I’d Like to Thank the Academy

Being nine weeks pregnant on a friends’ weekend away to northern Michigan is rough. We went up north to Glen Arbor to ski and go wine tasting, two things I could not do, being pregnant.

2.22.17

“I can’t believe we’ve kept the secret this long. So. Hard.”

Being nine weeks pregnant on a friends’ weekend away to northern Michigan is rough. We went up north to Glen Arbor to ski and go wine tasting, two things I could not do, being pregnant. The weather wasn’t ideal for winter activities, so while I did manage to get out on my cross country skis once, what’s more impressive is that I managed to hide the fact that I wasn’t drinking… for an entire weekend… where people went wine tasting.

How did I work my magic? The answer is three-fold.

1 – My drink of choice was “apple cider and fireball” (sans fireball of course), though I did bring fireball, and I did get it out and put it away several times. Really, I just drank half a gallon of apple cider all by myself over the course of about 24 hours. The sugar. Oh, the sugar. When offered a glass of wine, I said, “Sure, just a half glass though,” and held onto it long enough to make people believe I’d been working on it before handing it over to my husband to finish off. I couldn’t be double fisting with my “spiked” apple cider, now could I?

2 – When the girls started getting ready to head out to go wine tasting, I needed a reason to stay behind. My reason didn’t feel very believable, but it worked in the end. I acted as though I was between going and staying, when, really, I knew I could not go. I stayed back because “I wanted to get out on my cross country skis once more and the snow was quickly melting away”. Luckily for me, the poor skiing weather played into my needs.

3 – When we paid a visit to a meadery on the way home (one that I absolutely love, by the way), while our friends tasted various meads and my husband filled our howler, I stood off to the side taste-testing various flavors of honey, and picking one out to take home. I was oh, so interested in that honey. And you know what? We still have that jar of honey today, unopened. Thanks for being the decoy – I bet you’re delicious, but you’re not mead. Maybe we’ll get to you this year.

Weekend away with friends aside, we also had our first pre-natal appointment, which was really just a consultation with a nurse where they pretty much tell you not to drink or smoke while pregnant. Um, ok, got it.

In other news, just over two weeks and we would finally get to spill our secret!

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 9 weeks, 4 days

P.S. As we get further along into this, you’ll realize how crazy it was that I could go from February 6 to February 22 with no updates due to an uneventful two weeks.

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You Have to Tell Your Dentist if You’re Pregnant

Turns out, when your dentist asks if there have been any recent changes in your health, becoming pregnant qualifies.

2.6.17

“Once my secret was out with the hygienist, it was an amazing moment of relief. For just maybe 10 minutes, I could tell someone what I was going through.”

Turns out, when your dentist asks if there have been any recent changes in your health, becoming pregnant qualifies.

I went to the dentist and, throughout the appointment, learned I had to come back and have a quick procedure that would require some local anesthesia. Being asked whether there were any changes in my health didn’t seem to merit sharing my secret, but being told I would have local anesthesia did. After the dentist left the room, I asked my hygienist, “So, can you have local anesthesia if you’re pregnant?”

From there, it was like everything just came gushing out of me. I shared my excitement, my nerves, my questions, my emotions… I don’t even know my hygienist’s name, but I think I could have taken her out to coffee and given her a hug for finally being someone I could talk to about it without getting in trouble with my husband for leaking our secret.

I would suggest finding that person in the early stages of pregnancy – someone you can spill everything to without feeling like you’re giving your secret away. I’ll be forever grateful for the conversations and excitement we had pre-trauma, while things were still “normal”.

So thanks, dental hygienist whose name I do not know… you played an important roll in a special time of my life, and props to you for being the first person to know I was pregnant. If I recall correctly, when you asked why I didn’t tell you, my response was, “Because my own mom doesn’t even know yet.”

Also notable: We bought cross country skis in December. While you should probably not downhill ski while pregnant (though I think people do it), I’m so glad we got out on those skis when we did. In a year where I’d become so inactive, it was nice to at least have seen the woods – to have used my body.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 7 weeks, 2 days

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How Not to Appear Pregnant to your Friends

Here are four ways to avoid being questioned about not drinking when pregnant.

1.25.17

“I still don’t feel pregnant – sometimes I have to reassure myself that it’s real…”

It takes a while for the actual feeling of pregnancy to set in, but in the mean time, you still have to go about life as though you’re pregnant.

Kevin and I were blessed with a solid group of friends that stemmed from a class we took at our church. In seasons where it’s manageable, we get together with this group once a week, giving updates on our weeks/lives, working through small group material and, well, drinking generally. This, you cannot do when you’re pregnant.

So, alas, four ways to avoid being questioned about not drinking:

1 – Claim you’re sick – I really did have a cold at this point, so this one was easy, but when out for girls’ night and asked if I wanted to split a bottle of red wine amongst the four of us, I opted out, saying the alcohol burns my sore throat, and you know what? No one batted an eye at that.

2 – Drink apple juice in a wine glass – This would be the first of many times I used juice as decoy. On the same night I didn’t split the bottle of wine, we made our way back to my house to watch a movie, and… to drink more wine. Part way through the movie I “changed my mind and decided to have a drink after all”, giving me the opportunity to run into the kitchen on my own, pour apple juice (and water it down a bit) into a wine glass, and return announcing, “There’s peach spumante in the fridge if anyone wants some.” There really was peach spumante in the fridge… it was the last bottle I cracked open before realizing I was pregnant. Oops.

3 – Go gluten free – You can’t have most beer when you’re gluten free, so when our friends threw a birthday party at a brewery, my new gluten free lifestyle prevented me from drinking. “I’ll just have this water instead. I’m hoping cutting out gluten will help me feel better.” (It won’t – even the gluten free get morning sickness.)

4 – Just don’t drink all the time before you’re pregnant – I’m not a huge drinker. There were times we would get together with our friends and I’d opt for tea instead of a glass of wine or a beer. Once I started doing this every week, no one even noticed.

Alcohol aside, at this stage in the game, sleep got wonky. By 8:30 pm, I acquired an insatiable need to sleep, yet in the middle of the night, I’d wake up to use the bathroom and toss and turn from that point out. I hated my odd sleep pattern, but little did I know, there were days on the horizon I wouldn’t sleep at all.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 5 weeks, 4 days

PS This is not a flattering picture, and I can acknowledge that, but much of this pregnancy was not flattering, and the pictures will get worse, so maybe just gawk at my adorable dog who happily snuggled with my sleepy self in this one for now?

First Steps

Three days after finding out we were pregnant, we finally started trying to take action on those “first step” pieces of the journey. 

1.19.17

“It’s weird, finding out you’re pregnant, yet life remaining relatively normal.”

Three days after finding out we were pregnant, we finally started trying to take action on those “first step” pieces of the journey.

1 – Picking an OB/GYN – This is something I regretted not having done research on, prior to starting a family. I lost my chance to ask, guilt-free, if any family members or friends had suggestions for which OB/GYN to see. Instead, I picked based on my very well thought out, extensive list of two criteria. I wanted a woman, and I wanted somebody close to home. Having found one who met my highest of standards, I scheduled my two first appointments with the doctor I thought would one day deliver our baby. People say you’re supposed to have this great relationship with your OB/GYN, that you’re supposed to have a strong connection and bond over the course of your pregnancy and their delivering of your baby. I felt so much pressure to like my doctor as a person, that I never took into account what would happen if our pregnancy turned sour and our needs were out of her realm of assistance. Never again will I choose a doctor based on how well she likes my jokes.

2 – Planning out vacation days – Kevin and I examined our remaining vacation days for the year and imagined how we might ration those as best as possible to have more time at home when our baby arrived and yet still enjoy one last, nice vacation as just the two of us.

3 – Dreaming up the nursery – In the midst of a kitchen re-model, we knew our next big project would be the nursery. Not yet knowing the gender, there was little we could do aside from setting a chunk of time aside in the future to paint, decorate, craft and put furniture together. I imagined we would tackle this as soon as we finished the kitchen, and then put our other house projects on hold until the baby arrived and we got settled in.

I took my dog for a long walk on this day, listened to a few episodes of a pregnancy podcast because I realized how little I knew about pregnancy and drifted off to sleep at the early bed time of 9:00 pm, which would soon get earlier as I got deeper into my first trimester.

My symptoms were fatigue and tender, um… breasts… and they felt difficult because they were different. It is a hard stage, having symptoms of being pregnant, but not being allowed to let on about what you’re experiencing. I just had no idea how much harder this pregnancy was going to get.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 4 weeks, 5 days

The Positive Pregnancy Test

It was January 16. Kevin and I had entertained the idea of starting a family, and on this day, it felt like we only blinked before that journey began.

1.16.17

“Three words to describe my thoughts, emotions and body in the past 24 hours… positive pregnancy test.”

It was January 16. Kevin and I had entertained the idea of starting a family, and on this day, it felt like we only blinked before that journey began.

I sat at my desk at work, feeling “off”, three days late and certain the pregnancy test I’d bought months ago in preparation for this day that I would take when I got home would be positive. Getting antsy, and needing to confirm my suspicion, I left 20 minutes early and drove home in silence on a rainy, January day. My mind raced and I tried to convince myself my gut could be wrong.

I got home and quickly took the test and watched the two pink lines appear immediately. The instructions say to wait three minutes, so I forced myself to leave the room as if the lines might disappear before I came back. I returned to the same two pink lines and fell into a pattern of heavy breaths and tears.

Filled with emotion, I quickly conjured up what it would take to take a second test, as if the first positive wasn’t confirmation enough. With the second positive, I launched into preparation mode for telling Kevin when he got home. Inside the pregnancy-test-sized-gift box I’d also bought months ago, I placed one of the positive tests and wrote, “You’re going to be a dad!” I set up a camera and paced the kitchen for what seemed like hours, but was realistically minutes.

When Kevin got home, I shared the news, and we entered into the first leg of our journey – the secret keeping stage. We celebrate any milestone with dinner at a restaurant around the corner from our house, so this stage began with that celebratory dinner, while we talked about how much we didn’t know. How do we pick a doctor? At what point do we tell people? How will we tell people? Who will we tell first?

We knew little about having a baby, but we knew less about what this journey was going to look like for us.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 4 weeks, 2 days

P.S. Spoiler alert – our story ends with, all things considered, a healthy baby. As it progresses, however, things get wonky. Much of our story will not be for faint of heart, and by faint of heart, I mostly mean men. Follow at your own risk, as there’s no way of fully telling our story without sharing the literal ins and outs of this pregnant woman’s body.

My Christmas Letter

What a year it has been. 2017 saw some of my most joy-filled moments walking hand-in-hand with some of my most horrifying experiences of my life. In 2017, everything changed.

Friends and family,

What a year it has been. 2017 saw some of my most joy-filled moments walking hand-in-hand with some of my most horrifying experiences of my life.

In 2017, everything changed.

I became a parent, which is what my year was almost 100% about. My rollercoaster to parenthood seemed to have fewer peaks and deeper valleys than most. Any excitement I experienced was quickly muffled by the reality of our situation, but in the end, my husband and I brought home a beautiful baby girl, the joy of our life and the thing we’ve most prayed for this year.

Not only did we add to our family, but I switched jobs. I left two non-profits I care deeply about in order to reorient our lives around our new little family. I began working part time from home, and spending my days off being mommy.

In 2017, we learned how to keep big secrets, how scary pregnancy can be, how valuable our friends and family are and how challenging parenthood is.

I have to take a moment to thank the people who rallied around us this year – the ones who prayed for us, the ones who brought us dinners, the ones who checked in on us, the ones who journeyed with us. I deeply believe you are the ones who carried us through. Many a people complimented us on our strength, but this was a year where we relied on others for our strength. So thank you for being strong.

This year was anything but easy, but as much as I’m glad it’s end is nearing, I’m also glad it happened. 2017 will forever be the year I became a mommy, and being a mommy is my new favorite thing to be.

Journey with me, here, in 2018, as I revisit the events of 2017, remembering and reflecting on each stage of our pregnancy and our first few steps into parenthood with a preemie.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!