Fall in the City of Angels

We're here!
All three of us made it to Los Angeles.
We're living in Venice until Halloween when our apartment in West Hollywood is ready for us. Can't wait.

It turns out that having a small baby and a career simultaneously are a little trickier than I anticipated. How in the world do people do it? The only way I've been able to pull off any kind of work is by the kindness of my mom and sisters being willing to play with my baby while Nate and I work. Norah amazes me every day-- she has taught me so much about priorities in the short time she's been in our family. Sometimes when I'm trying to get things done, I'll hand her a toy or give her her pacifier or try a number of things to appease her before I realize that my baby just wants her mother to stare at her and sing to her and play with her. The feeling of stepping away from whatever I'm doing and just giving her my undivided attention is hard at first because my to do list seems never ending, but when I focus on her, it's so deeply rewarding. When she smiles at me and chatters and just stares at my face, I can't even care about the house being cluttered or the endless emails to respond to or the hair that needs to be combed. She is it.

On another note...

One of the best parts of October is Casey's birthday because of pumpkin helmet football. Which entails carving a pumpkin into a football helmet and then playing football. It was Casey's idea back in 2009. Maybe his best one yet. We've attended three of his five pumpkin helmet football birthdays and they never disappoint.

Off to Los Angeles

We are on a big fat road trip.
Because Nate got a new job in West Hollywood.
So the three of us cried our way out of Illinois and are en route through the USA.

We'll share more when we get there. We're beyond excited to return to our golden state, even though we'll miss our Chicago home. For now, here's a photo of Mount Rushmore, aka my new favorite tourist attraction in America.


So the other day at Target...

First and foremost, nothing against Target. In fact, I really love that place. 

I mean, I'm a Target RedCard holder. I bleed Target red.
The other day, I had a very odd experience there. 

My baby had her vaccines on Thursday, so on Friday things were still just a little off with her. She had been great all through my errands, and we were buzzing around Target looking for some jeans (sigh) because my chubby jeans are getting a little baggy (yay!). The woman working in the fitting room was very nice and let me take in six items instead of the usual five "because of the baby!" so she and I become pals right away. I maneuver the stroller into the big handicap fitting room. None of the jeans fit. Leave fitting room, head toward grocery area. Baby starts crying. I tell her (and myself) that she will make it for another ten minutes while I grab bread and milk and check out, and then we will happily be in the car where she will sleep. Even though I knew she was hungry and this plan likely would not happen. I sprint through the store grabbing diapers and bottles and by now baby girl has lost it. I decide, poor kid, I'll just feed her in a fitting room. 

I feel the need to briefly insert my stance on breastfeeding here:
I'm all for breastfeeding in public. If covering up is your thing, great. If not, great. Sometimes I cover up, sometimes I don't. It 10000% depends on my kid and what seems like it will work best for her. Nursing is something I really enjoy (now that it doesn't hurt anymore--I'll openly confirm that it hurt like the dickens the first two weeks, and I cried almost every time she ate because it was seriously like going to battle for my boobs). Sometimes, I like that it's a thing that's just mine and hers. And sometimes I want to do my part as a mom who does not live in the privacy of a cabin in the woods, and nurse my baby out in the world. And frankly, I think people who get offended by it (guess what, everyone, it's 2014 and people having been using their boobs to feed babies for a while now) can put a blanket over THEIR head. I'm not the girl who goes boob out in front of her husband's friends or in the middle of a church service, but I'm not squeamish about feeding my child when she's hungry. Anyway.

So there we are, baby howling, mother ready to feed child in dressing room. 

Because there are seats in there!

And also because I was wearing a bra less conducive to nursing, which meant that I had to take my shirt off and really make a production of it. Which I would just rather not do in the furniture section of the store, even though they have seats there also.

So in we go, baby and me, and my fitting room lady sees my screaming child and offers to hold my basket of groceries. I like her.

There is a very very big woman in front of me in line, and she heads into one of the three handicap fitting rooms. The other one is occupied by a person in a wheelchair, which I can see through the three-inch crack between the door and the ground. A man who appears to be the manager of the store looks at me and my howling daughter and asks me loudly, as he could see I didn't have any clothes I wanted to try on, if I was there to nurse her. I said "Yep! If that's okay!" He says of course. I look past him and notice the last big fitting room, which my stroller and I had occupied twenty minutes prior, is now full of three people: a grandmother-looking person, a child, and a young woman with no shirt on. I can see this because the door is wide open. They are snapping at each other and sitting on the fitting room benches eating some candy. They look over at me to see where all the noise was coming from (Eleanor has got some serious pipes). I kind of make eye contact with them, one hand on my stroller, the other grasping my noise-maker, thinking that perhaps they might realize that I want their fitting room so I can feed my kid. The grandma looks me up and down and glares, but leaves her door open. I quickly realize that I needed to choose another option so I back up my stroller, park it next to my friend the fitting room lady, grab my diaper bag, and head toward a small fitting room. The manager guy asks me if I wanted a big fitting room, but I point out that all three are occupied, and he looks at the two closed doors and frowns. Then he walks over to the open one and mentions that I need to feed my baby and are they almost done so that I could use their room. The grandma glares at him, looks at me again, and loudly says, "UM, NO." Manager awkwardly turns around, shrugs at me, stands there speechless. I shrug, step into my small room, and smile ironically as I realize there is no bench, stool or chair, and not even a hook on which to hang my bag. I wrangle Starving with one arm, whip my shirt off with the other, and proceed to nurse her standing up.

As I left Target, fifteen minutes and one killer arm/ab workout later, I wondered to myself how it could have gone differently. The manager did what he could. The fitting room lady did what she could. Maybe I should have just gotten in those other people's faces and demanded that they put their shirts on and give me that fitting room. Maybe not. Either way, my baby was fed and it all ended fine. But I realized how selfish it is of me to use a handicap fitting room or restroom just because I feel like it. Rooms like that are meant for people who truly don't have any other option! I would never compare myself to a person in a wheelchair, but now that I push a stroller around with me everywhere, I understand what it's like to have to choose a different route than the average pedestrian. And I have so much more respect for people who have to put up with rude grandmas on a daily basis.

Am I being ridiculous? Feel free to comment anonymously and put me in my place. I would also love to hear other nursing-standing-up stories because I kiiiiind of feel like I just joined some club and I'm a little bit proud of it. But I never want to do it again because feeding an eleven pound baby leaning against the wall would probably make even Jillian Michaels tired, I'm pretty sure.

And now, for a little dose of positivity, because the internet needs that just as much as the rest of us, here is a photo of the beach.
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Growing up and getting shots

Our girl is two months old!

In some ways it feels like it's flown by (how is she so not teeny anymore??) and in others it feels like she's always been here. 
Right now her specialties are:
- giant smiles
- figuring out what to do with her voice
- watching baseball with Dad
- sleeping nights like a champ (mostly)

We're pretty into the whole "being parents" thing. Although, sometimes we just stare at each other and say, "I don't know what to do." "I don't know either." And that's hard. But we usually figure it out. And our baby doesn't seem to mind us too much!

I'm adjusting to my mom bod. Slowly I'm starting to feel like I look normal again; people have, for the most part, stopped asking me when I'm due/staring at my belly/etc. I have been really down on myself for not looking like Karlie Kloss yet (because that's realistic) (HAHA) but Nate has been very kind and patient with me as I come to realize that I'm different now. And that's not bad. My muscles and bones and skin went through a dramatic process of changing, and growing a second human within me, and it's okay to look kind of stretched out and, well, weird, in some ways. I'm eating less sugar and fat than I did during my pregnancy and drinking less soda (Coca-Cola classic, though. I'll never stop 100% because that stuff is amazing) and that's helping me not be so chubby. But I've decided my weirdness is interesting because it's mine. But it's not just mine. It's Eleanor's. It's my future babies'. It's all postpartum women's. It's part of me, and I like that I still have a physical reminder of the amazing thing that my body did. It's no cakewalk to grow a person, it turns out!

Today she got her first round of vaccines. It was especially tough because she was in such a good mood all morning while I was getting her ready -- grinning at me, wiggling around, just being so happy to simply be awake. It was torture knowing what a hard day she was about to have! And the doctor said she looked wonderful, which made my heart happy. (She's tall, apparently!) She was a champ until the nurse administered the shots, at which point she burst into tears, of course (I was already crying, oops). I know that not vaccinating is very popular right now, and after doing some research, I decided it would be best for my sweet girl to give her these shots. I truly believe that, especially because we live downtown in a city of 3 million people, she will be healthiest this way. It was so hard today, seeing her struggle with the pain, but I know it will ultimately be for her benefit. While I was trying to calm her down (before Dad got home with the tylenol -- it was only a few hours but felt like days), I sang her some of my favorite songs from the LDS Hymnbook, and I realized how truly divine it is to be a mom. More on that another day.

I just love you to pieces, sweet girl.

(From our Sunday evening outing to the lakeshore this week. My sweet baby.)

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Lizzy our visitor!

August got here way too fast for my liking.

LAST LONGER, SUMMER. I need to move to Hawaii or something.

We've been enjoying our pretty city even more now that Norah is getting a little bit bigger and is cool with riding the bus with me and running around downtown where it's noisy. She's a city girl, that's for sure! This week we've walked down to the river front a couple of times and she's been a champ. Nate just said to me, "The thing about Eleanor is, I love her."

My little sister came to visit and took this photo of us (seen on my insta)

We had so much fun with Lizzy in town. Sisters are da bomb. That's one hard part of living in Chicago; none of our family lives close by. In some ways it makes me feel cozy to live here with my people, but mainly I just miss my sisters and brothers and in-laws. Sigh.

(First stop after the airport: Floriole. Best bakery in America. 
Yes, that's our lunch, and yes, those are little edible violets on my passionfruit tart. Bingo.)


Took lots of selfies with Liz because it's 2014 and well. We shopped a little, ate a lot, and ran around Chicago seeing things that Lizzy didn't get to see when she was here a couple years ago. The photo of us with the giraffe is not exaggerated... we were super into them and those were our genuine expressions. It was pouring rain--POURING--the day we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo (hence the awesome hair on me) but it was a bit of an adventure. Norah slept through the whole thing. Poor kid. She's just so tiny.
It's so hard not to love summer here--eating al fresco, walks at night in t-shirts, hearing the Navy Pier fireworks from our apartment (and sometimes venturing out to watch them even!).

Dinner date at Xoco the other night. My people are cute. And this food. Oh, this food.


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Eleanor's birth story

The story of Eleanor's arrival is very precious to me, and I am sharing it here because I gained so much--emotionally and mentally--by reading other women's birth stories online in the months leading up to my own delivery. It was a very spiritual and personal experience for me and for Nate. If you'd rather not read about some of the more intense details of labor and delivery, stop here! (By the way, Nate took these pictures, with the exception of the last three.)
Early in the morning on Tuesday 6/3/14 I started feeling miserable contractions. I had been having contractions for about seven weeks already and they had been really painful the past ten days especially (I was now 41 weeks 1 day). The pain was so strong that it woke me up from a weird dream at about 3am. I had two contractions, so I decided to try to go back to sleep sitting up. I had a bi-weekly OB appointment scheduled for 9 am that morning, so I didn't bother calling the doctor. I slept sitting up til I felt another really painful contraction at 5:09. I felt one again at 5:17, then 5:25, then 5:31. At that point I woke Nate and told him I thought I might be having labor contractions, but I didn’t feel optimistic, because I was so overdue and knew I would be getting induced on the ninth day. I had convinced myself my body wasn't going to be able to do this on its own. I was in very poor spirits.
I kept having the contractions every seven or eight minutes, and they were bad enough that they made me kind of gasp/moan. So in order to help Nate stay asleep, I went out and dozed on the couch. They kept coming, some at five minutes, some at eight or nine, and by 8:45 when it was time to walk to the doctor, I was so deeply uncomfortable that I told Nate we needed to just drive there. I walked in while he parked and told the receptionist I needed to go into a room right away because I could NOT labor in the waiting room in front of all those pregnant people.  She didn't really understand what I meant but I didn't have time to explain so I kind of ran right into the nearest room and just laid down. One of the doctors at my practice came in and talked to me for a little while, and saw on the monitor that my contractions were getting closer. She confirmed that I was officially in labor, though still early. I asked her if I should call my mom and tell her to get on a plane and she said definitely. She told us to go home and call her when they got so bad that I couldn’t bear it, or when they were three minutes apart. She off-handedly mentioned that she bet I would be in the hospital by lunchtime. I was at 2.5 cm. 
We left the doctor and I was now in great spirits (though still considerably uncomfortable). We were having a baby today! Nate called work to let them know he was starting paternity leave. I called Mom, who was dropping my brother Danny off at school (it was 7:55 in CA) and told her it was happening. She hurried and got herself onto a flight leaving just about two hours later. We stopped at the little farmer’s market outside the Modern Art Museum and bought a little bouquet of peonies from a very nice farmer, for baby girl's birthday. Walking made the contractions much more intense and frequent. I had to stop and lean against a building and count every time I had one. By the time we got to the car, I was having them less than five minutes apart. We timed them and they were over a minute long (as they almost all had been all morning). When we got home, Nate ran around and got all the stuff together in the bag. He made me eat (I had had a bowl of cereal and a banana at about 7 am) and I could hardly choke down a granola bar. We were home less than an hour (about 10:30 am to 11:15 am) and I was in such pain that I was howling with every contraction. So I finally decided it was time to go. Once, I screamed at Nate to call the doctor and then I started crying because I felt horrible for being so mean. He was extremely patient. 
We were planning on walking originally (the hospital is only five blocks away), but I was struggling too much so we got a cab. I about died while I was having a contraction in the backseat and trying not to scream. When we got to the hospital, they took a few minutes to get my paperwork done and finally got me in the prep room around 11:30. It was only ten minutes but it felt like hours. Once we got in there, I quickly became very grumpy with the nurses--they were poking me, checking me, sticking needles in me, and putting on those horrible itchy bands that held my heart monitor and baby’s heart monitor, while expecting me to hold still and be quiet. The pain was so intense and unbearable that I asked Nate to give me a priesthood blessing as soon as the nurse stepped out. Finally, finally, after I straight up begged them to get me the epidural, at 12:35 they wheeled me to the elevator and took us up to Labor and Delivery. 

I went into a room where a wonderful nurse started coaching me through the pain. She taught me how to slow my breath and not scream with each contraction, and after about ten minutes the anesthesiologist came in-- I had never been so happy to see a doctor. They made Nate leave, which was kind of scary, but I was so distracted by the pain that I didn’t really have time to freak out. Also, my nurse was helping me breathe through each contraction, looking me right in the eye and breathing with me, holding onto my hands and counting out my breaths. My anesthesiologist was very kind; he answered all my questions and explained the whole epidural to me as he was working and only had to try twice, but it was so intense I couldn't help but cry. As soon as the medicine kicked in (within about 60 seconds), I felt immediately overwhelmed with relief. And started crying again, of course. It was exactly 1:00. Nate came back in and he was so obviously relieved that I wasn’t in pain anymore. It was like a dream. It was a total miracle. All hail the epidural.

After that, I kind of took a nap. I put on a little makeup, hung out with Nate, texted my sister Emily, talked with the nurses, tried to relax. They came in to check me about an hour later and said they were going to break my water. Before the resident got there, I asked Joy (my angel nurse) if she thought I would be at 4 cm yet, and she said yes probably, but who knows. When they pulled back my sheet, they were shocked to see that my water had broken on its own already, and they asked me if I had felt it (nope!). The resident checked me and I heard her say something about not feeling a cervix, so I was a little concerned about that, but then she used the little tool to finish rupturing my amniotic sack (it hadn’t yet totally), and Joy told me that I was at 9.5 cm. I was like WHAT? It was only 4:15! They had me flip onto my side and put one of my feet up on the stirrup so that I could help the baby move down into position. I stayed like that for a while and I think I even took a little nap like that. I told Nate not to tell Mom that I had progressed so far because she still had to take a cab from O'Hare when she landed and I knew she would be worried she'd miss it.

Around 5:30, my epidural started to wear thin, and I was getting really really uncomfortable with each contraction. They sent in another anesthesiologist around 6:15 to redo the dose or something. Nate told me Mom was really close. Around 6:30, I was facing the window and I saw Nate’s face light up and I knew Mom was here. I felt her arms around me from behind and I twisted around to grab her and hold her. We both started to cry--I was beyond relieved and overjoyed she was there. I had been missing her so much. 

Within about a half hour of her arrival, Dr. Buscher came in and said it was about time. I was SO excited that it was finally here. I started pushing around 7:40 I think. It was really hard because they were telling me to do all these different things: push, pull your legs back, relax your legs, lift your elbows, hold your breath, now deep breath, now push again, now stop. By the time I had remembered to do everything they were saying, the contraction was over. It was sort of frustrating because I felt like I wasn’t making any progress. Nate was standing on my left, next to my shoulder, counting out the contractions. He was so, so good at just coaching me through each moment. Mom held my left leg and a new nurse (Joy went home) held my right. 
After an hour or so, I was kind of starting to have more pain, which was a good thing, in a way, but also kind of sucked. The doctor seemed kind of unimpressed with my efforts of pushing, so I was having a hard time feeling like I was really getting anywhere. But then Mom suggested that I feel the baby’s head. I didn’t want to. Too weird. But after a few more pushes, she explained that yes, I was progressing, even if it didn’t seem like it, so stop beating myself up about it. And that it would help a lot if I could feel her head and realize how far I had come. So I did. It was the strangest feeling. But it helped a lot. Then over the next hour I focused harder and tried to go above and beyond with every single push. I was starting to feel like I was really doing it. The very end is a little bit of a blur because of the pain. I just remember that I was so determined to not have to use the vacuum. It had been 2.5 hours and I knew Dr. Buscher would do it. So I used all my might and took all their cheering and concentrated harder than I ever have on anything in my life, and finally I felt her leave my body and they told me she was born. I heard her voice and I knew she was my daughter. It was 9:53 pm. I had done it. I had succeeded. I have never accomplished something like that in my life, and it was an incredible feeling.

Nate cut her cord, and I couldn’t help but say “I know you!” as soon as I heard her voice. Immediately they kind of dumped her on my chest and were rubbing her down to get all the guts off and get her blood flowing. She was just so... familiar. I held her on my chest for an hour or so, and I didn’t really even get a good look at her in her entirety until the next day! She started nursing immediately and was very good at it. I was so proud! She was amazing. Nate and I were just completely stunned by what had just happened. But it was such a good feeling. After a little while they did all the footprints and shots and all that stuff. Then finally, after almost two hours!, Mom got her turn to hold her. I was so happy for her. Nate handed El to her and she was clearly overjoyed. Her first grandchild! I took one of the proudest photos of my life from my bed about ten minutes after they finished her shots--Nate holding her and smiling at me like he just won the lottery (just as he was giving her to Mom).

We decided on her name officially sometime on Wednesday around lunch. They kicked us out on Thursday at 11 am. Everyone was very nice to me and helped me so much. I felt great in there, emotionally, and the pain was actually a lot less than I was anticipating. Probably because they were giving me lots of good pain meds :) Nursing was very painful, even though she was great at it, they said. Mom told me it would hurt really bad for two weeks and then I would be fine (which of course came true). Lanolin was my best friend! When I left, I thought I would get to leave in a wheelchair, but I didn’t! I had to walk out, and I really didn’t want to. Mom thought it was weird too. There was a lot of postpartum stuff that I experienced following her birth that's mundane and normal and boring, but one thing that was so clearly present in my mind over and over in the hospital was how incredible my body is and what a gift it is to have been able to deliver a baby into the world. It was just the most surprising and empowering feeling.

I didn't feel the overwhelming wave of so-in-love-with-my-baby-the-second-I-met-her that people talk about; I was mostly just amazed by her and her presence. Every hour I loved her more and more, and now she's already been here for seven weeks somehow. I love her more today than I did yesterday.
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The Ninth/ Tenth Month Truth

May was easily the hardest month of my life.
I was enormous.
I was wildly uncomfortable.
I was wildly hormonal.

**Disclaimer. This post includes some frank realities about pregnancy. If you do not have a strong stomach, skip to the end.**

My size was easily the thing that made May hard. It was really hard to feel self-conscious about my body 24/7. I did that to myself, because I could have thought about other things other than my appearance. But it was tough for me because everyone I made eye contact with commented on how huge my belly was. Rightfully so, because it was very very big. I mean, I was housing a baby who turned out to be eight and a half pounds as well as a very hefty placenta and lot of fluids. And fat. I got fat. Because I was starving, and the foods that sounded good to me were full of fat. More on that once I've lost the fat and can think straight about it and what I'll do next time. 

The discomfort level I experienced in the month of May might have been normal, but I had never heard about it before, so it felt astronomical to me. I had been having back pain for several weeks (months?) prior, and that worsened slowly, but I got used to it. One of the hardest things was that my skin was stretched so tight that I felt like I would literally split open, and in some places I did. My stretch marks practically groaned. My skin was just crawling all the time. The best way to describe it was that I felt trapped. I just got so, so big, my belly had nowhere to go but straight out. The other thing that was really hard was the damage to my downstairs. I had a yeast infection as well as stage-five hemorrhoids, and while I think I could have probably handled one or the other, having both at the same time was torture. Especially the hemorrhoids. If you get them, you can call me and I'll tell you what my doctor prescribed. 

As for the hormones, I was just about as emotional as your standard pregnant woman, but the thing that put me over the edge usually was people telling me things like "just go for a walk, you'll feel way better," (Really? Cuz I can't really walk without my undercarriage searing with pain. I can barely sit. Walking will not help.) or "trust me, you'd rather have the baby in than out" (Would I? No. I would not). I definitely will have a thicker skin developed next time around. I also found that it was impossible for me to fall asleep some nights, because all I could do was worry about all the things in my life that need to be worried about (ie bills, will I be a good mom, why am I still pregnant, etc). At the very end, I truly had to count sheep in order to fall asleep because I would get so worked up thinking about the future and how we would possibly be able to do it. 

Going eight days over my due date was the most discouraging thing. I had a false alarm thinking my water broke about a week before my due date... I can't even hardly write about that. But I just felt like I had failed. Maybe that's melodramatic, but it just felt like, this is the thing my body was designed to do, literally. And I can't do it, so I'm going to have to have chemicals pumped into my body (and my baby's body) in order to do the thing I've been preparing to do for nine months. It was heartbreaking and very very frustrating. I was more disappointed in myself than I had ever been.

I know some women love pregnancy. (My mom is one of them!) I certainly loved many, many moments of my pregnancy. Those moments are precious to me and I will cherish them every day of Eleanor's life. But the long and short of it is that I had a really hard time with it, and that surprised me. Gaining 60 pounds really took its toll and the emotional aspect that came along with that is something I'm still figuring out weeks later.

Hopefully my experience will help somebody else's be a little easier, if only because misery loves company. But I think happiness loves company, too. And the story of June 3 is one of the happiest I'll ever tell.

And for the record, she was totally, completely, 1000% worth it. I would do it all again for her. I love her so.

My sweet baby enjoying her lunch.
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Baby girl has arrived

Eleanor Steele.

She is two weeks and one day old.
And we are beyond in love with her.

She always sneezes twice.
Loves to be held.
Looks like both her mama and her daddy.

I'll share my birth story here within the next few weeks, but for now, here are a few photos of her perfect little self.


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How to "Survive" Pregnancy According to One Novice

I have decided to write a summary of answers to questions that a few friends and strangers have asked me about my pregnancy. Consider this the
Alex Steele Survival Guide to the weirdest thing I've ever done. This guide is what I would have loved to read on Day One of my pregnancy, so it's written to myself. If you don't like it, that's okay, because it's not written to you. It's written to me. (But I hope you like it because I think it's very good.)

First trimester:

- If you feel like you're starving every day for 6 weeks, that could be a sign you're pregnant, so the test is right. Believe the test.
- Prepare to barf or be nauseous. Most people are. If you're one of the lucky ones who evades the nausea, like my mother, enjoy a steak and rejoice in your blessed digestive system.
I tried all the remedies out there. You will try anything if you're desperate enough, trust me. There are zillions of things that people say miiiighht cure you, but most of them didn't cure me. The only things that helped me (and they didn't make me fell 100%, but they did help me be functional) were:
  • Ginger ale and saltines. the crappy cheapo kind of saltines made of bleached enriched flour and salt. Not the buttery kind or organic kind. The cheapo kind. And whatever ginger ale you like. I prefer strong stuff, like ginger beer, but Canada Dry usually did the trick for the most part. This was essentially the only food I ate for several weeks, and my baby now, some 30 weeks later, is giant, so don't worry that she's not getting nutrients. Somehow she is. Also, don't take your prenatals. They are making you sicker. Women had babies for thousands of years before prenatal vitamins existed, so don't worry too much about not taking them and don't let people guilt trip you about it. You know your own body best.
  • Lemonheads. A nurse at my practice mentioned this one while sucking a gallon of blood out of my arm and I was actually pretty surprised by it so I decided to try it out. I don't know what it is about them, but Lemonheads did help a little.
  • Wearing a Prima Bella bracelet. A friend lent hers to me and it was really helpful, especially along with the Diclegis (see below). I am the type of person who HATES taking medicine if there is anything I can do to avoid it, so I was thrilled she shared her band with me. I recommend it if you're going on a boat/plane/etc. Or if you like homeopathy/ not putting chemicals in your body.
  • Diclegis. Some people I love and trust recommended Zofran, which worked okay, but it kind of took a major toll on my body, and just felt too strong for me.  Lots of baby blog commenters recommended a B-12 and half a Unisom, which didn't do anything for me except make me grumpy. My doctor had some free samples of Diclegis and it worked like a charm. Took it for about 18 weeks.
  • Breathing exercises. I just googled some that told me how to count and my breaths and alternate between using my mouth and nose to inhale vs. exhale.
  • Laying on the couch.
- Bring a granola bar with you EVERYWHERE you go. You never know when you'll need to eat a bite, even if you've been feeling sick and have no appetite. You will be amazed at how your body 'talks' to you. You could be walking down the street and all of a sudden you will just KNOW you have to sit down immediately. You just have to. Or you will be driving and know you're going to throw up. So you just pull over and throw up. (Goodbye, dignity! I'll miss you!) Do not leave home without food or some plan to obtain food while you're out. Because when your body tells you to do something, you just do it.

Second trimester:
- If you haven't already, start a baby journal. I'm so glad I have been writing stuff down since day one. But the second trimester is when I really started gaining more weight and it's interesting to look back and see what I was feeling/ doing.
- You will feel and look bigger at nighttime, usually.
- Start eating whatever you want now that you can keep it down! Not that you weren't already planning on doing this. Do not be alarmed if you see yourself eating as much as or more than Nate. Growingababy.
- Buy bigger clothes.
- Expect to start forgetting things the second they enter your head. It's weird and I was sure it wouldn't happen to me but it did. And it's annoying. I try to write everything down now. Everything.
- Read a lot. It's interesting to read what other people have to say. Obviously there are some lunatics out there but reading people's personal stories/blogs/etc. helps you feel more normal sometimes. And yes, What to Expect When You're Expecting will be your trusty BFF. I also like reading articles on BabyCenter and checking baby's growth/progress on the iPhone app Sprout.
- COCONUT OIL. USE IT. Alright. I am a FIRM believer that coconut oil prevents stretch marks. I'll tell you why. Not only have I read lots about it and met women (witch doctors?) in Fiji who swear by it, but I have proven it via my own skin that it works. It WORKS. Here's how I know. As soon as my belly started to really show, like around Christmas when I couldn't wear ANY non-maternity shirts anymore, I started rubbing coconut oil on my belly. I did it about once a week. (Now I'm at week 35 and I do it every time I am getting in the shower, which I started doing in third trimester.) I would rub it on and let it sit for about 30 minutes, then swipe it all off really well with a towel and shower off the next morning. And guess what. No stretch marks. BUT one day around week 28, guess who discovered dozens and dozens of stretch marks--dark, grumpy, purple ones--covering her entire butt. This girl. SHOULDA PUT COCONUT OIL ON THERE, LADY. Lesson learned.
- Buy bigger clothes.
- Walk and exercise as much as possible. It gets harder. I didn't have the energy mentally or physically to be very active in my first trimester, and even though I was feeling pretty round in my second trimester, I am glad I gave my muscles a little extra use to help prep me for my third trimester when they essentially would become jelly.
- You will be hungry 15 minutes after eating a large meal. You will become one of those people who orders an appetizer, entree, and dessert and asks for a bite of whatever your husband is eating. Prepare accordingly.
- Buy bigger clothes.
- Take your time at ultrasounds. You won't get very many (I only got three from my doctor, and one from a place who told me the gender at week 18), and I wish I had spent a few more minutes at each one, because it's pretty cool to see your tiny baby in there. And bring your baby daddy with you!
- Read to your baby. It's fun. And studies say it makes them smarter. It certainly can't make them dumber.
- Don't do anything drastic to your hair. You'll miss your old hair and want it back, even if your old hair was stupid.
-Buy. bigger. clothes. If you are trying to fit into normal clothes, whether to save money or 'look cuter,' you will be miserable. It's a terrible idea. Just buy bigger clothes and be happy. You're going to get huge.
(I recommend a few staples: a belly band (Target), maternity leggings (Target), regular leggings, some basic t shirts (Gap, Target), bigger bra (I went from a 32A to a 34C, yikes), dresses from Asos, anything from Asos really, good finds at Topshop, and most of all, Hue jeans! They're the best thing in. the. world. Amazon $40. Totally worth it.)

Third trimester:
- Prepare to stop sleeping.
- You will now run into EVERYTHING. And you will be clumsy. And awkward. And you will have no balance. It will frustrate you. See below about surrendering abs.
- Expect to wake up approximately twice every night to pee.
- Prepare to surrender your ab muscles entirely. Learn to use legs, arms, and husband as replacement for abs.
- Your skin will get extremely itchy at night and you will be extremely uncomfortable because of it. The only way to relieve it is to strip down to bra and underwear and sleep on a super soft blanket.
- One of the coolest things ever is feeling the baby move around. One of the cutest things ever is seeing her dad light up when she "high fives" him.
- Heartburn really sucks. Buy heartburn medicine. Prevacid has seemed to be okay? But there's probably something better out there. Once I run out I'm going to try something else.
- If you don't like your doctor, switch. Best thing I ever did. My doctor was very knowledgeable, but I had a few problems with her. First, she made me feel like I was kind of an idiot. She didn't really answer my questions very well, and she would kind of brush off my concerns as if they were silly. And maybe they were, but for heaven's sake I'm 23 and doing this for the first time and my mom lives 2,000 miles away and please just tell me "Good question! Here's how you should feel about that." Second, she would consistently take an hour or more before I got to see her, not apologize for being late, and then spend about 6 minutes with me and make me flustered so that I couldn't remember the questions I had prepared (see pregnant brain, above). Third, she passive-aggressively told me I was gaining too much weight. Sorry, ma'am, I too wish I could stop eating so much, but I'm STARVING. Lay off.
- Mentally prepare for strangers to stare at you, really stare and talk about you at full volume as you walk past. Also prepare for people who don't know much about pregnancy (ie your little brothers, your doorman, the Elders at church, the bus driver, etc.) to feel confident in pointing out to you how large you are. These people may try to convince you that you must be farther along than you are (oh, wouldn't it be nice if they were right!), and they will seriously and intently question you about whether you are sure of the number of babies you are storing in your belly. (Just smile.)
- Buy some pretty lingerie. It's the only thing that helps.
- Make out a lot. That helps too.
- Write down all the things that happen. Your doctor will ask you about them, and it's good to know the answers as specifically as possible.
- Braxton Hicks are real and they hurt. If you feel the surface of your bump get really hard and tight and painful, that is a Braxton Hicks and it will be back.
- If you feel like something is wrong, you might be wrong, but it's better for the doctor to tell you for sure that you're wrong than to sit there freaking out that you might be right and something really is going wrong. So call your doctor and go in, even if you think "They're going to tell me everything's fine." Let them tell you. That's why you have a doctor.
- Weird things will happen to your body. All kinds of weird things. Just accept that they're happening and don't worry about them.
- Buy the stroller and car seat on Craigslist. (Instead of paying $1120 retail we paid $450.)
- Baby won't feel like she's floating and occasionally kicking/ punching you anymore. She will feel like she is taking up every square inch of room in there and every movement is like a bowling ball sliding on ice.
- Embrace the fact that you kind of waddle now.
- It's okay to not feel that pretty all the time. That's life. Don't let it bother you.
- Everyone else you see is going to look amazing and you'll feel like they only gained weight on their belly, and they'll talk about how they don't know why people bother buying maternity pants because they still fit into their jeans and you'll want to punch them. You'll see women who post about being 30 weeks along who look like they just swallowed a very large grape, and you'll think how sucky it is that you're so massive and how is it humanly possible for them to be so skinny still. Well. To that I say, go back and look at photos of yourself the last several months. You'll laugh when you look at them and remember thinking how giant you felt. Because you were smaller than you are now, back then. If only you had known that you would be hiding a basketball under your shirt very very soon! And you start to believe you actually don't look that big sometimes. (HAHA) And who cares if you get giant. You're going to be a mom. You're a woman and pregnancy 100% takes over your body and there's no fighting it, no matter how annoyingly cute Olivia Wilde looks on the red carpet at 31 weeks (jerk). Also remember that all those people who look so cute probably have a slightly bigger shopping budget than you because your shopping budget is zero. It's kind of amazing that your body is able to grow a human being, and it actually takes a lot of skill. Be proud of the scars and marks that your body is taking on. You've never had to be humbled by physical imperfection before and this is a good lesson in not being so vain.

I'm not going to have my birth photographed (except some by my mother), but I will write my birth story here sometime.

Hopefully some of my experiences will help somebody somewhere someday. I'll make Nate write the boy version in another post.

Can't wait to meet this little lady. She's worth all of it.

(This picture sneakily hides some of how big my belly is. But not really.)
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Ten week countdown and some photos

Today I am 30 weeks along. Baby girl is doing well, according to doctor. Here are some stats.
Current weight: 144 lbs
Weight gained: 35 lbs
Belly: 31 cm
Baby: breech, but wiggling
Symptoms: heart burn, muscle cramping, fatigue, sore back
Favorite things: seeing baby move, Nate reading to baby, thinking of names
Favorite foods: green smoothies (go to is spinach+coconut milk+mango), nutella toast, tomato basil soup, Girl scout cookies, spinach salads, giant burgers (veggie of course) with all the trimmings
General attitude: I'm excited to get my body back. I'll miss feeling baby girl moving in my belly and I'll miss having her with me every minute. I can't believe I'm going to be a mom, and I can't believe there's going to be another person here. That I have to take care of. Still so much to do to get her room ready (but thrilled to be moved in to our new place!). Dying for it to warm up so I can start going to the beach.

Below are a few of my favorite photos from my Instagram lately. Also, I've got a new personal project coming up that I'm so excited about. Two words: disposable cam. Can't wait to share it next week.

One of these days I'll get Nate to contribute something here. He's the writer, after all. For heaven's sake.

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