Tuesday, August 8, 2017

8-month interview with mama Liz

1. What's up girl? It's been three months since your last post! Where you been?
Well two of those months were spent reno-ing our in-law unit. It consumed me. I hate renos now. Just kidding. I love em AND hate em. Then this last month, I spent a week in Oregon with dear friends, two weeks trying to cool down in this crazy Montana heatwave and deal with all this emotional stuff that surfaced and then a week with my sister and nieces when they came to visit. I'm glad to finally be catching up with this blog. It feels good to be back.

Julien getting changed in the trunk of our rental car. He clung to the trunk like he was going to fall out or something.
2. Emotional stuff?
Yes. Emotional stuff. Like...the deep juicy stuff of life. Like...the stuff that if you don't deal with it, you're screwing yourself over. I don't feel like getting into the details because I'm still in the thick of it, but there have been many tears shed and hours spent playing Angry Birds Pop (this is me in I-don't-want-to-deal mode). 

3. Let's talk about something a little lighter then. What's the story with J? What's new with him?

*gushing* Listen, I love my little j. And somehow, my love grows exponentially when he is asleep. Can I get an AMEN mamas? :) He has had MANY new firsts. In just this past month alone, his first tooth broke through (OMG). He went camping for the first time - which means I went camping with a baby for the first time. (Trust me, it was not as easy as outdoor ads make it look. Advertising is such bullshit!) He also started crawling for real for real. At first, he did this really funny leg lift every 2-3 leg movements, but now he's straight up crawling on all fours and moving pretty fast. This has made me very aware of all of the wires we have everywhere and how much I hate the cute wool rug we bought to make our home look all matchy-matchy. The wool gets all over him and I'm pretty sure he'll cough up a wool ball and start licking himself any day now. 

4. So you think he's going to turn into a cat?

I guess. He already sounds like one. 

5. The previous question wasn't a very good use of one out of the 10 questions you usually answer. Here's a beefier one: What do you think of motherhood now that you're eight months in? 

It's just not what I had hoped for. In my mind, I thought we would be adventuring together all the time. Bike riding, camping, backpacking, playing outside often, gardening, me having tons of energy to do all these things + more. (I know, I just posted a bunch of pictures that make it look like we're adventuring all the time. Trust me, we're not. It's really quite boring to look at photos of us not doing much.) 

Before having kids, I used to think you just choose to live that kind of life; you just make it happen. In some ways, it's true. I think we all have a choice in how we shape our lives. But, we don't really have a choice in what kind of kid we get, how your birth story will affect you or what kind of experience we'll have postpartum. Most of life is simply out of our control. Ha. I understood that to some level pre-kid, but it's really sinking in deep after having j. I think motherhood gives me so many opportunities to truly go with the flow. It makes me step back and stop forcing my will on the situation. Like right now...my dining room has this morning's breakfast still on it, toys strewn around from yesterday, dirty bathroom, baby clothes still sitting in the dryer from two days ago, legs hairs longer than I prefer, and a yard full of weeds and taller-than-I-like grass. There's more, but I'll stop the list there. I think motherhood has made me more aware of myself, my limitations, and my ability to extend further when I don't think I have anything left. It's also made me more clear about my needs and priorities. I know that there's a LOT more I'd like to be doing, but I don't want to sacrifice what I am actually doing with my child or for myself in the moment. Does that even make any sense? I'll stop here because I think I'm rambling now.

6. How have you coped with the mismatch of expectations vs reality? 

By playing Angry Birds Pop. :-P I'm not kidding. Sometimes I like just playing a game on my phone. Please don't judge. On a more productive note, this blog has been helpful to take a moment to reflect. I think sharing photos and the fuller story behind the photo on instagram has been a good outlet too. The overall theme though is just trying to keep it real, not justifying anything but being honest with myself about what's up. (E.g. Instead of saying, "Yeah, it's not what I expected, but it's still all good," it's helpful to admit, "Gosh, this was totally not what I was expecting! That's disappointing.") I think fully expressing myself has opened up pathways to figure out how to make the best of my new reality without dismissing myself.

7. What are you proud of as a mom?

*blushing* Well that question makes me a little bashful about answering, but let me give it a try. [pause while I think] I'm proud of trying my best.

8. I heard you re-started crossfit. Does your body feel different?

When I do something high-impact like running, my body feels every bounce in my knee joints. It feels heavy and the weight distributed all funny. Also, this week, I did some deadlifts and afterward felt a tiny bit of soreness around my cesarean scar. But the neat thing is that I still feel like I have a good amount of strength in me. I didn't lose it all when I was a sick vegetable laying in bed all day during pregnancy and then postpartum! I think it helped to do birthfit prior to rejoining the normal crossfit gym. I probably would've otherwise hurt myself by jumping right back in. 

9. Didn't you used to run a website for beginner backpackers? What ever happened to that?

I sure did/do. It's called Snowqueen & Scout and I haven't touched that since April of 2016. When I fell ill during pregnancy, I had absolutely no energy to pursue that. I simply didn't care about supporting women to go backpacking. I mean, I cared on a fundamental level, but not enough to spend what little energy I had to create content. I was trying to stay alive. (Sorry ladies!) And after the baby, well....that lack of energy got even worse. I wasn't nauseous and vomiting all day, but I was physically beat up and emotionally wrecked. And now, sometimes I want to pick it back up, but I feel like I'm still just barely staying afloat with all that I have in front of me - namely my baby, husband, friends/family, and the house. I think one day I may pick it back up, but the outdoor industry is so completely saturated with all these things focused on women lately, that I'm feeling turned off by the industry as well. I won't go into that rant here, but I do have some icky feelings I haven't been able to shake about a kind of fad focused on marketing to women and people of color. It feels exploitative. But that's for another day. 

10. I don't have anymore questions for you. Will you just post some fun pics to scroll through?

Sure. :) 

Monday, May 8, 2017

5-month interview with mama Liz

I know. Already 5 months. I can't believe it either. 

1. Big question: How is your mental health? 
Well my mood seems certainly a lot better these days. I was just telling my sister that I feel better than I did even 1.5 months ago, but I still don't feel like my best self. I know this because I find myself still being quite critical and judgmental. I don't like admitting it, but it's the truth. When I'm doing really well, I'm accepting and non-judgmental. I laugh a lot and genuinely enjoy the moment regardless of how it's going. I know I'm not there yet, but I think I'll discover what it means to be a new "best" version of myself as a mom. [Side note: It's still weird to say that I'm a mom. But below is proof, I guess, that this baby is mine. He lets me wear him around and feed him...and munch on him as much as I want.]

2. How's Julien sleep affecting you these days? 
He was, amazingly, sleeping around 6:45pm and waking up around 6:45am with one middle of the night feeding for about a week this month. BUT, just this past week, he's waking up three times wanting milk! I think he's going through a growth spurt because he visibly looks longer. I have this feeling I'm going to say that he's going through a growth spurt until he's ... 18. lol. (Look at the way he stares into the camera...it's like he knows I'm watching him.)

3. What's been an area of challenge for you, parenting-wise?
At the moment, I think there are three things: 
     (a) Wishing he were at a different stage developmentally. ("Gosh, I wish Julien could sit on his own or _____ on his own.") This has more to do with wanting life to be more convenient for me. 
     (b) When he's clingy, it can get rather annoying. It's hard to enjoy him when he's complaining about not being held in my arms all day. Again, this has to do with my own convenience.
     (c) Wondering if I'm teaching him enough. Often times, I feel sort of insecure that maybe I'm not doing enough for him so he can learn as much as he can right now. Am I reading enough to him? Am I showing him enough new things? Is he getting enough X, Y, Z...? 

4. Now that the weather is getting warmer, what do you do with Julien?
Sometimes, actually often times, I spend the morning inside. I try to prioritize Julien's naps, especially in the first part of the day, and frankly, it takes me a while to wake up. So staying indoors helps me get myself together in the morning. After 2pm, it's a shit-show. If I try to put him down, he might just yell at me for long enough that I throw my hands in the air. I surrender. Then I usually take him outside for a stroll or wear him somewhere to give him a catnap. That seems to help his mood until bedtime.

What I'm actually saying: I do anything and everything I can to create a pleasant day for both of us. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Even adorable puppies can't cure a tired child.

5. I heard you've been on whole30. Why'd you do it anyway? 
Remember my diaper cream around my mouth situation last month? Well, I was so desperate to figure out what was going on with my body that I decided it was time to detox to rule out any foods that could've been irritating my body. The skin flare isn't completely gone yet, but I did do an allergy test and it turns out I'm allergic to soy. That's going to cause a major disruption of the kind of food I eat, especially as a Korean! :-( 

Anyway, whole30 is going pretty well still besides the fact that I still really want to eat a waffle. Ugh, that perfect crispy-fluffiness with maple syrup AND whipped cream. I want to devour it. To my utter surprise, I've been able to abstain. Instead I've been devouring the mint chocolate Rx bars. It's really good and whole30 compliant!

6. People are wondering if you've lost of ton of weight because of whole30, have you? 
Hahahaha. (Who are these people?) I think I lose 1/2 a pound every morning after a poop, which I proceed to gain back with that day's meals. TMI? Too bad. ;-) I'm about 6-7 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, but whole30 has not contributed to weight loss...to my surprise. I thought I would lose some weight too, but nada. I do feel less bloated which is nice. To be fair, whole30 was not really about weight loss for me (ok, only a tiny bit secretly). 

7.  A lot of women don't really like their postpartum bodies. Do you fit into that camp? 
Daaang, you just went there huh? Fine. Well, almost three years ago, I made a commitment to not complain about my body. Hm. Well if you saw me the other morning looking at my phone in video mode (b/c I swiped one too many times to the right on Facebook)...you would've seen me looking at my neck creases and thinking they look like Julien's and wondering what the heck! Or here's a photo of me covering my neck so it wouldn't look so gigantic in a we-just-woke-up family selfie. Taking this photo actually made me laugh at how ridiculous I was being.

To answer your question, I'm not totally digging my body right now because I still look a little pregnant at times. The 6-7 lbs leftover is pure fat, seriously. Not like I had flat abs before pregnancy, but I duno, I guess I don't prefer having a bulge. Who are these women on the internet who bounce back to flat ab bods? Either they're good at hiding it, a miracle happened, or I'm like...what da what?! I don't get it and honestly, it's not the case for most women. Don't let the internet trick you! 

8. I've heard many moms feel lonely. Do you?
Sure I do. I try to make it a goal to have at least one social interaction each day. It can be facetime/skype, but ideally there's at least one face-to-face interaction. On Fridays, I go hiking with a gal pal and both our kids, so that's mostly guaranteed. The other weekdays are a toss-up right now and it really depends on if I take the initiative or not. I really need to take more initiative to get to know people better here. I'll say, it's more challenging to make friends as I get older. It seems I'm a bit pickier and that "instant" connection feels like it rarely happens anymore. Maybe it's because I just don't meet as many people as I did when I was younger so there's less chance of those instant connections. I'm not sure. Do you resonate with this? What do you think it is? (This is us on one of our Friday hikes.)

9. Are there any traits of yours that you think Julien has acquired?
He sneezes like me (3-4xs in a row) with intensity. His farts also sound like mine. No kidding. Obviously he has no self-consciousness about tooting so I hear them all. Sometimes I pause and laugh because I can't believe how uncannily similar ours are. 

10. Well, what do they sound like? 

Monday, April 10, 2017

4-month interview with mama Liz

1. Have you ever tried to cook and eat your baby?
Why yes. Don't tell. He didn't fit in our Instant Pot even though we got the big 8qt one! Hmph.

2. I heard you might have turned a corner. Is this true? 
YES. It's a small corner, but I feel like something significant shifted inside. I don't feel like I'm drowning anymore...it's more like a treading (which I am horrible at, but I'd rather be struggling to tread than gasping for air).

3. What do you think contributed to this shift?
I have no idea. Maybe because my face isn't a big red itchy balloon anymore (see 3-month interview if you want to know what I'm referring to)? Maybe because Julien is sleeping a teeny bit better? Maybe because we have a better grasp on meals? Maybe because we started DAAAAAYYYYYCAAAAAAAARRREEEEEEE!?!

I sure did! What the heck, how come I didn't realize how amazing it would be to drop my child off somewhere where they would rock him, hold him, feed him, change his poopy diaper, and entertain him all day? I didn't think I'd need daycare because I was going to work from home and it would be all peaceful and I would be blissed out and you know, I wouldn't need any help! lol. You know that's a joke. It's only two days a week, but having j in daycare has been a great source of freedom for lots of reasons.

5. What do you do on those days?
Well, right now I'm learning how fast 9 hours goes. Geez. With pumping multiple times, feeding myself, trying to catch up on a bit of sleep, errands, work, brain-farting, looking at pictures of J...I usually only get a few things crossed off my list.

6. It sounds like you're trying to be really productive.
Yeah, "sounds like" is the operative word here. I feel crazy compelled to be productive, but get overwhelmed with all these to do's because I'm still just freaking tired and trying to catch up with sleep. 

I had a conversation last week with another mom with older kids and it's got me thinking about why I feel like I need to be uber productive. I realized it's because I believe I've fallen behind for the past year from when I got pregnant and ill, and I need to "catch up" to this person I would've been if I hadn't gotten pregnant and had a child, except...I'll never know what I would have or would not have done if my life headed down that path. I think there's this idealized self I keep comparing myself to as well as feeling like I'm just so behind on life, discounting the fact that I'm raising a human being.

7. Well if you had no pressure at all to get anything done, what would your ideal daycare day look like?
I'd sleep in the most carefree way I could. I'd drink a really good cup of coffee and look out the window and stare at the ducks that have migrated to the pond, then maybe fall back asleep under a cozy blanket. Eat nourishing meals. Enjoy a phone call. Go for a bike ride. I'd meander. I'd miss my little guy too.

8. Are you feeling more connected to j these days? 
YES! Finally. It took about 4 months, but I can say with certainty that I'm really loving the guy. The first few months was really about choosing to love him with my body, providing milk, holding him, caring for him practically. But I did not really like the guy from the get-go. He brought me a lot of pain and suffering and it was hard to reconcile that. But this last month, something really shifted inside of me and I'm so grateful that I finally feel affection towards him. I love my little j! :)
(He had fallen asleep on me for two hours. It was very sweet, even though I was stuck on the couch for that time.)

9. Name some things that brought you joy this month!
When j laughed hard for the first time.

Putting diaper cream around my mouth. (Really, I laughed pretty hard when I saw it. The sad face is just to show off how I can make my mouth form an upside U.)

Learning how to prune fruit trees from Santa. 

10. I heard your postpartum hair loss is....going well.
Seriously. Shouldn't postpartum hair loss include the entire body, and not just my head? Holy cow people. Holy cow. I wish my leg hairs would fall off at the rate my head hairs are...I wouldn't need to epilate anymore! Anyhow, I'll end with a shot of my growing forehead/receding hairline (however you prefer to think of it).

Thursday, March 9, 2017

3-month interview with mama Liz

1. How much does Julien weigh now?
Last I weighed him, he was 15 pounds. That was over week ago...

2. That's pretty big for a 3-month old. Do you feed him formula or breastmilk?
He gets milk from the boob. So far, he's had my milk, my sister's milk, my friend's milk, and donor milk (from when we were at the hospital the first week). Julien doesn't discriminate. As long as it's milk, he pretty much takes it in any form. As Samuel says, "He loves those chi-chis."

3. Any notable moments this month?
He's better able to fart on his own. He had his first tears this month. We got him a crib and he slept in it for the first time. He had a friend come over and they sat in bouncy chairs next to each other. I pumped 10oz of milk for the first time! We elected to get J's tongue tie released. I went on my first solo trip with J. We met Winnie for the first time! LOTS of firsts.

4. OK, I'm going to try to steer this interview about you Liz...not all about baby.
Good call. This isn't called "3-month interview with baby Julien." :-P

5. What would you say is the main thing you worry about these days?
That J won't ever chill out and he'll always be high maintenance. The second thing I think about (not so much worry), is what kind of work will give me back a sense of creativity and meaning outside of raising baby. I think about what it would be like to go back to work and it really piques my curiosity.

6. What would you say you are most confident about these days? 
Two things: (1) that my body is producing enough milk to feed my babe (as long as I keep eating food and drinking water); and (2) I'm confident in the women in my life and their willingness and capacity to care for and/or carry me when I can't. 

7. I heard baby cries a LOT. What is that experience like for you? 
He certainly cries less than he did a month ago (thank God!), but it is really hard when I'm trying to console him and I'm pooped. Sometimes he won't even let me sit. The moment I start bending to sit down, he lets me know it's not going to happen so I keep bouncing on the yoga ball or walk around holding my heavy sack of potatoes. Sometimes I have nothing in me and he's just wailing, so I put him down, look away, and take a couple breaths before I can pick him back up again. And sometimes I feel so much compassion towards him because I know he's having gas issues and can't control what's happening; he's just in pain/discomfort. All around, baby crying is torture. 99% of the time, I want it to end as soon as it begins, and 100% of the time, I start sweating.

8. You've been doing this "keeping it real" thing by posting photos of him crying. What's that about? 
It's totally okay if you someone has a happy content baby. It really is. But it's so tough for me to read about these "perfect" babies who smile and giggle and play by themselves when that has not been my experience. My reaction is almost always, "WTF?! Is that for real?!" Our curated lives on the internet bends towards our best moments, but that sliver of life makes me feel like I'm completely alone in my hardship. My contribution is to try to tell a fuller story of what being is a mom is like so other moms who are having a tough time don't feel so alone and women who might become moms don't have some illusion that babies are easy. Some of them are, but from what I hear, many of them are plain hard.

9. Speaking of keeping it real, how's your postpartum depression and anxiety?
Ugh. I don't know. It's still there. It's like the snow this winter. It won't go away. I'm trying to find things that give me a teeny semblance of myself before I got pregnant. This helps kinda sorta. I'm also doing some good work in therapy, but this won't be a quick fix as much as I wish it were. I've been in some state of depression for almost a year now. :(

10. I heard you just went on a solo trip with baby. Tell us all the deets!
I went to see Anne Lamott speak at the Mothers Symposium at Stanford. It was a fairly spontaneous trip that I kept quiet simply because it's hard to see everyone in my old stomping grounds. The trip was so soul-nourishing, but it was hard on my body and mind. It was super tough to solo parent in the chaos of travel. I had so much anxiety in public areas because I didn't want to be a bother to anyone with my crying overstimulated baby, but I needed to be there for me, for my well being, so I made Julien come along for the ride. (Where the chi-chis go, the milk will flow.) I also got to eat a lot of amazing food - sushi, thai, ethiopian, milk tea - and spend time with some great friends. I felt so mothered and nurtured; it was exactly what I needed. 

(Not a very flattering pic of me...but wait till you see the final one below. I look amazing here compared to that one.)

11. Sounds like that self-care trip was much needed. Final question: this interview feels a bit more serious than your previous interviews. What's going on?
I'm just worn down. It's hard to feel "light" about life when it's heavy. I had so much going on physically that it took a major toll on my spirit. From an extreme allergic eczema reaction, mastitis, sleep deprivation, J's traumatizing tongue tie release procedure, it was/is really hard to find the humor in suffering when I'm barely coming out of the string of fires I had to keep putting out this past month. I'll include a photo of me when my eczema flare was at it's peak because I can't make up this stuff. And now as I type this, I'm fighting off some head cold. I hope next month is a little easier. Or at least I hope my face doesn't blow up into a pink Korean-shaped balloon. I'll report back in a month.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

2-month interview with mama Liz

1. So what's new? 
Oh, a baby. And cleavage. And only sleeping in 2 hour spurts. 

1.5 Ohh, cleavage huh?
You care about the cleavage? Really? I just birthed a baby! 

2. Okay, tell us allllllll about your baby. 
Well....we had a baby boy on December 3, 2016 at 9:17pm. He was brought into this world after a very painful induced labor and ultimately via an unplanned cesarean. He was 6lbs 5oz and 20" at birth and had a very funny shaped head because he was stuck in my birth canal. 

3. Does this baby boy have a name? 
Well husband often calls him "baby boy," but he is also known as Julien. Julien Gangsan Mandell. Gangsan (강산) means rivers and mountains in Korean and we loved it right away when my mom presented it as an option. Julien is a derivative of Julius and doesn't hold much inherent meaning. We just knew we wanted a name that started with a J (if we were having a boy) and we liked that Julien was easy to say for the Koreans on my side of the family. We also wanted to represent baby boy's French roots, so we wanted to give him the French spelling with an "e" and not an "a." I'm biased, but I think it's a beautiful name!

4. Say, why'd you skip the 1-month interview? Too busy for the internet these days?
Ha! Some (meaning the husband) might argue I'm on the internet way more than before because what else does one do in the dark in the middle of the night while a tiny human being sucks on your nipple? Internet. (I'm using it in the verb form, btw. #interneting ftw!)

5. Gee, you seem more sarcastic now that you have a baby. Is this true? 
I'm feeling especially spicy right now not necessarily because I have a newborn, but because I detest trump and want to see him suffer. I want to lock him in a small room with no windows and a crying baby for 10 days and watch him shrivel up. So if you sense any sarcasm, its roots lie in my repulsion with our current president.

6. Trump aside (since he's evil and disgusting), how have you survived the last two months?
Minute-by-minute, I have no idea. But on the whole, I've survived because of community. My mama was here for the first seven weeks to cook, clean, and take care of me and Julien while I recovered. My sister Helen came during a pivotal time to help with my transition. She installed blinds, cooked food, set up my house for baby's arrival, woke up in the middle of the night to take Julien, and more! My oldest sister sent me 16 lbs of breast milk overnight when we thought my milk supply wouldn't come in, and then later flew out with her family to visit and showed me her "walk" to get baby to chill out. Hahah! My sister-in-law came and cooked us meals, held Julien when he was crying, and took my mom grocery shopping. We've had local friends bringing us meals. And I've been supported by girlfriends via text/email/social media. I'm so grateful for technology! Ironically, I have felt less alone because of it. 
7. I've heard the first three months is really like the fourth trimester. Would you rather have baby inside you or outside if our bodies could handle it? 
Odd but intriguing question. Where do you come up with this stuff? I'd rather have baby inside. 

8. I also heard you're obsessed with something right now. What is it?
Freezing and storing breast milk. Every bag I can store away makes my eyes glisten with hope. Each bag represents a tiny bit more freedom! I duno, it's just fun too to see my little stash grow. I feel proud of each bag.

9. So going back to having a baby boy, were you surprised by his sex? 
Honestly, not really. I had a feeling we were going to have a boy so his sex wasn't surprising. I was probably more surprised that the belly bump that was growing actually did house a baby - not an alien - and that the baby looked like a miniature version of my husband! (Although, he looks a tiny bit like me here...no?)
10. We all know your pregnancy was rough because you shared a lot about it, but is there anything you miss about being pregnant?
This is kind of a sad question. As miserable as I was being pregnant, I can now look back and appreciate it as a special time where literally my body was throwing the greatest magic show EVER. It made a whole new organ that would be the lifeline to a whole new human being. My body made something incredible (like you and me, and every human life out there) out of the miraculous meeting of one sperm and one egg in the most miraculous timing. It was really quite difficult to have this perspective while I was pregnant, but now that I'm not, it's crystal clear how remarkable that time was.

11. Miraculous seems like a theme here.
It is. I have PCOS, so I didn't even think I would get pregnant for a very long time or ever. Then to survive a pregnancy I wanted over within the first couple months was a miracle. Then to survive a very complicated delivery was a miracle. And now, surviving each day seems like a miracle. With all these miracles all over the place, you'd think I'd be a little more joyful! Unfortunately, it's usually hard to see the joys of this little baby because sleep-deprivation is torture and I've been managing postpartum depression since Julien's birth. (It's getting better little by little though. I think seeing him smile every so often gives me a bit of hope.)

12. Well, that's kind of a downer. You really want to end on that note? 
Haha, yeah, I do.

13. C'mon, you barely mentioned anything about Julien. Why don't you tell us one thing about him that makes you smile. 
When I change him, I love seeing the multiple rolls on his thighs. They are GLORIOUS! I don't feel right about posting a pic of his thighs because the only one I have is x-rated, but this pic might make up for it because look at that face!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Interview with 9-month pregnant Liz

Note: I wrote this in late-November, but I'm posting it so I can remember some of what I was thinking as a 9-month pregnant lady.
This image captures how I feel pretty well - standing in between seasons. 

1. Seriously, when are you going to have this baby?
That's what I want to know! The elusive "due date" is December 20th so I'm almost there.

2. How are you feeling in your (I'll say it: LARGE) body?
Exactly that. Large. My low back is tight, my pelvis feels tight all the time and toes are becoming like cute, but disturbing little vienna sausages.

3. What else is going on physically that's been curious? 
  • Last month, I noticed that I was growing skin tags on my neck when I've never had them before. Strange. 
  • Also, my armpits have gotten darker. Strange. 
  • I used to shed a lot of hair, but I realized recently that my hair rarely falls out these days. I lose only 1-2 hairs while I shower and maybe one after I brush my hair. (I used to lose them by the dozens!) Strange.
  •  My neck also has two distinct creases from weight gain. Not strange considering I've gained a total of ~30 pounds since pre-pregnancy. 
4. Any labor scares?
Well, since you mention it. On 11/26, I thought my water broke so I called my midwife and went it to get checked. Turns out I just peed. It felt like that traditional "GUSH," what can I say? I went to the hospital to get a non-stress test (NST) just to be sure. Let's just say it's an expensive way to feel reassured. Worth every penny! ;-P

Also, on 11/20, I woke up with crazy itchy cheeks/jaws. I didn't think much of it until it started spreading over the next several days. My hands and feet were insanely itchy. I had a midwife appt on that next Tuesday 11/22 so I told her about it. She had me take a blood test to find out if I have cholestasis because my symptoms were so classic of that liver-issue. Test results came back negative which boggled both of us. Another liver test showed I have normal liver function. And now I'm waiting for a third one to come back. I'm also now being monitored twice a week with two different tests to make sure baby is okay. This is precautionary since cholestasis can lead to spontaneous fetal death starting week 38. I'm in week 38, so I have a bit of anxiety as you might imagine. 

I'm including a picture of my hands after I started taking medication to address the itchiness. If you look closely, you can see the remnants of red dots that formed all over. What you can't see is how I'd wake up in the middle of the night with my hands on fire because I was scratching them uncontrollably in my sleep. 
4. Do you have names picked out yet?
I thought we did, but I suddenly changed my mind about the girl's name, so now we have a list. If we have a girl, I think we'll need to meet her to know. The boy's name came to us by way of Samuel wanting the name to start with a "J." Deep, huh?

4.5. Wait, you didn't tell us the name for if you have a boy. 
I know, that was intentional. Good catch.

5. When you visualize what labor will be like, what do you see?
A baby rocket. I hope it shoots out of me swiftly. 

6. Do you have any family coming to help out?
My mama! We bought her a one-way ticket, arriving on December 16th, 2nd, 9th! I think she might bring another 100+ lbs of food like she did in the spring when she came to take care of me for two weeks when I was so ill and stuck in bed. She'll probably stay with us for 4-6 weeks helping take care of her baby (that would be me) and feeding me a LOT of seaweed soup - a Korean must for post-partum care. And when I say "a LOT," I mean like potentially up to 3xs/day.

7. What do you think you want your first meal to be after you have baby?
Sushi? I just had some (don't tell!), so I don't feel like I need it so desperately anymore. I hear that first meal is SOO good, no matter what it is. 

8. What have you heard about labor that scares you?
First, getting nauseous or throwing up scares me the most. I think I'm still traumatized by how much of that I experienced during pregnancy, so to think I might feel nauseous again scares me. Second, having some major complication that leads to a cesarean birth.

9. Do you think you'll be self-conscious during your birth?
I don't want to be, but yeah. I mean I feel shy if I'm getting a massage and I get the slightest feeling that too much of my butt cheek is exposed to the masseuse. So you can imagine having everything hanging out will bring up some insecurities, not to mention I'll likely poop some while pushing. I mean, I would never judge a woman who poops while pushing out a baby - and I've seen it happen three times. I hope I don't care in the moment or all the moments afterward. It is a pretty natural part of birthing (but just one that people never really talk about). 

10. Are you going to continue these interviews even though you're no longer going to be pregnant?
I don't know. Maybe? I've been enjoying them quite a bit and think it could be fun to do some version when baby is here.

Bonus. Do you think you'll miss being pregnant?
Written on 12/29/16: Yes. As hard as it was, there's nothing quite like it. I will certainly miss being pregnant, building "one unit of baby" (as Samuel would say) and carrying baby so close, under my heart. 
(I was feeling down one day and Samuel suggested I come downtown and meet him for a little walk and talk during work. We walked around the river for half and hour and chatted about whatever we felt like. What simple and precious moments. I will miss these days.)
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