third trimester

differences between my first & second pregnancies

A lot of moms are more easygoing during their second pregnancies, but I was pretty laid-back the first time around. I didn’t follow any rules about what I shouldn’t eat, drink, or do. I listened to my body and practiced headstands well into my third trimester. I felt confident and strong and looked forward to an empowering birth experience.

This time, I feel more protective. This past winter, we lived in a basement without much privacy, without a real bedroom or a door to separate our space. I had a threatened miscarriage, which increased my feeling of vulnerability. I’ve gained more than the “recommended” weight and feel big and mama bear-like, ready to fight for my babies.

Every pregnancy is different because every relationship is different.

I’m not sure what is true about being pregnant with boys versus girls, but I know my relationship with Phoebe is different than my relationship with Atlas, and so her time in the womb is different as well. She sits lower, as most subsequent babies do, and stretches more than she kicks. Perhaps she’s already practicing yoga poses?

My relationship with myself is also different than it was in 2015. My first pregnancy taught me a lot about connecting with myself and being present, but this pregnancy shows me I still have a lot to learn. I’m not a fearful person, but the past few months I’ve felt frustrated with my body and anxious about the future.

It’s easier for me to be hopeful when lack of experience leaves room for any possibility.

With my first pregnancy, I had heard of pain-free and orgasmic births, and I believed anything was possible. Intellectually, I still believe anything could happen, but experientially, I know birth and postpartum can be hard and indeed very painful. Dealing with eczema again when I thought I was healed makes me wonder if I can trust my body.

I know my body is more prepared to birth a human this second time and it remembers what to do, but in many ways, my heart and mind are not as ready. I have to make a conscious effort to choose peace instead of stress, to choose to live in the “now” instead of jumping ahead to next week or next month.

In some ways, I am giving birth to myself.

In my last post, I wrote about becoming new. With Phoebe’s birth, I will become a new mom, again, but I feel like she is also a retelling of my own story. My birthday and her due date are just a few days apart. Thinking of her brings up thoughts of my relationship with my own mother, and all the emotions that come with it.

Though this won’t be as drastic a transformation from maidenhood to motherhood, it is still a big change from one child to two, from three family members to four, from just my boys to my boys and my girl. This pregnancy, I’m more cognizant of how nesting is not only preparing a place for a new baby, it is also preparing a place for a new me.

Noah says, “There’s always room for more love.” And so, in our hearts, and in our home, we make room.

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I would love to hear how your pregnancies and birth stories differed! As well as any tips on how to parent two under two :)

 

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things you can totally say to me while i’m pregnant

There are lots of things people say that offend pregnant women. Then again, there are lots of things people say that offend people in general. Personally, I love any question that is asked in an honest effort to understand or show me I am cared for.

Pregnancy is mysterious and fascinating and everyone experiences it differently. I happen to be an expert on my experience, and I love to share my expertise. Here are some things I don’t mind hearing in the least:

“Was it planned?”

It’s kind of a strange question because you’re asking about my sex life, but there’s more to it than that. With so many birth control options and perspectives on making babies, I am happy to tell you my story and how my thinking has changed over the past several years.

“How many kids do you want?”

I have no idea, but I like when people ask this because then I can reply with my charm and wit: “One at a time!” Baby brain is real, so when I have a prepared answer, I can’t wait to remember what I want to say and actually say it.

“You’re huge!”

OMG thank you! I would much rather hear that I’m large than small. I’ve gained almost 35 lbs and that weight is not hiding – I feel it every time I stand up, roll over, laugh, or basically try to do anything. My body has put a lot of effort and hormones into growing so big and beautiful (and emotional) and it doesn’t want to be ignored.

“Any news?”

Towards the end of pregnancy, I see how it could get annoying to be bombarded with constant inquiries of “Did you have the baby yet?” However, I choose to interpret it as: “I am so excited about the birth of your baby! Here is a conversation starter for you to talk about yourself and update me on whatever you’d like!”

Have any questions for me? Come over for some homemade kombucha (I’m GBS positive, so loving the probiotics) or say whatever you’d like in the comments below.

when it works out better than i could have imagined

When I started my first big-girl job, I loved many things about work. It was meaningful and busy and I was good at it. But I was also frustrated with obligatory paperwork, limited vacation days, and the inability to go to the bathroom any time I wanted. The usual growing-up woes.

“I am going to plan my career break!” I declared, wanting to play all day and travel the world. But Noah said I had to first have a career in order to take a break from it, and yes, that meant working for more than one year.

“I am going to be a stay at home wife!” I declared, tired of the 8 to 4 monotony. But I would have been bored and depressed and fat with all the emotional eating I did, not yet skilled in the arts of being content in my identity and dealing with my feelings in a healthy way.

So I learned to be an adult and also create a life I loved.

Fast forward several years. It wasn’t part of the original plan where I would work my full-time job at least until the baby was born, but I am pleasantly surprised at how wonderful my life is right now. In fact, I couldn’t have planned it better myself.

I quit my job in September and took on a part-time nannying gig for two months. It was low-key, peaceful, and in light of my previous stressful work situation, extremely appreciated.

Yesterday was my last day as a nanny. As of today, I’m a full-blown stay at home wife. I have more time for the things I love: second breakfasts, FaceTiming my sister, practicing yoga, reading, and writing. I write for myself…and for the first time, I write for clients.

Small steps can make a big difference.

Freelance writing doesn’t pay much, but it allows me to write consistently, receive feedback, and build my portfolio. I am finally doing that one thing I always loved since I was a little girl, but would regard as an aspiration exclusively reserved for the far-off distant future.

“Think of it like a free creative writing course,” says Noah. And I do. It’s my first one! I never took an English class in college because I didn’t think I could handle it. I never even went to the Writing Center for help with assignments because I was intimidated by the writing fellows.

But I don’t want fear to have power over me anymore.

I don’t know what my experience of motherhood will be like. I don’t know if I’ll have energy or interest in doing work on the side. I don’t know where life will take us once Noah finishes his PhD: where we will live, what field of work he will be in, what kind of lifestyle we will have.

I know one thing: I want to be a mom who leads by example, who embraces a life she would want her children to live. I want to be brave and follow my dreams, regardless of whether or not they’re on pause for years before I see them come to pass. I want to own all my choices.

I would rather my kids say: “We didn’t have a lot of money, but my parents loved each other and loved us. They went after their dreams and inspired us to do the same,” instead of how I hear my parents lament about their regrets and the ways they would have done things differently.

We moved to Colorado primarily for Noah’s program, but it turns out it was for me, too — to have this dream-come-true season. 

I love being Noah’s biggest fan. I am happy to support him and choose what is best for our family. We’re investing in his education, and later, if it’s what I really want, the right timing will come when I go back to school as well.

But the decision to stay home for now doesn’t mean my life is at a standstill. Noah is my biggest fan, too. He is always looking to empower me, to find ways for me to pursue my dreams, to choose what is best for me. My future is as exciting as it ever was.

This season is temporary, as they all are, and I will be thrilled when my world is turned upside down at my baby’s arrival. But for now, I am soaking up these quiet days by myself, and it’s a beautiful life. An open Word document, a hot mug of tea, and a heart full and free.

practices for life beyond pregnancy

Pregnancy problem: I don’t have anything to wear. Seriously.

Solution: Wardrobe simplicity.

Women’s clothes normally come in an overwhelming array of sizes and styles. But when you’re pregnant, a small is supposed to fit a multitude of bodies of varied heights with differently shaped bellies, butts, and boobs. And maternity clothes are expensive. It took me all summer to find reasonably priced non-knee-length shorts whose leg openings were the size of one leg instead of two. And then it started snowing :(

These days, I’m not working a regular person job. It’s very convenient for getting dressed. I rotate between two pairs of maternity leggings I bought specifically so I can still wear them post-baby. I have several non-maternity stretchy tees. I have socks. I have scarves. I have my winning personality. I look the same every day, but having fewer clothing options makes my life easier.

Life principle: I never want to be weighed down by stuff.

Pregnancy problem: My ribs hurt. All the time.

Solution: Regular showers.

It’s been my most persistent, most vexing pregnancy inconvenience. I have a small rib cage and just don’t have a lot of room. It’s not my muscles that are sore, so massage doesn’t help. Child’s pose is comforting, though inappropriate in some social situations. But hot water does wonders with relieving rib pain, and effortlessly persuades me to bathe on a consistent basis.

I’ve known about hot showers for a while, but I went through a phase where I would go without for days. I would wait to shower as a reward for exercising, or I would wear braids and hats and prove to myself how low maintenance I was. After I got married, in an attempt to embrace adulthood looking clean and bright, I slowly increased my showering frequency. But pregnancy has been the ultimate motivator.

Life principle: Good hygiene can be a gift to myself as much as it is a gift to those who must interact with me.

Pregnancy problem: I have no idea when I’ll go into labor.

Solution: Rest. Now.

October 1st, I stopped working a stressful schedule that was extremely taxing on my relationships with others and my relationship with myself. Since then, I have more time to engage in activities that inspire me. By operating out of a daily practice of rest, I’ve experienced a noticeable increase in my productivity, creativity, and peacefulness.

But sometimes the most restful activity is good ole passive slumber. At 38 weeks + 4 days, my baby is as active and nocturnal as ever, and he can greet the world at any moment. My midwife recommends daily naps so I will have enough energy for whenever a regular day becomes a birth day. I love it. Life will happen, and it’s out of my control, but I want to be ready to put in the effort when it matters most. (tweet that)

Life principle: Rest as a prerequisite for hard work and not a reward.

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Photo credit: http://reagandeninephotography.com

second is not best: on why i love my third trimester most of all

Being eight months pregnant is the best thing ever.

My first trimester was pretty exciting. I resigned from teaching, secured a new job, disposed of most of my earthly possessions, and said goodbye to my wonderful life of the past three years. I went to Colombia on an amazing missions trip, drove over 5200 miles on a road trip from Florida to Colorado via Massachusetts, and played with my sister in Greece and Turkey. I declared: “No morning sickness in Jesus’ name!” and it worked. I was exhausted, but besides some constipation and sensitivity to cold, I felt great.

My second trimester was difficult and filled with a lot of emotions. I returned to America and to everyday life. I started my new job, settled into a new church, and publicly announced my pregnancy. Growing a baby felt more real: I bought maternity clothes, read pregnancy books, chose a midwife, settled on a baby name, and got my first and only ultrasound. But I felt lonely in many ways, frustrated and stressed from work, and overall sad about this season.

I ended up quitting my job and it was one of the best decisions I could have made. I am healthier, happier, and loving these last two months before baby comes. I resumed my yoga practice and feel refreshed and rested. I see my husband more often because I am not working late nights, weekends, or out of town for days at a time. I feel like I am finally experiencing the famous second semester joys, e.g. renewed energy and great sex. But even though the second trimester is popular for being the pregnant woman’s favorite, I am convinced that the third trimester is even better. Here’s why:

  • I AM OBVIOUSLY PREGNANT.

It was noticeable to me at 10 weeks when I couldn’t fit into any of my pants, but now the world has no doubt that my 30 lb weight gain is not solely the result of burgers and beer. I would rather have an extra cookie than the chair someone offers me, and now sometimes I can get both; but neither would have been an option during my first or second trimesters when people had no idea or were too polite to assume I was pregnant. In general, there is just more grace for me when it comes to snacking. I can show up to a potluck with a piece already cut from the cake I made, and although no one believes me when I say I genuinely was checking to make sure it was okay, they are understanding.

  • MY SELF-ESTEEM IS SOARING.

I am a hot mess going grocery shopping with my dirty hair in a bun and my belly busting out of one of those free T-shirts no one wants unless it is free, and I am stopped and told how cute I look. I go hiking with friends from out of town, and while they are struggling with the high altitude, I am beating them to the top of a small mountain. I post Instagrams where I am JUST STANDING THERE and get lots of likes and comments of how stunning it is that I am just standing there. And on days when I am kind of lazy, I remind myself that I clipped my toenails and it was really hard and I also am growing a human, and I feel much more productive.

  • GIFTS ARE MY LOVE LANGUAGE. LOTS OF GIFTS = LOTS OF LOVE.

My birthday was sad this year (I planned a party and cancelled it after I realized no one would come because I did not have any friends), so baby showers are a magical redo birthday. I never had a bridal or engagement shower or bachelorette party, so celebrating my baby’s soon arrival is extra special in light of milestone festivities I missed. I freak out over every Amazon prime box that is left at my door and it’s Christmas all over again. I spent a lot of time and research on our registry, so Noah does not have the same emotional attachment and excitement for our gifts, though I don’t blame him for not getting pumped up about nipple cream like I do. And I’ve decided that these weeks of nesting and preparing for birth day are way better than my birthday anyway.

I CAN’T WAIT. Except I can. Because I LOVE my third trimester.

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Photo credit: http://reagandeninephotography.com