thoughts on raising a woman

So, perhaps you've heard. We're having a girl.

Next to "How are you feeling?" I most frequently fielded the question, "Do you know what you're having? Do you have an inkling?" I usually said no, but actually I did. Could have sworn it was a boy the whole time. I had dreams it was a boy. But I also had a dream it was a lizard. So, so much for dreams.

I was as floored as anyone when the technician did the awkward shot and revealed our baby's delicates. In a moment, everything changed.

Yes, I know biological sex shouldn't be so central to a person's identity. I know all about how gender is just a social construct formed within a largely patriarchal society. But who are we fooling? Knowing I'm having a girl made this experience suddenly very, very real. "It" became a "she," and a flood of images and ideas came along with that pronoun.

I drove around running errands afterwards and found myself looking at all the different kinds of women there are. I wondered, which one will she be? Will she be that kid smoking on the hood of a car outside a 7-Eleven? Is she the Rite Aid clerk with the helpful smile? Sweet heavens, will she be like me? I could feel myself getting overwhelmed.

Maybe you moms of daughters (or even fathers of sons) can correct me, but upon learning the sex, I suddenly felt the weight of teaching my child how to be a woman in this world. I mean, where else will she learn it? I don't want the media or Hollywood telling her. Even some of the traditional ideals of femininity within the Church need to be tempered. As the same sex parent, it's my job. I suddenly felt woefully inadequate, because at 36, I'm just barely getting this feminine thing down.

I'm not a girly-girl, but I've grown out of that stage where I want to be "one of the guys." I'm just me, whether it falls in line with feminine gender identity or not. So, I feel strange when I log on to Pinterest, search for "baby girl" and see an onslaught of tutus, tiaras, pearls, lace, and bows. I think it's cute and I'm sure some of that will make it into her closet, but I don't think that's all there is to being a girl. Life is not an endless tea party.... unless, of course, you're the Mad Hatter, and then you've got other issues.

Any way, I over-thought this for days. Then I came across this pin.

I can testify that this is true of my life. I know these kinds of women, and I'm lucky to call them family and friends. Singers, entrepreneurs, leaders in ministry, comedians, artists, photographers, writers, PhDs, television producers... yeesh, the list goes on. They make outfits and costumes. They ride Harleys. They run households and their own businesses. They've been through soul-crushing heartbreak and come through the other side strong. They make something out of nothing every day.

Every last one is talented, interesting, and brilliant. They're amazing women, and if a person can be reflected in the company she keeps, then maybe I'm amazing too. And then maybe I could raise an amazing woman.

So, I feel better now. My kid just needs half of the awesome that I see everyday in my relationships with other women. If I can supply the other half, then she'll be just fine.

~jennifer +1


baby kicks and the belly eclipse

Okay, I promised to tell you when I felt the baby kick. I don't know if kick is the right word, but this kid is definitely moving. And, for those keeping score at home, I was just a few days over 15 weeks when it happened.

Before we begin, let's straighten something out. I don't know why all the web sites say that your baby's first movements will feel like a quickening or a fluttering. Those are nonsense words. They might as well say it feels like butterfly kisses. We gotta do better than that and give our newly pregnant sisters something more tangible to expect. I don't know if this helps, but even if I knew what those words meant (which I still don't), it didn't feel like any of that.

Of all days, it happened on April Fool's Day while sitting with my two best friends. We were talking about either church or baby stuff. I can't remember what now, because in the middle of the conversation, I felt bubbles rolling up the inside of my stomach. Yeah, that's the best I can describe that first one--as though tiny bubbles were floating up. It was faint, but enough that I'm sure I started making faces, as I tend to do with strange internal issues.

I didn't say anything at the moment. I figured it was a revisit from lunch. Granted, I know what gas feels like, but when you're pregnant, there are always strange sensations taking over your body.  It wasn't until later, when I talked to some other, more experienced moms, that I knew I was at the beginning of something grand.

Of course, I got radio silence from my stomach for the next few days, leaving me to wonder if it was just my digestive system. Then this weekend, I was sitting on the couch, this time in Jersey City with my husband at his cousin's apartment. We were watching  Jack the Giant Slayer when the baby moved again. This time, it wasn't bubbles. It wasn't a fluttering of butterfly anything. It truly felt like something was moving on the inside of me. It was unmistakable.

Since then, I've felt the baby quite a few times when I get quiet and still enough. The movements come on without warning. Sometimes it feels like a pressing against my uterus, like he or she is trying to escape through my belly button. Other times, the movements are slow and rolling. It almost feels like the kid is doing tai chi or yoga in there, which is great because maybe he or she will teach me a thing or two about being zen in this whole experience.

So, there you have it. I don't know why they call it a kick. Just some slow-motion acrobatics and what may possibly be a few failed attempts at a prison break.

By the way, the picture below is not an eclipse. This is how much of my feet I can see when I look down now. I figured I'd take a photo, because pretty soon, I won't see my toes again from a standing position until late September.

~jennifer +1


secret tweets from my first trimester

Our first trimester certainly wasn't a secret, but we made a conscious effort to keep the news offline until now. Keeping the social media masses from knowing about my pregnancy during the first trimester was hard for the Twitter-side of me that enjoys a random thought or two. So, I started this blog post in my eighth week as a means to collect these secret tweets.

"I'm tired."

"I love these veggie chips! Let's get another bag."

"Get those veggie chips away from me. I can't even look at them."

"I'm really tired."

"Taking baby bump pictures during the first two months is for skinny girls. I've always looked about three months pregnant."

"Can you stop by the grocery store? I need something with cheese on it."

"Sweet Moses, I am so sleepy."

"Can we stop? I need to pee."

 *crying* "It's the Olympics commercial where the little kids keep falling down, and one of them is crying. Then they become Olympic champions. It's just so moving."

(burp) "Excuse me. I'm so sorry."

"Can we stop off at McDonald's real quick? Real quick! I just need a McChicken sandwich."

(any time of day) Husband: "Hey, baby, what were you doing?" Me: "Napping."

(burp) "Excuse me. I am so gas-y lately."

"Awwwwwww!" (when I've unbuttoned my pants because my waistband is too tight when I sit down... in public)

"Was I just drooling?"

Husband: "We need to get you more sweatpants. Get a rotation going here."


~jennifer + 1


what's good: 100 blogs and a baby

It's been a while since I've blogged, but I have good reason. First, this is my 100th blog, and I figured it should be special. Second, it's a little difficult to write about life, love, and the pursuit of good food when I have to self-edit to avoid spilling the single greatest game changer in my life since getting married. But the jig is up now, so here we go.

As you probably heard, this right here... totally happened.

It's the open contents of a gift I gave Jeremy on January 14th. The mini bike I bought at the Harley shop. The stick was a crude representation of exactly why I hadn't felt like myself for weeks. 

We're pregnant! 

Whew! What a load off. 

If you recall any of my previous blogs, you may be wondering, "Wasn't she just going on about giving up on her baby Pinterest boards and not making a big fuss about trying to conceive?" Yes, true. It's just that while I was writing that post, I had no clue I was five weeks along already. When I found out two days later, I was as surprised as anyone. I did my research. I knew the odds for a first-timer at my age combined with a perceived lack of fertility awesomeness. Not to mention, I figured that,  if getting pregnant takes half as long as finding Mr. Right,  I'd be waiting for years.

Apparently, God had another idea. 

One thing is for sure, I've never been asked this often how I'm feeling. Seriously. I've never had this many people interested in my health and well-being before. Between month two and three, I got really good at saying, "Oh, the usual: nauseous, tired, bloated," which was the pleasant way of saying, "When I'm not constantly sleeping, I'm thinking about sleeping, I always feel like vomiting, and I've already farted since we started talking."

Oddly enough, I've been grateful for the symptoms, because, honestly, it still hasn't sunk in yet. It's a total mind shift to go from normal, regular life to a nine-month, +1, gestational situation. I mean, I have several test results and a few fuzzy ultrasound pictures that confirm. So, unless I swallowed a gummy bear that went in the wrong place, I'm definitely with child. My body knows this. My brain is slowing catching up.

So, details, for anyone who cares....

  • We're due late September. As of this posting, I'm about 13 weeks along. 
  • Overall, I feel good. I do get winded doing just about anything, though. I don't nap as much as I did Weeks 6-10, but I almost always prefer lying down wherever I am. Waiting for them to set me up a cot at church. 
  • I have absurd cravings for fruit juice, cheese, McChicken sandwiches, and olives (not all at once). Strangely enough, I lost my pre-maternity ravenous desire for gummy bears. 
  • Pregnancy hormones have me a little more feisty than usual. I'm speaking my mind a lot more, rather than letting things slide. I think this is a good thing; however, I'm not sure everyone else around me feels the same. 
  • I've never dreamed this frequently and vividly in my life. 
  • Certain activities are on hiatus: running, riding on the motorcycle, bending over to pick things up off the floor, buttoning my jeans, etc. 
I promise this won't turn into a mommy blog. Not that there's anything wrong with that. However, copious belly shots and OB updates just aren't my thing. But how about this: I'll let you all know the gender, when he/she first kicks, and the first time I pee myself in public.

~jennifer + 1


happy birthday to my 'fro

To everyone else, it's Valentine's Day. I'd like to wish a happy fourth birthday to my natural hair. It was a bold choice against conventional beauty (and wisdom) to chop all my hair off back in 2010, but I've never regretted it. My wild, unruly hair is a daily reminder to embrace myself just as I am.

You can see the evolution of this hair madness in this post. Enjoy your love day. 



what's good: avocados

We've been eating healthier at the start of the year. Resisting refined sugar, fatty meats, etc. While I miss my gummi bears, it feels good to be back in the kitchen with lots of natural ingredients. Grad school means stress and pressure, which equal frequent trips to the Cookout drive-through . With the semester barely begun, I'm enjoying the extra time to cook a meal that will not subtract months from my life.

What's even more fun is getting reacquainted with so many nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables that I used to love. Maybe, I'm getting old, but I forgot out good a prune can taste.

Mostly, I've renewed a kindred fellowship with avocados. Oh, how I love my little green friend. For me, I don't need cheese when I can have avocado slices. When a co-worker taught me how simple guacamole is to make, I was sold.

I remember the first time I made my husband homemade guacamole. I mashed, I chopped, I mixed, I stirred. I was proud. He took four bites and said he wasn't feeling well. Then later he said he didn't care for it. My feelings as a girlfriend weren't hurt. I was more upset that he did not love the vegetable that I held so dear. It was like we were living different lives. Despite this, I married him anyway. I figure, more guac for me.

Avocados are apparently also quite healthy. Good for your blood sugar levels and blood pressure. I know they boost your HDL, aka your good cholesterol. They're an essential part of your anti-inflammatory diet. All kinds of stuff.

So, cheers to our health. Until I can get my hands on some gummi bears, avocados will do just fine.



why I quit my Pinterest baby boards... for now

I've gone a bit Pinterst nutty lately.

I mean, it was bad when I was planning my wedding. Now that we are thinking about kids, I pin everything that has to do with pregnancy, babies, conception, and trying to conceive. I even have pins for their imaginary outfits and the imaginary pictures we will take together. 

And the information! If you don't know much about fertility like I didn't, there's information. There's information about information. My naturally curious self is like a kid in a candy store. I can't stop!

I think I should, though. 

The nice thing about being in your 30s is that you can have great self-awareness. I know me. I'm like an old movie I've seen everyday for 36 years. I know exactly how this ends. My one-track mind suddenly can't get enough about a topic. I research until I'm doing loops around the Internet. Then, it slowly becomes all I think about until I develop a burdensome desire that reaches this insane level that makes you think: 

I've seen me do it before. Let's not. Not this time. There's got to be a better way. 

At the beginning of the year, we decide what we'd like to see happen and set aside time to pray very specifically. In the baby arena, I ask for one thing this year, "easy, natural conception." Because I know. I know I'll look at fertility by age and start to freak out that my prime years are behind me. I know, if it is a matter of charting, I will OCD my calendar into the ground so that every second of my cycle and all the symptoms therein are documented. I can take my basal temperature every day, get weird about my diet, attack my husband during ovulation time then spend the afterglow upside down (thank you, yoga). This is true to form of my selectively Type A personality. The weird woman inside my head that wants the baby is like a cheerleader yelling, "Be aggressive! B-E aggressive!"

But I don't want to do that -- any of that.  Call me crazy, but I want to conceive peacefully, naturally, almost quietly. 

When I think about wanting children, I see myself in a somewhat familiar place. See, I waited a long time to find the right guy, and I sat in that proverbial waiting room for years in every emotional state available.  Bitter, angry, demonstrative, declarative, hopeful, passive, timid, reckless and often quite bored. If I knew then what I know now--that he'd just show up one day when I least expected him without any effort on my part-- I'd give myself the advice that I could never understand until today. I wouldn't say, relax. I'd say, rest. Have a heart at rest. The emotional roller coaster and "25 Ways to Get Married in 2008" are pointless. Just enjoy life now and trust God. Believe!

So, I'm going to stop, breathe, and pray that when the baby dust fall my way, that it finds me with an open hand full of grace, not a clenched fist. I know what want, but luckily I can say with certainty I already have everything I need. Regardless of my circumstances, I will live these days in peace and joy. I think that's what future me would want.  

~ jennifer.

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