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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City Guide: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Old Town Dubrovnik

3 nights and 3 days in Dubrovnik on the Adriatic Sea… Dobra Dan!

For our two year anniversary we flew from London nonstop into the Dubrovnik Airport which is about a 25-30 minute drive from the Old City and only a 2.5 hour flight. We wanted some sun and sailing with old European charm… and found it! The water off of Croatia is a lovely clear blue and warm enough to spend an afternoon swimming around the coast’s rocky shores, full of caves and little fish to spy on when snorkeling. Croatia is really interesting. It’s come a long way in the years since the Croatian War of Independence, especially in attracting more tourists, but the evidence of the conflict remains. It’s odd seeing the sparkling water and peaceful hills spotted with ruined hotels on the coast. These have become tourist destinations in themselves, but we chose a more romantic trip full of late mornings and late nights, sun and swimming. 

Dubrovnik RovieraSailing in DubrovnikDubrovnik Riviera

If you like being on the water, make sure to sail Dubrovnik. We did a half day on the water with the aptly named, Dubrovnik Sailing.  Our skipper, Lovre, a 26 y/o Croatian who spent a year studying in West Virginia as a teenager, took us to around the Elaphiti (Greek for “Deer”) Islands. We jumped in for a swim by one of the islands where the water was crystal clear and a swimming cave allowed for us to snorkel into a nice wide open area where your feet could touch the ground. [Ed note: V did not go in the cave but still enjoyed swimming in the open water near it.] Highly recommend Lovre and his crew. There is nothing better than relaxing on a private sail boat with an expert guide with the sun shining and wind in your face.

Sailing in DubrovnikSailing in DubrovnikAdriatic Coast

There is a lovely beach near the sailing pickup that was calling our names, but since we only had a few days to explore we decided to grab a quick treat (Lemon sorbet on the promenade) and continue on to the Old City. If you do a half day sailing tour, we recommend sauntering off the boat and claiming a spot on the beach for the rest of the day.

In Dubrovnik, make sure to visit the Old City. You may recognize the wall and many of the sites as the set of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. Enjoy walking along the maze of old streets, the restaurants all spilling onto the small passageways and their shaded seats offering a very nice reprieve from the heat. We visited in early September and the little clothing we had on still felt like too much.

Old Town Dubrovnik

You can’t miss the cable car with a view of the city from the top of Srd Hill. For ~$13 round trip you can get some okay photos (the cables were in the way for most of our shots) but it’s worth it for the IRL memories of seeing just how majestic this city sits on the azure waters of the Adriatic. We loved the contrast of the blue water and terra cotta rooftops from up above.

Cable Car in Dubrovnik

For great drinks and atmosphere, find your way to the Mala Buža Bar – our absolute most favorite thing to do in the Old City – a super cool bar on a small cliff overlooking sunbathers and cliff-divers on the outside of the wall. Bring your swimsuit and jump right in for great views of the islands and the Old City wall (aka the best way to get a sense of the walls without paying to walk around them). The European saxophone-house music was on point and the sunset from the bar was one of the best we saw. Friendly staff, ability to jump into the sea and reasonably priced drinks = a huge win/win for us. Gin & tonics were standard and cooling and their local beer, Karlovačkowas light and refreshingly bitter. Plus be entertained by Europeans not shy about changing into their birthday suits in front of you and little cats lounging in the sun.

Mala Buža Bar

Food & WineWe ate only once in the Old City at Posat, where the prices were like Disneyland and the quality nothing worth writing home about. We’d been warned about this by a few friends who had visited about poor price to value in Dubrovnik.The service was a bit over the top but good for special occasions. They greeted us “Welcome, good evening” and every time the waiter spoke to V, they addressed her as “Lady.” While it was cool when they came out with a platter showcasing their fresh seafood, you should avoid the “Whole Fish” fresh catch option if you find yourself dining at any of Dubrovnik’s hot spots… unless you want to overpay for simple (albeit delicious) Grilled Fish. We paid 550 Kuna at Posat per KG, or roughly $80, for a fish for two. The portions definitely didn’t seem to match the price we paid either. It was our first night in town so we opted for the glass of Prosecco to start (you can never go wrong with starting off with bubbly) and then ordered a bottle of French Pouilly Fume – you will pay for imported wine but after trying the local white wine earlier in the day we felt that at these prices we might as well suck it up. And oui, it was delicious.

In Mlini across from the Sheraton, we also dined at the new Ruz Marin one evening across from the property where our waiter was quite friendly but service slow (the place was understaffed). We ordered a whole fresh fish here, prepared table-side, which at 400 Kruna/KG was 20%+ less than Dubrovnik and of comparable quality though still quite expensive.  You see the theme here. We did go with some Croatian wine – and you know… it’s not bad. It’s just very distinct. The white wine here tastes chalky since everything is limestone. We enjoyed the bottle, we just wouldn’t want a lot. Which is tough, when that’s all that is on the menus everywhere! 🙂

Ston

What we would do differently: In Dubrovnik, we really liked staying on the Riviera and would probably try the Radisson next time to get the beach view but add in more dining options on site. You honestly only need a half day to tour the old city and we’d recommend spending more time in cute towns like Ston (30 minutes up the road) and also enjoy sunning views of the surrounding area as you drive around. In Ston you can grab fresh out of the water oysters (see above)and walk on an Ancient Wall known as the “European Wall of China” spanning some 7 miles (see view below). Ston has lovely old homes and a Salt Works facility dating back to the Ottoman Empire and still used today to produce Artisan Sea Salt. We did not do the tour, but we did get a photo. 🙂 And for anyone crazy enough to attempt this, there is a marathon along the wall in Stone which looks like a death trap to us but to each his own!

Ston, Croatia

Hotel: We opted to stay at The Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera, a 1 year old architecturally beautiful hotel on the Dubrovnik Riviera in Mlini. As Starwood Gold Members, it also  was our best option to go with one of our go-to loyalty options. With beautiful views of the mountains and Adriatic from Sea facing windows, the hotel offers a lot of promise but still has a few growing pains. There’s also not much to see in Mlini immediately around the hotel and Dubrovnik is a 15 minute cab or Uber ride, costing 150 Kruna (Roughly 100 Kuna to $15 at the time of writing) from the hotel or around 80 Kruna from Uber, so factor that into your decision to go Riviera vs Old Town. The food was fairly limited at the hotel and there was only one decent restaurant within walking distance but the rooms were very comfortable and modern and the house keeping excellent. Make sure to request a King Size Bed in advance or you might end up with two European doubles if traveling as a couple.

Sheraton Dubrovnik

As mentioned, the Sheraton was “meh” when it came to dining options. The buffet breakfast was extensive and pretty good but at $20+ per person, avoidable. With only one forgettable restaurant on property serving the same menu for lunch and dinner, we wouldn’t recommend this for foodies at all.

Car Rental: We flew in and out of Dubrovnik, and rented a car to drive the 3.5 hour coastal and mountain route to Split. Prepare to wait a bit for your vehicle as the queues get hectic and the stalls for servicing customers are small. We went with Sixt as they had Audi’s for the prices of economy cars at Enterprise and ended up with a great A4 to tour Croatia. The main roads were very safe and well maintained although anyone with a a fear of heights should be cautioned: the roads are VERY high.

IN CONCLUSION

You can’t go to Croatia without seeing Dubrovnik and traveling around the country by car is easy. DO it. Explore. Sail. Get some freckles. Invite us. 🙂

And now, off to Split!

Along the Croatian Coast

 

All photos were taken on our amazing Samsung NX 500 camera or Samsung mobile.

October 22 – V

Whoo hoo! Happy 25th birthday to me!

Happy Birthday to Me! And might I add, CHALLENGE COMPLETED! A post a day for a year  -DONE.  I’ve had several requests for a self-portrait, so yesterday Madison and I walked down to the National Mall, I set up my tripod, and we had some fun. What a workout running into photos and posing, plus, doing acrobatics in boots is no easy feat. (The boots had to make an appearance since they are as much a part of my identity as my hair: “Big black boots, long brown hair, she’s so sweet with her get back stare.”) We had quite a few observers as we ran around the Mall, laughing, and doing silly poses while trying to time the seconds left on my camera’s timer. I love how this photo came out – I think my happiness really shows through.  I’ll post the other photos from our shoot on Facebook later today so you can see how silly we looked.

This last post is bittersweet for me – many of you know how excited I am to no longer have to schedule time into my day to post on this blog. This was a very busy year for me and this added task sometimes seemed like a chore.  On the other hand, I have a photo a day to document my life as a 24 year old which is pretty awesome.  I’ll be able to look back and remember all the great times I had, where I traveled, and who I spent time with.

24 turned out to be a great year to document for all my friends and family and random internet friends, looking back it makes me smile to remember that:

  • I traveled so much that I only spent 218 days in DC, visiting 6 countries and 15 U.S. cities/states.  Mom and Dad will be happy to know I spent 52 days in RI!
  • I discovered a freckle on the palm of my hand
  • I like oysters (a lot, apparently)
  • I started a business
  • I saw Martha Stewart in real life
  • I completed a certificate program at Georgetown University
  • I saw sea turtles up close
  • My post popular tags on The V Life are Washington DC, traveling, Rhode Island, Dupont Circle, coffee, wine, Paris
  • My Droid takes really good pictures
  • I like to eat/cook/bake/dine out
  • I like sharing what I eat
  • I followed through on my New Year’s resolutions, especially biking more in DC  – oh, and starting a business
  • I still really like wine and Paris

I just wanted to thank you all for following along with The V Life.  Every day I try to have as much fun as possible and to continue learning and adventuring, and having my family and friends alongside me supporting me is just a wonderful feeling. Cheers to all of you for making this year so memorable!

Love,

V

PS: You can’t get rid of me that easily.  Although I most definitely will not be posting here daily, you will still be able to check in and see where I’m traveling and what I’m eating. More on that here.

October 21 – Au revoir twenty-four

National Rouge

I just would like to ask a question: WHERE DID THIS YEAR GO? I JUST turned 24! Right!? Wasn’t I just on a redeye to London? Apparently not, since I have already written 364 posts on The V Life.

We went for a walk down to the National Mall today, taking photos of the foliage, plus some fun shots that I’ll post tomorrow (ooo get excited!). I’m resting this afternoon, and watching some good ol’ Patriots football since tomorrow will be very busy.  I’m bringing on my first employee tomorrow, so in addition to the meetings and work I have to finish, I will also be training. This is really exciting news for Anchor Media!

-V