I’m getting to the point in this pregnancy where I feel like I want to start doing things to get ready for baby’s arrival. The list of things we’ve done so far is short:

  1. Get pregnant
  2. Start saving for maternity leave
  3. Find daycare for baby
  4. Paint the nursery
  5. Accept a few hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law
  6. Think about a registry
  7. Buy one onesie

I’m glad the list isn’t shorter than that, but I’m feeling ready to make it longer. In particular, I’d like to start getting what we need for the nursery and Lewis’ big boy room.

It is funny, because the list of things we need for the new baby is not terribly overwhelming in length – especially if it is a boy, because then we even have all the clothes! But because we’re going to end up partially re-furnishing two rooms this time around, the items that are left on the list are pretty big-ticket. And that feels overwhelming.

I hate to always circle back to finances, but it seems like the classic American problem when it comes to building a family – everything comes down to the money, since we have absolutely no safety-net built into the system. In other countries (or for people who are lucky with their employers in the US), the burden is lessened through paid parental leave, universal healthcare and subsidized childcare. For the majority of Americans? Good luck, it’s all on you. And what a sad state of things, because it seriously sucks some of the joy out of the experience.

Getting pregnant sparks all kinds of money related questions, like: how am I going to afford maternity leave? How am I going to pay for my health insurance while I’m not getting a paycheck, when it normally gets automatically deducted from each check? How am I going to afford the things we need for the nursery? Where is the money for more diapers going to come from? How will we afford the medical bills for the birth, when we’re still dealing with existing medical debt? How do we pay for the daycare bill with two kids? How do I handle all the new expenses when I end up with less take-home pay after adding the second kid to insurance?

And in our special case – how do I do all of that, while paying for a new car we shouldn’t have bought? (stupid stupid stupid stupid)

So I’m feeling ready to get ready for baby. But I have no idea how to approach it. Until I come up with a strategy, maybe I’ll put together a list of things that are free to do. Like getting rid of the 20+ year old twin mattresses (is that free? I hope that’s free), and emptying out the closet in the nursery (is that free? Figuring out a new storage solution feels like it might not be free).

As always, I’m sure I’ll figure out a plan to answer all of the questions about money. We didn’t declare bankruptcy when Lewis arrived, and I’m sure we won’t this time either. Will our credit card balances stay at zero like I’d hoped? Probably not. But we’ll all be fed, clothed, healthy, and will have places to rest our heads at night. So – big picture – everything will be perfect.

19 weeks


Another week, another picture of me and The Wild Child. (S)he is a whole half a foot tall now, according to the weekly emails I get. Wowee!! Little Crazy Pants is still having a party in there, often being the first to alert me that I need to pee with a swift blow to the bladder. It’s impossible to know what itty bitty body part is making impact, so Kyle and I have been having a good time guessing at whether we’re dealing with a kick, a punch, a headbang, or a twerk. Based upon the number of impacts I feel, I’m guessing it is all four at all times!

I also feel like my stomach popped! this week. I have been feeling enormous around the middle, which is both alarmingly sudden, and wonderfully longed-for. I love looking and feeling round and pregnant! My belly button is beginning to flatten out, usually at its flattest after the massive lunches I eat every day. With Lewis, the flattening freaked me out. But this time around, I’m much more comfortable with it since I’ve seen it once before.

The only downside to the popped! belly is that I can’t comfortably lean forward, or even sit up straight, at my desk. The squeezing of the uterus that happens is just downright unpleasant, so I end up leaned back or reclined all day long, which ultimately doesn’t feel so great on my back. Why don’t I remember this from last time?!

My appetite is quite varied – normal in the mornings for breakfast, HUGE for lunches, and then pretty small at dinner time. I’ve been letting my cravings and my hunger be my guide, and eating according to how ravenous I am. I figure that my small dinners average out with my huge lunches, and my body seems to be satisfied with getting what it is asking for.

Sometimes listening to my body can be a little bit of an oopsies – I did end up buying way too many sweets at the grocery store the other day – ice cream, cupcakes, and two kinds of cookies. It felt very naughty to buy all of it, but I couldn’t resist! It does seem that the simple act of buying them was enough to satisfy me on some level, because I haven’t been devouring them at a rapid rate – thank goodness! It just feels good to have them there, and I get to treat myself once (or twice!) a day with a little bit of sweetness. Other than that, cravings have been minimal this past week. I still enjoy rice quite a lot, and on Friday I had to have a shrimp burrito (with rice, duh!), but mostly it is actually quite difficult to find something that sounds good at all. Especially at dinner time!

Lewis has been a delight this week. He’s been sleeping again (good naps AND nights!), talking, joking, eating a bunch, and has generally been easy to be around and take care of. In the land of toddlers, we’ll take it while we can get it, and we’ll treasure every moment.

This is his last week at his current daycare, which feels very bittersweet. The nerves ahead of the switch aren’t subsiding, but I don’t really expect them to until a week or two after Lewis has started at his new daycare and time has proven that everything is OK. That’s how it always is with something new with kiddo – I am super duper anxious until everything turns out ok and then I go, “hmm… why was I so nervous about that? that was no big deal”.

Work has been intense for both me and Kyle lately, with no end to the madness in sight. I think we’re both doing our best to find ways to disconnect and relax and be present in our family whenever possible, and it seems to be working pretty well. We even had a date night last night, which felt positively luxurious!

Moments to relax and calm our minds and be together are always important, but it feels extra critical lately. Kyle needs those moments to de-stress from deadlines and pressure, and I need them to keep my body from getting overloaded. I’ve noticed that I’m quick to tire, and that manifests itself in physical discomfort.

On Friday, for example, I was so busy with work that I forgot to drink water the most of the day, and I ended up dehydrated which led to Braxton Hicks contractions. That totally caught me off guard and was extremely uncomfortable. I have also been having round ligament pain, which has been both a dull ache and stabby, shooting pain that goes from my belly button to my crotch occasionally too. It doesn’t take much to throw off my delicate balance, so I’m trying to be more mindful to hydrate, reduce my expectations of how much I can accomplish in a day, and get sleep/rest so I can feel physically well.

That about sums it up. We’re cruising towards halfway, and next Tuesday we find out boy vs. girl. I could not be more excited for that revelation. And Kyle gets a sly smile when we talk about it, too. I can tell it is giving him butterflies to imagine who is in my belly. Can’t wait!!!

Zzzz

Poor little Lewis has been coughing himself awake at night the past couple nights and has been so upset by the experience that he can’t get himself back to sleep. So I’ve ended up in his room both nights.

The first night, he didn’t want to be picked up, but he wanted me close, so I made a nest on the floor and laid there forever until he fell back asleep.

Last night he at least allowed me to sit in the chair. In fact, he even wanted to be held. He ultimately fell asleep upright on my shoulder, which was so adorable and precious. But before that, he was laying in my arms across my lap and treated me to an even more adorable and precious moment – he was resting on my belly, and the baby was kicking me from the inside. It was like a little sibling cuddle-puddle in my lap, and I melted!

Of course, now I’m exhausted. Work has been crazy and mentally exhausting for weeks, less sleep than normal the last couple nights, and pregnancy to top it all off. Well, it’s a recipe for a sleepy “mombie”.

“Emergencies”

It’s funny how many things you can turn into “emergencies” in your mind to justify using your just-paid-off credit cards.

Sun came out for one day? OMG THE KID NEEDS SUMMER CLOTHES. Emergency.

Car needs to go through DEQ and get registration renewed? OMG I FORGOT TO BUDGET FOR THIS DESPITE HAVING THE NOTICE FOR OVER A MONTH. Emergency.

Kid’s birthday coming up? OMG THE KID WILL THINK WE DON’T LOVE HIM IF ALL HE GETS ARE SUMMER CLOTHES. Emergency.

Ants invading every room of the house? OMG CALL THE EXTERMINATOR. Emergency. (alright, so this is the only one that I actually don’t feel bad about.)

I think I need to get better at my 911 credit card usage. The learning curve is proving steep.

18 weeks


Huzzah! Look at us, so cute at 18 weeks! Baby and I are feeling well. I mean, maybe I shouldn’t speak for the baby, since (s)he can’t really tell me how (s)he is doing. But I keep getting punched and kicked in there, so I can only assume that baby is enjoying the hot-tub party. I can’t wait for 2 weeks from now when we get a little glimpse into the hot-tub party and get to find out if (s)he is a “she” or a “he”!

My cravings have been shifting and changing the last few weeks. Carrots and ranch, pears, and grape juice are out, while Tillamook Udderly Chocolate ice cream sundaes with Cool Whip, Hershey’s chocolate syrup and rainbow sprinkles are in. And sandwiches. Oh. And RICE. All kinds of rice. Anything with rice.

Physically, I’m still dealing with some round ligament pain, but it still isn’t debilitating. And hip/knee pain has become much, much less frequent. Headaches have not returned either. Lewis is sleeping most nights, so even though I tire out by the end of the day, I am getting as much rest as possible. So I’m basically feeling like a million bucks. 10 million bucks? How much is the Powerball worth right now? Because that’s how many bucks I’m feeling like right now.

Fun highlight of the week? A stranger was sure enough that I’m pregnant, that she boldly exclaimed, “you’re pregnant!” without hesitation! It thrills me to be to the point in my pregnancy that even people who don’t know me don’t doubt that I’m gestating, as opposed to just looking chunky. Pretty fun!

Lewis is over his cold/tummy thing except for some lingering “oh no! boogers!” (as he would say). He continues to wow me with all of the talking he can do, saying things like “I want to come”, “Daddy’s at work”, “Don’t jump on the couch! Jump on the ground”, and “I will do it myself”. I wonder how long it takes for a mother to stop being so completely shocked that her child can talk. It must become unimpressive at some point. I mean, everyone learns how to do it eventually. But I am not over the novelty yet! Every time Lewis says something intelligible, my jaw drops and I am in awe of the little miracle that is my bright, normally functioning, communicative child.

So all in all, life is good at our house. Mayhem, madness, ant infestations, soaring property value, looming home-improvement project, stuffy noses, broken HVAC, homemade meals alternating with frozen dinners, upcoming birthdays, happy people, baby name debates, future planning, dreams, messes, smiles and tears. We’re loving life right now!

On the mend

This seems to have been a fast moving bug. Kiddo did sleep relatively well, considering he was ill. He woke up at 5am with the fever raging, but I gave him tylenol and we both got to sleep until 8 with the aid of meds.

The fever hasn’t come back, and the barfing has stayed at bay today. Kiddo has even dared eat a few things. Phew!

As the day goes on, sweet buddy has been showing more and more signs of feeling well, including a party on mommy and daddy’s bed that included a lot of jumping!

I always hate it when the kiddo is under the weather. It is such a relief that this didn’t last long. 

Sick baby boy 

We’ve been pretty lucky with toddler illness this season, but kiddo has was struck down today.

He was sent home from school with a fever, and because I was so busy at work, Kyle had to move around some meetings and go pick him up.

We thought it was just a cold, but kiddo has now thrown up twice. There was a long enough break between the two episodes that we got tylenol in him and got the fever down, but poor guy is feeling really crummy. 

Kyle has a bad cold himself, and he’s been a real trooper through it all. He is up against a deadline at work and still left early, and both barf fountains landed on him. (His first time as the target of projectile vomit! He made it almost 2 years!) And he hasn’t complained one bit.

I’m geared up for a long night with little sleep. Kiddo has already woken up sad twice in the first 1.5 hours he was down. I have sweats next to the bed to cuddle up in when I have to get up so I don’t get cold, and I have my hair up so it is somewhat out of the way of puke.

Being a parent is so glamorous!

Oh hey there 

Oh hey there,

Little grey hair

I see you, so fair 

Can’t help but stare

The light of the glare

My little solitaire 

Soon you’ll be a pair

And then not so rare

I’ll always remember you

My first. Grey. Hair.

Oops

I got cocky last night and stayed up until 1030 watching a TV show, thinking to myself, “Lewis sleeps through the night now, so I can do things like this!”

He did not sleep through the night. My God. 

He was up for over 4 hours and it took both me and Kyle to finally get him to sleep. 

So I didn’t sleep more than 45 minutes before he woke up, and I got maybe 3 hours after he woke up, if you’re generous with how you calculate. 

This is an unpleasant flashback to my former life. I am tired.

Baby Oregonian 

Lewis was such a classic Portlander today. We walked out of daycare and I said, “good thing you’re wearing your coat! It’s raining!”

Kiddo’s response? “Wet wet wet!!!!”

Ha! Just goes to show what a soggy winter we have had. The wettest on record, right when Lewis was learning to talk!

Budget budget budget!

I haven’t written about this yet, because I needed to sort through some feelings (of rage) first. But I think I’m ready now!

A huge part of getting ready for a baby is figuring out money, and that is very, very stressful. We’ve been cooking – and reheating – our budget plan for months now. But I think we’re finally close to having things figured out.

The biggest thing that threw a wrench in budgeting is that Kyle (and I?) bought a new car. Like, brand new. And really fancy. And expensive. And – if you ask me – totally unnecessary. But we made the decision together. Even if I felt pressured into it, I was a participating decision-maker. And it happened.

Anyway, I was/still am a little miffed over the whole experience. But in the end, Kyle is super happy, and there may actually be budgetary silver linings to the whole transaction that I didn’t see at first. For example, we took a portion of the trade-in value from his old car as cash and were able to pay all of our credit cards down to zero!

Considering the massive car payment we took on, erasing that high-interest debt – and the associated monthly payments – is especially important for keeping a balanced budget. And with the upcoming arrival of our new little baby – AKA two kids in daycare and maternity leave to pay for! – balancing the budget was going to be a challenge no matter what. It makes no difference whether we’ve got credit card payments vs. the car payment. It is just going to be a battle.

The good news is, I actually feel pretty optimistic about our finances! It looks like things will mostly balance, most months, which is the same story as before we took on the car payment. The added bonus of our revised situation is that all of our high-interest debt is gone, so overall our long-term finances make a lot more sense. We’ve got essentially the same dollar amount going out every month to pay debts, but because the interest rates are lower, a higher proportion of that money is actually paying down the balance as opposed to lining the banks’ pockets. This means our remaining debts (house, cars, medical bills) will disappear much faster.

Additionally, having all of the space on our credit cards means that we can be our own back-up plan, should things go awry. We’ve literally got thousands of dollars at our disposal for emergencies, which is comforting! Because there are bound to be emergencies occasionally with two kids, a house, and two cars!

My savings plan over the next 5 months before baby is strong and looking good for having enough to cover maternity leave. And with switching to a more affordable daycare, we should be (close to) OK after maternity leave as well. The only baby-related budget item we haven’t quite figured out yet is how to pay for the baby “stuff” we need without tapping into those credit cards. Luckily, since this is the second baby, the list of “stuff” isn’t very long, so I’m sure we’ll be able to figure that out as well.

I remember how baby-budgeting felt when I was pregnant with Lewis, and even with the insane car purchase this time, I actually feel less stressed and better prepared this time around. We have better health insurance, higher income, a more refined plan, and fewer things to purchase. So while it is still stressful, there have been far fewer tears and meltdowns, and I feel positive that our little family is going to weather the financial storm of a new baby much better this time around. High fives for everyone!

17 weeks

Look at us! Me and baby at 17 weeks. Aren’t we adorable? And can you imagine, there is a little person the size of an iPhone in that belly of mine!
17 weeks holds a special place in my heart, because it was at 17 weeks with Lewis that I felt baby kicks for the first time. This time around, I’ve been feeling them for weeks already. But I’m still in that funny place where some days I feel them a ton, and some days I hardly feel them at all. I’m hoping that 17 weeks this time will bring about some more consistency. I’ve never been the hugest fan of the distraction and strangeness of baby kicks, but I do like the certainty they bring about that everything is OK in there.

Since my 16 week appointment (which feels like ages ago!), I got my supplements in the mail to hopefully help with my headaches. I think I’m on day 5 of taking them, and sure enough! I feel loads better. It took a couple days of taking them to notice the difference, but since they kicked in, I haven’t had a single headache worthy of tylenol, and the headaches I have had were quickly solved with a big glass of water. I think we’re out of the woods!!!

I’m not sure if it has to do with the disappearance of my chronic headaches, or if my resolve to “be better” did the trick… but somehow my attitude has improved quite a bit too. I’m not as much of a grump (AKA total bitch) as I had been, and I am much happier being happy and kind again. This is the me I prefer – direct, honest, no-nonsense, but still cheerful, kind, and optimistic. Welcome back, me!

The other big news this week is that we’ve found a new daycare closer to home for both the kids – guaranteed spots for both when we want them. It’s nothing short of a miracle! After 15 months of searching (off and on since we moved), I finally got a lead on an in-home daycare about 5 minutes away from our house that sounded promising.

I collected references, we visited and met with the director, went a separate time to meet the teacher, talked about it for a week, and finally decided that it is the right thing for our family. All that is left is negotiating the pricing, and then we’ll give notice at our current facility and make the move.

Switching Lewis from his current situation is scary, since he is thriving where he is, and we know it works. Opting to go to something new and unknown is terrifying when your child’s well-being is on the line! I appreciated so much that Kyle was so involved and active with the decision making process, since I felt like this was a decision that was just too big for me to make on my own. Normally, Kyle trusts me to make these kinds of decisions with very little involvement from him, but I didn’t even have to tell him that I needed him this time – he either sensed that I was feeling overwhelmed and nervous, or he felt the same way and wanted to be involved for his own peace of mind. Either way, I was so happy to make the decision as a team. Sharing the burden helps me to feel more confident.

Making decisions about things that can affect our child(ren)’s well-being is intensely emotional, and it always feels like the stakes are very high. In other situations, I don’t hesitate, and I can make calls quickly and without much debate or nervousness. It is an odd sensation for me to lack confidence and waver. From this daycare choice, to choosing whether or not to buy a second rocking chair so both kids can have one in their rooms, to timing out when to move Lewis to a Big Boy Bed… I find myself searching for advice, support, and assistance making decisions in ways that I haven’t needed in the past.

I am proud of myself for being able to adjust my process to work better for this new high-stakes phase we’re (permanently?) in. Add that to the list of many, many things that change when kids enter the picture!

Overdoing it

Today I overdid it for the first time this pregnancy. That feels like a telltale sign of being well and truly pregnant, and I guess it means I’ve ushered in a new era of this pregnancy.

I remember this happening last time too, much in the same way. I am going about my day, feeling fine, and then I pay for the over-activity later. I never know I’m overdoing it until I’ve already overdone it!

Today was super fun, out and about with my mom and Lewis, and part of the day with my step-dad too. We had a wonderful time, but when we got back from our last stop, my heart was racing and I was short of breath. I knew that I was thirsty, and I hadn’t had access to a glass of water in a while. So my mom let me sit down for a bit and I had a huge glass of water and quickly started to feel normal again.

Fast forward to now, several hours later, and my back is killing me and I feel like I could fall asleep standing up!

Such a disproportionate reaction to a semi-busy day really makes me feel pregnant. My body is so different now than it is when I’m not baking a baby! 

Hangry

You know that feeling when you’re so hungry you can’t control your emotions? Well, I hear the “youngins” have a word for that. It’s “hangry” (hungry + angry = hangry).

This word describes Lewis in a nutshell all day today.

I can’t get the little monster to eat anything worth anything (hello, protein?). He just follows me around screaming and clinging and acting like a crazy person.

And then, when I finally convince him to eat, he turns back into his independent, lovely little self for as long as that snack lasts.

Silly Lewis. Just listen to mommy and you’ll feel so much better.

Maternity Leave Plan

My maternity leave plan was finally settled and approved at work.

I’m having mixed feelings. On the one hand, I get to take the full 3 months off this time around, which is obviously wonderful. So much better than last time!

On the other hand, there was a period between the end of that 3 months and the beginning of next year where I had requested that I be able to work from home (full time) with the new baby. This portion of my proposal wasn’t approved. I had hoped for this extra time at home for two reasons. 1) the baby would then be over 4 months old before starting daycare, which is how it worked out with Lewis, and 2) it would help with the financial aspect of everything.

I understand why it couldn’t be approved, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m a little bummed out. Not to mention that now I have the added pressure of getting the new baby a spot in daycare that much sooner. I put us on the waitlist ASAP after finding out I was pregnant, but there is no guarantee they’re going to have a spot for us, well… ever. And sooner is even harder.

So I’m feeling some stress about meeting my employer’s requirement for physically returning to the office, and I’m feeling immense stress about the impact of taking 3 months without pay and then paying for double daycare before I thought I’d have to. Double daycare = half my take-home pay each month, so it is no small hurdle!

Everything always works out, and as I work through our budget and plan things out with the new game plan, I’m sure the stress will subside somewhat. For now, though, it is there and weighing on me. I’ll buy a few lottery tickets to see if we can solve the problem once and for all. Wish me luck!

16 weeks

Voila! 16 weeks!
Baby and I visited the doctor today and I discovered why my bump doesn’t look like it is growing much: I haven’t gained hardly any weight in the last 4 weeks! I am exceptionally proud of this fact, because with Lewis I was porking up like crazy already at this point, thanks to all the carbs and frosting he wanted. This time around, I certainly haven’t been depriving myself – nay, alas! I feel like I’m eating/indulging nonstop! – but the kiddo seems to want things that are healthy enough (healthy-ish?) that they’re not packing on excess pounds that baby and I simply don’t need. What a welcome change!

Other than that fantastic news, baby has a healthy heart rate of 140 beats per minute, and I am armed with recommendations to help with the pesky headaches I can’t seem to shake. I also found out that my allergy medicine is pregnancy-safe, so when seasonal allergies hit, I don’t have to suffer! (WHAT?! YAY! Such a great surprise!)

Sadly, the doctor had no recommendations for how to cure my bitchy, negative mood, and simply gave me sympathy for my joint pain and round ligament pain. I guess sympathy is nice, as opposed to pointing and laughing…

In summary, my physical health is top notch and all my symptoms are normal (if not regrettable). My mental health is average, with the bitchiness impossible to keep at bay (dangit!), and some slight panic at the fact that I’m already 4 weeks away from halfway and omg things are going too fast and I need time to stop!

Seriously. In 1 month, I’ll be halfway through this. I feel like it just started. And because it is going so fast, I feel like it is almost over already! And I can’t bear for this to almost be over! All of these feelings of warp-speed pregnancy are leading me to mourn the end of my time as a pregnant lady waaaaaaaaay too early. I wish I could think of it as “still having 24 weeks to enjoy” instead of “Doom! Gloom! It’s over! I’ll never be pregnant again!”

Funny that I’m mourning my pregnancy when I’m experiencing more discomfort than I did with Lewis. You’d think I’d be happy that it is speeding by so I could get out of it and back to normal. But nope! I want this special, last pregnancy of mine to last forever! Because even when I’m uncomfortable and angry and mean, I’m so stinking happy to be pregnant and growing our family that the side effects matter naught.

Okay. Time to turn off my neuroses and go back to trying to fool the world into believing I’m normal and kind and not-at-all-crazy.

Siblings 

This evening I have felt the baby moving. (S)he seems particularly active after hearing Lewis yell. Pretty fun to imagine him/her feeling connected to his/her big brother already! 

“Where it go?”

Lately, I’ve shocked myself with my reactions to less-than-perfect situations. I have found myself stressed, easy to anger, irritable, and sometimes even mean. My already loose tongue has gotten sharp. 

I’ve lost any grace and poise I thought I had. As Lewis would say, “Where it go?”

I’m not sure. An easy explanation would be the pregnancy hormones. But I don’t want to let myself off the hook that easily. 

Another explanation is that I’ve been challenged at work with a situation where being harsh is the only method that brings results. Part of me hates it, but part of me is proud that I can be so unapologetically “masculine” in my approach and get what I (and the business) need. And perhaps the proud part of me is bigger than the other, gentler part, and I am starting to spread this method to other areas of my life hoping for similar results.

But having lost friends recently, supposedly because of the way I handle myself and speak about things (that’s my best guess anyway), I am terrified that my new “no nonsense” way of pushing through unpleasant, stressful, or unwanted situations is going to turn more people in my life away.

So I think I should try to bring some of the grace and poise back. Lose some of the harshness and try to get less worked up. But I also think that there is huge value in being direct. So I will aim for an approach that is both direct and kind. Both honest and calm. A measured, balanced approach.

Wish me luck. If it really is the pregnancy hormones, this may be an uphill battle!