Pregnancy, the third trimester

Yes yes, our little one arrived at the end of July but I have some catching up to do! So here we go, with a blissful disregard to chronology, just the way I like it here...

The third trimester. The very pregnant trimester. We were finally within sight of our due date and our focus shifted from my bump to our baby. I also started thinking more seriously about the birth. People will tell you that you can't prepare for labor and birth but I disagree. Of course you won't be able to anticipate exactly what it will feel like to bring a human into the world, but I think there are a lot of ways you can build a strong foundation for birth. Yoga, for starters, and lots of meditation. Or thinking, or daydreaming, or praying, whatever you choose to call it. As I neared closer to the end of pregnancy, I found myself lost in thought, trying to navigate the major changes coming our way. More urgently, though, I thought about birth and sought out as many (positive, helpful, empowering) birth stories as I could find, while reminding myself often not to romanticize the event so much that I forget to stay humble.

The third trimester is when I realized that the exciting part wasn't being pregnant. The exciting part was getting to meet our baby boy.

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When I was around 30 weeks along, we went on a babymoon and stayed in an adorable artist retreat cabin in rural Vermont for a few days. We lounged around, read books, napped and tried to narrow down our list of baby names. One day we took a short trip into Burlington and bought some artwork for the baby's room. The last night, I had a little glass of wine (!) and we snuggled in, only to wake up the next morning to a late April snowstorm! Any other time I would have been upset by that, but somehow, on our babymoon it felt absolutely perfect. I packed away the Birkenstocks I wore the day before and watched Chris clear the snow from our car before heading back to reality. I highly recommend sneaking away for a few days if you can swing it. If you can't swing it, set aside a weekend for a babymoon at home, a pre-baby staycation, if you will. Don't assemble the crib, don't sweep the floors, just relax by yourself or with your partner. Babymoons for the win.

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"When you are pregnant you can get away with a lot of shit. Women really are at their most dangerous during this time. Your hormones are telling you that you are strong and sexy, everyone is scared of you, and you have a built-in sidekick who may come out at any minute." -Amy Poehler

Admittedly there was something lovely about being very pregnant and getting away with just about anything. Like eating ice cream all the time. I ate ice cream at a Beyonce concert, requested it as the theme of our party celebrating baby boy, turned a work event into an ice cream social, found it at a wedding... if there was ice cream nearby, I had some. And no one dared defy me.

I have the unfortunate habit of feeing intense nostalgia and longing for moments while still being in the moment. As the third trimester carried on, I started missing pregnancy fiercely. I missed my newfound confidence in my growing, perfectly imperfect body. I missed the way Chris would pat my belly and talk to our baby. I missed the way our little guy squirmed around inside me, kicking my ribs and hiccuping every day. I even started to miss my swollen feet. I wondered if I would be incredibly sad once I stopped being pregnant. I wondered if I would feel as good being a mama as I did being pregnant.

The good news about my nostalgia-in-the-moment trouble is that I was pregnant for a very long time, just about 43 weeks in fact. By the time labor began, I was more than ready to say goodbye to the pregnant stage and move onto the birth and motherhood stage. Next up:  what it's like to be 43 weeks pregnant.

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He's here!

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Meet Clark Wilder, born at home on July 29 at 12:31pm and measuring 7 lbs, 5 oz and 20 inches long. He is the most adorable addition to our family and a fun little sidekick. We've spent his first 11 days cuddling, giggling and getting to know each other. I'll be back here to reflect on the third trimester, what it was like giving birth 19 days after my due date (at almost 43 weeks pregnant!), and to share a little bit about Clark's birth at home. It may take me awhile, so in the meantime you can follow along on Instagram, where it's easier to post updates with one hand while nursing :)

Our kitchen remodel

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Months ago I posted a photo on Instagram of our torn-apart kitchen, and I realized I never followed up to say that our kitchen remodel is finished! When we bought this house, the one room that shouted out for an update was the kitchen. Last November, we decided to take the plunge and fix it up. The actual renovation started in mid-March, during my second trimester, and lasted through early June or so, with an added surprise bathroom renovation thrown in (more about that later). At 41 1/2 weeks pregnant now, I don't have the same mental capacity to write an eloquent post about kitchens, so we'll just dive in bullet-point style, ok?

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1. We got rid of the old ironing board cabinet in favor of gaining more counterspace. Yes yes, it was a cute quirky detail but our house has plenty of other cute quirky details to make up for this one. We kept the built-in cabinet on the right to use for our spices. A fresh coat of paint (a barely there minty green) did wonders for brightening up the space.

2. Chris spruced up the windows that look out to our mudroom/entryway, refinishing the wood sashes with tung oil and cleaning up the hardware. I love this detail and the extra light it lets in the kitchen.

3. All new cabinets, counters, sink and backsplash! In an effort to maintain the character of the house and not go too ultra-modern, we opted for oil-rubbed bronze cabinet hardware and a more traditional Shaker-style cabinet front. We were also able to squeeze in a dishwasher! It's hidden behind the cabinet door to the left of the sink.

4. Added wall cabinets, backsplash and an over-the-range microwave to this side of the room.

5. Finally were able to center the stove on this wall and add cabinets. We also had a few electrical outlets added in for extra functionality.

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6. We kept this built-in hutch and had it spruced up a bit with a new coat of paint and new hardware. I think keeping it helped preserve the room's charm.

7. The hutch got a new butcher block countertop and matching backsplash tiles.

8. Chris also cleaned up our air vent cover from a caked-on, crusty white mess to a sharp-looking bronze.

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9. New floor! We went with a pre-finished hickory hardwood, in honor of the oak hardwood that runs through most of the house but with a slight twist for the kitchen. I love the crazy variations in grain and color and the wider plank makes my swollen, pregnant feet not look so huge by comparison.

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One quirk of our kitchen is that the refrigerator is sort of... not quite in it. It's in a little nook in the hallway right outside of the kitchen. Matching wall cabinets and a fancy, slightly-bigger-but-still-not-normal-size fridge tie it all in.

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This isn't technically our kitchen, but we've annexed other parts of our house for storage because that's what you do when you have a 1930s closed kitchen! Our basement door is right off of the fridge nook hallway, so we repainted the walls and stairs and Chris built a pantry shelf for us.

Some restoration detail shots:

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So many layers of paint, everywhere. Why, people?! Why are you painting over everything, and why so sloppily?!

And that's our new kitchen! We are so happy with the outcome and so amazingly grateful we were able to update one of our most-used rooms in time for the baby to arrive. It felt a little bit crazy at the time to have so much of our home in chaos during my second and third trimesters, but it was chaos of our choosing :) Our makeshift kitchen/dining room got us through the renovation along with lots of takeout and bowls of cereal for dinner. Next up, I'll tell you the story of our accidental, surprise bathroom renovation we tacked onto this project. Gulp.

Pregnancy survival list

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In light of officially being 40 weeks pregnant, I figure I have some standing now to offer my very own "pregnancy survival list". There are a lot of helpful ones out there, filled with goodies to buy and sneaky tricks to try, but here are the things that actually helped me get through the past 9-10ish months.

Awesome midwife. Yeah, this is a really personal decision, but our choice in care provider completely shaped my pregnancy. We chose a wonderful home birth midwife with incredible experience, an awesome team, supportive community and a birth philosophy that totally fit ours. Her vibes infused my pregnancy with a sense of calm and confidence, because she helped us see birth as a natural, healthy and empowering experience.

Prenatal yoga. I found a six-week series at a local studio and absolutely fell in love with the class and the wonderful instructor (who is also a doula and probably a fantastic one). Every Sunday for a little over an hour we met and talked and stretched and strengthened and rubbed our bellies. Signing up for the class was one of the best decisions I made during pregnancy, because it guaranteed time each week that I was focused just on me and the baby. I slowed way down, tuned in and finally felt proud and connected with my pregnancy. So often throughout this journey I've shrugged off the epic nature of growing a human, but at yoga I was all in. I loved the first series so much that I signed up for another six weeks even though I'm pretty sure I'll have the baby before it's over.

Chiropractor. One of the many perks of our midwifery practice is that they have two chiropractors hold hours at the office for expecting mamas. I had never seen a chiropractor before but a bit of sacroilliac joint paint prompted me to check it out. I saw a lovely Webster technique pregnancy-certified chiro every few weeks and think it helped me avoid much of the common pregnancy pains. Just a quick 15 minute adjustment to keep the aches away.

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Water. You need to drink so much damn water when you're pregnant. Trust me on this one. So many of the discomforts associated with pregnancy ease up when you're hydrated (swelling, Braxton-Hicks contractions, round ligament pain, itchy skin). Get yourself a new water bottle and started chugging.

Lemonade. Couldn't get enough lemonade. Pounded it by the gallon when I was sick of water.

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Granola bars & string cheese. Don't get caught without snacks. Granola bars, specifically Kind Bars, and string cheese were my go-to snacks that I kept with me at work and on the go. You'll feel totally fine and full one minute and seconds later be about to pass out with hunger. Stash your bag, car and desk with some nibbles to prevent a total meltdown.

Naps. Naps are great, take them often.

Desserts. Love dessert, ate as much as I could. I'm probably going to birth a big doughnut or ice cream cone instead of a baby.

Overpriced lotion. I know they say that cocoa butter and fancy lotions don't help prevent stretch marks, but I bought expensive lotion just the same because it made me feel pampered and less itchy. Treat yourself.

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Clown shoes. My feet got HUGE. Look at those ankle rolls! I bought a new pair of Birkenstocks and a pair of Toms in a whole size bigger than usual. These were the only things that fit on the bread loaves at the bottom of my legs. Get big, comfy shoes and own your new fat feet. #noregrets

Knee high, striped compression socks. Again, my feet and ankles got huge. I'd say they were the biggest discomfort during pregnancy for me. I didn't realize how tender swollen feet can be or how the tops of your feet hurt as much as the bottoms because they're all maxed out with fluid. There wasn't a lot that helped them, but at night I'd slide into ultra-sexy knee-high, striped compression socks and found some relief in them.

I'd also like to say that it's absolutely worth it to invest in some nice maternity clothes. You'll sausage yourself into regular clothes for awhile, but I felt much better once I bought a nice pair of maternity jeans, work pants and at least a few shirts. As I got bigger I bought a few more pairs of pants, more shirts and a few cute dresses too. Your options will likely still be more limited than you're used to in the mornings, but having some clothes you feel good in and that fit is essential. Trust. 

Precious lives

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It's been a tough few weeks in the world, but I know that every week brings with it violence that is often not reported, or at least not reported here in the U.S. My heart is heavy for those who suffer violence, for the black men who have died at the hands of police, for the police officers who died at the hands of cowardly snipers, for those who died in horror at their safe haven in Orlando, for victims of terrorism in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Baghdad and countless of other places in countries I've never been to, for the women and girls around the world who are used as pawns in bloody wars, for those who face physical or emotional violence every day just because of who they are or love. Others will say and do more than I can right now, but I will continue to hold space and light for those suffering today.