The Home Stretch!

It is hard to believe I will hit the 37 week pregnancy mark TOMORROW. Little one isn’t quite considered full-term medically, but this mama is considering it to be. Between the swelling in feet and ankles, on and off-again Braxton Hicks, constant feeling of heaviness, and extra time needed to perform even the simplest task, I am ready to evict this rent-free tenant.

Lots has happened since my last post. In fact, so much has happened that I’ve quit one job, found another, and little one will start at an incredible daycare in the new year: All that needs its own post. I feel so fortunate to have things to look forward to in January, but I must make it through the rest of this chapter first. This pregnancy -although not expected in 2019- has been an interesting and wild ride. I feel fortunate to have had a healthy pregnancy, but it has also consisted of numerous time-consuming doctor appointments with both the regular OBGYN and Perinatal Specialist due to IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction). Basically, little one has been measuring consistently two weeks behind the “typical” growth and has been constantly monitored. I blame it on genetics and my husband and I both being only 6# babies at birth, and while the specialist agrees, she legally can’t say nothing is wrong. Feeling her movement (hello 6AM wakeup call and inability to sleep at 10PM) will be the thing I miss the most about pregnancy. The hiccups get me every time too. I am so looking forward to seeing what she looks like because despite 20+ ultrasounds, the following picture is the best we’ve been able to get.

She is still very much breech, which concerns me because I have my heart set on a vaginal birth. I know the important thing is ultimately a healthy baby and delivery and if a C-Section is what it takes to have my daughter, I will do it, but I have worked so hard to stay healthy and try to have the birth I’ve envisioned. There is still time for her to flip though, so we’ll see how things look at my next growth check in a week and a half. Also, induced or not, I know getting her earthside in a healthy and appropriate way for both of us is the ultimate goal.

Sunflower fields with the little babe (35 weeks)
Just a glimpse of her upcoming world
Can’t wait for her to experience life with her siblings and share her dad’s and my love of reading

We are ready for you, little one. You are loved by so many who can’t wait to meet you.

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Not a Goodbye, but an I’ll See You Soon

Sometimes people are put in your lives when you least expect it, and while the timing may not always be ideal or long enough, it ends up being exactly what you need. That’s how my husband and I feel while mourning the recent loss of a close friend. We met in November 2018 at church -a small church that we both kind of fell into- and the friendship connection was instant. She and her husband were in Ohio for military purposes: We are here for residency. Both of us have followed our spouses as they worked on their career goals and knew what it was like to sacrifice for them. We both have rescue pups whom we absolutely adore. We both love goofy memes and inside jokes. It seriously was one of the friendships that you didn’t realize was needed until you have it.

Kara was a dialysis patient due to years of having Lupus, an autoimmune condition that is chronic, affects any part of the body at anytime, and can be debilitating in many ways. Due to the Lupus and the way it hit her body, Kara’s kidneys were affected, resulting in two failed transplants and 12 years of dialysis. She had more health issues and things go on than I am even aware of since we were only in each other’s lives for 8 months, but I was in her life at the end and can say for a fact that Lupus is terribly misunderstood and its effects devastating.

My mother has Lupus, so I could be there for her in a way that people who are not familiar with it may not have been able to. My husband is a Medical Resident, so he understood the medical side of her conditions. It really did seem like fate when we met. While our friendship was not long enough, the closeness between the four of us will never leave our minds and we’ll treasure it forever.

With details too deep to write about, I will conclude it here: Chronic diseases suck. Goodbyes are hard. Grief is real. No one can truly prepare you for what to expect with either of them or prepare you for the harsh reality that a misunderstood confusing disease can take your life. The peace of knowing her longtime suffering is over is what is keeping us together and allowing us to go on right now. Life will go on because it always does. While time will heal these wounds and a new normal will begin, she is and will always be missed.

If you want to learn more about Lupus, here is the site for the Lupus Foundation of America: https://www.lupus.org/. I highly encourage you to look at it and learn more about its ugly effects.

Love you forever friend.

24 Weeks and Some Pregnancy Favorites

I have no idea how I’ve let two months go by without writing anything, but it could very well just be due to leading a busy life. Seriously. I feel like Matt and I blinked and suddenly I’m 6 months pregnant, the nursery is half ready, and I’m starting childbirth classes next month. Whoa. In the meantime, I had to get on here and share a few of my favorite pregnancy things.

This belly balm from Meadow Muffin Gardens. I have used it religiously since I found out was pregnant at three weeks and am in love. As soon as I hit second trimester, I started putting this on my belly and hips in the AM and coconut oil in the PM. When third trimester hits, I’ll likely use this AM and PM and coconut oil in the middle of the day. I love that I know each ingredient and nothing toxic or harmful to the skin (I’m looking at you mineral oil and synthetic fragrance…..) is going near my baby. While I am sure genetics has a great deal to do with it, I have no stretch marks other than the ones on my hips I’ve had since puberty. 2oz may not seem like a lot, but a little goes a long way.

This Pro Bump Support Band from Baobei Maternity. I discovered it on Expecting and Empowered’s Instagram page and after mulling over the price, I bit the bullet. It is worth every penny. Right around 19-20 weeks, my abdomen began to feel heavy while exercising or walking my dogs around our neighborhood. Investing in something to hold me together and give adequate support is important for preventing Diastasis Recti (when the large stomach muscles separate) and is also allowing me to continue working out with no heavy feeling. While nothing ever hurts, I feel better exercising with this on than without. I am confident it will get much more use over the next few months and beyond!

Lastly, I use the following two exercise programs religiously: BodyFit by Amy on YouTube and Beachbody on Demand’s Prenatal Workouts. I know there are ton out there (GlowBodyPT on YouTube is fantastic and if I get pregnant again, I will purchase the Expecting and Empowered program), but these two workout programs continue to serve me well. I walk my dogs daily (2-4 miles on average) but incorporate some other prenatal exercise 3-4 times a week. It is a variation of yoga, cardio, and weights, all which target different areas of the body and help prepare for delivery and post-baby. Some workouts are as short as 15 minutes and others 45 minutes. No matter how long though, pushing through and simply doing something active is beneficial to the body. I have been fortunate that working out causes no issues and can do almost anything within reason, so that is something I am definitely not taking for granted.

Four months left, little one. Let’s continue to make this journey amazing together.

16-week Thoughts

People aren’t kidding when they say pregnancy flies by. How I’m 4-months along already seems unreal, and while I can honestly say being pregnant hasn’t been my favorite thing ever, there are certain feelings to note that I want to always remember.

The ultrasounds and hearing the heartbeat. Seeing and hearing a little baby that my body is developing is astounding. There is truly nothing like it. I never want to forget the first time I heard the heartbeat and saw his or her profile on an ultrasound. It makes me so curious as to what features will be Matt’s and what will be mine.

The boobs. Seriously. I finally know what it is like to fill out a shirt and it’s awesome.

My husband’s excitement. Don’t get me wrong: We are nervous for parenthood and this chapter of our lives to be over. Yet when he gets excited over setting up the nursery or envisioning seeing his child for the first time, I never want to unsee the happiness radiating from his face.

The excitement at the thought of my child growing up with pets. My furbabies will always be my children and I am beyond excited to see their relationship develop as time progresses. I feel I learned so much growing up with pets, and it’s a wonderful way to teach children how to treat and care for something else as well.

Things I’m not necessarily enjoying: The shortness of breath at almost every little activity. I’ve always been a pretty active person and running out of air quickly is so annoying. The dry and dull skin. I’m not sure when the pregnancy glow kicks in, but it hasn’t happened yet. I feel like I need a heavy moisturizer in spring just to add something to my face! I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve had problems with my skin, so I’m ready for this be over. The hard time adjusting to my body changing. While it’s incredible on one hand, it’s hard to accept on the other. I’m not yet in maternity clothing, but some pants, including my beloved favorite pair of Gap jeans, are starting to feel tight. The not knowing how my body will react after eating. Between weeks 9 and 14, I experienced a great deal of vomiting to the point where I needed Diclegis to calm things down. As I wean myself off of it, there are random times where something will not agree with me and I have to find a bathroom. It will be nice to hold down food for good again once this baby is born. Not being able to eat Italian Hoagies because of the sliced meat and cheese. It is such a minor inconvenience, but hoagies are one of my favorite go-to meals. I have already told Matt that my first meal after birth is going to be a hoagie, and you better believe I will enjoy every bite.

This picture was taken a few days ago at 15 weeks and 5 days. I feel fuller and the belly is moving outward. The photo was taken in the evening which is when I always look bigger, but the bump is definitely starting to show. I haven’t gained any weight yet, so we will see what happens until the 20-week anatomy scan in May. Baby Smith, you are one loved little being.

Motherhood Coming

Matt and I have been parents to dogs and cats ever since we were dating. The extent of knowing what to do with children involved very little and honestly, babies usually cry when they see me. Maybe they sense my fear and knowing I wish they had four legs and barked instead of two legs and cried. However, we have also discussed parenthood and while it was never something we were like, “We will have X # of children. Let’s try now.”, we could see ourselves either having them or not. Either way, we would have been happy.

Personally, I have felt led to adopt for as long as I can remember. There’s something about seeing how a rescue animal blooms after adoption that I always envisioned giving a child a second chance as well. We most likely will adopt in the future, so while it’s not something we’re ruling out, apparently Mother Nature had other plans for us at this point in our lives.

While no doctor ever diagnosed with me with infertility, my monthly cycles have always been irregular, heavy, and full of pain. I’m talking lying on the ground with your legs in the air and having a heating pad on your back kind of pain. The kind of pain where you get hot and cold at the same time and almost faint. Having had my period since age 11, we’ve become quite close over the past 19 years, although I wouldn’t consider her monthly visits enjoyable. A few years ago, my husband and I experienced a chemical pregnancy, while I had an IUD that was quickly removed, which is something I don’t share that often. Basically, my body thought it was pregnant and all the hormones were there, but there was no embryo or fetus. I received ultrasounds every week for 4-5 weeks before my body decided to miscarry.: I knew it was coming, but that didn’t necessarily make it easier to handle. While there was no embryo to shed, I can assure you the four days in bed was not fun. Since that incident, my hormones have been all over the place and stabilizing them has been a nightmare. I truly began to wonder if I could even get pregnant. Well, apparently I can.

Miner and Leia announcing the big news 🙂

We are ecstatic and petrified at the same time to announce a new member of the pack will be joining us in October 2019. Our five-year anniversary is October 18th, so it’s a pretty great month for another celebration. Having a baby in residency is something I’m nervous about, but I am thankful for the community we have here and for all those who already love this unborn child. He or she will be one lucky child.

Parents of pets and children: SEND ME ALL YOUR TIPS AND TRICKS. My dogs and cats are my children, and I want them to be comfortable as they transition to these changes in their lives. This change is huge for us (and them), so I want to make sure we can all go in with a positive mindset and comfortable with it. Now that I am in the “safe space” of telling the public, I am getting very excited to decorate and see what parenthood brings to our lives.

13 weeks: I’m at the point where I constantly look bloated, and it’s worse in the evenings!

A Quick CVS Trip

When you think CVS, I bet low cost is not the first thing that comes to your mind. However, if the purchase is planned out right, I have found CVS to be more affordable than even a mainstream store like Walmart. CVS always send deals like 15% off, 32% off, 40% off, or even random extra bucks for no reason. When combined appropriately, your savings can really add up.

Tonight after small group, I realized Matt needed mouthwash and we both needed some probiotics. According to my Ibotta app, there was $3 back on the Culturelle 30-count tablets. I had a 40% off coupon in my email and the special this week was buy 1 30-count for $23.99 and get $7 extra bucks. I also had a $4 off $18 vitamin purchase. Together my probiotics were $12.89 (not including the $3 redeemed later) and because of my extracare card, I will get 2% back in extra bucks next quarter. The $7 extra bucks were used for a second order on the mouthwash, which was $9.89. I also had a 25% off coupon, which made my total $2.36. I have found that not all CVS’s let you split orders, but thankfully this one worked out. Lastly, I got $5 back on my Saving Star app for the Culturelle, which mean in all I paid $0.

I also noticed that Matt’s cereal is on sale 2/$4 and there is a $1 off coupon on my card right now. I also have a deal on my SavingStar app for $1/2 boxes of cereal, which means I could essentially pay $1 per box. Typically I find their food items way overpriced, but at $1 a box, that’s a stockup deal, especially since I know Matt will eat it all before it expires. This is just one small example how thinking ahead can save you some money. Trying to figure out the best deals can seem very overwhelming and time consuming (don’t get me wrong: sometimes it is), but a quick trip like tonight’s will help us out in the long run. The mouthwash will last months, so I know I won’t need to buy a full-price bottle in the meantime. I’m fairly positive I’ll get another percent off coupon in the next 30 days, which at that point I can see the price of probiotics is then. The best advice I can give you is check the weekly ads and see if you have any coupons that could be used on top of it. I think you’ll be shocked at how much you can save!

A Simple Laundry Routine

Let’s be honest: Laundry is not that exciting. There are always things I wish I could be doing instead, but like all other household chores, it must be done. I like to think our laundry routine is relatively simple and nontoxic, so I decided to share it with you.

Did you know that typical laundry detergents are filled with ingredients such as petrochemicals (a chemical derived from petroleum and natural gas), synthetic fragrances, and many other hormone disruptors? Many of these ingredients are also harmful to the environment since they end up in our waterways through washing our clothes. I don’t know about you, but since I learned those things a few years ago after college (Purex was my best friend because it was cheap and smelled good), I don’t want anything like that touching clothing that I wear on a regular basis. There are so many other alternatives out there that work just as well (some better!) than mainstream brands. I made my own laundry detergent for awhile (see recipe here), but I haven’t in over a year because time got the best of me with our move and everything. For now, what we are doing works for us and I am sure it could work for you too!

Keeping it simple and clean!

To wash our clothes, we absolutely love Seventh Generation laundry detergent. We have used both the liquid and powder form and buy whichever is on sale at the time. For an extra-large load, we use about half a scoop and get way more than the 70 loads listed on the box. I recently started adding 2-3 drops of Eden’s Garden Cleaning  essential oil blend to the detergent before adding it to the washer, and the smell when I take out the clothing is lovely. The blend of Lavender, Lemongrass, Rosemary, and Tea Tree conditions clothing and adds fragrance naturally.

For stains, I am enjoying the Ecover Mineral Based Stain Remover. It works on food stains and those pesky everyday ones that happen just with wearing clothes, but I haven’t had to try with heavy duty stains yet. Wet the stain and then apply the stain stick. It works much better that way. 

To dry, we use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. Dryer sheets are extremely flammable and are nothing but chemicals. Once you try wool dryer balls, you’ll never go back. It cuts drying time in half, reduces static (if the clothes are staticky upon taking them out the dryer, then reduce your drying time), and saves so much money. I have six wool dryer balls and use three for small to medium loads and all six for large to extra-large loads. These are not the exact ones I have, but a good set can be found here.

There you have it. A simple low-maintenance laundry routine that meets our needs perfectly. Whenever my husband and I pass the laundry aisle at a store, we honestly start to feel sick to our stomachs and I often develop a headache quickly. As you weed out toxins from your everyday routine, you may find a chemical sensitivity that didn’t exist before. That’s normal and shows how bad so many mainstream items really are. I encourage you to examine your laundry routine and see where changes can be made. The Environmental Working Group (website and app) is a great resource if you need additional information.

What is your laundry routine?