriage. It's been just us for 5+ years. No more making quick decisions or going to dinner at the drop of a hat!

Looking forward to: VACATION. For the last two years, Ross and I have been saying we needed to get out of town in February or March. This year, we're actually doing it. I've been working so many nights and weekends that a long weekend off with Ross sounds awesome in and of itself, but that fact that it's going to be in sunny San Diego is even better!