Well, I am 40 weeks and 2 days along in my pregnancy, and I think I am just starting to wrap my head around having a BOY! As the shock of carrying a male starts to fray, I think, hey…maybe I can get into this boy groove.
Why do I challenge my enthusiasm? Well, for one thing, building helicopters out of legos is a special kind of torture for me. Plus, I am no huge fan of sports, vehicles, knocking down block towers, dinosaurs, video games, wrestling, and all things stereotypical “boy.” Tyler isn’t, either. We’re hoping this little guy shows an affinity for camping, hiking, bike rides, heck—I can even do bugs (was obsessed with them as a little girl). Since parenthood brings vicariously lived joy through that of a child, we’ll probably cherish every moment all the same, and just roll with the punches. I mean, I’ve been feeling punches for the last 20 weeks or so anyways :). Tyler and I don’t plan on adhering to strict gender constructs, though. Will he want to participate in ballet? Sure buddy—go ahead! Whatever this person wants to be, Tyler and I are determined to embrace it and cheer him along, even if it doesn’t jive with our vibe (For the record, I think dude ballerinas are awesome—my uncle is one!). He is a unique individual who will form his own set of ideals, tastes, and characteristics. How incredible is that? But for now, I’m getting super excited about all the suspenders, fedoras, and bow ties. I have a very picky palette when it comes to little boys’ clothing…maybe God wanted me to have a boy for the sake of budgeting.
I don’t know a thing about boys, really—didn’t grow up with any around! Soooo I feel totally lost! I mean REALLY, REALLY lost! Many have reassured me that boys tend to love up on their mothers. I need this to be true. Please be a mama’s boy, little guy!
In all seriousness, I do hope this fellow has his father’s pure heart and easygoing nature. (And that face. Have you seen the hunk?) From me? Tyler and I are knocking on wood that he shares my artistic flare and active mind. I can’t wait to memorize the texture of his voice, count up little freckles, and watch him flourish into an adult. (sllloooowwwwwlllyyyyyy)
Parenthood is a divine lifework—the greatest blessing one can acquire. With fervency, I believe the souls coming to earth nowadays are the cream of the crop…I mean, it’s a scary and complicated world out there, more so than ever before. Tyler and I don’t come from tidy nuclear families (who does these days?), and the ability to create that ideal in a world where its value is waning…that is a choice calling. I am humbled to have the terrifying but exhilarating challenge, privilege, and honor of rearing a son.
I had a doctor appointment last week: the big glucose test, where you guzzle that notorious apparatus of glucoa in under ten minutes, followed by a blood draw. Oh, the horror stories. Many a pregnant friend have puked from the taste or sugar-induced jitters. So when the 45-minute mark to my appointment ticked by, my heart jolted just a little. It’s time. I chugged that thing, expecting to wince or recoil, but it wasn’t half-bad…almost delicious, I’d say! And since I’ve been living sans caffeine for 6 months, that afterbuzz was a welcomed guest to my system. When mentally reframing the blood draw as a mouse to the lioness of an epidural, the whole getting sticked bit wasn’t a biggie either.
You know what was a biggie? My weigh-in. I was at 154 pounds. ONE HUNDRED FIFTY FOUR POUNDS! I am 5’2! How could I have gained so much, so quickly? Now, I’m more than okay with gaining weight during pregnancy—I’m loving this rounding navel. But where have these 28 pounds—in 28 weeks—gone to? My thighs, face, arms…nothing looks puffier! Surely, my belly hasn’t packed on 28 pounds???!!! My serene state flipped into a frenzy of consternation, so the nurse hurried me to another scale. “Uhh, well, this one needs new batteries, so…” She seemed to tiptoe around my quaking, visibly mounting panic. I wouldn’t look down. Silence. “…It’s still 154, isn’t it?” “…Yes.” I watch myself pull a Veruca Salt and remain a giant sphere for the rest of eternity. So dramatic, my brain.
“Well…I just drank a ton of water, and that glucoa…OH OH OH and I had 2 HUGE bowls of soup before I came here! And it’s the afternoon, so breakfast is still in me, too! But I don’t even have any stretch marks!” The nurse either had to tend to another patient or didn’t know how to handle me, so I was left to my own no-stress policy-crushing devices in queue for Dr. Stewart. I want to be a fit mom! Why oh WHY did I bake so many sweets these past few weeks??? How could I let this happen? Why haven’t I been exercising? (The answer to that is—I have an irrational fear of hurting the baby.)
The doctor tried to assuage my manic demeanor by categorizing the weight gain: “Well, the placenta is 3 pounds, the increase in blood volume is 4 pounds, increase in breast tissue is about 2 pounds…” What did I really hear? “Well, you might be obese by the time you deliver…”
Now, usually, I’m equipped with an extremely healthy idea of body image. In fact, I actively reject the idea that skinny equates with beauty, and find that notion extremely harmful and offensive. (Yes, skinny is beautiful, but curves are aaaallllll that, too! There are so many beautiful women of all shapes and sizes. Duh.) I don’t even own a scale! So come morning-time, I visited my mom’s bathroom scale. It read 149. And the next morning: 149. Ok, so 23 pounds is all I’ve really gained. It was the soup, the water, the breakfast, the clothing…All my baby books cite a 17-24 pound gain as a healthy target by 28 weeks. Ok, we’re good. BUT NO MORE BAKING SWEETS and no more sedentary lifestyle. Shame on me for waiting on fear to propel me towards the right choices.
Right choices…time to get on that. I squandered hours away in that vortex of aesthetics known as Pinterest and collected healthy recipes. Only the cleanest meals for me and baby! And time to really prioritize exercise. So, after work, I walked Gretel. And walked. And walked. And stopped. And walked. And huffed. And climbed…up a huge hill, backpack in tow, to the furthest grocery store in town. A noble citizen pulled over to check if I was a due damsel in labor distress, but despite my waddling, blotchy, dewy appearance, I was feeling anything but distress.
The next day, my mom and Gretel joined me on the truest test of my grit and determination to be a healthy 6-months pregnant mother: Angel’s Rest, a strenuous 4.6 mile hike, completely uphill the first 2.3 miles, through the Columbia River Gorge:
Sure, I trailed an old man carrying on a huff-and-puff-free cell conversation through the entire climb, while I lunged and hyperventilated from behind, but I pressed on. Though seemingly a very bad idea for a pregnant woman, my backpack full of water & protein bars provided an excellent counterweight to my belly, which seemed to droop heavier with every lurch. But. I. pressed. on.
The endgame in all of this is no angel’s rest. I feel too good to stop now. My goal is to wait until the blossoms burst around Dog Mountain, a hike offering twice the difficulty and thrice the length of Angel’s Rest, and conquer it—at 6.5, 7 months pregnant. It’s funny what they say about exercise and eating healthy—it actually does what they say it does! Huh! My back pain is eradicated, and my everyday movements are lithe and quick. It’s like 23 pounds never joined the club.
What a blessing to be ripely pregnant in the spring/summer, when rain and mud don’t squelch the opportunity to explore Oregon’s rugged terrain. This doctor visit scare has opened up a new channel through which I can bond with baby boy, my budding hiking buddy. Can’t wait to pick flowers, collect sticks, and examine bugs with the little fellow on many a trailhead to come.
Everybody knows France gifted the US with Lady Liberty, but few people are aware of Holland’s glorious endowment to Oregon: the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. It’s a piece of Dutch heaven right here in our evergreen-carpeted backyard! Side note: I want to call all things Holland-y “hollandaise,” and just hope people don’t descry that I’m a charlatan of the lexicon at the expense of a buttery, eggy sauce. But think of all the puns—Holland daze, Holland days, happy hollandaise!
My back had reached its peak of pain that day, so it was nice to just kneel down in the tulips and take in their elegance. Tyler’s silly poses in those namesake yellow clogs + endorphine-generating drollery as we ran down the tulip lanes also made me forget.
Mount Hood seems to hover the tulip-striped landscape, as if competing for the title of ultimate majesty.
The reflection of those tulips in the muddy ravines are not only picturesque, but a reminder that we’re in Oregon, connoisseur of April showers.
An afternoon well-spent in a Holland daze
I am in my 28th week! Baby’s about 1.9 pounds, 14.41 inches long, and he can open his eyes to see my beautiful guts! (har, har)
Recap: My belly has turned into a popcorn machine. Seriously, I can’t believe this kid has only 2 arms and 2 legs. And the belly’s expanding as it should. Tyler consistently guesses other women’s due dates correctly by using my size as reference, so I know I’m in the “normal” range. That doesn’t stop strangers from teasing about how overly gigantic I am. My great-uncle even told me I’ll be delivering “a monster.” Yeah, okay. Thanks. Mayyybe I should stop indulging my daily sweets cravings. But I’ve gained what—17 pounds? I’m doing fine! No stretch marks or puffy appendages as of yet. Yet, none of my skirts are really working for me—even the elastic-waisted ones. So, I’ve resorted to wearing thrifted tube dresses as skirts (See picture above. You’d never know, right?). Side note: a lady in the work elevator FLIPPED OUT that my due date is the same day Prince George was born. I pretended to share her frantic enthusiasm, but really wish I’d never been informed.
Back to the non-royal baby….baby’s got back—or, my back—for hostage! I can’t sit for more than 20 minutes without extreme pain in its upper-right quadrant, making my office job very…trying. Or, any sitting situations. Last night, Tyler & I went out for hot wings & crepes; every so often, I had to walk around the eateries clenching those sore back rib muscles. Once, the intensity of their throbbing made me cry. (I am so not going to be able to birth this boy naturally! Then again, I’m handling these charlie horses like a pro, induced waddle-walking and all.) It’s kind of sweet, though, because each time I want to complain, I remember my late great-grandpa’s catch phrase, “Oh my achin’ back!” and it echoes through my nostalgic mind. Of course, the aching is partly my fault, since I refuse to take Tylonol. For the 1000th time, I don’t care if it’s safe!
I refuse to pump medicine into my baby’s bloodstream for the next three months! I’ll take the pain and thank my lucky stars it’s not throughout my entire body. Ceteris perabis, because if I don’t have a case of leaky eyes from the pain, I’ve got it from feeling a playful baby after a stretch of inactivity, or from sappily daydreaming about life as a family of three (Really, it’s five…Gretel and Gertie count, too!). Tyler’s gotten to feel him a few times now—kid’s the size of a papaya, so he’s getting easier to detect—and he definitely interacts with our hands as we place them in different areas around my navel. So fun.
Remember this post about not knowing how we were going to make it all work? Well, serendipity decided to step in with a full raise at my job! That means we have an extra allotment for baby boy’s monthly expenses! Phew! Also, Tyler & I found a terribly ugly but spacious and perfectly located 2-bedroom apartment that we’re 99% sure is in our deck of cards. No pet rent, too! I’m excited for the adventure of Pinterest-aided makeshift renovations to make that dump our palace…over time. And the best news of all…my work is allowing me to fulfill occupational duties from home once baby arrives, at least part-time. It’s always been my dream to work with no pants and a shirt soaked in baby spit-up. But really.
I’m absolutely in love with being pregnant. Every breath, every bite, every functional task of existence feels so meaningful when it’s symbiotically coexistant with another person’s.
Thanks to that 2nd trimester energy re-boot, I’ve been cooking up a STORM lately! Tyler & I are trying this new thing where we actually stay within the bounds of our food budget. So, no 3x-a-week Chipotle runs or late night pub splurges anymore. With surprising success, we’ve been living on $100 a week for homemade breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and dessert. It’s been quite the culinary challenge and adventure! I’d love to share my money-saver tips & meal-stretching tricks in another post.
For now, check out a mish-mash of my favorite dishes, in varying visual quality, from the past few weeks:
chicken noodle soup with dumplings // apple carrot cinnamon muffins
sweet potato, gruyere, chard & thyme savory pie // pad thai
caramelized pear over oatmeal // flourless chocolate cake
chicken tikka misala + naan // Czech pork roast + bread dumplings
sugar cookies // potato salad
sweet potato fries // avgolemono (Greek lemon/egg broth) soup
Thai chicken pizza // orange rolls
If you’d like any recipes, leave a comment with your email & I’ll get those to you. <3
Over the last four days, I’ve been in Provo, Utah, a mountainous community best known for BYU and its teeming population of lovesick Mormons. This is the second consecutive Utah trip during which I took no pictures (Tyler & I spent Thanksgiving there, but there’s no proof to furnish). I didn’t even snap the one below. (See? I really don’t document everything!)
My great-grandmother passed away. I was able to send a voice memo to my mother’s phone as the family in room 319 witnessed her vitals pick up each time that goodbye message played. Lovingly, I expressed hope in the the heavenly reunion she’d begged into fruition, and expressed my understanding that it was just her time. She’d climbed her mountain.
Days later, I’m singing at her funeral and attending a burial in the face of that rocky range. I’m honestly joyous for her well-earned peace…though I wish she could have held on long enough to meet her only great-great grandchild.
Speaking of that little person, oh boy. I don’t know what Tyler & I are going to do—where we will live, where/if Tyler will work, which school Tyler should attend (we just decided he should revisit the BS in Computer Science route), how to allocate time for one another, whether I can emotionally handle working full time away from our sweet baby, and budgetary logistics as we accommodate these new life factors. Plan A & B have given way to C, for “Can we do this?” I’m predicting some lean years ahead.
Life’s skies can seem so hazy and dreamy, only to be interrupted with one swift wind, starkly ushering mountains to climb into view. Trading glamor for grit, we’ll eventually reach the pinnacle, and that grandiose perspective from above will enrich our journey.
I’m the jerk who bought every last sweet potato in the
produce section, and baby’s the most stubborn kid of all, according to our ultrasound tech.
Baby’s size: 11.4 inches/ 1.1 pound!
Weight gain: It was 11 pounds total a week ago, so…I’m guessing to be closer to 13-14 now. I’ve been a shameless sweet tooth. Yesterday, I indulged in three deserts throughout the day. THREE! Not including the healthy pudding I made for breakfast!
Maternity clothes: A Pea In The Pod pants.
Sleep: My brain reliably screens wild films for me each night. So many post- apocalyptic plotlines!
Best moment of the week: I bought my dream stroller online, used but in mint condition, including all the “sold separately” stroller attachments you could ever waste money on! It’s one of those hip & happenin’ upper west-side mommy strollers I’d never afford brand new. I’m gonna feel so sexy pushing that beauty around.
Even better—seeing my son yawn in our ultrasound!!! So precious.
AAAAANNNND finding out that my sweet aunt is going to throw me a baby shower at her home in Huntington Beach, California! My old stomping grounds!
AAAAAAAAAAANNNNNDDDD a fourth, because just now, as I’m proofreading this post before pressing “publish,” having my left hand over my right side, where baby boy’s head likes to nestle…(Right hand in use for scrolling) I’ve never felt anything like what just happened. With a decent amount of confidence, I can report that his skull just brushed up under my hand mid roll-over. Yup, I felt a smooth, hard surface kind of slither and rotate inward, so closely as to make me sense there was maybe a millimeter of lining between his head and my hand. Sometimes I think he responds to my hands…this was downright otherworldly!
Worst moment of the week: Totally failing my “no stress policy.” Tears, anxiety, the whole bit. So many life factors are up in the air right now, and that’s no good when you’re nesting & want a plan in place!
Weirdest moment of the week: Tyler is first generation American, half Czech. We are very proud of our (well, adopted in my case) Czech heritage—our son even has a Czech middle name. Well, two nights ago, I spent several hours in the kitchen making this traditional Czech dish and I swear I’ve never felt more movement from baby boy than right after eating that meal! It was a one-man wrestling match in there! I guess he loves his heritage, too!
Morning Sickness: No
Movement: Especially at night, and the kicks are usually on my sides, particularly the left! He was even laying across my tummy with his feet on my left during our recent ultrasound.
Food Cravings: Homemade sweet potato fries, seasoned with sea salt & cajun spices + sauce comprising veganaise, ketchup, & pickle juice. Oh, and vegan chocolate chip cookies, so I can eat the batter all the while!
Food Aversions: No
Gender: BOY!!!! I’m just at the cusp of starting to get used to the idea. The shock is ssssllllooooowwwwllllllyyyyy melting away.
Belly Button: Top is out, and the rest is flat…sort of like the side-view of a convertible.
What I miss: Pregnancy has been so enjoyable, I don’t think I miss anything about non-pregnant life anymore! However, one of my first outings with baby boy & Tyler will take place at Sabrro Sushi in Sellwood…though I can definitely wait for those spicy tuna rolls. Gaining a son is kind of worth it, I think.
What I am looking forward to: Having our new place picked out and moved into, so I can really start nesting. It will likely take a few months.
Weekly Wisdom: Always be anxiously engaged in a good cause; all things will work for my good as I strive to live righteously.
Milestones: These past few weeks, I’ve experienced a dramatic change in marital and personal habits…all good changes! Once a hopeless slob, I now feel a foreign but strong urge to tidy & clean everywhere I go. I actually enjoy doing dishes. Anyone who knows me understands the miraculous nature of this fresh spring of orderliness. Finally, I’ve integrated constant daily prayer and personal/couple scripture study into “the routine.” And all of the sudden, I’m taking maybe an hour to myself per day, tops (social media, television). Remaining time is allocated among cooking, running errands, crafting, doing service, visiting with friends and family, walking the dog, researching parenthood topics…you know, the never-ending to-do list we all face. Tyler has done the same. That man hasn’t taken even one hour for himself (not a single video game!) in weeks. I’m so impressed with him.
We’re overwhelmed and honored by a parental sense of duty to finally shape up, shed those layers of selfishness and sloth, and be “anxiously engaged in a good cause.” Sure, first trimester fatigue is behind me, so that helps. Maybe it’s knowing baby’s a he and calling him by his name that has us all untangled. Whatever the case, this baby deserves fantastic parents. And to be fantastic parents, we have to be fantastic people, a status for which we strive. It’s hard work and discipline, but I think this baby may be the key to have finally unlocked whatever blockades we’ve built into the dynamics of our lifestyle up until now. There’s something all-consumingly gratifying about loving someone more than yourself—that’s what I’m finding. By loving God, Tyler, family, friends and baby Zika more than myself— true joy is found.
It’s been such a transformative stretch of productive days. I hope we can keep this up.
On the road to Hana, a treacherous cliff-side, narrow & twisty road etching through desert and rainforest (replete with 620 sharp curves and 46 creaky one-lane bridges), we witnessed a few tropical treasures. Paper-soft rainbow bark, wild mongoose and chameleons, exotic floral species, black and red sand beaches, turquoise waterfalls…totally worth feeling carsick on the way—errr—right Tyler?
While hiking over a jagged lava rock bed, I placed my hand near ^ this creature for leverage. It scared the crab out of me! (bad joke) Yet, my alarm was for nought. It was dead and posed no threat to my fingers.
Our last morning in paradise, Tyler and I paddle boarded, which meant making all sorts of new turtle friends & savoring every last whiff of warm, salty air. It was serene, hypnotically so, except for the massive mammals spouting and leaping from the sea around us. (see part II for details on whale encounters earlier in the trip) At one point, I lost track of myself in a stare onto the horizon, and wondered if I’d drifted far from Tyler. A bit panicked, I slung my head around…to what sight? Tyler totally blissed out on his back a few yards away. Pure hilarity.
Those are ROOTS behind us, about twice our height^, from the famous banyon tree in Lahaina!
Homemade California roll makings & my budding friendship with the wild chickens of Macawao
Next time we’re in Maui, our little boy will be with us, but outside my womb. That’s a trippy thought.
And just like that, it’s aloha again. Back to real life.
Dating your spouse is a beautiful thing. When your sweetie arranges a special evening and officially “asks you out,” it has a way of taking you back to those beholden, golden, olden days (in our case, high school). This week, I couldn’t wait for Tuesday to come around & see what Tyler had planned—a perfectly casual evening of our favorite Portland things: food carts, a film, & Powells.
At the Alder cart cluster, Tyler munched on shawarma from the Greek eatery; I inhaled chicken paprikash + potato pierogi from its neighboring Polish truck. MMMM!
In the hours thereafter, we became consumed by this futuristic indie art film—truly one of the most unique we’d ever encountered—which later sparked hours of technophysics/alternate universe/sociology-veering conversations. Riveting stuff. I’d always wanted to enjoy the cinema at Portland’s Living Room Theaters…those cushy couches & order-in dining services…oh my. We chose a basic small popcorn and I’m 99% sure that butter was the real deal. The couple to my left shared some kind of panini and balsamic salad, the smell from which tantalized me nearly as much as the play with filters & angles on the silver screen. I rreeaaalllyyyy wanted to hold my belly and hint to them that my son was missing his intake of greens for the day. 😉
Since Powell’s is only a couple hundred feet north of the theaters, we meandered over for a quick browse. When in Powell’s,
comprising an entire city block and then some…it’s never just a quick browse. I cemented my head in a perma-craned neck pose while gleaning spines in the baby book section. I didn’t find what I was looking for, something I imagined would be entitled, So You’re Having A Boy And Have No Clue Where To Go From Here. (Yes! We’re having a baby boy!) My search came up dry. But, I did discover the impossible: a baby owner’s manual! Who says these little people can’t come with instructions? 😉 I had to have it.
And before it all began, a very nice lady noticed Tyler’s DLSR and offered to snap a family shot. From the friendly people to the food to the films to the books…Portland is my kind o’ date scene. Nicely done, Tyler!
Please excuse the abrupt (but SWEET) ending—this whole thing was filmed, edited, and uploaded using an iphone. Noooobs. Anyways, without further ado…