My Name is Victoria and I’m Gonna Have a Baby

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Let the record state that this was not me!! I was always very nervous to become pregnant. As a kid if you asked me if I wanted babies (why is this a thing for little girls!?) I would have told you “No way Jose, I’m adopting!” I did not want to stretch out my belly and babies come out where?! Nope. Then, I grew up. Got married. Decided we were ready to start a family… and if other women were brave enough to do it then why not me? (This was the same philosophy I used for learning how to drive when I was terrified of the highway.)

Madison and I had an epic year in 2016 exploring Europe with our London home base and it felt appropriate to leave with an export. So, 2017 began an amazing journey. as soon as I could take a pregnancy test, I did. I woke up at 4am on the first day the test instructions said I could check. Apparently early morning is when you get the best results and was basically shaking as I peed on the stick, having woken up without my alarm at 4 am on the dot. The rest of my family was sleeping — I was living in RI while Madison was still in London finishing up work — and I waited for the results to show. It was a weird test (it WOULD be!) and didn’t clearly show positive or negative results. It looked positive, but then again, I couldn’t be positive. I kept the test in my backpack until I could dispose of it in a public place. Mom is too good. She definitely would have found it and then the secret’s out! I waited another week, truly testing my patience, and on my way to Salt Lake City for Sundance I stopped in Boston for a night to see friends and at the airport Marriott, and took another test. This one was more in line with modern times and the device clearly read PREGNANT. Holy shitttttttt that ovulation app worked! I was bursting with joy, couldn’t sleep and immediately had to know if it was a boy or girl.

The rest of my trip involved me googling slyly on my phone and deleting the searches after: “Can you eat cheese while pregnant? What fish can you not eat while pregnant? Is turmeric okay while pregnant? Can you drink coffee while pregnant? How much caffeine can you have per day while pregnant? How much caffeine is in a cup of coffee? How much caffeine is in tea? Can you drink chai tea while pregnant? How much caffeine is in chocolate? Can you eat chocolate and coffee on the same day while pregnant? When can people tell you are pregnant? What should you eat while pregnant?”

One week later, Madison picked me up at the airport in NYC and we drove to RI. We were barely out of the airport loop when I told him the news. He was so quiet processing the news and pulled over to give me a huge hug. He has never driven so slowly or carefully as we made our way to RI. Precious cargo! I unfortunately left SLC with the flu-like virus that infected the whole YouTube marketing team and spent a few days in bed googling what medicine I was allowed to take. (You can’t even have Riccola cough drops!!) After surviving my first and only virus while preggers I spent the rest of the month preparing to move in February, pretending my coffee wasn’t decaf, researching healthy diets for baby’s development, and convincing my family that Dry-January is an actual thing.

The stars aligned and we moved into our new NYC apt ON February 1st so I simply couldn’t have that “end of dry-January celebration drink” with my family. Phew! Madison and I drove all our belongings after a snowstorm to New York and spent the next few days unpacking. That was a Wednesday. By Saturday I felt like a truck had run over me and spent the weekend in bed. It was the start of WEEK 6 and the first time I felt any pregnancy symptom. No amount of coffee could ever make you feel more awake in this stage and I attribute that with my success in weaning myself off my daily 3 cup habit. I worked from home frequently and would sleep in until 10am and take a 2 hour nap mid-day, dragging myself to my bed and collapsing into a slumber immediately. Oh yea, and I was in bed by 8pm. I couldn’t eat anything except for baked potatoes some days and you can absolutely forget all those plans I had to eat healthy. Green vegetables were completely out of the picture. Madison would cook dinner for me every night and then rub my head in bed as I fell asleep. The first trimester I lived in a fog.

A nauseous fog! Somehow I managed to never Face Vomiting on Google Android 8.1 and even though I was hyper sensitive to smells and in a constant state of nausea. I held my breath every time I was on my floor waiting for my elevator or frantically trying to get my keys out (smelled like some weird cleaner/air freshener that made my stomach flop) and avoided the 4th floor at work (smelled like mold). Since it was winter, I didn’t have to worry about the rotting trash stink of Manhattan streets in the summer. Count your blessings! By week 16, it was like a switch went off and I had my energy back! For a few months I’d even forget I was pregnant until I looked down and saw the bump.

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The hardest part of being pregnant was giving up my evening glass of wine. Totally fine without sushi and unpasteurized cheese. Coffee surprisingly wasn’t on my mind. But wine needed a replacement. Enter: ice cream. It went beyond a craving. I challenged myself to try all the ice cream shops in Manhattan to find the best scoop. If I wasn’t at a new shop, I was eating mint chocolate chip or chocolate peanut butter from my freezer. Every. Day.

I was also surprised to have my palate change while I was pregnant. I now preferred peanut butter over almond butter and ate a banana a day (I NEVER eat bananas). I ate cereal for breakfast every day in the summer… the last time I poured a bowl was freshman year of college. I found myself in the kitchen more and more baking up treats. It wasn’t so much that I had specific cravings for food (besides Shake Shack and ice cream), but if I saw a dish in my Instagram feed, I’d have to have it. I even made “adult spaghetti-os” one night!! So unlike me. Pancakes were a frequent treat and breakfast transitioned from banana oatmeal to smoothies with cereal as the weather warmed up. I’d make myself very simple meals for lunch… and no judging here… pb&j sandwiches and sausage and beans were my favorite options. With a pickle (duh). It was hard not working out. Not that I’m an intense gym-goer. But I like to power walk. I like to spin. I took it easy working out with park walks planned around public restrooms and classes at the Prenatal Yoga Center. I’ve never been so flexible in my life. Oh yes, the irony.

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I feel very, very lucky with my first pregnancy. Not only was I very healthy throughout (prenatal vitamins are AMAZING and I’m never going to stop taking them), but Alice was born a healthy baby girl with a relatively quick and safe labor. Soooo hashtag blessed. I also actually enjoyed being pregnant! Weird, huh?! In the first trimester my mom gushed to me, don’t you just love being pregnant!? My response was more along the lines of “ehhh, it’s fine?” because I was still in the so-tired-you-are-a-walking-zombie-breathing-through-your-mouth-so-you-don’t-smell-anything-that-will-make-you-want-to-hurl-phase. Once I was past week 16, had my energy back, could see a growing bump and later could feel the baby moving… that was incredible. It felt special when my stomach entered rooms before me, and when I would be sitting in a work meeting and all of a sudden the little resident had the hiccups. It’s just an experience like no other. Your body does crazy things (it’s the hormones, always.) so you forget the pain and continue to further the human race. Before I forget everything I wanted to jot down memories from my pregnancy – the good & the weird. Enjoy!

Pregnancy Memories:

  • Went super cliche with the pickles and ice cream thing. NOT TOGETHER. Just often.
  • Didn’t touch a vegetable for about two months.
  • I put peppermint oil on the soles of my feet at night to help with the nausea but it was always a gamble because some nights that oil was the cause of the nausea!
  • Broke the news to my parents with a soggy Shake Shack bun in the oven. 🙂
  • Baby had the hiccups every day, and continued to after she was born!
  • My food intolerances disappeared… hello carbs and dairy!
  • On March 17th we found out we were having a girl and it was one of three times I cried while pregnant (the other two were when I needed to nest but had no space to do so).
  • In July we were on my parents boat when we were pulled over by the Coast Guard (routine stuff) and they tested the fog horn. Baby girl did a somersault in the womb in response and that startled me more than the noise.
  • She hated loud noises! The first time I felt her move inside my belly was during the fireworks we set off on Gabriella’s graduation weekend. 🙂
  • I ate peanut butter and date smoothies every morning… do dates actually help induce!?! Maybe…. But chances are very low this girl will have a peanut allergy.
  • Do not buy a new foam mattress when in your first trimester. I couldn’t breathe in the scent of my own bed. It was the worst!!
  • Some people thought we were having twins thanks to Madison’s pregnancy announcement on Instagram.
  • Every time I was home in RI I went kayaking to strengthen the core. You couldn’t see the abs but guys, they were there.
  • Pregnancy acne had me feeling like a teenager again. Kind of.
  • Madison had my Shake Shack order memorized. Extra pickles ya’ll.
  • I walked every day, even if it was just a quick walk around the block. Most days I did a good loop in Central Park. Breaking a sweat in my Old Navy preggo leggings. Out of breath with every incline.
  • Took baby in utero to Park City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Maui, Charleston & Pawley’s Island, New Hampshire, DC, Philadelphia, Albany, Chicago & Rhode Island.
  • Although Maui was our honeymoon we went for our babymoon too because it’s zika free and such a special place for us. I was just finishing the first trimester and walking around in a bikini looking like I had a giant cheeseburger for lunch didn’t make me feel subconscious at all!
  • The girl with the good hair! And yes, I had very mild… but ever present heartburn at the end of the pregnancy and when baby was born we could all see why!!
  • My family threw me an ice cream bar shower and it was the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me. Ice cream from Brickley’s, all the best toppings and all my favorite people together celebrating baby Calvert. My cousin’s boyfriend guessed the delivery date out of everyone at the shower. Abbie, he’s a keeper!
  • When your stomach is stretching out in front of you, people notice. I got very used to people looking at my belly. Strangers would randomly congratulate me, and weirdly it was mostly construction workers who would say “Congrats lady.” Only one random woman touched my belly without permission and she was my grandma’s age so I forgave her.
  • My husband gave up alcohol the nine months I also was not drinking. TRUE LOVE!
  • They say your bladder preps you for all the nightly wake up calls once baby arrives. I don’t see why this is necessary but I did pee an avg of 5 times a night. That was fun.
  • For the last couple of months, baby was head down, with her bum sticking out. She was most active while I was laying down, and I would tap her booty to let her know I felt her moving. She always reacted by freezing up – definitely a deer in the headlights.
  • Turning from one side to the other at night in bed was a process and involved grunting and both hands to prop myself up. And don’t ever take for granted the ability to sleep on your back.
  • NYC subways are so crowded that getting a seat even when looking like you’re about to pop isn’t a guarantee. I especially want to thank all the ladies who did notice my bump and would start announcing my presence and demanding a seat for me. #futureisfemale
  • Sat on a doughnut pillow for the last 4 months to take the pressure off my tailbone and got to the point where I’d carry it around with me. NO SHAME.
  • Baby girl danced at two weddings and attended Auntie G’s graduation in utero. Girl likes to party.
  • Packed my hospital bag the night before I went into labor.
  • Finished a book while In Labor. #Warrior

The morning of Sept 21, I had a feeling something was up. I was almost 39 weeks and for the most part feeling pretty good. I was done working and finished all my major “administrative” tasks I’d set aside for the beginning of my maternity leave – expenses up to date, office cleaned and organized, bills paid. We were staying busy, seeing as many friends as possible, with plans every night that week. It was the last day of Summer. The night before I’d finished packing my hospital bag which had been a huge mental block (I was finally ready!) and the morning of the 21st I started writing a blog summarizing my pregnancy so I wouldn’t forget anything (this post that I am now uploading, ha!). I had one more stop on my pregnancy tour of NYC ice cream shops. I was mentally prepared for labor and labor is what I got! I took a selfie before going to bed mid-day (you’re supposed to rest when in pre-labor if at all possible) and I wanted a photo of me at my most pregnant. And boy, did I look pregnant. I was texting Madison updates with a smile on my face.. “More cramps! Eeek. Probably nothing…” and then, “Cramps again, I dunno this could be it…”. I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. I read in bed for a few hours, saving my energy and hydrating. I did end up napping a bit that afternoon, and by 3pm I was awake and feeling better. No more cramps. At that point I had already cancelled our evening plans. It would be too much going downtown when I was feeling that lousy. Madison cancelled dinner too. I texted him “False alarm, feeling great now.” Oh well, we could just have an easy evening.

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Madison came home from work excited, asking me if I was sure I wasn’t in pre-labor? Nope. Nothing! We used the time to set up the stroller and after that we decided to go for a walk and see if things would get moving again. We walked down West End and on impulse decided to grab dinner at Carmines. We sat outside to enjoy the last evening of summer and shared chicken parmesan and spaghetti.

It was a really nice night. Warm, with a breeze, and not humid at all. We walked some more and after we got home we watched two episodes of Billions, including the finale. I was googling pre-labor during this time and honestly was pretty disappointed that I wasn’t actually in labor. I had mentally prepared myself as much as one can during the day, and I was sad I still had a wait to meet Alice. Boy, was I wrong! Sweet Alice Margaret was born at 7:43am on September 22. 7 lbs 6 ounces and 20.5 inches. It was so special finally meeting our #fearlessgirl.

Pregnancy is such an adventure. I don’t want to end this post on an entirely sappy note, but I have the sweetest memories of Madison feeling her move in my belly, seeing (and feeling) her reposition herself in my belly to get the best tan at the beach and kicking me in the ribs as I tried to sleep (how can you be mad!? The girl needed more space!). It’s the strangest feeling to give birth and all of a sudden realize you are no longer pregnant. You become so used to never being alone. And now, onto this parenthood adventure!

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