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The pregnancy journey . . . boy versus girl, or #2 versus #1?

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This pregnancy has been so different from my pregnancy with Alice. I’ve been wondering how much of that is my slightly different lifestyle (less walking and more driving, less–read “no”–yoga classes, more Kraft macaroni and cheese), how much is because I’m pregnant with a boy instead of a girl, and how much is just part of a second (as opposed to a first) pregnancy.

What are these differences, you may ask? Lemme give you the skinny.

-MORE WEIGHT. I just had to put that in caps, because it’s really affecting how I feel. As of my appointment today–at 27 weeks, the cusp of the third trimester–I’ve gained 21 pounds. That’s reasonable and fine, I realize this, but it’s also more than I gained in my entire pregnancy with Alice (20 pounds). The mirror tells me I look fine, but I just feel heavy, large, gross, and generally unattractive.

When I was pregnant with Alice I heard other pregnant women say things like, “I feel so ugly,” or “I don’t feel sexy at all.” Huh, I thought. Poor things. I guess I got the magical pregnancy gene. Because I felt great–beautiful, sexy, and (at least after the first trimester) plenty energetic.

This is not the same.

I am a whale. In my mind. Which is where it counts. And whales, though endearing, endangered, and graceful in their own balloon-like way, are not sexy.

-More Kraft macaroni and cheese.

-Less documenting. Alas for the days when I had time and energy to blog and blog and blog . . . it was fun. And I love looking back on each week of my pregnancy with Alice. But what with work, writing novels, taking care of an energetic, galloping almost two-and-a-half year old who has been cooped up inside for far too long and a myriad of other things, little Benjamin just isn’t getting the same type of thorough analysis.

(Yes! His name is Benjamin!)

-Back to the whale part–this really hit me when my sister Heidi mailed me a box full of maternity jeans, that both she and my sister Erica had used throughout their pregnancies. Still living under the delusion that my sisters and I all have the same body (regardless of what our adult experience has taught us), I joyously stripped down and pulled on the first pair.

“Pulled on” is a misnomer–it implies I was actually able to, well, pull them on. To my body.

Let me give you the short version:

I couldn’t get into a single pair. And I was only halfway through my pregnancy at the time.

Hmm. I can’t fit into any of these jeans at 20 weeks, and both my sisters wore them through 40 weeks, I thought.


My conclusion? My sisters and I all totally have the same body.

Can’t stop believin’.

-More indigestion. Evenings of stomach-related misery, though a recent purchase of almond milk may have been the ticket–it seems to calm things down. I love the Califia vanilla stuff–not too sweet, and it makes me feel like maybe my stomach isn’t trying to grow up to be The Hulk anymore.

-More Kraft macaroni and cheese. Did I mention that yet?

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-Less energy. I’m not romping about at 8pm anymore–I’m looking at the clock and thinking, “hmmm, is it embarrassingly early to go to bed?” Then I realize that I don’t have the energy to even ponder that question, at which point I pass out on the couch.

Anyway, that’s the short version. The long version also includes what makes this an emotionally different journey: a Downs syndrome scare that turned out to be a false alarm, a lot of uncertainty about what we’ll be doing and where we’ll be living this fall, and all kinds of intense tear-inducing stuff like that. But you know what? Tonight, friends are coming over to our apartment, we’re eating an Indian feast from our favorite restaurant, and then we get to go to bed (isn’t it amazing that we get to do that every night??? I LOVE BEDTIME). So . . . hurray!


Is it a 30’s thing?

I feel like my 20’s were a time of exploration, possibilities, adventure. Making a choice wasn’t going to be ‘forever,’ and there was just a feeling of looseness about everything. We tried to make some money, have some fun, and the future seemed like a winding path that would create itself as we went. It was a time of taking opportunities, walking through open doors.

This past month has been very different: a time of intense thinking. Thinking with my husband about: what is really important to us? What makes us the happiest? Is it really going to be him having a career that could take us far away from Chicago and me staying home? Is that what he wants? Is that what I want?

Unlike our 20’s mindset, suddenly we’re contemplating open doors that we might not want to walk through. Opportunities that might beckon, and that we might say ‘no’ to.

My husband and I have been blessed this past year with a season of shared responsibilities at home. The flexibility with both our jobs means that my husband is getting a taste of being a stay-at-home dad. At least once a week, I go to work alone and he stays home with sweet Alice. And he loves it. Loves, loves, loves. Like, maybe he could do this full time. And I also love staying home with Alice–but not all the time. Because I love my new-found passion for writing. I love getting out into the world, and having a part of my life be independent of my roles as wife and mother. It invigorates me.

In short, we both want a significant part of our schedules to be blocked off for the delightful (if sometimes difficult) work of parenting, and taking care of our home. But we also both have other interests. Right now, the balance feels near perfect. I feel like my husband and I are truly partners in the different aspects of our lives: the bread-winning and the parenting.

But with my husband’s graduation coming up in March and his job applications floating around the country, not to mention another baby on the way, we both know that a change is coming.

We’re not yet sure what our choices and options will be, but this season of uncertainty has made us dig deep into our hearts and examine ourselves: what do we really want out of life? How do we want to spend our time?

I’m wondering how much these questions are part of this next decade of life, the 30’s. I feel like we’re starting to uncover more of who we are in this (frequently tearful) process.

After feeling squeezed breathless by all these thoughts, and crying what felt like gallons of tears (and making my husband miss the State of the Union because I decided to have a weep-fest instead), the past few days I’ve felt remarkably lightweight. Okay, not actually, because I’m gaining weight with this baby faster than I can count the pounds, but lightweight spiritually. This morning I realized that this ‘perfect balance’ we have now of work and home life for both my husband and me wasn’t the product of some well-thought out decision. It was a gift directly from God. We never chose to have this balance outright–my job just happened to end up being super flexible, and my hard times last year with the ectopic pregnancy and working with a toddler in the office forced me to ask my husband for more help (i.e. staying home with Alice more throughout the week), which (surprise!) he’s ended up loving, and I’ve ended up loving. What I’m actually seeing today is that God has led us to this season of balance–and that he can do that again. This fall, and for the rest of our lives. He knew all along we wanted this, even when we didn’t know we wanted it. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and I believe he is eager to give us good gifts: joy and peace. Contentment in our work. The ability to care for our family in accordance with the calling we both hear in our hearts.

Okay. Now that I got that off my chest, I’m off to eat some more Danish and put on a few more pounds–’cause why not? It’s Thursday, it’s snowing, I’m pregnant with a little boy named Benjamin, and God is good.