Hello, third trimester! | Pregnancy update

(Written over a week ago but my pregnant brain forgot to post it!)

Hey there, third trimester! I cannot believe you are here.

As you know, this blog is typically dedicated to bookish content, but as my life is evolving, I’m sure my reading habits will too! That being said, you may start to see some lifestyle-inspired posts on here as I navigate motherhood, my career, and all things books!

So, how am I doing?

Pretty good, I’d say! As a first-time mom, pregnancy has been quite a journey for me as I experience all of the known (and let’s be honest, unknown) symptoms that come with growing a human being. There were a lot of tears, panicked phone calls to the doctor, and texts to mom friends to help me understand what I was feeling. From “is this pain normal?” to “can I eat mayonnaise?”, I am beyond grateful for the support I’ve received these past seven months! And I’m sure these moms will be there for me two-fold once the baby joins us in February!

First Trimester

I found out I was pregnant at about 4 weeks when I noticed some sensations that I never felt before. From aches in my breasts and the beginnings of heartburn to cramps and nausea, I knew very early on that we were pregnant. I took an at-home test, but the results came out negative, so I decided to wait another few days before testing again. I just knew my body and noticed that something was different.

Over the next few days, the pregnancy test strips in our ovulation kit got darker, so I called my doctor who then sent me to get bloodwork to officially confirm. Ian and I drove there on a Saturday morning, I got my bloodwork done, and within the hour, we were clapping looking at the test results that said I was four weeks pregnant! We got a celebratory breakfast that day.

I couldn’t believe it. Ian and I went for a walk that day, and I held my belly in amazement. We found out our baby was the size of a poppyseed, and her nickname, Poppy, was born. It would be a few more weeks before we found out what we were having and what we would officially name her when she comes!

I will not lie; the first twelve weeks were super stressful. I was afraid every time I went to the bathroom, I was afraid with every cramp. When we heard the heartbeat at 8 weeks, Ian and I held hands and cried. With COVID cases increasing this summer, I was super grateful that Ian could be with me for these appointments.

When I experienced some spotting, panic set in. I know that spotting is completely normal now (especially if it’s brown), but my incredible team of doctors called me in to listen to her heartbeat to ensure that everything was OK. After that, I took some deep breaths, put my meditation app on, and started doing prenatal yoga to help ease the stress.

In the first trimester, my biggest complaint was nausea. It was constant. The *gestures* world calls it morning sickness, but I felt nauseous all day long. The only time I didn’t feel nauseous was when I slept, and even then I would wake up to waves of nausea. Combining nausea with the summer heat, I spent the majority of my time in the air conditioning sipping ginger ale and eating saltines.

By 12 weeks, we were ready for genetic testing and to learn the sex of the baby. We spoke with these amazing women at our hospital and paid for genetic screening. It was incredible to learn that they were able to scan the baby for any genetic issues and determine the sex by pulling her DNA out of my blood. Science is remarkable. That two-week wait was torture, but we got the phone call from one of the doctors excited to share the news: we were having a baby girl with “boringly normal” genetic results!

Second Trimester

By around 12 weeks, my nausea went away, so I was ready to take on what many women call the “golden age” of trimesters. This is when most of your symptoms dissipate: nausea, sore breasts, cramping … and you have your energy back and feel amazing as you watch your body grow.

Sure … OK.

My nausea went away, but my heartburn didn’t! It got so bad that I am on medication to help ease the symptoms. And boy, it works! Thank goodness. I did get some of my energy back … but in waves. I’d have weeks where I felt super energized, and other weeks when I could only get up, work, eat, shower, and go to bed. And that was enough!

But what really threw me this trimester was sciatica and round ligament pain …. yeeeowwcch! As the baby is growing, she was really hitting on some nerves (LOL!) that make it feel like my entire right leg is tingly, numb, and hot. The pain is sometimes unbearable, so I got myself two pregnancy pillows (one giant one and this amazing pillow for sleeping) and planted myself on the couch. I learned that this will go away once the baby comes. My doctor recommended light stretching and listening to my body when I needed to. If I needed to sit down, sit down! If I needed to go for a walk to get things moving, go outside! If I needed to do some yoga, do some yoga!

Well, once I had sciatica down, the round ligament pain came … on my left side! At least my pain was balanced. I learned the importance of heating pads, belly bands, and getting up slowwwlyyy to avoid pulling or aggravating anything.

Despite these aches and pains, watching my body grow has been absolutely amazing. Around 17 weeks, I felt little flutters in my belly called “quickening,” and those little tickles and flutters have turned into full-on kicks and rolls from our little girl. She is VERY active. I feel her kick and move most of the day, and she kicks right before bed (and sometimes during the night) and greets me with kicks every morning as I start to rouse from bed. I love feeling her move ….!

As I approached the third trimester (within the last few weeks or so), I’ve developed this deep need to start nesting. Ian and I have been hard at work completing her nursery. Ian built wainscoting in her room and we painted it a lovely two-tone mauve. Her crib is here and built as well as her dresser, rug, and bookshelf (filled with books already … thanks to my amazing friends!!). All we need is the glider and we can start hanging up some décor and fill her drawers with the bags of clothes I’ve already received. It really takes a village, and this little girl is so lucky already.

So, third trimester: I welcome you. We are excited to celebrate the holidays in anticipation of meeting our sweet baby, and I look forward to seeing what these next 12 weeks will bring!

Reflections | NaNoWriMo

Coffee, Cup, Table, Drink, Beverage, Espresso, Tea, Mug

It’s officially the end of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and after my first attempt at participating in the challenge, I have some thoughts

Wait. Go back. Refresh my memory on NaNoWriMo?

Sure. NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit that hosts National Novel Writing Month every November, inspiring creatives to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I’ve known about NaNoWriMo for some time, and this year, I wanted to give it a whirl. I set out to write the first five chapters of a book that I’ve had in my mind for years, and I knew from the start that I would not be able to meet 50K words in 30 days. Between work, pregnancy exhaustion, and other daily tasks, I wanted to be realistic so I wouldn’t be disappointed come November 30. Overall, my goal was just to write more creatively in November.

So. How did I do?

It depends on who you ask. But if you’re asking me, I did the best I could. The first week of November was a HUGE success. I was writing one hour a night and flew through the first three chapters of my book. I was feeling energized, creative, and inspired. I loved writing dialogue and creating a world of my own.

Then, I hit a wall. A big, ol’ pregnancy wall. After work (where I write 8-12 hours a day, mind you…), all I wanted to do was eat, watch a show, read a book, shower, and go to bed. Rinse. Repeat. November was a blur, my friends. I honestly haven’t touched my book since that first week in November.

Instead of writing, I did read 8 books and wrote 9 blog posts. So, while I was not writing for my book, I was still writing, which is what I wanted to do in the first place. I call that a success. I also completed every entry in my gratitude journal for November. Something I never did before!

While I am in high spirits, it’s still really hard to watch people meet their goals. I get a little envy, I do admit. I wonder what may be wrong with me that I can’t find the drive to write my own novel. It’s important that I continue to remind myself that I am not them. They are different people with different schedules and priorities. Could I have prioritized NaNoWriMo? Yes. Did I do things that brought me joy on the weeknights and weekends instead? Yes. I had a great month, so that’s all that matters.

I guess I wouldn’t say that I failed. I still wrote three chapters and got further in this book than ever before. And that’s a victory. I always said that this past month was about the journey, not the final product. I am happy to say that I participated in NaNoWriMo as best as I could, and look forward to trying again next year!

How about you? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Did you meet your goals? I want to hear all about it!

NaNoWriMo – Let’s begin

Writing, Write, Person, Paperwork, Paper, Notebook

It’s November, and that means it’s the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short).

I have always been captivated by NaNoWriMo. I’ve been following its social media pages for years, wanting to join in, but never feeling like I had the talent or the resources to start.

This year, I’ve decided to do it. I’ve decided that it’s time to start working on a book idea I’ve had for years — and I am so excited!

Wait. What is NaNoWriMo again?

NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire the writing community, providing them with resources, community forums, workshops, seminars, and more. National Novel Writing Month started in 1999 with the challenge for writers to complete 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.

Whew.

Scary, right?

It is. As someone who has never written a book before, I am very hesitant to get started. What if I don’t reach my goals? What if I can’t dedicate time to my book every day? What if it plain old sucks? How am I supposed to come out of this writing the next Water for Elephants or The Night Circus? Should I even do this?

The answer is yes. Yes, I should.

My goals

I realized that it’s not about what comes out my project, but what I make of it. I am closer to finishing this book than I’ve ever been before. I’ve drafted a storyline and characters. I’ve started sketching the first few chapters of the book, and hey, that’s something I am already proud of.

So, while I won’t realistically write 50,000 words by Dec. 1 (hey, anything can happen!), I do plan to write the first 5 chapters of the book by the end of the month. Between work, homeownership, pregnancy, and the holidays approaching, I am setting an achievable goal from the start.

I hope to write at least one hour a day, perhaps more on the weekends if my work schedule does not allow me to dedicate an hour on weeknights. I have a feeling I can achieve this goal, and, who knows? Maybe I’ll even surpass it!

I just want to write. I want to sit down and come up with a story. Even if it’s the worst story ever. Even if I sit there and go, “Ugh. What was I thinking?” That time will not be considered wasted. Writing creatively is something that I’ve missed doing, and to be able to create a story, craft dialogue, and sketch a world that I imagined is so rewarding.

Stories matter. I will do my best to remind myself that though it may not be perfect, I am flexing this creative muscle that I’ve wanted to exercise for years.

I am looking forward to this journey, and I plan to update my blog with milestones throughout the month. Maybe I’ll even share an excerpt or two?

Write on, creative nerds.

Anyone participating in NaNoWriMo? What project are you working on?

How to control the unknown: Journaling during the pandemic

Recently, I rediscovered my love for journaling. I currently have two journals: a bullet journal where I track my bookish creative needs, and another journal where I focus on mental check-ins before bed and other writing.

With the recent pandemic sweeping the globe, I noticed my journaling habits dwindling. I have been glued to my phone, scrolling through Twitter and Facebook to try to make sense of it all. I couldn’t believe what I read, but seeing that everyone was facing the same issues somehow made me feel less alone. The issue with this, of course, is that people don’t always post the most encouraging or factual things on social media, so those notions of connectivity also brought panic, uncertainty, and a lot of anxiety that I could not curb.

I decided to unplug — to only focus on the positive things — and pay more attention to books (more than I already do). I am working to exercise daily, eat healthily, and be mindful of what I can control. I slowly started journaling again, readying myself to write down what I was feeling. I realized that I was avoiding journaling because it was easier to harbor anxiety and fear rather than see it on paper. It’s been a few days now, and I am enjoying the process and act of journaling. It has helped to record my thoughts and activities during this time and work through them rather than avoid them.

I found myself this Sunday morning scribbling in my journal, feeling much like Jo March when she has a moment of inspiration and needs to get it down. I wrote six pages of free prose, mostly detailing what is happening, how I feel, and how my husband and I are coping during these troubling times. I wanted to share some of it with my readers, for I feel like this is how we might all feel. I also want to start sharing more of my writing with others, which takes a lot of courage.

Here are my favorite snippets:

As a homebody, this is certainly a lifestyle that I am used to, but I find myself gripping to my humanity more and more as we encounter outside individuals on our walks or in the grocery stores. As someone who is so introverted, I find myself craving extroversion. Technology is keeping “us” connected through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat…Google Hangout, FaceTime and Zoom and “we” are having virtual Happy Hours and game nights. Families are joining each other for dinner in their respective living rooms. Why haven’t we done this before? Last week, my friends and I got together for a virtual chat. We laughed and caught up. One friend said: “We should have been doing this all the time anyway!” It’s true. Why wouldn’t my friends and I schedule regular time to do this? When we can’t get together physically, why don’t “we” embrace technology and still be together socially?

I hope that we all appreciate the simplicities of greetings: a smile, a handshake, or a “hello, how are you?” as we pass each other on the street. Why did we lose that in the first place? Ian and I went for a walk the other day, and every person looked at us and said “hi,” as if they were also craving that social interaction. Before, we wouldn’t get a glance from half of the people we crossed paths with. Where did humanity go? Does it take us to all be locked in our homes to strive for politeness when someone passes by?

I hope we learn to appreciate each other more — that we continue to take better care of one another and of ourselves. What about our planet? What about appreciating those on the front lines all of the time? Or asking those “what about them?” questions when things go wrong? I hope we don’t lose sight of that — taking care of each other.

After this is over, I hope that we continue to pick up more books, appreciate the small things like getting an iced coffee or an ice cream cone. I hope more people browse bookstores or work to support small businesses. I hope that we call our friends more, FaceTime with our grandparents regularly. I hope that we exercise and crave to go outdoors and take care of it. These things were always options, but now it’s something that we want to do and share.

I hope that we rediscover hobbies during this time- our love of books, favorite movies, playing or creating music. I hope that we are creative – that we paint, write, draw. I hope we are OK if we do none of those things but take time to look within ourselves and know that we are resilient … that we are strong and we can regain control and maintain that control when the world seems to have lost it. I hope we can just “be” and know that if we do anything, it is good enough. Enough with comparing ourselves on social media, thinking that we are not good enough. Enough with the drive for money and the greed to be successful. Can we continue to check in with one another? Can celebrities and musicians continue to share their talents?

I hope we act silly; that we dance. That we come out of this stronger than ever.

I am so excited to see all the creative work that comes from this. I can’t wait to see all the art, read all of the prose, and listen to new music. I hope to create my own work, academic and personal, during this time. I hope to learn how to be OK with my work, breathe slowly and be patient with my craft — to continue being diligent as a writer. I want to be loud; I want to praise others for their talents and help others feel safe and not alone. It’s time to be there for each other.