Hard Choices

Here’s the thing. It’s really easy (and cheap) for most people to be fat and out of shape. It requires literally no effort whatsoever. Yes, there are people who have trouble keeping weight on, and I recognize that that is a legitimate problem, but for most of us, all it takes is a month of Netflix and regular deliveries from Papa John’s to pack on the pounds. When the PJ’s delivery guy commented that Will was wearing a different super hero t-shirt every time he came here, I really should have known we’d been ordering too much. First of all, we’d had the same delivery guy more than once, which is kind of a feat in itself. Second, he’d been here enough times to know he’d been here before AND to recognize that my husband has a lot of super hero t-shirts.

It’s just that pizza is delicious, and Netflix has so many great options! Terrible excuses? Maybe. But after almost of month of exercising and eating a healthy diet on a regular basis, I’m still tempted to make them. They’re simply easier than planning healthy meals, preparing for them, cooking them, and getting off my butt every day to exercise.

So my biggest fear going into these changes (and still today) was (is) that I won’t be able to do it. I’m afraid I’ll start slacking off little by little until I’ve completely abandoned the program, and that I will then undo all the good things I’ve done over the past month. I’m afraid my body will betray me again – that I’ll injure myself or something – and not allow me to make the healthy choices I want to make.

Basically I’m afraid I will fail, and I really need a win right now.

All I have in front of me, though, are choices – one at a time. I can’t worry about what may or may not happen if I do or don’t do something. All I can do is choose to plan my meals or not, choose to follow the plan at each meal or not, choose to exercise or not. The only definite consequences are that I will become less healthy, more out of shape, and more overweight if I continue to make the decisions I was making before. I can’t know what will happen if I try – I might succeed, and I might fail – but if I don’t try, the only possibility is failure.

If failure is the thing I fear, and if I really need at least the possibility of a win, then not trying is just not an option.

The choices are hard. I’m lazy some days and just want to order a pizza. I’m busy some days and just want to get take-out. I’m lazy some days and don’t feel like working out. I’m busy some days and don’t know when I’ll have the time. I’m trying to be gracious with myself as much as possible. I don’t want to feel enslaved by any of this, but I know that the process of changing habits is not fun or easy, so I’m pushing through the initial difficulty of it. I hope I’ll be rewarded later. I hope I wake up one day in the future and look forward to my workout. I hope one day that I’ll use exercise to feel better, not food. I hope one day exercise will make me feel better, not like I’m dying. I think that day is coming, but the choices required to get to it are tough. One day, one meal, one exercise at a time, though, I WILL do this.

Tortilla Soup Recipe

Ok so even though it’s the end of our vacation week, I’m really excited that it’s Friday so I can give you this recipe! We made it the other night, and it was AMAAAAZIIIIINNNG (done in a sing-song voice for best effect)!!! If you’re a vegetarian on the 21-Day Fix, I would estimate that about a cup and a half of this soup equals 1 red, 1 green, 1-2 yellows, and 1 teaspoon. If you’re not a vegetarian, I would estimate that the same amount is 1 green, 2-3 yellows, and 1 teaspoon. I also added tofu to mine for an extra red container, and Will added chicken to his. If you’ve got a blue to spare, I highly recommend the avocado, and if you’re not on the 21-Day Fix at all, dude, go to Trader Joe’s and get you some Mexican Cheese. Go crazy.

Here we go. For this, you will need:

tortilla soup

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (any color is fine, but I like red)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 carton veggie broth or stock
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen, or I imagine grilled/roasted would be delicious)
  • 1 cup white hominy
  • 1 (4-oz.) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • 1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • sliced avocado (optional)
  • Mexican cheese blend (optional)
  • cilantro (optional)

Ok, now it’s very easy.

  1. Sautee the garlic, onions, bell pepper and garbanzos in the olive oil until fragrant.
  2. Add the chili powder, cumin and oregano, and sautee for another minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes and broth. Bring it to a boil, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the hominy, corn, green chiles and black beans. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. Top it off with the any of the optional ingredients you want. Serve and eat!

Food Diary

I haven’t eaten meat in years. I couldn’t remember whether it was 2006 or 2007 when I went quasi-vegan, but luckily I have a blog to remember things for me. It was just after Thanksgiving, 2007. I had been toying with the idea for a while, but I didn’t know if I could really do it. I remember very clearly, though, taking a bite of turkey at Thanksgiving, putting my fork down, and thinking, “I’m out.” I just re-read my blog post about it, and in it, I said I didn’t know if it would last. The vegan part of it hasn’t lasted, but the vegetarian part has and will. I honestly don’t know what would happen to my stomach if I tried to eat meat now, but I don’t think it would be pretty.

People always want to know what I eat as a vegetarian, and it’s a fair question, though a bit silly in my opinion. I eat food, just not animals. If it never had a face or a heart, it’s fair game. That leaves:

  • fruit (anything but melons – I don’t like melons)
  • vegetables (except a few I don’t care for – cucumbers, eggplant, raw tomatoes, raw onions)
  • grains (bread, pasta, rice, cereal, couscous, quinoa, farro, bulgur – Yes, please.)
  • beans (Chili, anyone?)
  • nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
  • dairy (yogurt, cheese, butter, milk, ice cream)
  • ALL the herbs and spices

Y’all, that’s a LOT of things. With all of those as options, I can literally walk into 98% of restaurants and find something on the menu that I can eat (unless I’m in Gatlinburg, TN, but we won’t go into that right now). My only problem is that up until about a month ago, the majority of my diet consisted of things that my body turned into sugar – dairy and pasta. So much pasta. Delicious, delicious pasta. I was eating the amount of starch that I should have been eating protein and vice versa. A typical day would have looked like this:

  • Breakfast – Krave Double Chocolate cereal with unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Snack – Fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt
  • Lunch – Left-overs from the night before (generally some kind of grain and veggies, usually with beans, possibly with cheese or other dairy)
  • Dinner – We try a lot of new recipes, but most of them involve rice or pasta, beans, and veggies. We’ve also been known to order pizza or get Chinese take-out.
  • If I was still hungry after dinner, I might have eaten another bowl of cereal or some applesauce.

I know, it doesn’t seem THAT bad, does it? But what I’m learning is that not THAT bad is also not very good at all. And vegetarian or not, you can make good and bad food choices. Oreos are vegan. So are Twizzlers. And I have a whole book of vegan cupcake recipes, each more delicious than the next. That doesn’t make them good for you, especially when you make a whole batch and eat them all yourself.

So I’m trying something new. And I’m not doing it perfectly, but I’m working on it.

21-Day Fix Containers (not my ugly countertop)
21-Day Fix Containers (not my ugly countertop)

These are my food containers. They are color-coded so I know how much I should eat of what. Green is for veggies, purple is fruit, red is protein, yellow is starch, blue is good fats like nuts and avocado, and orange is not-so-good fats like salad dressing. When I got them, I thought, “Is this all I get to eat in a day?! No wonder it makes you lose weight!” But no. Every day, based on my weight, I get 5 green containers, 3 purple, 5 red, 4 yellow, 1 blue, and 1 orange. I’m supposed to eat all of them every day in 5 small meals, and there are days when I could eat that and WAY more, and there are days when I skip a container because I’m full. Like I said, not perfect, but I’m working on it.

This requires a LOT of planning, but that’s the hardest part. Once the planning is done, the eating is easy. I would say it’s even easier than trying to force yourself not to eat certain things by sheer willpower because you never have bad-for-you things in your plan. I make a chart of what I’m going to eat, and that’s what I eat. I’m never rooting around in the kitchen looking for something to eat. I’m never tempted to just swing through the Taco Bell drive-thru because I have food waiting for me at home, and usually it’s vegetables or fruits that will go bad if I don’t eat them, so I feel obligated to go home and eat them. Otherwise, I’ve wasted money on good food that went bad while spending even more money on bad food.

If you’re super-curious, here’s my first week on this plan (and for those who don’t know, Shakeology is a protein shake to which I add fruit and/or almond or rice milk):

21-Day Fix Week 1

I’ve color-coded it for my own benefit, so I could easily count how many of each container I had planned into each day. Again, not perfect, and some days got tweaked as I went, but not bad for my first go.

If anyone has tips, tricks or recommendations for how I can get more non-dairy protein in my life, I’m all ears. I’m eating a lot of plain Greek yogurt at this point, and I’d like to eventually cut back on that, but the struggle is real, especially if, like me, you can’t eat that much soy in a day (or any soy at all like some folks).

Healthy Start

I could go back as far as high school to start this story, but I won’t. I’ll just go back to when I was pregnant with a tee-tiny bit of back story. Like a lot of women, I have always struggled with my weight. Looking back at high school pictures, I can see now that I was reasonably thin, but I did not believe that at the time. After high school, things just got worse, and although I’ve tried now and then to lose weight, I just seem to keep putting it on. I didn’t even lose a pound when I was training for the half marathon I did in New Orleans.

When I was pregnant, the nurses at my OB/GYN practice liked to remind me that I was overweight. As if I hadn’t noticed that I was shopping at the plus-size store. And as if I wasn’t already self-conscious enough with my belly growing and people asking if I was sure I didn’t have two babies in there. Thanks, gals, for the ego boost.

But I wasn’t allowed to try to lose weight at that point.

Then we lost our sweet Ella, and through the kindness and generosity of SO many people, we ate a LOT of not-the-healthiest food in a very short period of time, and I put on another 8 pounds in just 6 weeks, which put me at the most I had ever weighed in my life, including the time I spent pregnant. This was getting serious. I knew that I needed to do something, and I knew I needed help and accountability to do it.

Well toward the end of August, I noticed that a friend from college was going to be leading a health and fitness challenge group for beginners on Facebook. I didn’t really consider myself a true beginner, but I knew I was REALLY out of shape, so I figured I would fit in just fine. We’ve been at it for almost three weeks now, and not only do I fit in just fine, it is HARD.

The exercise is hard, the eating plan is hard, and all of the feelings associated with it are hard. There’s the determination to succeed, the fear of failing, the desire to eat things I shouldn’t eat, the guilt of eating things I shouldn’t have eaten, the thought that I should just give up, and then back around to the determination to succeed. I’ve just come to think about food and exercise in a certain way, and changing my thought patterns is really difficult. But it IS time for me to make these changes, so I’m going to do it.

On a purely mental/emotional level, I need to do this now:

  1. because I need to succeed at something after losing my baby.
  2. because I need to feel like I’m in control of my body after the complete traumatic helplessness of PPROM.
  3. because I need to treat my body well after being so angry at it.
  4. because I still feel so sad so often, but endorphins make you feel so great.
  5. because I need to be proud of myself for something.
  6. because I need to keep myself busy until we are ready/allowed to try to get pregnant again.

So off I go on a frightening, exciting journey. If you can relate to any of this (with or without the pregnancy stuff), you are cordially invited to join me. I hope you will, and if you want, you can tell me that you’re with me, and we’ll keep each other going.

NaBloPoMo Table of Contents – October 2014

Well I’ve enjoyed blogging daily so much over the past month that I’m going to do it again! I don’t know what BlogHer’s official theme is for October, but I’ve chosen the theme of health. I’ll write more about why tomorrow, but I thought it was a nice follow-up to September’s theme of healing. Again, I’ll update this post daily with links to new posts, so if you stumble across this page any time after October 2014, you can access all of this month’s posts from here.

Wednesday, October 1
Why this topic now?

Thursday, October 2
Describe a day of your normal meals.

Friday, October 3
Recipe Friday! – Tortilla Soup

Monday, October 6
What scares you about healthy living?

Tuesday, October 7
Give 3 tips for healthier eating.

Wednesday, October 8
How do you deal with discouragement?

Thursday, October 9
How do an herbivore and an omnivore cook together?

Friday, October 10
Recipe Friday! – Easy Dijon Vinaigrette

Monday, October 13
Give 3 tips for improving your workouts.

Tuesday, October 14
How important is community when it comes to fitness?

Wednesday, October 15
What are your favorite and least favorite kinds of exercise?  Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Thursday, October 16
How does good nutrition relate to exercise?

Friday, October 17
Recipe Friday! – Spicy Greek Yogurt Cauliflower Recipe

Monday, October 20
Describe some creative ways to get active.

Tuesday, October 21
After I exercise, I feel…

Wednesday, October 22
How do physical health and emotional health interact?

Thursday, October 23
Make an exercise mix!

Friday, October 24
Recipe Friday! – Sautéed Chickpeas

Monday, October 27
How do you maintain self-discipline?

Tuesday, October 28
How do you overcome failures and set-backs?

Wednesday, October 29
What are some unexpected benefits of a healthy lifestyle?

Thursday, October 30
What are your health goals for November?

Friday, October 31
Recipe Friday! – Baked Apples

5 Things to Heal the Soul

Everybody has their own remedies for a hurting soul. I’ve already talked about time and God and how you have to participate in the process, but here are my favorite ways to pass the time, connect with God, and receive the good to dilute the bad.

  1. Music – I’m working on a post for next week with the mix I’ve made. I’ve been listening to it over the past week or so as I’ve made and tweaked it, and it’s really good. Music is just good for the soul no matter how you’re feeling.
  2. Rest – Y’all know I love my sleep, and when I say rest is good soul-healing, that includes sleep, but it also includes waking rest. Lie quietly for ten minutes (or five if you’re antsy), and just breathe. Just breathe in and out and let everything go. Rest in bed, rest in a bubble bath, rest while lying in the grass with the sun on your skin. Just give yourself a break. Ordinary life is hectic enough. When you’re recovering from a trauma, you need this even more.
  3. Food – By this, I don’t mean eating your feelings or whipping your appetite into shape. I’m not talking about using food or your control over it to momentarily feel better. Enjoy your food. Appreciate it. Use delicious ingredients in your cooking, and really savor the flavor as you eat. Take your time chewing and really tasting each bite. And be grateful for it.
  4. Hugs – Hugs are awesome.
  5. Laughter – We watched a lot of comedies in the weeks immediately following our miscarriage, and sometimes we felt guilty about laughing so much, but boy did we need it. I’m sure there’s some sort of chemical process that happens in your body to make you feel good when you laugh. I won’t pretend to understand it, but I know it works.

What about you? What heals your soul?

Healing

They say that time heals all wounds, but I don’t think I believe that. I think it takes time for wounds to heal, but I don’t think time itself is the healer. I’ve read a lot of the internet, and I’ve come across a whole slew of message boards where women who’ve lost a child to PPROM discuss their struggles. And there are plenty of ladies out there who seem no better off after two years than other ladies after two months. But then there are ladies who seem further along in their healing process at six months than ladies who’ve waited six years. I’m very careful to use the word “seem” in this discussion because I clearly have no idea what’s really going on in their hearts. I can only see what gets typed on the internet. But everyone is different, so I think there must be more at play than just time alone.

As a Christian, I believe that God is the best healer there is, but I think I also play a role in my own healing, so the whole process is a sort of dance, a cooperative effort, a give and take that eventually results in acceptance of my situation and myself in it.

Everyone participates in this process in their own way, so it can take more or less time depending on who you are, and it looks different for everyone because God relates to unique people in unique ways designed to best engage them. For some people, reading about God’s loving nature and promises in scripture is the only thing that helps them feel better. Other people connect with God more through music. Some of us need to feel a physical presence, and for that, God gives us people to hug. Some of us need to feel peace in the midst of turmoil, and for that, he gives sleep. Some of us need chocolate cake for a week, and for that, God gives us old high school friends who own a bakery and are willing to make deliveries.

My temptation is to say that your healing will only go as quickly as the extent to which you engage with God in his healing offerings, but I don’t know if that’s true. I just don’t know. And I won’t attempt to box up healing in a tidy 3-step process because it’s not that simple. What I have experienced, though, is that when I acknowledge the good things in my life – our friends and family, the support they’ve shown us, my cuddly husband, the love I feel for others, the love they show me, the freedom I feel to be myself knowing that God accepts me completely, good sleep, good music, a great job with amazing coworkers and students, chocolate cake, etc. – when I acknowledge all these good things, it feels like they replace little bits of the bad.

Maybe that’s what Isaiah was getting at when he said that the Lord had anointed him to provide for those who grieve, to give them “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair” (Isaiah 61:3). Maybe everyone who has loved and supported us through the loss of our daughter has been anointed by God to provide for us, to switch out the bad for the good, little by little. And maybe very slowly, I’ll even start to find good things in what right now feels like an entirely bad situation. I’ll let you know if/when that happens, but in the meantime, thank you for everything. I hope you know how big a part of my healing you’ve been so far, and I want you to know that I see it, and I appreciate it more than I can say.

Risotto Recipe

And now a break from our regular programing to bring you something delicious. I posted a picture of my dinner on Facebook, and everyone wanted the recipe, so here it is. I can’t take any credit for it. We got it from a weekly meal planning thing we have, which, for the most part, serves more as weekly meal inspiration than actual planning, but this recipe is SO SO SO good. I only had to tweak it a little bit (tweaks included in recipe below). Bon appetit!

Risotto with Roasted Cauliflower and Walnuts

risotto

  • 2 large heads cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (32-oz) carton vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup toasted, coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place a large roasting pan in oven; preheat oven and pan to 450 degrees. In a  large bowl, toss cauliflower with oil, salt, and pepper; transfer to preheated pan and roast for 20 minutes or until golden and tender, turning once.

Toast walnuts lightly; set aside.

Bring broth and 3 cups water to a simmer in a saucepan. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; cook onion in butter 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add rice, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in wine; bring to a boil, and cook until liquid evaporates, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly after each addition. Continue adding broth mixture and cooking until rice is al dente (about 20 to 30 minutes total). Remove from heat, and vigorously stir in Parmesan cheese.

Toss cauliflower with walnuts, basil, lemon rind, and red pepper; serve over risotto.

Co-Cooking

Will and I cook really well together, and this recipe is perfect for it. You can definitely do it alone, but it’s really easy to do together as well. I chop the onions while Will preheats the pan in the oven, preps the broth, and melts the butter. Then he makes the risotto while I do the cauliflower/walnut mixture. It’s super easy, and for the most part, we don’t get in each other’s way. Happy cooking!

Comfort Food

When we came home from the hospital, Will’s mom went grocery shopping for us. She came back with everything we’d asked for and at least four different kinds of soda. Over the course of the next week, more people brought more soda. We couldn’t fit it all in the refrigerator, so we had a little stash on the floor in the dining area just waiting to go into the fridge when space opened up.

Then there was the food. Delicious, cheesy, carbohydrated goodness filled our refrigerator and our bellies. Also cakes, candy, and cereal. We did get some vegetables, which we ate gladly, and some fresh fruit, which we also ate gladly…after we turned it into cobbler.

We felt guilty about it all for the first few days, but then we decided that feeling guilty about food was not what we needed to be doing at that moment. Our to-do list for the first week after we lost Ella consisted of three things:

  1. Get out of bed every day
  2. Breathe in and out
  3. Feed ourselves

That was all we could do, really, and even then, we relied heavily on the kindness of others to get ourselves fed. And y’all, that food was delicious. If you brought us anything edible, THANK YOU. I ate it all. There was a chocolate cake that disappeared little by little over the course of about a week, and it wasn’t until we were down to the last two pieces that we realized I had eaten literally almost all of it.

Food in general has been very comforting to me since my miscarriage, partly because there were so many things I missed eating when I was pregnant that I can now consume with abandon, partly because sugar and carbs and dairy are delicious and make your brain feel great, and partly because I was touched by the kindness and generosity of all those who provided for us when we could barely get out of bed.

I think there are probably two directions you could go with food after a tragedy. You can eat it all like we did, allowing yourself the grace and freedom to be comforted without worrying about the nutritional value of it. Or you can get very meticulous about your diet, using it as a way to control something when everything feels out of control. I honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with either as long as you acknowledge what you are doing with food as part of your grieving process.

But six weeks and eight pounds later, I think it might be time for me to bring the eating phase of my grieving process to an end. And at the risk of using too many 30 Rock gifs (no such thing), I’ll just leave you with this and promise to talk more about food and exercise at a later date.

shutitdown

The Honest Guide to Pregnancy – Weeks 14-15

I don’t know if I’m starting something here that I won’t be able to keep up with, but I’ll try. I really like the idea of documenting this journey for other women, but also for myself so that if we have another kid, I can look back and remember what happened when…not that a 2nd pregnancy will necessarily be at all like this one. But still…

Today is my last day in week 15. It’s been 19 days since I last vomited (knock on wood). I know it’s been 19 days because we keep a chalkboard by our front door, and for the past month, it’s had a square drawn on it followed by the words “days without incident.” We update the number in the square every morning on our way out the door. We’ve had to reset it to zero a couple of times, but this is the longest stretch so far, so I’m feeling pretty good about the odds that my “morning” sickness phase is finished. I may give it another week just to be sure, and then return the chalkboard to its original role as Sweet Note Spot.

Some interesting things have happened in weeks 14 and 15 besides the fact that I haven’t hurled once (knock on wood). Let’s start with the least interesting and work our way up.

Flintstone’s Vitamins

I am not a champion when it comes to taking pills. I can do it, but I really have to psych myself up, and it’s not enjoyable. So when we found out I was pregnant, we got gummy vitamins. They tasted not awful, and they were easy to take, but I really think they contributed to my nausea, and I was not cool with that. Then we found some that were supposed to be easy on the stomach and actually help prevent nausea, so we got those, and voila! The nausea abated. Unfortunately, they were larger than rifle bullets, and I dreaded taking them so badly that I just gave up. I mean hey, women had healthy babies for centuries before prenatal vitamins even became a thing, right? And I’m suuuuuure I’m getting everything the baby and I both need on my diet of cereal, pickles, and peanut-butter crackers…

After some internet research on the subject, I found out that many women take Flintstone’s chewable vitamins while pregnant, so at our last appointment, I asked if that was ok, and I got the go-ahead. Yabba-dabba-doo!!

Shortness of Breath

This is actually not new. I think I’ve been out of breath since about week 6, but back then, I got out of breath from walking up stairs whereas now, all it takes is rolling over in bed. To be fair, changing positions in bed is a greater ordeal in pregnancy in general what with all the pillows involved in propping me up so I don’t sleep on my stomach. But seriously, it’s just rolling over. It’s not an Olympic event.

Sidebar: What would pregnant Olympics look like? Would rolling over in bed be an event? Surely one could compete in how long she can go without peeing. Later in pregnancy, leg shaving could be very competitive. And of course, the long-distance waddle would be a highlight of the games. :End sidebar

Baby Bump

At the end of the last quarter (3 weeks ago), I promised my coworkers that I would work on a more respectable bump over our two-week break, and I’m proud to say that I totally delivered (pun intended) on that promise. Here’s the thing, though: I’ve always had a belly. The only real difference now is that I can’t suck it in anymore. At all. It is out there for all to see, and honestly, I’m ok with that. We were walking around Target the other night, and I said to Will, “You know what I really like about being pregnant? It’s totally ok for me to look pregnant.” When skinny women get pregnant, they are generally still pretty thin, but they have a baby bump, you know, like every time US Weekly posts a grainy long-distance photo of a celebrity on the cover with her belly circled. But when you have the kind of build I have, it’s hard to tell when you’re pregnant and when you have just started to let yourself go.

The people who know I’m pregnant know I’m starting to show. The people who don’t know definitely wonder, but they don’t have the guts to ask yet because it’s still very possible that married life has just been that good to me.

As the bump gets bigger, though, I’m starting to believe that it has power. People are starting to make way for me and let me have their seats and stuff. Not a lot, but you better believe I’m going to use this thing to my advantage as it becomes more obvious.

Relaxin

And no, I don’t mean chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool (and definitely no shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school). Apparently, around this time in the pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called relaxin that relaxes your joints so that your hips can spread out to make way for baby’s grand entrance into the world, and possibly so that your rib cage can spread out to make way for all the organs your baby is displacing as it grows.

But what you feel is that your legs could detach from your body at any moment, your hips are sore, and your back muscles are begging for mercy from working overtime to hold your torso together. Hence, the no b-ball.

The Great Migration

At this point in pregnancy, your uterus is getting too big for its cozy little usual spot and decides to take up residency a bit farther north. So it squeezes itself out of its downtown location, which is unpleasant in itself. I was sitting on the couch one night and got very uncomfortable. It felt crampy in my baby box, which had hitherto been the worst possible thing that could happen. In the first trimester, almost anything you look up has an explanation with this final sentence: “As long as you’re not cramping, you’re probably fine.” But the second trimester…well that’s a whole new ball game, so I Googled “14 weeks pregnant pressure in lower abdomen.” And I found this awesome website with the best sentence I could have possibly read at that moment. “If you’re feeling little contractions or pulling and stretching sensations this week, don’t panic.”

It went on to explain that all my organs were going to move. And friends, they DID. And I felt it happening. And I knew what the earth felt like when Pangaea broke up. It was weird. I told the nurse at our last appointment that I woke up in the middle of the night and could feel everything moving around inside me, and she said, “Yep, that’s probably exactly what was happening.”

Skeletor

At our first appointment, we saw the baby. It looked like a kidney bean with a heartbeat, and it was amazing. At the second appointment, we saw the baby again. It looked like a very squirmy pile of string beans with a head and a heartbeat, and it was also amazing. At our third appointment, it looked like Skeletor. Yep. Still amazing.

And let me tell you, Skeletor is ROCKING OUT in there. L-Josh gave us her home fetal monitor thingamajig, and we haven’t had any success finding the heartbeat with it so far, but now we know why. The little booger won’t sit still long enough for you to find its heart. Even the nurse couldn’t do it with her fancy medical-grade doppler. That’s how we got to see Skeletor.

As real as the symptoms of pregnancy are, it’s still hard to believe there’s a tiny human in there. I see my belly growing and understand, theoretically, why it’s happening, but even when I see the ultrasounds, it doesn’t seem real. It feels like they’re putting cold gel and some kind of Pampered Chef product (you know, one of those things you got as a gift but don’t know what it’s for) on my belly and then showing me a crappy black-and-white movie of a really freaky-ass baby kind of half-heartedly trying to do the worm.

Maybe when I can feel it moving and kicking, it’ll start to feel real. Until then, I’m just going to rejoice in the fact that I haven’t thrown up in 19 days (knock on wood).