Gratitude Challenge: The Pregnancy Edition

Well, I was hoping the previous post would be my last pregnancy post. However, this kid decided she's not coming out until she wants to. Sounds familiar, but still, we're going to have a talk about this later.

I found a worthy reason to blog though. I was nominated in one of those gratitude challenges that is floating around Facebook. I tend to steer clear of these things. I am a social media spoil sport. It's not because I don't believe in good causes. I'm just rarely interested in doing anything that everyone else is doing (again, my daughter comes by this attitude honestly). However, I've been thinking that this one might be necessary.

No matter how much you want your child or how happy you are to even be pregnant, the tail end of gestation sucks. It just does. You're fat. You're slow. You're peeing every two hours, which is no fun at night. And let's not even talk about the tortuous variety of symptoms that you have available to you. Hemorrhoids or heartburn, anyone? It's just not pleasant.

Then, as if things aren't hard enough, everyone reminds you how this is the easy part, and you jump from this frying pan into the fire of parenting a newborn. Sleepless nights, endless crying, and all the wacky things your body does postpartum. Altogether, it can make you wonder why in the world you signed up for this.

Sounds like a good time to count your blessings, if you ask me.

So of course, I won't do the challenge the way that Facebook dictates. Instead, here are 12 things I'm grateful for during these last nine months.

1. This is a tangible, visible reminder that God sometimes gives you exactly what you want. I know what it's like to beg for something and see it either not come to pass or be delayed by years. Getting pregnant without a bunch of hoopla was my prayer at the beginning of the year--a prayer I fully expected to go unanswered for a long time. Yet, by the time I really put it out there, I was already pregnant. That was pretty cool.

2. My husband is a better guy than I thought he was. And I already thought he was great. Seeing him excited about fatherhood is all the more sweet.

Our Harley Biker Diaper Cake
3. People are generous. I am astounded at how much people have given us. In-laws hitting the yard sales for deals, other parents who donated clothes, baby shower gifts, etc. I've been blessed before, but the giving my friends and family have shown makes me a believer in the kindness of humanity.

4. Generally, strangers are pretty nice. I've joked quite a bit about people in grocery stores and libraries making comments about my pregnancy. And yes, it can get annoying on the wrong day. But otherwise, people are shockingly polite. Plus, I haven't had to pick up anything off the floor before someone does it for me in months.

5. Eating (almost) whatever I want. Before January, I was cutting back on portions, cutting down on sugar, and exercising regularly. I'd actually lost quite a bit of weight and was feeling good. I plan to get back into that soon. However, I can't lie. Being sedentary this last trimester and enjoying every pretzel bun burger I can find is real nice.

6. Ultrasounds. My life has seen wonderful moments. My wedding day. Reading in a hammock on a Dominican beach. That really delicious bread pudding I had at a wedding once. But nothing quite compares to the first time I saw our daughter in 3-D. Surreal.

7. Finally, a decent excuse to be lazy. I can be a little type-A at times, so sitting still when I think I need to be conquering the world is tough. It's been nice to hear people tell me to rest, sleep, and take it easy and I can do that without feeling (too much) guilt.

8. Sweatpants, err'day, all day. Somewhat going along with point #7... I also get a pass on any social demands to look like a fashionista. Not that I was much of one before.

9. I finally get it. Being single and childless for all of my 20s and half of my 30s, I never really got the whole pregnancy/parenting thing. I recall some snotty, nearly phobic behavior towards people with kids. Most of it was because I thought I'd never enter that stage of life. It's easy to dump on what you don't understand. But now I get it. And my apologies to everyone I offended with my single-girl-'tude.

10. The great, big belly. It doubles as a food tray and a place to rest my hands and reading materials.

11. Baby kicks. There's this moment in Sex and the City when the hard-nosed, cynical Miranda feels her son kick inside her stomach for the first time during an arbitrary moment at the bathroom sink. She has this stunned, amazed, and delighted look of wonder on her face. I know that look. It feels just like that.

12. Overall, this wasn't that bad. I've had some difficulties this pregnancy that I won't go into now (that's for a later blog, when I get up the nerve). However, relatively speaking, when you consider everything that can happen, I had a good pregnancy.

There's my gratitude challenge. And if you've read to the end, congrats, you've nominated yourself. Go be grateful for wherever you are right now. Tell someone about it. It feels good.

~jennifer (still ) +1


for the love of lemonade: my late term (and probably last) pregnancy update

It's hard to use one's pregnancy as the excuse to why one has not updated her blog about said pregnancy. To be fair, pregnancy is full of long stretches where not a lot is going on. But hey, that's a good thing. Someone once told me that the greatest blessing you could ever get is a boring pregnancy.

I'd like to say I made good on my original promises to you. No mommy blogging. I wrote about discovering she was a girl. I told you about the baby's first movements. I have yet to pee myself laughing or sneezing, but we still have time. Here are a few more random facts:

  • The first bonafide kick came a month after those first subtle movements. I was sitting on the couch as I almost always do now, and suddenly a tiny section below my belly button jumped out. That was around week 16 and she hasn't stopped since. There was only one evening where I got concerned that she wasn't moving much, but we were watching that movie Her and perhaps she was as disturbed as we were.
  • My thing with McChicken sandwiches and olives is over. My love for all things citrus is the last remaining craving. Lemonade and I are particularly close. The house is always stocked. 
  • That first trimester fatigue came back. I can nap anywhere any time, and God forbid I get anything less than 9 hours of sleep a night. Mornings were never pretty, but now they're downright ugly. 
  • I get asked the same series of questions almost every day by various people. When are you due? Do you know what you're having? Do you have a name? Almost always in that sequence too. I have standard answers for them all. September. It's a girl. We won't know for sure until she's born.
  • That last one is partly true. We have two contenders for the name--one stronger than the other. I think we've decided, but I just want to lay my eyes on her to be sure. Either way, we haven't shared the names with any confidence. It really could be anything. 
  • I've strongly considered starting a new blog called "Smart*** Things People Say to Me at Walmart." I swear, every time I'm in there, somebody clever wants to comment on my pregnancy. A week ago, I went to the wrong end of the store to find a mop. When I asked a worker, she said, "It's all the way on the other side. Aisle 10. You'll probably have the baby before you get there."
My husband's wonderful parents sprung for a 4D ultrasound. Through the hazy bulges and unidentified belly matter, I'm happy to say we could make out a face. We didn't get any smiles and, like a true child of ours, she stubbornly didn't perform on command. However, we could see her chubby little face, and she had her umbilical chord thrown over her shoulder like a purse. I don't mind raising a girly girl.

There is another picture where her lip is curled up like she's a 1920s gangster, but we'll keep that one to ourselves.

As for me, in case you haven't seen me in person lately, I'm about the size of a small SUV. I've managed to outgrow even some of my maternity clothes. Provided you can actually get me out of the house, I waddle around with one of those back pillows (thank you, Melissa), looking for a place to sit.

That's about it. I'd love to tell you my next blog will you keep you posted on this last month, but I make no promises. Next time you see me in the blogosphere, I may very well have our little crying, pooping, snoozing bundle of joy out of the oven and in our arms.

'Till then, I'm still...

~jennifer +1


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. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...