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.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

26 weeks

I'm so thankful that this past week was filled with SUNSHINE with the exception of rain on Wednesday. Noah and I stayed busy and I simply can't believe how quickly the third trimester is approaching. Writing this at 27 weeks, I'm exactly 3 months from the due date. Which, if this babe is anything like her big brother, means that we could be meeting her in as little as 2 1/2 months!!!

This past week, it all continues to get more real. Baby has had a huge growth spurt, as evidenced by a resurgence in insomnia and middle-of-the-night hunger as much as the huge belly. Ever since 10 weeks, I've been feeling all sorts of movements below my belly button, but seemingly overnight, I now feel baby's movements practically around my side and up to my ribs! She's almost always kicking my bladder. Per my Midwife's encouragement I'm trying not to freak out about having a breech baby, since she doesn't really have to make up her mind until 34-35 weeks. In the meantime, I'm loving all the kicking and rolling and hiccups I can feel!

Strangers are now asking when I'm due without batting an eye, so that means I must really look pregnant. And I feel legit pregnant. Huffing and puffing and waddling, but I LOVE having a baby belly.

I have Braxton-Hicks contractions all day long. It's a fine line between dehydration (which exacerbates B-H) and a constantly full bladder (which also exacerbates B-H). Alas. I'm super grateful to be at the point where pregnancy feels real. Between sickness for the first 20 weeks, and some underlying fear of another miscarriage, I don't think the reality really sank in until quite recently, and it still continues to hit me in waves. We are having a baby. Soon!

This week, Noah asked how baby sister is going to get out of my belly. I was NOT prepared, but I think I answered his question okay. I'm sure the subject is going to start coming up more and more! Anyone have any advice on preparing older siblings for labor/delivery/having a newborn?