Just south of Annapolis, where the roads start narrowing to single lanes and the view begins to open up into miles of farmland, well, that’s where I grew up. We call it SoCo. Because, well, it’s the southernmost point of Anne Arundel County. South County. Even the high school is called Southern. Geography comes easy to those of us who grew up down there, I guess.
Anyway, things are slower down there. Summers consist of giant bon fires, fishing on the still waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and a lot of mosquitoes. Winters consist of pretty much the same, just with ice instead of mosquitoes. And we eat a lot of crabs. When I met Alex and he told me he was allergic to shellfish, I told him that was unacceptable because, well, it is not okay in SoCo. Turns out he isn’t allergic, and he can even pick a crab at a Maryland-speed now (we can pick a crab pretty fast…).
When I was little, Domino’s Pizza wouldn’t deliver to our house because we were off the grid just that much. It’s the sort of place where you accept having to drive at least fifteen minutes to get anywhere you need to go. But you do it, because it’s quieter at home.
There’s this place called Skipper’s Pier down in SoCo that will forever be a part of my memories. We’d go often, sometimes just me and my dad. Anyway, it’s exchanged owners a few times, but my favorite times at Skipper’s Pier were the times back when there was this huge train set that circled the ceiling of the bar. They’d turn the train on for me every single time. There was also a parrot (or some other breed of bird, who knows, I was a kid) out on the pier that would talk to you. They had good chicken fingers, too. We still love Skipper’s Pier. Even now, when I live a little bit closer to Annapolis and the hustle and bustle of DC and Baltimore, we drive to Skipper’s regularly. We’ve celebrated birthdays, graduations, you name it, we’ve gone down to Skipper’s.
So, this is all to say that I want to share this music video with you. If you haven’t heard the song, it’s a catchy little tune and I quite love it. It’s filmed entirely in SoCo. In fact, there’s a few people in here that anyone from SoCo would recognize. And the places, too. We’ve all been there.
So here you go. Enjoy.
My third trimester sure didn’t come quietly in the middle of the night this past month. In fact, since we last discussed this pregnancy, so much has happened and it’s actually a bit wild to look back on. What’s even more wild? The fact that we’re here, in the final, single digit weeks of this pregnancy.
Health-wise, it’s been up and down for me. Major exhaustion found a way right back into my life. I really thought I’d left it back there in that first trimester. My glucose screening came back fine, but with a warning that I was on the “high end” of normal blood sugar levels. They might as well have told me I had gestational diabetes because I’ve taken it very seriously. I want to do another screening because I’m certain I’ve lowered it! At the very same time, and not as surprising, I found out my red blood cell county was low. Not low enough to put me on iron pills, but low enough to be concerning. This one made sense. I’ve been looking mighty pale and feeling mighty tired recently. I think the red meat is helping. God bless a good steak. On the plus side, things seem to be looking up. We’ll see next week when I head back to the docs.
The best thing I ever did in this pregnancy is start seeing a chiropractor again. I was to the point where I couldn’t actually sleep because my entire spine was killing me. I’ve been going 2-3 times per week now for a month and what a difference it has made. I’m sleeping through the night and I have very minimal lower back pains. My neck still hurts, just not as bad. I think I need a few adjustments a day to fix my neck completely. Plus, I can tell a difference in my posture. So that makes me happy. Oh, also, she may have been able to help my baby turn head down (which he isn’t going to be able to do easily because of the shape of my uterus). I’ll know on Monday. I’m crossing my fingers…. I think I feel his butt up by my belly button and his feet kick my right ribcage. But, I can’t figure out where his head is…. I’m praying it is down.
Let’s see, what else. Oh! My baby shower. As many of you know, this little guy could easily come early (but every day he proves that theory wrong). So, I was showered perhaps a few weeks earlier than most. It was incredible and beautiful and just amazing. This kid is spoiled rotten and he’s not even born yet. Lucky boy. I only wish I had more pictures to share with you all from my baby shower. It was a busy shower, you see. But I was able to share a little bit on Instagram here and here.
We’ve also been busy nesting. My OCD, Type A self started feeling rather anxious about our lackluster lists hanging out on our iPhones, scraps of paper, email chains…. it was driving me mad. So we sat down and listed it all. Every single thing we need to do before baby comes. Then, we highlighted it by what week we would get it done. And then, we made a new list that was divided by week. We should be all set to relax by early August. So far, we’ve knocked off things like installing a new kitchen faucet and new closet doors, updating doorknobs and fixing bathtubs. You know, the glamorous stuff. But it feels so good. The nursery is coming along, too. Little by little.
So the symptoms. Where to start? Braxton Hicks contractions are quite interesting. The other day I had them basically all day long. I texted Alex around 4:00 with a “I keep having contractions.” message that scared him a little bit. They don’t hurt, but they make my belly feel three times as heavy as it usually does. It’s strange. Oh, heartburn is endless, although it’s subsided a bit this week. Restless legs have picked up in the middle of the night. Oh. my. word. I hate them. The lack of air to my lungs is also a fun one. I have a feeling the Maryland swamp air quality and asthma aren’t helping there. What else…. I could keep going but I don’t want to scare anyone out of having babies.
All in all, I’m ready to meet our little boy. We’ve taken a few classes at our hospital this past month on breastfeeding and newborn care and c-sections (just in case)…. each time we leave the class, it starts to feel a bit more real. We also have our hospital route down to a science now. Eighteen to twenty-three minutes and we’re at the parking garage. Good to know, right?
I feel very ready. So go ahead and laugh, but I do. On the natural, mental, non-consumer level, I am ready. I’m ready for everything that comes with this little guy, good and bad. I can’t wait to hold him and look at every inch of him and watch his personality as it starts to develop. I can’t wait to teach him and love him and try my best to do the right thing with him. We keep thinking back to how quick it all happened. How we went from “let’s starting trying sometime soon” to “we’re having a baby” in such a short time period. But, every single day we are reminded even more how absolutely right the timing is. And, on a very, very humble note, how incredible lucky we’ve been with him. He keeps defying the odds and we are amazed by our son.
But, as much as I am ready, he’s got some fattening up to do. Best he stays put for another month or two.
And the backlog, which is fascinating to look back on. I actually forgot what I looked like with a waist!
You can see weeks 8-14 here, weeks 15-18 here, weeks 19-22 here, and weeks 23-26 here.
All of them in descending order? Just go here.
I started out 2014 (over half a year ago, scary) vowing to read quite a list of books. Then, I realized just how tired and exhausting pregnancy would be for me. And I got stuck in a lull.
Many, many moons ago, I updated you on my reading progress. It was slightly pathetic, but at least I am honest, right? Things haven’t changed much since then. I’ve crept through a few more books on my list (which we’ll get to in a minute). But, mainly, there are other things I’ve been reading.
- Books on breastfeeding and vaccinations and prenatal nutrition. Is there such a thing as over preparing?
- Anything I find on Pinterest. I’m going through a Pinterest moment. They happen.
- To-do lists. Oh, yes. Those. You should see our to-do lists before baby arrives. They are hefty.
- Our bank account. People don’t always talk about that whole “maternity leave” side of having a baby. We have preparations to make.
So, that explains why the list below is quite thin. Nevertheless, here’s my more-than-half-a-year-later update.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: Honestly? This book is too long. I was mildly interested in it, but it went on and on and on and I just didn’t care enough about the characters to finish. I made it about 75% of the way through, so it counts for something.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd: This was good. A great book, really, but just good for Kidd. It’s no Secret Life of Bees. The story is fresh, unlike any other of its kind. It reminded me in many ways of The Kitchen House, which is probably a better book to pick up at the end of the day. Just a theory.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed: I thought I was going to love this one. I am a huge fan of hiking/ adventure stories and this is the first I’ve ever picked up that was written by a female. It took me awhile to get into it. I found myself thinking she was an idiot half of the time. The other half of the time, I just found it semi-boring. But, towards the end of her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, it got interesting. I’m not sure what the movie will be like, but there certainly are scenes that will make for good cinema. This one was worth it in the end.
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson: I’m ready to have a son after this book, because I know my fair share of baseball trivia now! This wasn’t my favorite Bryson book, but it was pretty decent. I liken it to reading a history book, except this is all history you’ve likely never really paid attention to. And it’s good stuff. Maybe a little long, however, for what it is.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: After a string of mediocre reads, I finally dug into Gone Girl. Shhhh, don’t tell me, I’m only halfway through! But I also only started two days ago and I am hooked. What a great story! The twists and turns! I should’ve started this one months ago, because it’s really what I needed to ignite a passion for reading again. Also, side note, I didn’t realize Ben Affleck was going to play Nick, but I kind of pictured Ben Affleck as Nick when I started reading. Talk about great casting. I’ll be excited for this movie.
And for what I’ve got in the pipeline next:
The Giver by Lois Lowry: I really only remember somebody sliding down a hill at the end of this book. I’ve got to read it again before the movie. It’s driving me crazy.
And there’s the update for you. So, any books I need to add to my list? Reconstructing Amelia is already on there. It’s likely to come after The Giver. But anything else? I’m back on the reading bandwagon!
Oh, the joys of the second trimester second wind. I miss them daily. Overall, the second trimester is an absolute breeze after the terrible pits of the first trimester (in my experience, at least). That being said, your body is changing. A lot. Especially as you get closer and closer to that third and final trimester. So, I thought long and hard about what helped me enjoy the carefree days of the second trimester and I’ve put together this list to share with you.
Instant Breakfast: For the mommas-to-be on the go, this was my morning lifesaver. You’ve passed the nausea woes (for the most part, I got hit pretty bad with carsickness at week 18). So if you find yourself commuting each morning (an hour plus for this girl), you are going to want something quick and nutritious to jump start your day. Plus, you will be starving. All. The. Time. Having a sweet tooth, Instant Breakfast particularly made me happy. Another plus? The calcium. Don’t forget to feed those bones. It’s so important during pregnancy!
Loose, comfortable workout gear: Along with this I should add, “a reasonable and flexible exercise routine.” Ladies, the time is now. If you were like me and couldn’t find a speck of energy in those first 12 weeks, then you especially should pick up a good exercise routine in these three months. You’ve got a whole bunch weighing against you: a newly found appetite, those unhealthy cravings, a growing human, and hormones that want you to store every ounce of fat it can grab on your body. As the doctor told me, this is no excuse to avoid healthy lifestyle choices. Buy some comfortable workout gear that will make you feel good as your waistline expands, find an exercise routine that works with your schedule, and just do it. For me, it was a stockpile of four sizes too big gym shorts (seriously, trade in the size 4 shorts for the size 10…. It’s made me so happy) and three-mile walks around my neighborhood.
A baby registry: Guess what? It’s time to start planning! My advice to you? Research, research, research. Baby products are crazy! As a first time mom, I was completely unaware of the depths of safety features, the plight of the recall list, the range of prices, and just how consumeristic babies are! We skipped registering at a big box store (more on what we did instead, later) because I was sickened by the variation in prices as you went store to store. Goodness! Regardless, start your registry. If for no other reason than to have a place to organize your shopping list and your product choices. Somewhere between umbrella strollers and sleepers, it starts to feel overwhelming.
A babymoon: Do it. We were two seconds away from saving the money and skipping a vacation. Baby Byland hasn’t even arrived yet and we’re already reminiscing on the relaxation and togetherness that was our babymoon. It’s psychological, but you have to squeeze something in. Please, listen to me here! Things start feeling very chaotic and rushed when you reach those 30+ weeks.
Tums: Stock up. Experiment with the minty fresh pack and the smoothies pack and the chewables…. You will use them all. I thought I wouldn’t, that I was skirting by without heartburn and then bam. Somewhere around week 25 it happened. And it just happens more and more with each passing day.
Water: I failed miserably at coating my belly with any and all of the belly butter products I had bought. To be honest, I probably slathered a coating one time per week. However, I stayed very, very hydrated. You want to know something? I’m stretch mark free! And, no, I’m not just one of those lucky girls. I have stretch marks all over my body from an awfully fast growth spurt around the age of twelve. I get stretch marks. But, seriously, I swear it is in my water intake. Keep your skin elastic. Drink your water!
Fruits and veggies: Have them ready to go. You will need snacks. Because you will be hungry. You will always be hungry. You will think you were starving. And learn from me, a cinnamon roll and a donut do not count as healthy snacks. Stockpile fruits and veggies that can be taken on the go with you. You’ll be happy you did!
A camera: It’s incredible to look back and see how much our little dude has grown since the beginning of the 2nd trimester. Also, and I know this is going to sound vain, sometimes I look back on those early 2nd trimester weeks to remind myself how thin I used to be. You’re going to feel fat in the third trimester. So even if you feel fat in the 2nd, take a picture anyway. You’ll be happy you did in a few short months.
The past four weeks have likely been the most impactful weeks of pregnancy so far. The changes I’ve felt physically are undeniable and I’m feeling more “third trimester” than “second trimester” with each passing day. I’m getting used to pregnancy, if that makes any sense. Sort of like, I’ve been around the block now. I’m also beginning to feel comfortable with the idea of labor and delivery. Beginning, however, being the key word.
My weight gain throughout this entire journey has been a roller coaster. I lost weight during the first trimester, which didn’t surprise me because I had no appetite. My second trimester started off slow, gaining teeny tiny bits of weight back. Then, at my 24 week appointment, I had already gained 18 pounds. Nine of those pounds in just four weeks. It was hard, because I spent all of May absolutely starving. I couldn’t eat enough, no matter the time of day. But, because it’s rather important that my baby doesn’t grow too big too quick, I’ve been very careful. I’m still the same weight I was at my 24 week appointment and baby is, clearly, still growing. I’m walking often. I’m eating more salads. Nothing fancy.
Alex and I are beginning to feel like we already know our son. He has a routine that we look forward to each day. And we’re talking to him more these days. The cats are spending more time with him, too. Baci and Misha both love sitting on my belly and feeling him kick. They purr and close their eyes and we smile because we can already tell they can’t wait to meet their new kitten. I just hope they aren’t too bummed when he comes out a human.
Interestingly, as my belly grows and I feel my weight redistributing to my son, I’m getting more comfortable with my body. When your belly gets this big, you actually regain your waistline, which is nice. It’s a lot higher than it used to be, but that’s okay. It’s nice having a “smallest part of your waist” to accentuate again. Before I was just one big blob. Oh, and my boobs are still growing. Endlessly. I broke a bra last weekend. In public. It was terrible.
I’m so proud of my body, though. And I’m getting ever so eager to breastfeed and also so eager to see just what I’m capable of in these last few months. Still no stretch marks on my belly. Counting my blessings each day with that one. I’m predicting that the third trimester is going to be rough, but likely not as bad as the first. Plus, exciting things are happening.
We plan to have the nursery complete by Independence Day weekend, in case he comes early like we’ve been told he will. Then, we’ve got a few house projects to finish over the summer, but we’re looking at a fresh start by August. I’m keeping as positive of an attitude as I can about the summer heat. After all, I’ve got a pool across the street and a great excuse to keep ice cream in the house.
What’s the funniest is that some days I feel bigger than others, bump wise. I know it is because he’s moving around in there. I spent almost a full week with him sitting on my bladder and let me tell you. It felt like the pain you get from a UTI, but only when he felt like stretching his feet out. It was misery. Luckily, he finally moved.
I’m developing quite the back and neck pains, my feet swell by the end of the day, and my face is rounder than I ever remember it being before. I’m getting tired- tired in the way I felt the first three months. My energy wains quickly. I try my best not to complain and stick it out. I’ll begin going to the chiropractor in July. Until then, we’re just doing our best, me and my little peanut.
So bring on this third trimester. We’re so ready.
I was never a glam goddess. In fact, my beauty routine since adolescence has mainly been an endless rotation of products that never really make the go-to list. Most products I try are clones of each other, just different packaging. I know what I like, it’s just taken a lifetime to figure out what to stick with.
That being said, I’m also guilty of being a traveling makeup artist. I hate the time it takes to get ready, so I usually leave the “getting pretty” part of the routine for time I have waiting for other things. So I’m used to doing my makeup in the car, in public bathrooms, pretty much anywhere I can grab a mirror and a few spare minutes of time.
So, when you combine a serious case of nesting with the fact that sometime in the very near future, I’m going to have to come up with a quick and easy mama-friendly routine, I did some purging and cleaning and went back down to the basics.
You guys, I threw out so. much. makeup. So many things I’ve bought, used three times, decided I didn’t like, and then just never gave up. I threw out broken things and expired things and just things I didn’t even remember I owned. I also did some soul searching and realized that I do, in fact, have some go-to products that I really do love. And, honestly, that’s all I really need, right?
Fortunately, those go-to products are things I have multiples of since it turns out I really do love them that much. What I ended up doing was giving myself a little travel bag for those inevitable, on the go times. But, for the first time ever, I also gave myself a place to keep my makeup at home. I kept it to the few products I actually do use. Nothing more. And, would you know, it took me less than ten minutes to do my hair and makeup today.
The minimalist life is quite nice.
So. Here’s a breakdown, in case you are interested (come on, we all are nosy).
Milani Brow Fix Brow Kit || Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream || Stila Prestige Palettes (sidenote, THESE ARE THE BEST) || Benefit They’re Real Mascara || Benefit Ooh La Lift || L’Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Magic BB Cream || Clark’s Botanicals Soothing Herbal Face Wash || Clarisonic Mia || Barlean’s Organic Oils Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (cheapest makeup remover, also good for oil pulling) || Mason Pearson Nylon Brush || Hot Tools Tapered Iron || Hana Professional Dryer
I’m not going to apologize for my week-long sabbatical. So let’s get that out of the way first. Moving on (and welcome, again).
I nearly didn’t go to work today. It was 5:30 in the morning, 90 minutes before I really have to start getting ready, and my mind just reeled. I’m pretty sure our tax documents aren’t all in one place. The health records- well, where are we keeping them? And, actually, where’s the key to the safe? The baseboards are so dirty. I bet I can figure out a better system to organize the vet records. Baci and Misha need their vaccinations. When’s the last time I dusted the books on the bookshelf? When does Home Depot open? I need to buy a new front doorknob with a new key- we haven’t ever changed our keys. What if we forget to write our will before he comes? And we need to update our life insurance policy. How long will it take to sell our spare mattress on Craigs List?
You guys. I almost called out of work on account of, well, I don’t even know.
Nesting is a real thing. And I have decided it may possibly be simultaneously the best and most horrible side effect of being pregnant ever. I mean, I can guarantee you the baseboards are getting a scrub by yours truly in a matter of days. But I can hardly function and I’ve still got 15 weeks left of this.
So here I am, alternating my spare time between a stack of books on breastfeeding and labor with this insane to-do list that embarrasses the heck out of me because how did I go this long without doing any of this stuff?
I’m also being particularly cognizant of where my spare time is going, since these days are really numbered. Three months left. My new favorite hobby is actually leaving the house to go on walks with just me, myself, and I (and my phone). I’ll make a phone call or listen to my audiobook while I walk. It’s pleasant. And gives me time to think about my to-do list for the house. So much to do.
But, more so than anything else, I’ve realized recently just how far the extent of our hormones and our instincts and this entire pregnancy thing really goes. I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing as animals have birthed and mothered since, well, forever, but it all really builds up naturally, doesn’t it? I mean, how nice of my mind to take a neurotic (errr, more neurotic) turn toward getting the house in order for the baby! So, please, excuse the organizing and the cleaning for a moment.
I’ve turned into a mama bird and it’s time to build my nest.
Awhile back, I blogged about my reaction to Gretchen Rubin’s post on broken windows. Broken windows, those things that make everything just feel like they aren’t together, are different for everyone. I listed tabletop clutter, piles of paper, dirty dishes, cigarette smoke, unfolded laundry scattered around the house, non-immaculate bathrooms, a messy car, and stains on pretty much anything. And all of them still apply.
But today I was reading Gretchen’s most recent blog post on making the bed and it dawned on me…. WHY DIDN’T I PUT THAT ON THE LIST? I realized I didn’t put it on the list because, 90% of the time, I do make our bed and it isn’t a usual broken window in our home. But, Gretchen’s post really sung to me this morning and I wanted to share more thoughts on such a mundane task.
Growing up, my mom always, always, always made sure the beds were made. Sometimes I would jump out of bed earlier than I planned to use the bathroom, come back, and see that my bed was already made. If she didn’t get to it first, I usually made it within an hour of being awake. It’s just so nice to have a made bed.
When Alex and I talk about the little details of raising our children, one of the first things I mention is my expectation that they’ll make their bed every single morning. It doesn’t have to be made perfectly. In fact, I firmly believe that if you give a toddler the opportunity, he will, in his own time, learn how to make an immaculate bed. And that’s a habit you can take with you the rest of your life.
So in Gretchen’s recent post, she shares thoughts from Naval Adm. William McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, who recently spoke of making your own bed in a commencement speech. This particular part really spoke to me:
“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
Right on. So, did you make your bed this morning?
At the beginning of my pregnancy, everything seemed to fall on May. “I bet I finally start showing in May.” “We’ll know if we are having a boy or girl at the end of April, so we can really begin planning in May.” “At the end of May, baby will be viable, and that’s going to be when we can really relax.” “I am going to be a mom over Mother’s Day this May.” Yes, May has lived up to everything I expected.
I feel absolutely pregnant these days. My belly gets a little bit bigger with each passing day and I am finally beginning to fill out those maternity clothes I bought on sale a few months ago. These must be the days that make you want to be pregnant over and over again. I’m so happy, so calm, so ecstatic and at peace.
My new favorite moment is Saturday mornings. I’m waking up early these days, about 6 a.m. without an alarm. But, on Saturday mornings, I don’t need to get out of bed so I lay there with the cats cuddled around me and we feel the baby move around. I usually doze back to sleep, and then wake a few hours later with Alex and we do it all over again, playing a sort of “catch the kick” game where we wait for his next big kicking storm to fire up. We burn away the better part of Saturday mornings feeling his little kicks, but it’s my favorite part of the week. Just us, the cats, and our baby. It feels like we’re really a family already and we love it.
There are still a few side effects of this whole human-growing thing that I grow tired of dealing with most of the time. And I’ve reached a new level of this pregnancy thing that I think of as the “no turning back now, labor and delivery is inevitable” time period. I feel a mixture of anxiety, shock, worry, excitement, and disbelief to the task in front of me. And my concept of time has completely disappeared. September, or even sooner if he so pleases, will be here eventually. But whatever eventually means, I neither comprehend nor am I ready to figure out.
There’s much to be done and so very little time to do. There’s much to decide and no grasp of how to choose. We’re biting off little chunks- the nursery is coming together with decent progress, we have a pile of clothing and toys and newborn-sized disposable diapers waiting for him. And my growing belly is telling me we’re doing it all just right.
But, still, never before have I embarked upon such a wild unknown. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride.
(That face up there is a face of excitement and terror, still soaking in the thoughts that my baby is a BOY, since we’d only found out hours earlier.)
(And in case it’s not totally obvious, he had a HUGE growth spurt at 20 weeks. I think I ate probably 5,000 calories per day (seriously) around that time. I was always hungry and that little dude was why.)
You can see weeks 8-14 here and weeks 15-18 here.