Monday, July 24, 2017

Third Trimester Reflections

It's really hard not to count down to 38.5 weeks, when Noah was born. I'm 38.1 weeks today and I went into labor at 38.4 with Noah. I have a feeling I'm going to go past that, yet I'm also making zero plans past Thursday. This week finds me really patient with Noah, nostalgic for my baby belly already, and a little bit stir-crazy. It's weird to have time to wrap stuff up, yet I don't quite have the energy to do so after the last few weeks ended up being so eventful! It's simply impossible to keep the house clean with a toddler on the loose, but I am slowly still organizing nooks and crannies and weeding through stuff that's always accumulating. I'd like to have a few solid hours to actually update pictures on the blog! I'm like 2+ years behind, and it feels like now or never! That's the only other big project left undone, though. It's weird to have clothes and diapers washed and folded. I even have the hospital bag mostly packed!

So, here are some reflections on this pregnancy. The past 9 months have felt like an eternity, yet gone by in the blink of an eye when I look at how much Noah has grown and changed! And of course, baby sister has gone from the size of a poppy seed to, well, the size of a 6.5+ pound baby!

Most exciting moment: 
Probably a tie between the positive pregnancy test on Thanksgiving morning, and the 20 week ultrasound. The positive test-- it's something I'll only see a very few times in my life, and there's nothing like all the promise that second line holds! The ultrasound-- it's when both babies really felt "real" to me, and I was able to start imaging all of this actually happening.

Most challenging moment: 
Gosh, I was simply not prepared for how awful I'd feel this time around, and I quickly understood why being pregnant with a toddler is even harder. We made it through! But there were so many days either when Noah was home that I felt like I neglected him a bit, or when he went to his once-a-week Parent's Day Out, and I was too sick to be at all productive with my elusive solo time.

One thing I'm proud of:
Last time, I totally would've said I was proud of my consistent workouts and the fact that I ate vegetables every day, even when I felt kind of gross. This time, wow. Probably both because of the loss between pregnancies, but also because of the fact that I have 3 years of mom-ming under my belt, I'm always humbled by how much is out of my control, and how little I can actually claim to be proud of. Not to mention the fact that I was so much sicker this time, and circumstances are just so different. So yeah, I'm proud I've worked out when I can. I'm proud that I somehow had the foresight to potty train Noah before getting pregnant again. I'm proud that I've really been utilizing the warmer weather to get out and spend time with Noah after a gross winter and spring. I'm proud of all the work I put into physical therapy, counseling, and self-care to make this pregnancy and postpartum (hopefully) much smoother! But mostly I'm just grateful for the good days, and aware that I can't take much credit for them.

One thing I wish were different:
I wish I'd made more time to go swim laps/get out of the house/hang out with friends in the evening before being tied down for a few months. Between Noah's sleep regression and Ross' work deadlines, that just hasn't been feasible. I also legitimately wish we could hire a housecleaner once a month. I realize that sounds spoiled, but with me being so sick, and so uncomfortable, it's been impossible to clean the floors regularly, and in a house with all wood floors, they get dirty like hours after cleaning them. Even someone who coming to mop the floors and scrub the bathtub once a month would be a huge luxury! Maybe someday.

Favorite foods:
Right now I'm craving sushi and a huge Chick-fil-a lemonade! But in general, food hasn't been my favorite thing this pregnancy, which is very unlike me!

Least favorite food:
Anything I make myself? Ha! We do eat at home so so much, but I'll confess I always jump at the chance to go out. I find that even though the nausea has mostly subsided, I am generally tired of the food/flavors by the time I'm finished cooking dinner and before we've even eaten!

Physical state: 
Today is the first day in a week or so that I've felt kind of normal. Yay for a reprieve! But generally feeling pretty heavy. My feet hurt when I stand up in the morning. They're not used to carrying this much weight! But I love love love the baby belly and wouldn't trade it for anything!

Mental state:
Oh gosh. It varies between exhausted, excited, and really really nervous about all the change that's coming.

One thing that surprised me: 
How different my pregnancies would feel. I'm also surprised at how much Noah seems to "get it." He asks a lot of good questions, and it blows my mind! "How will my baby sister get out?" "Why is she upside down?" "Where are her toes? Where are her eyeballs? Will she have teeth when she comes out? Can she eat ___ (insert whatever food Noah is eating at the time)? When you eat, does she eat?"

Looking forward to: 
Meeting the baby, of course. I'm almost more excited for that this time around, since now I know how fun it is it to get to KNOW a tiny human! I'm also really curious to see how/when labor plays out. We had a great experience with Noah, but I hear second babies come faster and I can't afford to be in denial for the first 75% of my labor, especially when toddler childcare is a factor! It's also hard to imagine my labor story going any differently than it did the first time, although I know logically there's no way everything would/could play out exactly the same way. So, we wait. And pray for a safe delivery!

36 and 37 weeks

As I sit here at 38.1 weeks pregnant, I feel like weeks 36 and 37 have been the fastest yet. And the hottest, with a crazy heat wave hitting the Midwest!

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of crazy. Remember a month ago when I thought I could devote July to a month of rest?! Joke's on me, I guess. Ross had surprise knee surgery on July 14 and had some major PACU drama that almost bought him a ticket to an overnight stay in the cardiac unit at the hospital. Thankfully, he recovered literally just in the nick of time, and we did get to go home that night, albeit much later than we anticipated, and to a very confused toddler. Poor Noah. We've been telling him that next time he sees grandma, it'll be when Mama and Papa go to the hospital and have a baby sister! We also told him that the doctor was going to fix Ross' knee.

Well, grandma came and Mama and Papa went to the hospital... but for surgery. Instead of hearing about a baby sister, he got a very unnerving FaceTime call from the PACU. Instead of an immediately "fixed" knee, Papa came home still on crutches, and spent the whole weekend in bed. Whew! And I worked my last shift before "maternity leave" on Sunday. I was dead on my feet, but thank goodness my mom came into town at the last minute. I wouldn't have even been standing if it weren't for all her help!

So anyway, here we are. It's hard not to count down to 38.5. As exhausted and huge-feeling as I am, I'm okay if this baby stays in a little longer than Noah did. I'm psyched to meet her, but I'm enjoying the few slow days that Noah and I still get. I love snuggling with him at nap time before moving to my own bed and just reading a book for an hour. I'm soaking it all up while I can, and still trying to go on a few Mama/Noah adventures before we are house-bound for a bit.

So week 36 was full of surgery drama and week 37, Ross was furiously working toward a work deadline. Meanwhile, last week I was the most physically uncomfortable I've been in a while, and I know the long solo days, late nights, and 100+ degree temps didn't help. What are the odds that Ross would have a huge deadline at 38 weeks with both of our babies?! Better now than a month from now, though!

This past Tuesday night, I had my first dream about baby's delivery. All was well, except I was mad at Ross for forgetting to call my doula! And apparently we temporarily named the baby "Cereal"?! Except Ross spelled it "cerial" and I was super annoyed. Oh boy! I do remember, though, that the baby had white blonde hair. I'm so curious to see what she looks like, and what her little personality is like!

So hmmm... trying to think back over the last two weeks is pretty much just resulting in a brain dump of tidbits:

-At my 36 weeks appointment, I found out I'm GBS negative! It's a benign bacteria on some moms' skin, but it can cause complications in baby, so it means you need IV antibiotics at least 4 hours before delivery (with Noah, I got the antibiotics like 3.5 hours before he came. Oops!). But I don't have it this time! I'm so so excited. I assumed I'd be positive since I work in the postpartum unit and have constant exposure to GBS (not to mention the fact that I had it last time, and most healthcare workers are carriers). At this visit, I also found out I'm 1 cm, 50% effaced, and baby is at -1 station. This is basically exactly where I was at this point with Noah, and it carries zero predictive value for when I'll actually go into labor, but it gives me a good baseline if I get checked again before officially going into labor.

-Baby's head down again after that crazy week I had a few weeks ago. She's low but still fairly active as far as turning from front to back and whatnot. But she does spend most of her time with her head slightly left of center, and her butt on my left side or in the middle of my belly. She's almost always facing my right side, and she loves to stretch her legs out to the point that I can see a legit lump where her foot is pushing all the way into my side! I wish I could get a good picture, but it doesn't show up well on camera. It's so funny, though! She certainly knows how to claim her space. She also sometimes rotates, and stretches either her knees or her butt right out above my belly button. It's the most bizarre feeling, and I have no idea how she is angling herself out like that, but she does! Again, pictures don't do it justice, but it's pretty entertaining.

-Speaking of which, I feel like I do notice a difference with a posterior placenta this time. Everything feels bonier and more "right there" if that makes any sense. An anterior placenta last time definitely put a cushion between me and the baby, but not this time! It's fun to feel and see everything. I do also wonder if that's why my belly is a legit different shape this time around. My belly button has basically long since given up, and I don't love it sticking out all the time, but my belly itself seems to be a different shape, too. Both babies are sitting quite low, and there's zero reason for the boy vs girl old-wives tale to be true, but I definitely did look like I carried Noah lower. My theory is that all my pelvic rehab physical therapy paid off-- I have actual muscle tone in my pelvic floor, my obliques, and my transverse abodominis. Yay! I also wear Blanqui support tanks almost every single day, and they really do hold everything up, whereas with Noah I wore support hose almost every single day, and they crammed everything down. Just my theory.

-I've hit the point where a lot of my maternity clothes don't fit/ it's way too hot. I've been wearing a lot more dresses this past week, and I pretty much immediately change into boxers or athletic shorts when we get home. Now I know what it's like to be full-term pregnant when it feels like 112 outside! I will say, there are some MAJOR perks to being pregnant in the summer. Namely, fresh seasonal fruit, flip flops (cannot IMAGINE trying to put winter boots on), and the POOL. Seriously, the pool is the only motivation I have to get out in this ungodly heat, though.

-Week 37 definitely reminded me that I'm having a baby SOON. Things are happening. This week brought with it an acne flare up, lots of menstrual-type cramping, reflux, nausea (it's been on and off again for the past few weeks), and more insomnia and night sweats. Baby is also definitely LOWER. I'm waddling. At the pool on Friday, an 80 year old guy asked, "are you OKAY?! You look like you could go at any minute!" Yep, I felt like it, too. Thankfully today the temps have dropped a bit and I feel much more human.

-After a rough few weeks, Noah was super lovey this past week! Lots of kisses for me, and for baby sister. I think he's excited she's almost here. I CANNOT BELIEVE she's almost here!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Day in the Life: 3 years old and 36 weeks pregnant

Today was a rare, sweet day in which we had NO solid plans. I'm craving these days with Noah as my due date approaches. I didn't take meticulous notes, but I thought it would be a fun day to note, so here's what I remember.

0615: Blessed reprieve-- Noah slept in AND I was able to fall back asleep immediately after my 0400 potty break. I got 7+ hours of actual sleep and I feel human this morning! Ross gets up with Noah after a few minutes.

0630: I go over my prayer cards for a bit, until Noah comes into our bedroom needing something or other. Ross heads to work, and Noah and I eat breakfast. Eating meals is quite the ordeal these days. We end up splitting a smoothie, he has toast with almond butter, and I have two oatmeal muffins. This takes much longer than it should. Then we both get dressed for the day, and read a Bernstein Bears book.

0740: We head to Wednesday Farmer's Market. It's not TOO hot out yet, and I love being early-isa to market before the crowds.

0800: We buy komboucha, sip it for a few minutes, and then head to the fountains where Noah gleefully runs and splashes with very little competition.

0900: The first entertainer arrives, and we spend an hour doing Signing Time with her and her two daughters, and the crowd slowly grows over the course of the hour. We also take two potty breaks and a cookie break during this time-- ha! At the end, Noah sweetly waits his turn for a stamp, and gets one on his hand. Then goes back to ask for one on his bare belly! Oh summer.

1000: Some friends meet us briefly, and we splash in the water for a bit. Then we actually walk through market again and buy some sweet corn, some peaches, and some cucumbers. Our cucumbers are really not thriving this year and our whole garden feels behind schedule even though it's green and flowering. Maybe next year will be the year I actually start seeds indoors to get a head start?

1050: Wow it's ROASTING outside by now. The weather app says it's 95 but feels like 103! Noah and I are over it, and head home.

1130: We eat a quick lunch of turkey sandwiches and watermelon, and Noah must be as worn out as I am, because he really doesn't put up too much of a fight when I declare nap time.

1200: Nap jams, two stories, and two songs later, I'm resting next to Noah in his big kid bed and we both fall asleep pretty quickly. We've been doing this this past few weeks, ever since my belly just got too big for stories in the rocking chair. I'll admit the snuggles and cat nap are sometimes the sweetest part of my day.

1240: I sneak out of Noah's room and retire to my own bed to read for a bit. My belly feels extra heavy today, and rest is needed for sure. I also update my mom on Ross' knee. He hurt it a week and a half ago, and a sweet friend got us in to see an orthopedic doctor MUCH sooner than we would've been able to, otherwise. AND he had an OR spot open this Friday, so Ross is getting his meniscus repaired so much sooner than we'd hoped. Hopefully this means he'll be walking by the time baby arrives!

1430: Noah is awake! I let him bustle around his room for a bit before getting him out.

1445: Noah has a rice cake for a snack after declining watermelon, peaches, and turkey sandwich remains. Then, well, he watches two episodes of Daniel Tiger while I read on the couch. Did I mention it's 100+ degrees outside?!

1530: We get ready to go to the pool to meet some friends.

1605: The pool is like bathwater, but the weightlessness is pure bliss! We play in the baby pool with our friends for a little over an hour. Noah is so sweet to my friend's little 20 month girl, and I enjoy having some adult conversation.

1720: Noah and I have some really fun "Mama/Noah time" just playing in the big pool. We practice swimming, and he climbs up the ladder and jumps off the side ad nauseum. It's so fun to grab him and give him a hug every time he pops up. I miss holding him sometimes, but it's so effortless in the water! His belly flops have veered into dive territory lately, so we practice a lot of feet-first jumping for safety's sake, and he's finally getting the hang of it! When he and I are well rested, we sure do have a lot of fun together.

1800: We head home to meet Ross, and I shower while Ross and Noah eat leftover tacos for dinner.

1830: Ross gets Noah showered while I sit on the couch.

1900: I start getting Noah ready for bed while Ross lays in bed with ice on his knee. We are quite the pair these days! Noah and I read a story, talk, pray, and sing. Then we snuggle for a bit.

1945: Noah's in bed and I say goodnight. He's so funny... he has to say "I love you" and "thank you" to us each night. Tonight I didn't hear the thank you, so I didn't say you're welcome, and Noah came running to the door crying the minute I closed it. Poor kid. I gave him a huge hug, tucked him back in, and made sure to say "you're welcome" this time!

2000: I sit on the couch and read for another 30 minutes before getting up to type this while Ross waters the garden. Now it's almost 2100 and I'm going to load the dishwasher, type a follow-up email to a lactation consultation client, take a Unisom, and go to bed!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

35 weeks

This week went by so quickly between the holiday, work, and knee injury drama. Ross tore his meniscus on Sunday, so he saw the PCP on Monday and got an MRI on Friday. Now we are figuring out how to schedule his surgery and pay more medical bills. Meanwhile he's limping around and neither of us can lift anything heavy. It's been... interesting.

So. Thirty five weeks are over and done with, and now baby no longer has an automatic ticket to the NICU. I feel like a ticking time bomb! It's unnerving to think she could be here in 2.5 weeks like Noah was, or she could throw us all for a loop at stay put until mid-August.

How I'm feeling: Big. Sometimes I feel normal, like when I'm laying in bed in the morning, or I'll catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror early in the day and think my belly isn't THAT big. But the maternity tanks that fit me last time are getting a little short this time, and I think I'm definitely a little bigger this time around. And I'm convinced this child is huge! She seems to fill up my whole belly, and kicks to the ribs are not infrequent. It's so crazy! But the kicks and the belly are what I'll miss the very most. Otherwise, now that I know how fun it is to get to know the kid in there, I'm getting pretty excited to meet her and I don't think I'll miss feeling pregnant as much as I did last time. (I will miss looking obviously pregnant though). Also, pregnancy in July is not for the faint of heart. I've never been a sweater, but I'm constantly sweaty and overheated and thirsty now! The good parts of third trimester in warm weather, though, are the flip flops and the POOL. I didn't get to go swimming last week and I need to change that this week.

Symptoms: I'm definitely starting to get some swelling, which I don't really remember having last time. I'm sure it's a combination of the heat and the fact that I'm simply not sleeping well at all. I'm either up for the day after 4am, or I'm up hourly all night long. I'm starting to feel "tired but wired" at bedtime, too, which means it keeps inching later and later. I look so tired in all my pictures this summer! Also, nausea and food aversions have kicked in again. I forgot that this happened last time toward the end. The ONLY thing that sounds good is cold water, smoothies, and big salads. Of course, I still can and do eat most everything, but soups, coffee, and chocolate are quite unappetizing again. Still having lots of Braxton-Hicks, too. Not more frequent, but definitely intense than they were in the first pregnancy.

Home life: Well, this week was rough as mentioned above. With Ross' inability to walk and my inability to bend at the waist, we just didn't have a productive week around the house. I had been hoping to clean up the playroom once and for all (it's been a baby supply staging area for a few months), but that obviously didn't happen. Thankfully, my parents were here this weekend, and my mom swept the whole house and tidied up! And my dad helped me get Noah's old baby bins down in the garage, so now I've gone through and sorted and labeled those, and I think I've tracked down all the newborn stuff we have. So newborn clothes are almost all washed and put away, cloth diapers are out, snapped into their smallest sizes, and ready to go, and I even started packing the hospital bag. Who am I!? It's so weird to do this, because we weren't able to have ANYTHING ready the first time.

Exercise: Aside from walking, I didn't get to do much this week. I wonder if that has also affected my anxiety and my sleep quality? Noah and I did take a long, slow walk Friday morning, which was sweet. It's always nice when we don't have to rush somewhere!

Best thing I ate this week: This is a tie between Taste Nirvana coconut water (SO MUCH BETTER than any other coconut water I've had from the grocery store) and the scallops I had for dinner on Saturday at Merchant's in Lawrence. Yes, scallops still sound so amazing. Possibly the closest thing I've had to a consistent craving this pregnancy!



This week, I had a few moments of realizing, "wait... I'm like PREGNANT!" It was really weird. I think you just expect to feel that for so long, and then it doesn't really kick in til the end when it looks like you always expected it to look and feel all along.






Sunday, July 2, 2017

34 weeks and a false alarm

It's July 2. I'm 35 weeks pregnant today. 35 days to go until my due date, but we are likely to meet baby a bit before that. THIS MONTH. How is that possible?!

We rung in 34 weeks with a fun false alarm. I'm not sure if was because baby's position changed, or if my body was just over the last few weeks of go, go, go, but after church on Sunday I started having... contractions? They didn't quite feel like LABOR contractions, but they were also pretty different compared to the normal Braxton-Hicks I have all the time. My lower back was killing me, and the contractions were coming every 2 minutes. They didn't hurt? Per se? Not compared to labor, at least. But they were intense enough to stop me in my tracks when walking. I went home and laid down, and they didn't stop, so I called the Midwife. Since they DID finally stop with a warm bath, I narrowly avoided a visit to triage. But I had to stay in bed the rest of the day because they started up again the minute I would stand up! I drank a ton of water and Gatorade, took Benadryl and Tylenol that night, and slept it off.

I woke up on Monday quite sore, but thankfully back to my normal Braxton-Hicks. My Midwife appointment verified that I hadn't made any actual labor progress. Whew! I was really starting to panic there. However, it was soon evident that sister is now in a transverse position, which is REALLY uncomfortable given that she's 4.5-5 pounds, and roughly 18 inches long. I mean, there's a BABY in there and I am not wide enough for her to be chilling out sideways. It feels like my abs and my tailbone are going to rip open.

I'm not going to lie... it's making me nervous. Turns out transverse is actually a little more worrisome than a frank breech position at this stage, suggesting that possibly the placenta or cord is in the way, keeping her from turning again. I'm constantly praying for her to get head down, but I'm also praying that she stays SAFE. It makes me so nervous to think about cord accidents, nuchal cords, true knots, placental abruption. Ugh. So many many things that can go wrong between now and the sweet day I get to hold her in my arms. Pregnancy is so miraculous and so humbling, and I'm just praying that God keeps us both safe for a few more weeks. And a head-down baby with an uneventful birth would be even better.

This week, I happened to have a chiropractor appointment, acupuncture, physical therapy, and yoga. Ha! Even if she hasn't moved, I'm marginally more comfortable, but also way bigger than I was 7 days ago. Someone had a growth spurt! I don't remember the stretching being this painful last time. Either it's her fun position, or I just forgot about this part. I thought since everything has already been stretched once, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but I three years was a long time ago, I guess, and my body has been through a lot.

Best moment of the week: We got a care package from the family I used to nanny for in Texas. They sent a perfect big brother book for Noah that made me tear up, but they also sent some adorable pajamas and a Madeline book for baby sister. Well. Noah is OBSESSED with the Madeline book. Like we read it a dozen times a day. He calls it his baby sister book. SO CUTE. (Runner up moment was the way Noah's eyes lit up when I told him he would get to meet baby sister in one month. "Not two months!?" "Nope, just one more month!")


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Postpartum Freezer Meals: Part 2

I made some BIG plans for freezer meals, detailed here. Today is one month away from the gestational age at which Noah was born, and given my increasing discomfort, I realized I needed to get this done sooner rather than later.

How I did it

DAY 1 (1.5-2 hours): In the morning, I started the pulled pork in the crockpot and we ate some for dinner, gave some to a friend for a baby meal, and froze the rest for postpartum. Then before bed, I washed and chopped ALL the produce. This actually took almost two hours! It's the most tedious part of cooking, for me, and it was nice to get it out of the way.

DAY 2 (5 hours): I got EVERYTHING out on the counter. All the ingredients I would need for all of the recipes. Turns out this was overly ambitious, but it kept me from having to search for random stuff mid-recipe. Then I tackled most of the uncooked meat dishes. Before putting anything in freezer bags, I wrote the date, the name of the recipe, and the cooking or re-heating instructions so I wouldn't have to look it up later. To assemble these, I used one bowl for each marinade, rinsing well in between. Same for the small bowl I used for each dry spice mixture. I put the meat right in the freezer bag, dumped the marinade over it, and then sealed and laid the bag horizontally in the deep freezer. This method helped me assemble the jerk chicken tacos, maple dijon chicken, salsa chicken, and beef and broccoli pretty quickly.

Then, since the chicken was already in use, I continued with the rest of the chicken dishes. I put the chicken enchilada filling in the crockpot and put the chicken spaghetti bake in the oven.

While those were cooking, I moved onto the ground meat dishes. I processed all the bread crumbs in the food processor in one batch, to measure out accordingly. Then I used one big bowl for each of the ground meat dishes, rinsing it in between recipes (and using fresh gloves for each batch, because I hate mixing meat with bare hands). I made the meatballs and put them in a freezer bag with the tomato sauce, to be cooked after thawing. Then I made the turkey loaf and Greek meatloaf muffins.  When they cooled, I wrapped them in foil and then put them each in a freezer bag and placed in the freezer.

I had to sauté some of the veggies for the meatloaf, and I used the same sauté pan to then cook the Italian sausage, onions, and garlic for the cauliflower and Italian sausage casserole. I boiled the cauliflower in a big soup pot, and then assembled and baked that casserole as well. With the casseroles, I baked them in disposable aluminum trays, cooled in the fridge, covered rightly with foil, and then covered with the included plastic lid, on which I wrote the date and the re-heating instructions.

Then I used that same soup pot to boil the second round of cauliflower, for the alfredo sauce and I went ahead and blended that and put in a freezer bag. Finally, I assembled the white bean chicken chili and let it all simmer in the soup pot while I started to clean up. (I put the rotisserie chicken carcass in the freezer to make bone broth at a later date.)

This all took 5 hours and while I didn't finish everything, I was kind of over it after 5 hours. I still made 13 meals in two days, and the deep freezer is filling up quickly!

DAY 3 (1.5-2 hours): I really didn't want to do more, but I had bought, washed, and chopped all that produce, and I knew I needed to utilize the fresh stuff, lest it go bad. So I made the 7 vegetable cheese soup, the red lentil dal, and the lentil mushroom walnut balls. The other soups I listed mostly utilize canned vegetable purees and frozen veggies, so I will keep those ingredients in the pantry and they'll be reasonably easy to make as needed and store in the fridge for a week. Same with the baked bean and cornbread casserole.

DAY 4 (3 hours, but this is skewed because the toddler was awake and around for most of it): So over it today. But I powered through and made the chana masala, vegan stuffed shells, and a double batch of lactation cookies. I thought the vegan meals would be nice to have for quick lunches, but I forgot that vegan meals sometimes take longer to assemble than meat dishes because you have to cook the beans, roast the walnuts, soak the cashews, etc. Next time I would consider leaving the dal, the chana masala, and the lentil mushroom walnut balls off the list. But they may prove to be invaluable to have on hand, later, so I'll see if it was worth the extra time.

LATER: I still hope to make the pancakes, Glo bars, and breakfast cookies before baby comes, but worst case scenario, Ross and Noah can make those while I supervise.

---

THOUGHTS: Our brand new deep freezer is FULL. It feels really good, but I'm also really over cooking. Like I want to take a whole week off! But I have 18 meals in the freezer, and that feels great. I'm really hopeful that they will taste good/fresh in 1-3 months, and that they really will save time later. I neglected Noah a bit this week in the rush to have these DONE. I hope it keeps my postpartum self from standing in the kitchen too much in the first 2 months, though, and that means more time with Noah (and baby) down the road.

I'll write one more post once we've eaten everything, to follow-up on how it stored and re-heated! For now, here's the final tally of what I made (I put this list on the side of the deep freezer along with side dishes that would turn the frozen dish into a full meal):

-jerk chicken taco meat
-meatballs in tomato sauce
-maple dijon chicken
-salsa chicken
-beef and broccoli
-turkey loaf
-chicken enchilada filling
-pulled pork
-chicken spaghetti bake
-Greek meatloaf muffins
-cauliflower and Italian sausage casserole
-7 vegetable 'cheese' soup
-smoky white bean chili
-vegan alfredo sauce
-vegan stuffed manicotti shells
-red lentil dal
-chana masala
-lentil mushroom walnut balls
-lactation cookies


Sunday, June 25, 2017

33 weeks and expectations

Thank goodness for this blog, because I'm totally losing all track of how far along I am. The other day, Ross asked, "you're like, 37 weeks, right?!" Ha! No. But I feel like I should be. I was reading my old posts, and it's nice to see that this time last time, I was very emotional and worn out. Because right now, I'm... tired. Physically and emotionally. (My blog also tells me I even having lots of hip pain, craving vegetables at 33 weeks, and losing hair last time, like I have been this week! So funny.)

I'm up for the day around 4am and it's kind of making me worthless at mom-ming. I'm anxious about entering into the newborn fog when I'm already so tired. So I'm done trying to wean off of the Unisom. When I take half a tablet before bed, and drink a little coffee the next morning, I feel like I can take on the world! Or at least I feel some resemblance to my non-pregnant self. Better living through chemistry, when all else fails, I guess.

This week, I washed and folded tiny little newborn clothes, and I had a moment of gratitude. I was living out of a suitcase and had yet to purchase any baby clothes this time the first go-around, so I'm enjoying these little bursts of nesting. The excitement is slowly starting to counter-balance the anxiety that flared up in the past few weeks, but I think some of the anxiety is just here to stay until the end. So much is about to change.

This week, though, I'm realizing maybe I'm trying too hard to "enjoy these last few weeks." Last summer with Noah was really really sweet, and I find myself trying to re-create it: toddler time at the pool, Wednesday mornings at the farmer's market. I wanted to squeeze some of it in before I felt downright miserable, but I'm slowly starting to realize: I already feel downright miserable, and it's already impossible to re-create last summer.

I also sometimes feel like we need to rush here and there, because I know we will be home-bound for a month or so after baby arrives. Yet, our best summer 2017 memories thus far have been the slowest ones: puttering in the garden as a family after Noah's Sunday afternoon nap. Taking an early morning walk to Starbucks with Noah and chilling and reading books there before walking home. Taking dinner to the pool and meeting Ross there after work where we all swim for an hour before heading home for the bedtime routine.

I'm also realizing that "enjoying every minute of pregnancy" is just an impossible expectation. Yes, it makes me sad to feel like every week that goes by might be the last time I'm x number of weeks pregnant, but what would it look like to "fully soak it up"? I'll tell you. It would look like a week on the beach in Hawaii. Daily prenatal massages. Daily ultrasounds to just watch baby wiggle around and really figure out the various positions she puts herself in. (I can sort of guess sometimes from the outside, but it'd be so fun to master it with ultrasound verification.) It looks like fresh, seasonal food cooked to order for every meal, with zero cleanup on my part. It looks like spending at least an hour a day floating in the water and another hour a day in a lounge chair reading books on pregnancy, birth, and parenting. It looks like morning and evening walks, either having an adult conversation or listening to a good podcast. I looks like an hour of quiet time every morning and a full night's sleep every night. So what I'm saying is, it looks like a fantasy. It's just not possible to spend every minute of the day focused on this incredible thing that's happening.

So... I'm going to try to slow down when I can. Take more belly shots. Stop and feel when she's moving (the movements are already getting less dramatic as baby gets bigger). More pool time with Noah and less running to a bajillion errands and appointments. More prayer throughout the day. Earlier bedtimes. I'm trying to finish up "nesting" tasks by the end of June so that I can spend July in more of a "resting" mode. Here's hoping!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

32 weeks

If time could start moving a LITTLE more slowly, that would be great. The weeks are ticking by alarmingly quickly now. This was a fun week with Noah, but pretty uncomfortable pregnancy-wise between the heat and humidity, varicose veins, and pelvic and back pain. I'm splurging on a massage tomorrow, and I'm so looking forward to it. I think I would be a better person if I could afford massages every other week. Ha!

The week kind of started last Saturday when we had a fun family day of blueberry picking, eating at a new restaurant for lunch, and baking pie. It was a really refreshing day for ALL of us after a long, anxious, sleepless week the week before. Sunday, though, greeted me with lots of Braxton-Hicks and discomfort. I definitely feel pregnant all the time, except for when I very first wake up in the morning!

How I’m feeling: Nervous, excited, tired, big.

Home life: Knock on wood, renovations are DONE! Three years later than anticipated, but better late than never. I had the house spotless about two weeks ago, but it's totally messy again and I'm way too big/uncomfortable to be scrubbing baseboards now, so we will see if it gets clean clean again before delivery. Either way, I'm so excited that there's no more exposed drywall.

Nursery: Ross and I are agreeing to disagree on this right now. Our 900 square foot house consists of three bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, a kitchen, and a small laundry room/pantry/mud room. No basement, dining room, office, or play room. So... the third bedroom is an office/playroom and we love having the extra space. It's also literally in the middle of the house, so it really wouldn't make a quiet bedroom. I want the baby to sleep in our room for 4-5 months (like Noah did) and then share a room with Noah. Ross says there's no way on earth that will happen because Noah didn't sleep through the night till he was 15 months old and, well, this baby comes from the same gene pool. I, however, need to be optimistic, so we are going to pretend that room-sharing is a feasible option for these two. For now.

Nesting: I did get an energy boost between 20-30 weeks, and it was amazing after a long winter. However, I'm slowing down quickly now. I need to make my freezer meals in the next two weeks before I totally peter out, and then hopefully I can spend my time resting instead of nesting! That is, when I'm not momming or working.

Belly button: Flat or out, depending on the day, the outfit, and baby's position.

Sleep: Night hunger and waking up for the day at 4am have been the name of the game again this week. Between 31 weeks and birth, baby DOUBLES or TRIPLES in weight! So I think these symptoms are just here to stay.

Wearing: Shorts and tanktops. Swimsuits.

Exercise: Walking, Barre 3, and... lap swimming! Last time I waited way too long to get into the pool, and this time I told myself I'd start swimming sooner. It feels SO SO SO good. I wish I'd started even sooner, but I'm definitely glad I didn't wait later.

Reading: Still haven't started on those parenting books I said I'd read before baby #2... I'm kind of loving reading novels for fun while I still have a little time on my hands.

Cravings: I need vegetables STAT. I've been lazy and not wanting to cut up and prepare veggies, but salads and veggie bowls and lots of fruit are the only thing that sounds good in this heat.

Best thing I ate/drank all week: Hmmm... that's a tie between sushi and cookie dough. The Ra Sushi Zonie Roll I had for takeout on Friday really tasted phenomenal. I could go for another one right now! Salmon, cucumber, avocado, Sriracha... so good after a hot day outside. Then, yesterday on the way home from work, I texted Ross that I was craving cookie dough. I came home to a tray of freshly baked cookies, and a bowl of leftover dough. Totally hit the spot after a busy day at work.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Walking Weather (part 2)

Last week, I really started to panic about the upcoming changes in our life. I have really been seeking to banish that anxiety, because it becomes a vicious cycle and it intrudes on the precious time I'm so anxious about losing!

I listened to two other podcasts last week that I feel like really pointed me in an encouraging direction, and I want to write down what struck me, so I can reference it quickly in the thick of it.

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1) Risen Motherhood Episode 60: Adding Another Little-- How Mom Can Greet the Transition with Hope

The words that really stood out to me are as follows:

"Expect that you are going to need the Gospel truth more than ever... I look at transitions like this as something I dread a little bit, but in God's kingdom, in light of the Gospel, these types of situations are good. This is where big, transforming heart work happens. And when I look back at the times God has transformed me the most and helped me repent of sin and trust him more, is times like this when I've been totally helpless and dependent and exhausted and at the end of myself."

"God can nourish you in these hard seasons with the tiniest nugget of truth."

This episode helped me plan for the fact that whatever quiet time routine I do establish in the next few weeks will most likely be challenged when the baby comes, and I was able to brainstorm a few ideas for staying connected to God in the survival stage:

-Listening to audio Bible or podcast episodes during nighttime nursing sessions

-Do not believe the lie that you don't have time to be in God's word, you almost always do have 5 minutes to just read scripture or a devotional at some point in your day

-Meditate on a Seeds Family Worship song in the background even when the kids (eek! kidS plural!) are up and at 'em

-Pick a weekly verse to write on the wall and memorize as a family

-Remember, duty turns into delight, and these little efforts are worth it even if they don't feel as substantial as what someone else may be doing in this season

2) Risen Motherhood Episode 63: Jen Wilkin on Growing in God's Word as a Mom of Little Ones

This podcast is what really resonated with me the most last week, and gave me the most encouragement for the last bit of this current season, as well as expectations for the weeks to come. Jen Wilkin is a Bible teacher and author, and one of the many people I've meant to look more into, join a study with, etc. I was really excited I stumbled upon this interview with her, because it tailored her message to young moms in particular, whereas most of her stuff is meant for women in all stages of life.

In response to being asked why reading the Bible is important, Jen responds, "I would say that a pretty common experience for young moms is that when that first baby comes, they have a renewed understanding of their lack, with regard to matters of faith. We're responsible for passing down this faith heritage to our children, and we can't pass down something that we don't have direct knowledge of. The heart cannot love what the mind does not know, and Biblical literacy is an act of loving God with your mind, which translates into greater affection in your heart, because by its own report, the Bible is living and active. For the believer, we cannot encounter the scriptures and come away unchanged. I would say that for young moms in particular, you're at a place where you know your vulnerability like you perhaps didn't before you had children, and that provides a unique opportunity for you to begin investing in some good tools for literacy now."

Jen goes on to talk about the coveted idea of a quiet time routine, and says that as a young mom, "You may have pockets of discretionary time, but you never can predict really when they're going to be, or how long they're going to be. Perhaps more than at any other time in your adult life, when it comes to learning the Bible, you really need an outside structure and some accountability."

The host says, "A lot of times I think as young moms the message we can hear from people is, 'oh these little years, you don't have time to read your Bible.' I think there's an element of truth to that, but there's also an element of a major excuse where you say, 'the little years are the lost years.' Is there something special about being a mom of little kids that does make theological growth challenging, or is that a myth?"

Jen replies, "I think it can be an excuse, but it is not always an excuse. I think that women have different capacities, and I think it's important to know yourself pretty well, and know am I the kind of person who's looking for an excuse not to do this, or am I drowning right now? ...We all find time for the things that matter to us... I'm all for a good binge on Netflix, just not if it's a replacement for something that's transcending."

Later, she notes, "Our children are our neighbors, which means that if we are going to treat them as the people that they are, we're going to need to have a solid grasp of the 'one anothers' in scripture. We're going to need to know what it means to be patient and bear with one another, and that those one anothers include not just my adult friends or my co-workers, but also these tiny people who I hang out with a lot in my own home... Young motherhood was such a time of selfishness and selflessness intertwined for me. I told myself it was beating the selfishness out of me, because you have to give up all your personal freedoms, etc. But it turned out that as soon as the kids got older and were able to do things on their own, I just took all the selfishness right back. So I think that nothing is going to get to that underlying issue of self-centeredness like spending time in the scriptures will."

I found this tidbit interesting, even though it wasn't the main focus of the podcast: "We never had a structured approach (saying to our kids) now you need to sit down and read your Bible... We didn't want to require or structure it, we just modeled it. The kids understand that's just what you do when you're an adult."

Toward the end, the host asks, "What are some things you would say, 'here's where to start.' In terms of getting into your Bible?" Jen responds, "The most basic thing to start doing is to read repetitively. And I know that sounds, like, not exciting, and maybe even boring. But it's actually the piece that most of us run right past. We want to read a passage and understand it immediately and know what to do with it, and that's just not the way that learning works, and it's not the way that good reading skills happen. So I would say if you're a young mom and you have limited time, you are far better served by picking a book of the Bible, starting at the beginning, and beginning to read to the end. Don't ask a lot of yourself as you're reading through it the first time. Just read it like you would read a book for book club... or listen to it on YouVersion on your phone every time you're in the car... those are ways to start getting the text inside of you. One of the things I like to debunk as often as I can, especially with young moms, is the glorification of the idea of quiet time. I think that we are going to face challenges in growing in literacy if we carve out 10 minutes a day versus if we had 1-2 times a week where we spent 30-45 minute blocks... You can have a some moment of reflection for daily contact with the scriptures to get you set for the day, but in terms of learning your sacred text, you probably need a longer stretch of time than that... If during the young mom years, all you did was read for comprehension, when you come out of the young mom years and you have more time and you're ready to pick up more of those tools (study tools discussed in her book Women of the Word), you will hit the ground running."

The host replies, "I love that you're saying this! I tend to be pretty legalistic... but I think this gives enormous freedom to a young mom, especially trying to protect some larger chunks of time a few times a week. It doesn't have to be this daily big hunk of steak. And also in trusting that God's word will work in your life, even if you're... just saturating your heart and mind with God's word and trusting that that will give you the ability to discern truth... Our routines as moms tend to last about 3 months, and then you have to switch to a new routine... But we really can take God's word how it can come to us, and we need to access it as much as we can, when we can."

Jen says, "It's also easy to spend all your time in devotional reading and not literacy-building. Before you know it, all you're doing is reading devotionally or topically... Devotional reading can be great, particularly for a mom who wants to have some daily contact the the scriptures. But devotional reading gives us something in the moment-- a takeaway you can hold on to. The literacy-building elements don't necessarily do that for you, so we may not gravitate toward them as naturally as we should. The thing with devotional reading, is that while it may give you an emotional boost for the day, it is not giving you comprehensive knowledge of the text, and when we become overly dependent on it, we can actually decrease in our ability to read scripture in context and in long stretches... Devotional content is more like dessert... but it will be way more impactful if you have a foundational knowledge of the entire book that that passage is being pulled out of."

Finally, she encourages, "You can do this! You can be in the scriptures in ways that are drawing you closer to what they say, what they mean, how it should change you. You NEED a transcending vision of God, high and lifted up, to get through this season of life, and the place it has been given to us is in scripture. So find the time to get yourself into it as you're able. Your love for it will grow the more you do it... What you're growing in love for is not the scriptures, but the God of the scriptures."

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I just really love this encouragement from Jen, especially the tidbits in bold. It encouraged me to go back to what I had juuuust started doing on Christmas break from BSF, before morning sickness and germ sickness kicked in for the rest of the winter. And that's to literally read my Bible as a book, from front to back. I've never done that! I picked my smaller Bible, the one that isn't a study Bible, and just started reading. So now I'm picking up where I left off this winter, and just reading. I'm noticing patterns, like how needy and selfish and grumbly God's people (including myself) are, and how he always replies to those cries with an I WILL promise, or an I AM statement. It's really cool to read the story and notice who God says He is and what He says He will do. It sounds so fundamental, getting to know God. But it's what I NEED. I've been trying to brainstorm this perfect magical combination of racing to the finish line of pregnancy and getting all emotionally prepared for the next stage of parenting: early morning Bible study, reading parenting books and doing a workout at nap time, journaling at bedtime, or what have you. I kept trying to re-arrange the elements, but all of the ideas just felt overwhelming. Because while I have the desire to utilize every minute well, I really don't have the energy to do that. At least not the way I'm defining "well."

So Jen's words really gave me the freedom to keep it simple. I'm going to continue with my monthly prayer cards that I've been doing this year: intentionally praying for myself and for my family when I first wake up. And then I'm going to open the Bible and read. Most days, I'm going to expect that I have 5-15 minutes of this before I'm needed by someone. Some days I might get more time in the morning, others I might devote a nap time to process things a bit more (like I am doing right this moment) if I have the capacity to do and something really struck me and I want to flesh it out more before continuing. But I'm not going to force that. I'm going to start small and realistic, and I already feel lighter for it. I guess it's like that old saying, you can do anything, but you can't do everything. Note to self.

When baby comes, I expect even this simple routine to be shot to pieces. When that happens, I want to go back to the tips I noted above, and then, like Jen says, just pay attention to my heart. I can discern when I've switched from the survival stage to the simply looking for excuses to avoid getting into God's word. And when I sense the shift toward laziness, I have the opportunity to dig deep. I can use the three minute morning tips, or just the simple routine I've been doing the past few days, to get me back on track, and I won't regret it.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

31 Weeks: Walking Weather (part 1)

Last week baby must've had a growth spurt because I was hungry at night again. But this week was pretty good, and I actually felt great physically. Noah and I got to talk a "wake-up walk" every day, and we took family bedtime walks most days, too. Noah turned three last Sunday! And he and I had a really sweet day on Monday, but the week went downhill from there, sleep and attitude-wise (for both of us, to be honest! What a long week.)

It's like I hit 31 weeks in this pregnancy and suddenly went from feeling really peaceful and excited to all-out panicked. The countdown is in the single digits and frankly, while I'm all about nesting and organizing and tangibly preparing for our new arrival, I'm terrified about the emotional aspects that I just can't prepare for. I know that I don't know what I don't know about having two kids. I don't know if I will ever be pregnant again after the next few weeks. I don't know if I'm mom enough to do the newborn phase WITH a toddler and be a good mom to both.

I'm also starting to panic about my days with Noah being numbered. I was so sick this winter that I feel like we lost a huge chunk of time together while I just survived. Are we over-scheduled? Have I spent enough intentional time with him in the past three years? Is fall preschool a bad idea? Am I a good mom? Will he still know I love him when I have to attend to an infant? Does he know we are adding to the family and not replacing him? Nothing like an existential crisis in the third trimester!

Then there's the pre-emptive mourning of time and sleep that will simply be lost. Some never to return again. Noah is thisclose to phasing out naps, and while his night sleep has been less than stellar during this pregnancy, it's still better than the first year of his life. Have I taken full advantage of nap times? Of the times he did go to bed at 7pm and stay in bed asleep (although that seems to be lost forever, at least while it's still light out at that hour)? That year between 18-36 months when he DID sleep in until 6:30am, why DIDN'T I wake up earlier to form a consistent habit of quiet time again? Agh!

Thankfully, with the morning walks and nap times I did get last week, I was able to *start* sorting through some of this anxiety that seemed to come out of nowhere. Possibly the biggest thing I'm currently regretting is never having formed a good habit of quiet time after Noah was born. I KNOW that peace is a person and that the presence of Christ will anchor me in the season ahead. Why am I not seeking it out now? For a long time after having my first baby, I was just surviving. Once I could kind of form a coherent thought, I went through a phase of beating myself up for not being able to focus when I did sit down, not "getting something out of it" like I used to, etc. So I would have "on" phases and "off" phases, always somehow trying to replicate the habit I was in before we moved around this time in my pregnancy with Noah. Which mostly looked like me waking up at 5:30am and taking 30-45 minutes to read a devotional, read my Bible, AND journal. Longer than that on the days I didn't work. Let's just say that magical morning quiet time has yet to make a re-appearance, and my discipline and capacity to maintain such an intense regimen at nap time has been lacking, to say the least.

And then... I have so many parenting books I still want to read. So many things I meant to do. What have I been doing with my spare time the past three years?! That's a rhetorical question, by the way. I know that by and large I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. I think about the (albeit part-time) work, the job changes, the hours and hours of studying for a new license, starting a new business or two... But I also think about the physical recovery. Coordinating all the appointments for a sick mama and a baby with some special needs. The postpartum anxiety. And heck, the normal, tumultuous, emotional adjustment to the role of motherhood!

Sure, I regret all the wasted hours on Facebook or Instagram, and I'm trying to replace that time with something slightly more beneficial, like reading a book for fun, listening to a podcast, or doing a 10 minute workout. Putting music on and dancing with Noah when we are both desperate for Papa to be home. Looking Noah in the eye and engaging when I most want to tune out. But in the grand scheme of things, I feel like I've done what I could do with my capacity in any given season over the past three years. And I'm currently reminding myself that there are so many seasons, even within this bigger (but still oh-so-short) season of the little years. Roughly every three months, things shift. I need to keep remembering that! And a lot of the time, it's okay for me to physically, mentally, and emotionally rest when I need to, to be able to get through the rest of the day. As long as I'm not looking at that physical rest as my inalienable right, and throwing a tantrum of my own when I don't get it.

I always tell people, Jesus is happy to meet you when you're at the end of the rope. I feel like motherhood is a constant battle between giving yourself grace, taking care of yourself so you're fit to take care of others, AND realizing any given day could go downhill in an instant for a million little reasons, and holding THAT with an open hand. It's about where my heart is much more than about where my time is spent. Although when my heart is in the right place, my time will be spent in the right place, too.

Anyway. All that to say, 'tis the season for morning walks and podcasts. My VERY favorite time of the year! Sunshine and encouragement before 9am. Walks have been SO GREAT this week as I muddle through this weird heart stuff.

Noah has not been sleeping a whole lot the past 25 weeks or so, so Ross and I haven't either. On Tuesday, I was in tears by the end of the day-- physically and emotionally exhausted. I expected this after baby, but not before! If I feel like this with one kid, how on earth am I going to make it through the day with two? Add to that the financial stress, the healthcare costs (our insurance changed pretty drastically since the last pregnancy), and the threat of the routine changing again (I thrive on routine), and I feel like I'm on very shaky ground.

Which is funny, because this morning one of the podcasts I listened to was a short devotional on Luke 6:46-49. Verses 46-48, in particular, struck me: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words AND puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who DUG DOWN DEEP and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built."

WHEN the flood came, the torrent struck the house but COULD NOT SHAKE IT.

I hear God, and I know him as Lord, but I have NOT been putting his words into practice. I have not been digging down deep. This solidified what I've been sensing for the past two weeks: more than the freezer meals, more than the tidy house, more than the baby registry, what I need is to secure my foundation in Christ, because the storm is coming (let's all pray that it's like a passing afternoon thunderstorm in the Florida Keys and not the perma-mist of the Midwestern winter or the destruction of a hurricane). I've gotten my feet back under me since having Noah, and I've learned some deep truths along the way, but really ever since last fall, I've been surviving. And that's catching up to me. When I'm not drinking from the wellspring of life, I'm coming up empty, daily. As David Wilcox says, "We cannot trade empty for empty/We must go to the waterfall/For there's a break in the cup that holds love/Inside us all."

On the same note, a few weeks ago, I was listening to this hymn over and over again:

All my life long I had panted for a drink from some cool spring
That I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longing, through his blood I now am saved.

[...]Well of water ever springing, Bread of Life so rich and free
Untold wealth that never faileth, my Redeemer is to me
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longing, through his blood I now am saved.

THEN because God really wants to hammer this into me, the point was reiterated in this podcast: Hello Mornings Episode 4: How to Begin and Build a Brilliant Morning. Heather and Kat talk a bit about a "three minute morning" routine, with God, Plan, and Move time. Basically, it's getting yourself moving in the direction you want to go. Action over perfection. Start with literally three minutes. One in which you meditate on a Bible verse like Psalm 143:8. One in which you glance at your calendar and pray about what you can and should do in your day with the schedule you have. And one minute to drink a glass of water. This is starting a routine. A bare minimum. It doesn't feel like a lot, but when the alternative is nothing, it's moving in the right direction! It doesn't matter if three years ago I was starting my day with 45 minutes of prayer, journaling, and Bible reading!

They also talk about other ways to build some momentum for change in your routine when your current routine, or lack thereof, isn't working and you're burnt out and not sure where to start (track, trade, and try, for example). But what really got me is when Heather said, "If you have a mentality that you're a pitcher of water, and you're having your quiet time in the morning to be filled up to pour out, you will have the idea that it has to be hours and hours and hours, because I know how much I pour out in my day. But if you view it as that time in the morning as me being reminded of my position in Christ, Christ in me, He is a River of Life, Flowing Water, Never-ending Source, and I'm getting plugged in there, so that His love can pour THROUGH me (not from me) to those in my environment, then it doesn't matter if it's a minute, an hour, two hours... you're never going to get filled up enough for the amount that you are getting poured out in your day, wherever you are. You will run out if it's all dependent on you being the source." Starting my day in communion with God will remind me where I stand, and whose I am, so I don't spend my day bemoaning what I lack externally or internally.

I want to write about two more podcast episodes that I found really encouraging this week, but the above ones really reminded me again that I can do the mom thing THROUGH Christ, who gives me strength. The newborn months are just going to give me some really sweet opportunities to rely heavily on that truth again. And in the meantime, I'm praying that God will help me enjoy the next few weeks of Mama and Noah time, and the quiet moments of kicks and hiccups with this sweet baby inside me.





Saturday, June 10, 2017

Easy Breakfast Cookies

This is basically a simplified version of cookies I've posted before. Simple is better these days!

Ingredients:

1.5 cups quick oats
1 egg
3/4 cup milk of choice
1 large banana
2 Tbs chia seeds or ground flax seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
2 Tbs chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins or chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix the egg, milk, banana, vanilla, and chia/flax seeds until smooth. Add oats, nuts, cinnamon, salt and mix until incorporated. Fold in the raisins or chocolate chips. Place on greased baking sheet in golf-ball sized scoops. Bake for 11-14 minutes. Makes 18 cookies.

*Hint: They taste extra awesome with a bit of peanut butter spread on top!*

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Postpartum Freezer Meals

So with Noah, I had prepped exactly one freezer meal, the day before going into labor. And it was filled with tofu and he ended up having MSPI and he was NOT thrilled with me eating that dish. So anyway, freezer meals are one thing I'm really really excited to get to do this time. Here's the list of what I'm thinking of making! Is this too ambitious? Am I overcompensating for last time? Do I care? Ha! I'll let you know how this all turns out.

Meat prepped to put in the crockpot or oven:

-Jerk Chicken Tacos (recipe from HyVee freezer meal workshop)
-Meatballs
-Skinny Taste's Maple Dijon Chicken
-Gimme Some Oven's Salsa Chicken
-Sweeter Side of Mommyhood's Beef and Broccoli

Cooked meat dishes to be thawed and warmed:

-Turkey Loaf (an old Jane Brody recipe that my mom makes)
-Salmon Cakes
-Enchilada Filling
-How Sweet Eats Saucy Pulled Pork
-Chicken Spaghetti Bake from Bev Cooks
-Greek Meatloaf Muffins (going to use this burger recipe, but plan to make them in muffin form)
-The Kitchn's Cauliflower and Chicken Sausage Casserole

Vegetarian meals for lunches or extra meals:

-Oh She Glows Red Lentil Dal with Cilantro Rice
-Oh She Glows Baked Bean Cornbread Casserole
-Eat Live Run's Chana Masala
-Wholefully's Vegan Stuffed Shells
-Full Helping's Sunshine Burgers (I love this recipe, but I might just buy some of these at the store to stash in the freezer to eat alongside soup or salad)
-Oh She Glows Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls

Soup:

-Oh She Glows 7 Vegetable Cheese Soup
-Smoky White Bean Chicken Chili
-Ginger Lentil Soup
-Barley Stew (but with brown rice)
-Miso Pumpkin Soup

Miscellaneous:

-Oh She Glows Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce
-Bone Broth

Snacks:

-double batch of pancakes
-double batch of lactation cookies
-Jam and Teff Cookies
-Oh She Glows New Mama Glo Bars
-Oh She Glows Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies or Flourless Breakfast Cookies

Advice on the Whole Process: 

Reader Advice from the Kitchn
5 Dos and Don'ts
Tips for Freezing and Reheating

Saturday, June 3, 2017

29 and 30 weeks

How big is baby? At 31 weeks, she is as long as a bunch of asparagus (roughly 16 inches) or, curled up, the size of a coconut. She should weigh roughly 3.3 lbs.

Total weight gain/loss: Not sure. I think at my 30 week appointment I was up 23 pounds?

Exercise: Oh man I got a stomach bug again last week that wiped me out, but this week we've been enjoying walks and SUNSHINE!

Swelling: A little, but I'm being really cautious because I know when it starts, it's hard to get it under control. Just started some herbs that seem to be helping, though. I know my blood pressure running in the 90s/50s isn't helping anything. Of course the blood just wants to pool in the lower half of my body!

Sleep: Hit or miss. Lately Noah has been waking us up in the middle of the night, but if he doesn't, I'm usually up for an hour at some other point, with my mind racing.

Food cravings: None, really.

Symptoms: Linea negra is in full swing. I was wondering when it would show up! Otherwise, I'm just waddling a bit and feeling huge, but can't complain overall. A massage would be really really nice, though.

Movement: Yep! Although they've gotten slightly smaller now. But she definitely likes to have a dance party after I eat a rocky road brownie (leftovers from Memorial Day).

What I'm loving: Lots of kicks, still!

Best moment this week: After my 30 week appointment, we got home and Noah said, "Oh no! My baby sister forgot to come out!" I just can't wait for them to meet.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ready or Not


What I remember about the end of May three years ago is how blissfully ignorant I was. I had made it past 37 weeks of pregnancy without going into preterm labor (a logical fear for a NICU nurse) and our recently torn up kitchen had walls, floors, and ceilings. It would have countertops in a matter of days. I had enjoyed my brother's wedding despite the itchy maternity compression tights I wore under my bridesmaid dress on the first truly hot day of summer. I had just had my last day of work at one job, and the days before "maternity leave" were numbered at my other job.

I spent the first Monday of June running errands and making my first (and, it turns out, only) freezer meal. My lower back was killing me, but I figured that was to be expected after spending a wedding weekend on my feet. We'd had our final labor prep class with our doula the day before, and we toured the hospital that Monday night. I went into labor at work that Tuesday and had a baby 30 hours later. Going into spontaneous labor at 38 1/2 weeks is absolutely not unheard of, but for some reason it was just not what I was expecting.

I've spent a lot of anxious hours since then, thinking I just wasn't ready. If only I'd had a few more days, another week, done things differently...

Now? Now I'm overwhelmed with love for a toddler who knows how to both melt my heart and try my patience and I cannot imagine a world without his little soul. Now I know that I never would have been ready. Never could've been ready for the cataclysmic shift from "me" to "we." I loved babies, I knew babies, I took care of them for a living. But nothing ever would have prepared me for the reality of having my own. I didn't know that the start of one life was the end of another. (And I didn't know that this could be a GOOD thing.) I didn't know how it would feel to have a little innocent life utterly dependent on ME.

Eight years ago when I was a newlywed, I remember all of my co-workers asking me, "so, when are you having kids?" I would always reply, "we aren't ready yet," and they would say, "you'll never be ready!" Ever the consummate planner, though, I was determined to wait until we were. Probably more than anything, God knew that later would be better than sooner for us personally. And so it was. But that still doesn't mean we were ready, and now I know my co-workers were right all along. There's no such thing as "ready" when it comes to turning your whole life upside down.

And so it approaches again: the unknown delivery date of another baby. Our family will grow from 3 to 4. I vacillate between fear of the unknown, and excitement for this baby to BE known. Because now I know that meeting these little people and watching them grow is delightful.

I also know that I utterly drowned in the early stages of motherhood. I wouldn't trade that cataclysmic phase for anything, because it's made me the mother, wife, nurse, friend that I am today. But I can't say I have any strong desire to repeat it, either. Sometimes I pray for a super chill baby who likes to sleep and not cry. But I have so many friends whose babies need such big prayers, that I struggle to pray that little one. So then I pray that God will give me what I need to weather what comes. I DO know that the more I need God, the bigger he is. I'm pretty sure that my life's motto is, "It's good to need Jesus."

Still, sometimes I panic: Is this the last time I'll ever be 30 weeks pregnant?! Will Noah ever even remember all of our "Mama, Papa, Noah adventures"? How on EARTH will I deal with an emotional toddler on even less sleep than I'm getting now? What if I die during labor? Will my babies ever know how much I loved them?! These are all actual legitimate fears, but I can see that the accompanying panic is irrational.

Yes, I'm praying for a different experience this time. Yes, I'm doing everything in my power to perhaps have a smoother transition and postpartum experience. But more than anything, perhaps, I KNOW that there's a whole lot about life with two kids that I just don't KNOW. Because I can't. So instead of somehow wistfully looking at my currently life through the lens of my future self who is so much more overwhelmed (yes, I do this) I rest in knowing that the most I can do is this: "Try to keep your soul always in peace and quiet, always ready for whatever our Lord may wish to work in you. It is certainly a higher virtue of the soul, and a greater grace, to be able to enjoy the Lord in different times and different places than in only one." (This little gem is from Ignatius of Loyola.)

I can shift a change in seasons within, just as the sun is now shining outside. And yeah, I'm excited. Sure, worried about the future, but more able to snap back to the present. At this moment, it is well with my soul, and I'm really excited to see where this change takes me. I can maybe attribute a little bit of it to reading Present Over Perfect, some of it is sure as heck seasonal (sunshine!), but wherever that little spark started, it was ignited by hearing this poem this weekend ("She" by Danielle Bennett).

She is unashamed of being happy
and is not bracing herself for the next hard thing
her hands are too busy receiving the day and its gifts

[...]She points to her scars and her vibrant pulse
as a reminder of the times death nearly held her in its nasty jaws
and still she lives, and lives well, so she doesn't
questions that she is covered and seen and doesn't
need to go around making a case for herself anymore.

She has stood inside the eye of a tornado
enough times to know how to stay
even when circumstance wants to chess piece her
into some place she can't be so blinding
but she is sensitive enough to the wind to know
when she needs to start walking away
and she doesn't mind how long the journey will take
because even on days she can't shake the fog
she trusts she has never really been in control.

And she has seen a succulent survive enough times
to know she is much stronger than she thinks
so she is tenacious in her commitment to a covenant
no matter what the cost--
she calls the things she's lost a necessary shedding of skin.

If you ask her how she got so tall,
she will show you the days she spent clearing the debris
so the concrete could be poured in clean and deep.
She will show you the moon who knew her fear of heights,
and the mornings she woke with the gumption to keep growing anyway.

[...]She doesn't need to have it all together to have it all.
She is strange-- doesn't always make perfect sense.
But she is perfect in the way she makes her presence 
a place where you can rest.
Her best beauty trick is knowing where she comes from and
not apologizing for where she's going.
She's an augmented 9th--
the musician's unresolved note,
lovely in her complexity.
She doesn't know she will always walk in and kill it
but she knows there is no room
that can tell her what she is and isn't made of.

She is on her knees in the desert,
not phased by where her water will come from,
a dusty-faced worshipper unafraid to be alone
because she knows she is never alone.

[...]She is the strong and delicate hands on a loom,
threading legacy for daughters and granddaughters
who will be written into the book of life
as cage-breakers, earth-tilling ambassadors of heaven,
faithful guardians of this city.
She is a lady of honor.
She is a mother of the future,
a sister of the present.


This is where I want to be, and I'm excited to see how this season can usher me from here to there.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Recipes I Want to Make: Early Summer Edition

Strawberries with coconut chocolate mousse

Asparagus and bacon frittata

Honey roasted strawberry muffins (we really like these, but I need to tweak the GF option a bit more. I will post when I do, though!)

Fresh cherry chocolate chunk cookies (Really yummy with Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free flour as a substitute for white flour, and strawberries as a sub for cherries. Would be better for Valentine's Day than early summer, though. But of course strawberries are in season NOW!)

This minimalist recipe for peanut butter oatmeal cookies

Curried Tahini Pasta Salad would make a simple summer lunch

No-bake Chocolate Chip "Cheese"cake

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Garlic Lovers Salmon

Slow Roasted King Salmon

Honey Mustard Salmon (baby must be needing some Omega-3s!)

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Chili Garlic Vinaigrette (these ingredients won't be in season for another month or two, but it looks so good)

Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Bars (I'm always willing to try it if it involved chocolate chips)

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies (because I planted a lot of squash this year!)

Coconut Obsessed Pie

The Ultimate Spinach Smoothie

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Milkshake

Vegan Chocolate Mousse with Coconut Cream

Gluten Free Sourdough French Bread

Quick Turmeric Rice Bowls with Pickled Onions and Chickpeas




Sunday, May 21, 2017

27 and 28 Weeks: Ish is Getting Real

How big is baby? At 29 weeks, she is as big as a butternut squash (roughly 2.5 lbs and 15 inches long). Funny, because I just planted some squash seeds this week! Honestly, she feels huge when she moves-- I can feel her simultaneously kicking my ribs and punching my bladder some days!

Total weight gain/loss: I finally made up for lost time, and at my 28 week appointment, I was up 21 pounds! Not surprising, given that I've been waking up super hungry and thirsty in the middle of the night (and eating a Larabar) for the past two weeks.

Exercise: I'm finally easing back into this a bit. Trying to take a walk 1-2 times a week, weather and schedule permitting. I LOVE the fresh air and movement, but pushing a heavy stroller and/or walking a long distance really doesn't feel great on my hips, unfortunately. I'm also trying to do a 10-20 minute Barre3 workout 2-3 times a week. Life has been so crazy, though, that it's been more like 1-2 times a week. I really like these workouts because they take effort, and help with back pain, but they don't totally wipe me out.

Stretch marks: None yet, knock on wood. Trying to moisturize most nights now that baby is growing so quickly!

Swelling: Just yes. It's really uncomfortable. I had a reprieve for about a month there, but she flipped into a vertex position at 28 weeks, and the discomfort increased again. It's much more comfortable when she's transverse or butt-down, but I think she's running out of room to hang out like that. It's nice to know that she can safely be head-down (I was starting to wonder...), but now of course I wish she'd waited a few more weeks!

Sleep: Oh boy. The past two weeks I've had some crazy 4am insomnia! I fall asleep instantly at night, but then wake up in the early hours and cannot go back to sleep. I started taking a bathroom break, eating a Larabar, and chugging water at that time. It helped a bit, but it was still hit or miss whether or not I'd fall back asleep. Even when I did fall asleep again by 0530 or so, I'd actually wake up more tired when Noah got up at 0600. Thankfully, the past few days I seem to be falling back asleep much quicker, but I've been going to bed WAY too late. We finally finished (knock on wood) the last big house project, and I've been trying to get everything back in order after having the house in disarray again.

Food cravings: It's funny, I think I'm just not going to have cravings this pregnancy. In reality, it's only been about 8-9 weeks since EVERYTHING sounded disgusting, and even now, I'm not really interested in eating certain things at certain times. However, I will almost never say no to seared scallops (!!!), a gluten free lemon bar from Dolce bakery (SO amazing), or CoYo dairy-free yogurt (particularly the mango flavor, but all of them are thick and tart, like a coconut-based Greek yogurt).

Symptoms: Thankfully the heartburn has decreased, and I'm so thankfully that the nausea is gone. I feel like pregnancy is moving crazy quickly now, and I think it's because I really only stopped feeling miserable about 8 weeks ago! Swelling is my biggest symptom right now, and I know that's just going to get worse. Oh! And the crazy Braxton-Hicks have decreased significantly since I started drinking red raspberry leaf daily. I definitely notice the days I don't take it!

Movement: Lots, and all over. She's pretty quiet when I'm up and about, but almost always makes her presence known when I lay down. Noah often asks, "Is my baby sister awake?" Of course, she's usually asleep when he asks that!

What I'm loving: Looking pregnant. The third trimester is my very favorite for this fact alone.

What I'm looking forward to: Meeting her. I'm going to try really hard to enjoy the last 10 weeks (although if she's early like Noah, it'll be even less than that. Yikes!) but now that I know how fun it is to get to know the little PERSON in there, I'm excited to see what she's like on the outside.

Best moment this week: I passed my glucose tolerance test. Yay! The bummer is that I'm slightly anemic, but I'm so glad I don't have gestational diabetes.