I wrote the following while breastfeeding (one handed, on my phone) and instead of trying to string them together in some coherent post (because, honestly… no time!), I’m just going to leave them as fragmented thoughts and feelings from those early days.
So many texts and messages left unread, the notification icon serving as a reminder to respond; send a picture, tell his name, birthweight, how we were adjusting.
We don’t really have a strategy, aside from a tired glance at each other around 9pm asking if we should start thinking about sleep and, if so, who got to take the first shift. Until we learn another way, we are sleeping in 2 hour shifts. Sometimes one of us is successful in getting Cam to sleep, swaddled, and in the bassinet so we are able to sleep a little longer – and at the same time – but this is rare so far.
For me, the nights are hard. This has already been tested and true for my personality though. I’ve been a home-sickness sufferer my whole life and nights are always the worst. It’s weird because I am technically home but feel the weight of sadness creeping in sometimes… To be fair, I guess my home is completely different than what it was before and now night time is basically battle time. **Cam became an all-star sleeper probably around 3 weeks so I am happy to report my sad nights were very short-lived!**
Of course the playing field isn’t level when one of you has to breastfeed essentially every 2 hours, but we are trying to grasp some resemblance of fairness.
“Rested” is a word for the future and a feeling of the past. Survival is the new mantra. Sleep 20 minutes to get you through the next 60. Don’t look in the mirror.
You don’t know true reward until you’ve tasted that sweet, sweet glorious coffee after another night endured.
It’s strange when nights are broken up in 2 hour increments (and whole days in 6 hour chunks… until you get your next dose of pain meds). The stretches of time in the middle of the night are pure maddening magic. Nothing compares to being bone tired and hearing Cam hungry cry. Then negotiating how to move my body in the least painful way to feed him. One leg up, grab on for support, rock forward and hope there is enough ofph to propell me forward. Scoot my butt back. Inch by inch. Pain in my incision if I move too fast. Deep breaths and lots of groaning but finally in position to expose a chaffed nipple. Latch. Suck, suck, suck. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Breatheeeeee. They say breastfeeding gets easier
Oh the sweet soul candy hours I spend in the early morning staring at my new baby. My heart explodes a thousand times a night for this kid. The sight of his perfect button nose. His little curved lip. Those moments of brief eye contact turn me upside down and inside out. My baby.
Mike’s snoring is becoming a favorite sound of mine; with each inhale and exhale another minute is added to my sleep stock. Yes babe, keeeeeeep on sleeeeeping. I’ll match your 1.5 hours for my own soon enough.
Then you wake up, have a cup of coffee and eggs that were scrambled in butter and start a new day.
Happiness. I’ve been thinking about the difference between real-time happiness and in-the-past happiness. For me, “in-the-past happiness” is something that time and distance produce. Space from the moment is what allows you to register that you were, in fact, happy then. Real-time happiness is when you know while you are living something: I am happy.
I am a semi-regular offender of experiencing happiness in the past and it pains me. But sometimes it is easier to realize how much brighter and beautiful and happier it all was in retrospect.
In a day and age when living in the moment is held as highly as eating well and exercising enough, I feel twinges of guilt when my happiness is sourced from memories instead of the actual moment. And I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be the case for the 4th trimester.
The 4th trimester is commonly referred to as the first 3 months of life with your new baby. It is a time laced with adjustment. From those tortuous sleepless nights to the magical bonding with your baby, these months are unique. Despite the lack of sleep, it is obviously a time to be cherished. A time of happiness.
But my question is: can it be more real-time happiness than in-the-past happiness? I’m hoping to work hard at making it as real-time happiness as possible. I don’t want to look back to know that I am happy now. (Could this be a sliver lining of a global pandemic? Having the time to think about all of this…?)
Our son is 6 weeks old – halfway through the 4th trimester – and he hasn’t been held by anyone but me, my husband, and a handful of doctors and nurses. This is not what we expected. Every day is limited to what we can do in our home, aside from our daily walk(s). Some may say this is true of most days with newborns – to which I probably agree – but ours are limited by not just a baby but also the government.
Days are tedious. But, as I’m trying to remind myself constantly, they are also joyful. Every day I get to spend another 24 hours with only my husband and my son. We’re in the middle of the Great Pause and I’m navigating it by soaking in the first few months of my baby’s life at home. …Literally government mandated to stay at home. What a bizarre, beautiful, perplexing thing.
Despite the fear of COVID-19 and the monotony of social distancing casting it’s shadows on our days, I know these short months are so special. I am grateful – and want to be present– for these moments filled to the brim with my boys.
Right now, at 6 weeks in, our days look a bit like this: Most days Cam wakes up between 5am – 6am for a diaper change and a feed. After this we either put him back down in his cradle or remove all of the pillows on our bed and let him sleep with us for “morning cuddles.” I love starting the day with our morning cuddles, despite actually sleeping way better if he goes back down in his cradle. Babies are loud and squirmy when they sleep, which makes sharing a bed with them decidedly less restful.
Between 8am – 9am we head downstairs and, in-between pulling shots of espresso and toasting bagels, we take turns dancing around the kitchen with Cam. Then it’s time for his morning nap, which is usually downstairs in his vibrating seat. (Although I am reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and it says for meaningful sleep babies should be in their crib and not be moving. Ek! We’ll work on that eventually…)
The next 7 – 9 hours are spent changing diapers (usually Mike), breastfeeding and pumping (obviously me), going on walks (sometimes 2-3 a day), managing to feed ourselves lunch / clean up (so many dishes), and soothing Cam (which means STANDING with him – why do babies prefer to be held standing vs. sitting and how do they know the second you sit down? HOW?!).
All of the sudden it is dinner time and it’s a shot in the dark on who will be cooking it, if Cam will be awake, or if we will be eating in shifts. We’ve had all sorts of evenings. I’ve managed eating a burger one-handed while feeding him but we’ve also had nights where we’ve cooked, ate without a babe hanging on either of us, and even tag-teamed the kitchen after. Once timing even worked out where I fed him and pumped right before our pizza was ready… meaning I was able to have a beer with dinner.
Every other night we give Cam a bath, which he seems to really like. And then it’s time for bed – something we haven’t figured out the exact science to yet. Typically though, I feed him and then shower while Mike burps him and tries to get him down in the cradle. Sometimes he’s successful and it’s early enough for us to watch a show together before going to sleep ourselves but other times Cam is wide awake when I out and needs some extra calories before snoozing.
I’d say 60% of the time we get a decent night sleep. Cam’s longest stretch so far has been 7 hours (!) but it is typically around 5 hours from the initial time we put him down to the first time he wakes up, and then about 3 hours, and then down to ~2 hours (this is our morning cuddle stretch). We have certainly had our hard nights, but thankfully these are more of a rarity than a regular practice.
Just this week Cam started giving us small social smiles and OMGTHEYARETHEBEST. He has a good appetite and is able to take a bottle now with pumped milk. Initially he loved his pacifier but now he makes a face like we are trying to poison him when we put it in his mouth. He LOVES being on his side. Tummy time is usually spent on one of our chests and he can hold his head up for a decent amount of time. He also strains his head up from our shoulder when he is hungry or tired and then inevitably slams it back down when he his neck muscles give way. For some reason Mike and I both find this slightly amusing.
When he wakes up, he does the cutest “baby stretches,” as we call them. Like he’s had the longest day at work and just needs to stretch it out. When we take him out of his cradle and unzip his swaddle (more on that in another post), we like to say “FREEDOOOMMM!!” because he instantly pops his arms out to the sides. Cam has the uncanny ability to be crashed out on a walk but wake up right when we hit our driveway, basically every.single.time. He has a hungry cry and an I’m-bored-cry. His hungry cry is as ferocious as you’d expect it to be. His favorite sleep spot is dad’s chest, where he sprawls out like a starfish. Socks are hard to put on but once secured in place, he doesn’t seem to mind them. Diaper changes aren’t a big thing to him, like he knows “yeah yeah this is just apart of the deal, isn’t it?”
He’s our little light and the best thing about our days.
Earlier in my pregnancy, I imagined this post to be about laboring at home with our doula before going to the hospital for a natural childbirth. Our reality of brining our baby into the world was very different. Instead of a natural childbirth, I was scheduled for a c-section because our baby was breech. This meant our doula wouldn’t be able to be there for my delivery, as only one person is allowed in the OR.
We were still planning on having her come to the hospital for support before and after, until, of course, the Bay Area went on a mandatory shelter in place because of COVID-19. On top of this, hospitals put restrictions on the number of visitors that could come to the hospital. One support person (obviously Mike) was allowed to be there with me. No one else; doula, family, or friends!
Like I said… a completely different birth experience than I imagined BUT I am happy to report, an overall positive one nonetheless.
The morning of my c-section, Mike and I woke up early so I could capitalize on my last hour of being able to drink something before the 2 hour NO FLUIDS rule before surgery. I got a decent amount of sleep the night before, all things considered, but still had a big cup of black coffee in bed while finishing season 2 of The Crown. We were scheduled for a 1pm surgery with an arrival time of 11am, which meant time for one last short walk before going to the hospital. I didn’t know how my recovery would go, and when I would be able to get out and walk again, so taking a stroll was definitely something I wanted to do. I got a little emotional on our walk because – as corny as it may sound – I started thinking about all of the strong women and mamas that I know. I actually began listing their names, one by one in my head, and just knowing that their thoughts, love, and strength was with me that day brought tears to my eyes.
When we got back to the house, we packed up the car* and headed to the hospital. What a different experience it was than going into labor naturally must be! The morning, and the car ride, were both pretty calm and controlled; none of the “drive faster!!!” or “grab the bag, it’s time!” stereotypical birthing scenes we see in the movies! Instead I had the chance to call both of my parents on the drive (which again, made me a little teary eyed because I know they were both nervous for me).
After dousing our hands with sanitizer and walking down eerily quiet hallways (birth during a pandemic), we checked into Labor & Delivery. Through mild small talk and anxious half laughs, we were led to a small room. For the next ~2 hours various medical staff came in, checked on me, introduced themselves, took my vitals, inserted an IV, shaved my legs (not joking), answered my questions, and tried to console me when I started to cry. It was all very emotional and a bit overwhelming for me (!) but everyone was calm, patient, and very kind.
At 1:30pm it was go-time. We walked to the operating room but Mike had to wait outside while I got my spinal tab. The OR is as bright, cold, and sterile as you imagine it would be. I was sat on a table that was way smaller than I expected and (you guessed it!) started crying. I could see Mike sitting outside from the window and it made me EVEN MORE emotional. I didn’t like that he could see me because I imagined it had to be hard watching your partner get prepped for a major surgery and there was nothing you could really do from outside the room.
Luckily the team who performed my c-section was AMAZING (and all women, which felt pretty badass!). They continuously comforted me in between doing a round robin of introductions. There were about 8 medical staff, who introduced themselves via their name and their role during the procedure. I found this to be a little amusing (although I know it makes sense for them to do it) because it reminded me of an office meeting – like, okay… let’s start with a round of introductions, shall we?
I particularly loved my anesthesiologist, which was comforting given she was sticking a needle in my spine. I forgot her name now but she expertly walked me through each next step – what to expect physically but not going into too much detail, because …gross. My spinal tap was done before I knew it. I was instructed to lay down and put my arms out into a T. I was suddenly so cold, I started shivering uncontrollably. I actually read about this happening to a lot of women so was prepared for it but was still thankful when they put a blanket to cover my arms that had warm air shooting through it. Nothing better than feeling nice and cozy in the operating room, amiright?
Next Mike got to come in (yay!) and there were a lot of questions on what I could and could not feel. And yes, it is as freaky as you expect to try to move your legs and not have them budge. That was probably my one moment of real panic. I quickly gasped “is this normal?!” and was reassured that it was. My catheter was put in place, something that I had been dreading but obviously didn’t feel at all, considering I couldn’t even move my legs… Although I will say there are some poorly designed lights in hospitals that are rimmed with a mirror. Not great for an abdomen surgery that you are awake for.
At some point, while I was avoiding glancing up because of the small, but very-much-so-there mirror, my abdomen was cut into.
Overall I didn’t feel much pain but could feel slight sensations. I think my physical pain tolerance is actually much higher than my emotional tolerance for these kinds of things. There was some pressure here and there but nothing unbearable. It did take a little longer than I anticipated for him to be out but then finally … his little cry!! Ah, hearing his voice for the first time was the best; it brought tears to both mine and Mike’s eyes; “our baby!!!!!!!”
The doctor held him up over the curtain so we could see him and then he was quickly whisked away to be checked out by the pediatrician. Mike was able to go over with him and “cut the chord” – which was more of a ritual than necessity since it wasn’t actually attached to me anymore.
I remember being so full of joy and pure bliss during all of this. They were still tugging on me and stitching me up, and our baby was wailing, but it was such a relief having him delivered and knowing that Mike was right there by his side.
The pediatrician asked if I wanted to do skin to skin with him next and OF COURSE I DID. She put him on my chest. He was still crying and wiggling all around. Mike was snapping some pictures. We were both instantly in love.
When I was finally fully intact again, we were wheeled out of the OR to the recovery room. We stayed there for a few hours and soaked in our little guy until it was time to go to our room. Our very tiny room. Here we stayed for the next 2 nights. For 6 meals, vital checks every 3 hours from nurses, visits both mornings from the doctor who performed my c-section, multiple pediatricians checking on and testing our baby to be sure he was healthy, HGTV on loop, endless pictures of our precious little one, many phone calls and text messages updating our friends and family, broken hours of sleep, sore nipples, … and the purest, rawest love I’ve ever felt.
Typically c-section patients are in the hospital for 3-4 nights but since I was recovering well, and COVID-19, we were able to leave after 2 nights. On the way home, we uncharastically stopped at Jack in the Box for curly fries and a Dr. Pepper. There was a cute Welcome Home sign from our neighbors** attached to our door that made me cry big, juicy, feeling-loved-on tears. We did another round of updates to family and friends, “we’re home!” and settled in as a family of 3.
*I packed WAY too much stuff, from multiple cozy outfits and fluffy socks to face moisturizer, a book (hahah), and makeup (hahahahhahahahhah). I’m not exaggerating when I say I only needed to bring snacks and drinks, an outfit to go home in, a robe, and my cell phone charger. I didn’t even need underwear because I wore the giant ones the hospital gave me.
**On top of the sweet sign, we have a neighbor who graciously made us lasagna and dropped off diapers on our front porch. Another neighbor made us banana bread that we ate for breakfast for 3 days. Multiple times during those first few days, the mamas of the neighborhood and others texted me to make sure I was doing alright. I am so, so thankful for the outreach of support in our little community, particularly because we only bought our house ~1 year agoand still felt all of the love. I’m glad our little babe will be growing up in such a supportive, loving place.
I started the third trimester right before the New Year with a raging case of sciatica. Not super fun, especially when you spend New Years Eve running through an airport 6 months pregnant to try to catch a flight… Unfortunately we didn’t make our flight and Mike and I woke up in Denver, instead of home, on the 01/01/2020.
Unexpected changes in travel plans aren’t ideal but looking back it was actually a special, cozy New Years Eve for us; and one that we will definitely remember. After missing our flight and eventually succeeding in rebooking it for the next morning … or so we thought … we devoured chicken tenders and salad on our bed at The Westin (the airport hotel we splurged for – vs. staying at the airport motel we were given vouchers for – because it was New Years Eve and we thought we had to be back to the airport by 5am the next morning). Plot twist: we realized later that our flight was actually for 7pm the following evening, not morning.
Cool cool cool…
Trying to make the best of it, we went down to the lobby/bar to ring in the New Year with a bunch of strangers… I ordered a mocktail and Mike participated in the free champagne toast the hotel offered. We people watched a bit, counted down as the ball dropped, and kissed each other into 2020. Luckily the lobby was actually quite nice, and it wasn’t a bad way to spend the evening in the slightest. PLUS officially being in 2020 meant we were that much closer to meeting our little guy.
But before he made his debut, mom & dad had some serious house renovations to do. Midway through the month Mike’s dad (Grandpy!) came to stay with us for a month and help with the renos. Oh, man how much we owe him! In about a month we had new recessed lighting downstairs, our flooring was ripped out, most of the walls had a new coat of paint on them, a wall and a closet were torn down, and new cabinets were in place to give us a more open kitchen area. I tired to help where I could but being pregnant didn’t make me the best worker. Instead I was in charge of shopping, cooking, and laundry. Plus getting in walks, yoga, and making sure I was sleeping well to keep growing the babe.
The renovation continued into February, and ordinarily a control freak who loves a spick and span household, some days were more of a test for me than others. I was also trying to make sure everything was buttoned up at work before my mat leave started. And we had 10 hours of newborn classes to squeeze in during limited time.
The month flew by in a haze of dust from the renovations and ever-growing piles of baby stuff, but we were able to get out and do a few fun things too; like attending our friend’s annual Super Bowl party!
We had a great baby shower, hosted by one of my best friend’s, Lauren. Our theme was Brunch for Baby, riffing off of my serious LOVE for blueberry muffins during my pregnancy. The menu also included yogurt parfait, eggs, hash browns, and of course a mimosa and beer-mosa bar for others to indulge in. 🙂 It was the perfect way to celebrate our baby-on-the-way with our closet friends and some family. (We had another baby shower planned for March but because of some medical stuff, that one didn’t happen… more below.)
Aside from renovations and our baby shower, I did a lot more yoga in February. My movements were slow and modified but it felt better than ever. And my sciatica was manageable with more practice and a lot of walking. Moving really helped with the pain during the day so it was essential! The only time things got really painful were in the middle of the night when I had to get up to pee (which happened without fail, like everyone says it does). My back felt so stiff and sore in those first few moments of walking after sleeping for hours. It took me a long time and many baby steps to get to the bathroom from bed and most of the time I was literally hunched over like an elderly woman.
Since we were so busy, especially on the weekends, I started a little Sunday ritual of waking up and reading for a bit in bed and then hitting the mat for a quick morning flow. If I was lucky, Mike would agree to join me on a morning walk to get a coffee nearby our house after. These mornings were some of my favorite and I know they will be sweet memories from my pregnancy.
Towards the end of the month, we found out that our little guy was breech at my 36 week appointment. I remember at our 20 week scan the technician saying he was breech. I instantly felt nauseous (almost any medical speak makes me queasy to the point where I think I actually might have a condition that has yet to be diagnosed).
Although the technician assured me many babies were breech at that stage and he still had plenty of time to flip head-down, there was a part of me that knew in my bones that this wouldn’t be the case. Because of this feeling, I told my regular doctor at my next appointment that I was nervous about our baby being breech but, after feeling around, she said she could feel his head down low. Okay, I convinced myself, nothing to worry about then!
Literally 15 seconds before our 36 week ultrasound, when she was feeling my belly again, she proclaimed that his head was still positioned downward. YES! I remember thinking to myself. In that moment I wasn’t concerned about not having the natural childbirth I was hoping for.
After all, if the doctor said his head was down……
Turns out, like everyone, doctors can be wrong. And when ours started moving the ultrasound wand around my belly, she immediately told us she had been wrong; he actually wasn’t facing down at all. His head was nestled under my left ribs. A hard little bump that I had felt for months, assuming it was his bottom.
I started to feel very queasy at this point (I’m telling you, it’s a condition!), and then inevitably started to cry. Mike and I had gone so far as hiring a doula for the natural childbirth I was planning on having and now here we were talking about scheduling a c-section. Through my tears, my doctor told me about doing a version (or ECV) to try to flip him head down. We scheduled one for that Sunday and …
on March 1st, instead of having our baby shower with my family, we went in for the version. From what people had been telling me it is a pretty intense procedure. I was nervous but wanted to do everything in my power to try to flip him – in the hopes that it was successful but also for the peace of mind knowing that we tired.
Ultimately the version wasn’t successful. And it was intense. I was monitored for about an hour before, given a drug that relaxed my uterus (while simultaneously making my heart race, not the best when you are already nervous!), and then 2 doctors manually tried to push the baby up and into a somersault. Lots of pressure and yoga-like deep breaths!
They tried 3 times and although his little butt did move up from my pelvis, he wouldn’t tuck his chin to complete the turn. I was so tired and sore at that point that we decided not to try again; if he wanted to stay head up and come into the world via c-section, so be it. We did some more monitoring to make sure all was okay (which it was!) and then headed home for BBQ and a movie in bed.
We briefly considered trying acupuncture next but after talking about it, decided that if the version didn’t work, we weren’t going to try anymore intervention.
March was also the start of my mat leave. The first week was all walks, yoga, reading in cute coffee shops, lunch with friends, and getting stuff done like changing my oil and getting my tires rotated. This was supposed to continue into the second and third week, with a manicure and pedicure, and an epic date day with Mike sprinkled in there too. But then… COVID-19.
During the second week of my mat leave most companies already had people working from home (it was nice to have Mike home with me!) and social distancing was taking root. At this point, sadly Mike’s parents had to cancel their trip out to visit us, which was a huge blow but I still wasn’t grasping how drastic this was going to get. I went on one walk with a friend and saw my mom that week… Little did I know how much things were about to change the week my baby came into the world.
Starting the Tuesday before my scheduled c-section that Friday, the Bay Area was ordered to shelter in place for 3 weeks. No non-essential exposure to others or leaving the house. We were told we couldn’t have visitors at the hospital and I was allowed only one support person to come with me for my delivery. Obviously this made sense, given the state of affairs happening, but it was gut-wrenching not to have my mom come meet her grandson in the hospital.
I plan to post my birth story later so will skim on those details for now. The long short is that we are so blessed to be home with a healthy, adorable baby boy. This is the main thing and I am beyond thankful. I am also thankful that we have ours and our families health; we have a home to be in during these uncertain times; we have food to eat; and Mike and I have each other to support and navigate the first moments of life with a new baby. But we’re also missing being able to introduce our sweet son to his family.
This little guy has only met us and the nurses/doctors at the hospital. We’ve had to rely on video calls and sending pictures as forms of introduction to everyone else. Some Most days it’s hard not to get really down during this time. He will only be this new and small for a short amount of time, and our family can’t hold him, hug him, kiss him, or cuddle him. Plus, not knowing when all of this will end has made it more taxing… will our son be one month when he can finally meet his grandparents? 3 months? 6 months? Please don’t let it last that long.
For now, all we can do is wait and remain positive. We’re staying put in our house to do our part in flattening the curve. We’re calling and texting, emailing and FaceTiming family and friends every day. We’re going on small family walks while I recover from the c-section. We’re taking naps and baking cakes. We’re waking up with morning coffee and tea and recapping the night – did he sleep well? how are we feeling? he peed through how many onesies? – and remembering to treasure these moments even if they are far different than what we expected.
I think one of the most fun parts about being pregnant is telling everyone! I mentioned in my first trimester post that we told our immediate family early on (basically only our parents). Once I hit the 2nd trimester we slowly started telling other family and friends in creative ways.
We told part of my extended family by hosting a brunch at our house. With the craziness of the year, they actually hadn’t been to our new house yet so it was the perfect opportunity to do a reveal by saying our second bedroom was THE NURSERY! I scanned/printed a picture of our ultrasound and stuck it to the room. All in all, I don’t think anyone was actually that surprised as I passed on a glass of wine a few weeks before at a another family function haha but it was still fun to tell our news!
We told my grandparents by brining our wedding book over to their house and taped that same ultrasound picture in the back saying “Chapter Two: coming in March” – it took my grandma a second to put it together but once she did, she exclaimed “oooh, so soon!” and my grandpa “oh my!” which was pretty cute.
The big reveal for most of our friends came at Canadian Thanksgiving where I wore this custom shirt Mike made me. It was fun to see everyone’s reactions after they read the shirt, especially people who were generally surprised.
We had Mike’s parents tell a lot of the Canadian family by showing them the same picture on Thanksgiving. I wish I got to see the reactions there!
For friends and family that weren’t at Canadian Thanksgiving, I either sent them that picture too or another ultrasound one when we found out what we were having!
Which, speaking of, we found out we are having a boy! Personally I can’t imagine not finding out what we are having for planning, naming, and just general day dreaming purposes. 🙂
I always thought we would have a girl first so it was crazy to find out he’s actually a boy in there. Obviously I can’t wait to meet him. I love the idea of a little mini-Mike!
Travels + date nights
We spent a weekend in Monterey with friends, flew to Toronto for a wedding, and then to Vancouver to celebrate my birthday in October/November.
We’ve also been enjoying date nights with just the two of us. I imagine I’ll really want to ramp these up in the next few months since it will be our last chance for time alone without the baby or finding a sitter.
We’re spending a lot of time with friends too. The day after Thanksgiving we had brunch an old friend’s house, where my friend had the best idea to putting out different breads, nuts, seeds, berries, and dried fruit instead of a traditional bacon and eggs type thing. It looked so nice (I forgot to snap a pic), was nom, and a lot less prep/clean up. An all around win!
We went to a Marvelous Ms. Masiel dinner and premiere, where a group of us got together for a traditional Jewish dinner and the first episode of the new season.
We’ve also seen a few movies and I’ve been trying to take long walks with friends when able.
The growing bump
Every morning I wake up and my first thought is about this baby bump. Sometimes I can feel him kick before I even get out of bed and it’s such a sweet moment to steal while tucked away in the sheets still.
I love getting ready and scoping out my profile to see how much he’s grown.
The 2 pictures below that were taken ~6 weeks apart; one at the wedding we went to in and early November the other the night before Mike’s holiday party mid December. Talk about a risky last minute move… waiting until the day before to confirm a dress still fit.
Per usual, the holidays were busy. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family (baby name debates included, of course), attended both of our company’s holiday parties, and flew back to Toronto for Christmas.
It’s always nice to see family and make memories!
Falling in love with our little one
I mean, do I even need to explain this one? ☺️ I can’t wait until March to meet him!
Our little one is due in March and after some back and forth, I decided to blog about my pregnancy via trimester snapshots. My first trimester was July – September and I was oddly happy to start the journey in the summer vs. being super pregnant during the warmer months. Plus I get to openly indulge in all holiday treats “for two” now as I’m in my second trimester during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I found out I was pregnant on a Sunday, after being only one day late. The plan was to wait the “5 days after your missed period” but I had a dream that night that I was pregnant and sleepily decided to just see in the morning when I woke up. I grabbed an expired test we had and … 2 minutes later ran into our room to wake up Mike with the news. I will say, I do suggest at least letting your partner know before you take a test (if you’re actively trying anyway, and both of you know a test is in your near future) as it was a bit of a surprise for Mike; particularly since I changed the plan from taking the test on Wednesday without letting him know.
Of course, as the common troupe goes, we went out and bought more pregnancy tests later that day to be sure. The second one was a deeper colored positive, and, of course, had the benefit of not being an expired test…
That first day of knowing was so surreal. There was a mix of feelings and also a sense of perplexity… like, is this really real (even after two definite positive tests).
I called my doctor the next morning and they set up an initial phone appointment. I figured they would want to see me in person for an exam right away but it turns out you have to wait until you’re 6 – 8 weeks!
I finally went in when I was 7 weeks and 4 days pregnant. (Longest 3 week wait of my life.) During this appointment we saw the heartbeat for the first time. Of course it was such a special moment; coupled with wrapping my head around my body growing this little sweet thing while I seemingly did nothing different (aside from cutting my coffee consumption, eliminating alcohol, and avoiding foods I had heard not to eat).
Overall the remaining 7 weeks of my first trimester were relatively easy. I didn’t get any morning sickness but I did feel waves of nausea throughout the day. I also felt fatigue that I’ve never experienced before, like down-to-the-bones tired. I slept like a rock and was consistent in getting 7 – 8 hours every night. The only real aversion I had was a seemingly never ending sour/metal taste in my mouth. I was eating more to keep the taste at bay than out of hunger. Dried mangos at work became my best friend because I could suck on them slowly throughout the day.
Thinking about it, I generally wanted a lot of sweet things, which is off-brand for me. In the early days, lemonade was a favorite (my mom mentioned she craved lemonade when she was pregnant with me too). Meat was another one that I typically don’t eat much of but all the sudden I was eating it every day. I’ve always been a coffee lover but our affair got more serious – at least emotionally – during my first trimester. Ah, that sweet, sweet hot black magic… I WANTED SO MUCH COFFEE but with strength, limited myself to a cup or two a day.
The other piece of the first trimester is having the best news of your life and not really sharing it with people. We basically only told our family – which is pretty typical – but man, it was hard to keep it to myself for those first few months!
Things We Did
Met the Reagans! We spend every 4th of July with our friends Gary, April, and now their little one Grayson. This year we flew down to Simi Valley for the weekend and visited the Ronald Reagan Library. I was only a few days pregnant here and obviously didn’t know yet.
The Oakland Triathlon! A few weeks after finding out we were expecting, Mike participated in an aquabike. It was an early wakeup call and a cold morning, but always good to be there cheering on Mike (future daddy)! We grabbed brunch after with friends we don’t get to see nearly enough, which was also great (although so hard not to tell them the exciting news).
A group of us were supposed to go camping at Big Sur in early August but plans fell through. We took advantage of a rare free weekend and went kayaking in the Half Moon Bay Harbor with our friends Lauren and Ian (you can reach about other HMB adventures here and here). It was such a fun thing to do for an hour! After we hit up a brewery (where I had to pretend I just wasn’t in the mod for a beer…. suspicious, I’m sure) and then got iced teas and dessert at a local cafe.
Wedding time! Right before I started the 2nd trimester we went to my friend Debbie’s wedding near Santa Barbara. Look at that strategically place soda water and lime. 😉
We’re in Vancouver now, celebrating my 30th! Stay tuned for a vacation post and my second trimester recap. 🙂
When we booked our honeymoon, St Barts was the destination in my mind. Disney World and Saint Martin we great and all but I really couldn’t wait to get on the island that is allegedly littered with celebrities, taking in all of the luxury St. Barts has to offer.
I could see the difference between Saint Martin and St. Barts immediately when we stepped off of the 45 minute ferry we took between the two islands. Instead of having to deal with renting a car, the hotel we were staying at arranged transport for us. And despite being later than our estimated arrival time, there was still a shiny white van waiting to swoop us up when we got there. This wasn’t your standard carpool minivan either; it was all tan seats, A/C blasting, and a cooler of Evian water waiting for us. It was let us help you with your bags and closing your door and is it too cool in here? Toohot?
Honestly it was so nice, looking back I’m shocked they didn’t have something more outrageous for us, like flavored oxygen tanks to make breathing more pleasurable… (which, if they did, I would have opted for pineapple flavor).
We arrived at Hotel Christopher after a somewhat fairytale-esque drive across the island, with everything being bright and pristine and smaller than what we’re used to in the states. Naturally the staff greeted us with welcome cocktails and we were directed towards a changing room, where we got in our bathing suits to enjoy the pool while we waited for our room to be ready.
We dipped in and out of the pool, alternating between reading, chatting, and huge iguana sightings. At some point we spilt a yummy lunch of freshly baked bread, the creamiest burrata, truffle ham, kalamata tapenade, and artichoke hearts.
We were “Sir’d” and “Madam’d” to our room, where we read some more and dozed off on our patio. We had a great view of the pool and it was easy to fall asleep in the sun, with the sound of fams splashing in the background.
When we woke up I was ready to explore the island, having a bit of cabin fever from being at the hotel for so long. I wanted to go into town for dinner but didn’t realize the location of our hotel didn’t allow for easy walking. Our options were to take a €30 cab there or to eat at the hotel restaurant. Given that we were renting a car the next day, we stayed at the hotel for dinner. Although the burgers and peach cocktails we ordered were devine, I did feel a bit trapped there our first night.
Our second morning started with a hunt for chocolate croissants and coffee. Part of the reason we picked St. Barts for our honeymoon was to experience the laid back island vibe with a bit of European flare. In short, I was really looking forward to the cafe scene! Sadly the chocolate croissants were sold out by the time we picked a place. Instead we got essentially a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, “basically a ham and cheese croissant,” the waitress told us when ordering.
We spent the afternoon exploring different beaches around the island. Some highlights were the baby goats we spotted on one beach and our picnic lunch. The water was so incredible; clear, blue, and warm. Perfect for hours of swimming and long walks on the beach. Hehe 🙂
It was a blissful day that we ended with a trip to a local store for breakfast the next morning (having learned not to rely on the cafes after all) and getting a pizza to go for dinner. It sounds simple but sharing a bottle of wine and pizza back at the hotel was one of my favorite moments.
On our final full day there, Mike wanted to go surfing. We packed up the rental car with beach towels and an umbrella the hotel generously provided and set off to find a broad to rent. We ended up at St. Jeans for the entire day. Mike was able to surf while I lounged on the beach, reading, eating snacks and WATCHING PLANES TAKE OFF AND LAND.
As the afternoon was winding down, we went for one last swim to a platform you could sit on in the middle of the deeper part of the sea. We ended up meeting another vacationing couple. After chatting for a while, we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet up for a drink later.
Delighted and drowsy from a day in the sun, we went back to the hotel to shower and change for our last dinner there. Word to the wise, if you find yourself in St. Barts and you want to go out for dinner, MAKE RESERVATIONS! Many of the restaurants base their food ordering for the day based on the number of reservations they have that night. So despite a place not looking crowded, they might literally not have food for you to eat there. We experienced this at 2 restaurants we attempted to eat at, which was frustrating but we finally hit the jackpot with a canceled reso at Bonito.
Bonito was an open restaurant, up on a hill that overlooked the harbor. The food was very French (read: very good, very small portions, and very expensive). It was a lovely last meal, the fancy atmosphere fitting the occasion.
After dinner we met our new friends for a beer and, of course, instagram handle exchanges to stay in touch (hiii, Jenna!;)
We had an early departure the next morning back to St. Martin for our last night before flying home. Overall St. Barts was as exquisite as you can imagine. I’m glad we went there for our honeymoon – a trip of a lifetime – and indulged in all the island has to offer, but I don’t know if we would go back…
Comparing the two islands, to me, is like this: St. Barts is more caviar and champagne, while Saint Martin is calamari and Corona. St. Barts in where you go to relax, but Saint Martin is where you get the stories. Overall both islands where great – one more glam, one a bit more girt – and I’m glad we experienced each of them, although, as much as I love a glass of sparkles, it doesn’t beat local flavor; where the people are kind, courageous, and ready to tell you their tale.
We left Orlando ready for some r&r and island time. After an early flight we arrived in the Caribbean, specifically on the island of Saint Martin, which is somewhat confusingly both a French and Dutch territory. We decided to spend 2 nights on the French side, then ferry over to the island of St. Barts before coming back and spending our final night on the Dutch side.
We didn’t book transport prior to our trip but luckily rented a car without much trouble to get us to our hotel. There are very few places you can actually walk on both Saint Martin and St. Barts so a car was key. It was a good thing Mike drives a stick and we live close to San Francisco, because manual was our only option and Saint Martin is hilly.
We arrived at Grande Case Beach Club and treated ourselves to a welcome cocktail and shared calamari + a Caesar salad since our room wasn’t ready. It was nice to be right on the beach, kicking off the 2nd part of our honeymoon. The water was such a clear, pretty blue, I couldn’t wait to hop in.
We were able to check in shortly after. I was very impressed with our room, which had fresh flowers scattered around, a bottle of wine to enjoy later, and a patio that opened up to a private beach for hotel guests. Without question the first thing we did was take a dip in the ocean.
Not having eaten much that day with an early wake up call and traveling, we were ready for dinner shortly after. We decided to try the hotel restaurant and it was one of the best meals I had there! Even more impressing was that it was all cooked in a small camper as the hotel kitchen was still under construction from the hurricane damages. This – among other things like chipped concrete and a few patches of dried out vegetation – were signs that the island was still recovering.
We walked to the little down town area after dinner for a drink at the Blue Martini. (At the time, I didn’t realize that is was rare to be able to walk anywhere on Saint Martin – or St. Barts – so we took this walk for granted.) The Blue Martini was everything an island bar should be; outdoors, not cramped, nothing too fancy with good spirited bar tenders and live music. We stayed for 2 drinks and did what you’re supposed to do on your honeymoon, just enjoy each other’s company!
Another glorious thing I took for granted when we were at Grand Case was the free breakfast the hotel provided in the morning (foreshadowing that this was not so on the next island we went to $$$). We enjoyed coffee/tea, croissants, and fresh fruit seaside before packing our stuff and heading out to explore.
Our adventure of choice that day was jet skiing. Equal parts fun and anxiety-filled for me, 100% thrill for Mike (when he was able to go fast without me jamming my fingernails into his ribs hahaha). Once our hour on the jet ski was up, we bobbed around in the warm ocean water for a bit, which was quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to spend our days (aside from gloriously reading for hours at a time and enjoying delicious wine and food, of course).
This might be weird coming from anyone else but I’m sure “on brand” for me: one of my favorite things to do when traveling is going to the local grocery store. And I knew I wanted to hit up a few with that French influence on the island. Hi, all of the cheese and nom fresh ingredients!
We bought a small sampler of different cheese, some grapes, and nuts before promptly going back to our hotel, opening a bottle of wine to pair with our local goods and sitting right by another beach to enjoy the waves again. Ahhh, bliss.
For dinner we sauntered over to a gorgeous French restaurant downtown and enjoyed freshly baked bread, more wine, fresh fish, and seasonal vegetables. For such a gorgeous place, I was surprised it wasn’t packed. We chatted a bit with the owners who mentioned they were just starting to make their slow recovery from the destruction of the hurricane. It’s a small drop in their economy but I’m glad we contributed and spent our money there. Plus, we learned about the best spot to go to from our conversation with the locals: a rum bar just next door.
Omg, this rum bar! Looking back it was our favorite night. When we first arrived we were the only ones there, which meant all of the owners attention. We learned about rum made from molasses vs. sugarcane and all of the different places it came from. Then we got real bold and asked if we go off-menu, ordering a sampler instead of one drink each. The owner agreed. We gave him creative liberty to pour us his choices. And then we learned how to properly drink rum.
Smell. Swirl. Sip.
Waft to smell, inhaling from one nostril and then the other by alternating which one you cover. Swirl to see the legs (similar to wine). Sip. Hold it on your tongue. Savor. Swallow.
Pour more. Repeat! (Bonus points, of course, if you’re enjoying your honeymoon and away from the daily grind.)
We walked back after our rum flight happy and content, crossing paths with a little black cat that I loved and wanted to take home. Not one for the superstition of bad luck, I fell asleep without a care that night; looking forward to the next day and our final stop on our honeymoon, St. Barts! **post coming soon**
The Monday after our wedding we flew to Orlando to experience Disney World. It was my first time here, but Mike grew up going to Florida and seeing Mickey & co for spring break.
We stayed at the Port of New Orleans – French Quarter and overall, we were impressed. It had the magic of Disney but was relatively affordable. Particularly at a place like Disney – where you won’t be spending much time in the hotel – as long as it’s clean and convienetly located, it’s win.
My favorite part of the hotel was the NOLA inspired food there. On the shuttle from the airport, we received a text telling us our room number before arriving (Disney magic, friends!) so Mike was able to go drop off our stuff (accessing the room with our ✨magic bands✨) while I ordered food on our first night there.
After dinner, we grabbed a cocktail and hit up the hot tub for a little bit before it closed. With full day of traveling under our belts, it was a nice way to end the day. Even though it was still on the early side for us, being on California, we went to sleep shortly after in preparation for a packed next day.
Despite going to sleep early, we still slept right through our alarms on Tuesday (maybe we were still recovering from all of the wedding festivities?!).
Mike loves going to parks from opening to closing, so it was a bit stressful that we’d already missed a hour at his favorite place, Typhoon Lagoon. We arrived at the water park only 1/2 hour later after quickly getting ready and running out of the door.
Typhoon Lagoo didn’t disappoint, despite our late start! The wave pool was the best and we spent most of our time treading water in the deep-end where there weren’t as many people. Of course we also gave the lazy river and a few slides a go, before it was time to go to the next park: Epcot.
My lovely friend Lauren gave me a ton of good information about Disney World, like making dinner reservations 90 days out and when to get our fastpasses, so a special shout out to her before I dive into our Epcot experience (her and her husband’s favorite park).
First up was the new Frozen ride, which I am glad we had a Fastpass for. The ride was cute but not worth the 2 hour lineup for it. I’m also stating to wonder… how many slow-moving boat rides can Disney make?!
Having not really eaten breakfast, we were ready for lunch quickly after. We went for tacos + margs in Mexico and it was really nice to just sit for a bit. We enjoyed the water views and the breeze in that hot FL sun. The company wasn’t too bad either. 🙂
Next we walked around and went on some more rides but were really just killing time before our next meal. Hah 🙂
Dinner was at Le Cellier, the Canadian steakhouse. People raved about this place. And, being that I married a Canadian, we had to go. Sadly we were both disappointed with the food. The experience was great; it was nice to go to a fancier sit-down restaurant in Disney World and our server was kind (obviously, he was from Canada), but we were more impressed with the bread basket than the filets. Not the best sign. My recommendation would be to go here for the dessert and to try ice wine but save your money and eat dinner somewhere else.
After dinner we finished “walking around the world,” which was my favorite part of Epcot. Everything is cute and clean and I just loved seeing it all.
On Wednesday we were up early and at Magic Kingdom before it opened. Now, I am a Disney Land girl all the way. I spent many summers driving south to spend a few magical days with my grandparents and mom there. This to say, I was excited to experience Magic Kingdom because I heard it was the most similar to Disney Land.
First up was, of course, Space Mountain. Space Mountain holds a special place in my heart because it is a family favorite (probably like many other families). The story from the first time I rode it goes like this: I was with my grandparents and my mom waiting for probably hours to ride Space Mountain. I guess as a small girl I was pretty nervous about riding a roller coaster in the dark and kept telling my Grandpa about my concerns. It worked out that he sat in the row behind me and, the same as I do today, I was screaming my head off the entire ride. My grandpa felt pretty bad during the ride, thinking, I made her go on this ride she hates and is screaming through the whole thing.
The punchline is, when we got off the ride I immediately requested we go on it again. 🙂
Ok, back to our honeymoon! After more rides, we went to lunch at Jungle Navigation Skipper Canteen, which was one of my top 2 favorite places in Disney World. It was a nice air conditioned break from the heat and the menu had the most vegetables I saw there.
Next we made the game day decision to go back to the hotel room for a dip in the pool and an afternoon nap. Much needed!
We went to dinner that night at Be Our Guest, which I heard was hard to get reseverations for so I was proud of our planning. This restaurant is in the beasts and Belle’s castle, which was cool to see, and they have a 3 course prefixed menu. The big draw though is the “grey stuff” you get for dessert. It is indeed delicious (after I figured out what it was! I can’t enjoy food or tastes that I can’t place).
Turns out I must have gotten my fill of Disney Land when we went a few years ago because I was ready to leave Magic Kingdom after dinner. We went to the Boardwalk in the search of souvenirs but quickly aborted mission for something a little more lively! Cue Disney Springs. Ah, this place was actual magic for this soon to be 30 year old.
We grabbed a beer and caught the last few songs of a live band. It was kind of sad we’d already eaten because it looked like there were some amazing restaurants, including a wine and oyster bar. The real highlight was when it was time to go back to the hotel and we wanted to take a ferryboat. We walked to the pier and caught a skipper just in time to hop on the last boat heading our way.
Maybe it was the excitement of perfect timing or maybe it was the beer but for whatever reason, Mike and I loved that boat ride home.
Our last day was spilt in between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Animal Kingdom was a jammed few hours on rides between our fast passes, some short lines, and opting to go as “single riders” instead of together to bypass waits. If you’re fine going solo on a ride, I recommend trying the single riders hack. It is such a time saver!
In my opinion, the actual gem of the day trip was lunch at Sanaa that afternoon. You have to leave the park and go to Animal Kingdom Lodge – which, let me just pause for a second and say loveeee. If we ever go back, I want to stay here; for the lodge’s atmosphere and also because I want to eat at Sanna and have their bread service for lunch everyday.
The bread service is it, people. Fly to Orlando, eat here, and you can go home right after.
On top of the amazing food and aesthetics, you get to watch different animals walk around in the courtyard while you eat.
After lunch it was time for Hollywood Studios and a 85 minute line up to go on the Tower of Terror. Normally fast drop-down rides aren’t my favorite but I can handle (somewhat) Tower of Terror, which is good because it’s Mike’s favorite ride!
Per usual, I screamed (and death griped my seat) the entire time.
We rounded out the day with a few more rides before going back to the hotel and packing for our early morning flight to the Caribbean! **post coming soon**
On Friday, May 17th, 2019 Mike and I got married at Saratoga Springs in California. I knew I wanted to get married at Saratoga Springs before Mike even proposed. Which meant finding a venue wasn’t a hard choice for us. We actually only visited Saratoga Springs once and signed the contract without visiting any other locations or doing other research.
This quick-decision making turned out to be the unwritten theme of our wedding. We met with one photographer and decided to move forward; I tried on 3 dresses and bought the first one I tried on; I asked my good friend Lauren to make cookies for dessert and never looked back. We opted early on to make decisions fast and not to dirty ourselves with too many details or time consuming indecision. If you’re not about stress, I recommended this method.
It helped that my drumbeat for the day was unwavering: our wedding had one great importance and that was us. Spending a lot of money of other things wasn’t of value to me. Of course I wanted nice centerpieces, decent food, and flowing drinks, but they had to be simplistic, no stress options, with little monetary investment.
Our centerpieces were thought of and crafted as a collaborative effort between myself, Mike, my mom, and two of my friends, Allysa and Leslie. We were fine with the buffet style meal the venue would provide – which was BBQ – and aside from picking the side dishes, we didn’t think more about it. For us, a huge perk about a wedding a Saratoga Springs was that, if you picked the house options, the wine and beer were unlimited. (Our one splurge was for an upgraded keg because I love an IPA and I’m picker about my beer than my wine.)
When I think back on our wedding day, one word comes to mind: joy. I think, in part, this is a testament to words being powerful, and what you say mattering. Leading up to the day, I repeatedly said a top priority was our friends & family having a good time. As mentioned already, things like the food or decorations just weren’t as important.
If my drumbeat was Mike & Ashley, Mike & Ashley, Mike & Ashley, my mantra for the day was everyone just dance and have fun!
All love, no drama.
Minimum effort, maximum enjoyment.
Before the wedding, I asked Mike if once it was all said and done, would we deem it worth it? After all, even with the laissez-faire attitude I believe I had when planning our wedding, it still had it’s stressful parts…
I’m delighted to report that it was 100%, would-do-it-again-in-a- heartbeat, worth it.
Our wedding day was the most magical, whimsical, wine-fueled, joyful, love-filled, special day of my life. Everyone we love was there, and I believe it was all of their missions to have the best time while celebrating us. ♡