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
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.)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Interview with 8-month pregnant Liz

1. How many weeks do you have left?
Eternity. I'm in week 34, which means I have about 6 weeks left before I hit 40 weeks. OMG. How is it possible that 6 weeks needs to lapse before this baby comes out? I feel like I've been pregnant my entire life and others have expressed that too. Haha!

2. First things first, are you the same weight as your husband now?
Well I'm glad you're thinking about how much weight I've gained too. Important things. If this side-by-side is any indicator, you're in luck. This morning, I officially weigh more than husband and I managed to break the 160lb threshold. It's a strange feeling to weigh the most I've ever weighed and to simultaneously feel "eh" about it at the same time.

3. And is your belly button a pancake yet?
Here's the latest. What do you think: Have I achieved pancake status yet? 

(Yeah, I didn't think so either.) Anyone else notice how round my belly is?! Note to self: Belly selfies really brings out the weird. 

4. Are you still nauseous?
Okay, during a little more than half of this past month, I was still so nauseous. I even had one day where I was brushing my teeth (I'VE HATED BRUSHING MY TEETH WHILE PREGNANT), and I saw one tiny hair that fell from husband's head onto the toilet seat and seeing it launched me into a gag fest. I keeled over on the bed and proceeded to pass out because that was the only way to make it go away. 


I finally started taking Diclegis almost two weeks ago and I've been less nauseous and gaggy and haven't vomited since! Holy Moly. I have enough pills to last me through the rest of my pregnancy and believe me, I will not be missing a single dose. (Shoot, that reminds me...)

5. What's (only) one annoying thing about pregnancy at this stage?
First it was having to pee immediately after I was done peeing. Now, it's how my pelvis feels so tight all the time. I now have this transition period from sitting to walking where I'm like, "ow ow." 

6. What strange bodily sensations have you been experiencing?
A tiny human being hiccuping inside me is quite strange. It's just this metronome-like rhythm from inside my uterus that consistently beats sporadically throughout the day. Baby seems to get them quite frequently! Someone teach it how to hold it's breath and drink amniotic fluid while swimming upside down. Wait. It already does all that.

7. Any newly arising fears as you approach parenthood?
This one's been brewing since month six-ish. I fear I'm going to get bored being a parent. There is some part of me that feels like the monotony of feeding, changing, cleaning, sleeping and that relentless cycle of raising a baby is going to get boring in a hurry. Creatively, I also wonder if I'm going to be bored to death. But not just creatively speaking...I often wonder what kind of impact I want to make in this world (still struggling to figure this one out), and if it will be possible with a kid in tow. I know that theoretically the answer is yes, but I think because I've felt the life drained out of me through pregnancy, this fear keeps lingering. I hope I'm wildly wrong.

8. What was your worst meal day this month?
On Tuesday, October 18th, I consumed the following food:
Breakfast: Two small pancakes with maple syrup. (Seriously, they were the size of my palm; hardly big enough.)
Elevensies: Leftover stir fry with rice and a lot of sriracha
Tea: Ginger tea with way too much sugar
Lunch: Costco polish dog plus ketchup, mustard, relish, and onions with some pepsi
Snacks to tide me over to dinner: Banana, persimmon, chocolate chip cookie + milk
Dinner: Half a frozen pizza with previously frozen tater tots
Dinner, part II: Small bowl of salad (Read: redemption)
Post-dinner eats to hold me over until morning: cereal

Yes, I felt pretty gross at the end of the day. Is this why I'm 160lbs now? :-\ Lessons learned. 

9. Do you ever wear high heels?
I wonder that too. I manage to put on heels on average 0-1x/year. I own one pair that I bought for my wedding three years ago. On October 12th, I decided to wear them for our 3 year anniversary dinner. In fact, I paired it with a dress - the only dress that fits me because it's made out of pure elastic. My feet hurt, but I felt kinda sexy (b/c a dress and heels has that kind of magical effect) even though I was nauseous through the entire 5:30pm dinner. Immediately after dinner, I went to the bathroom and threw up. So yes, I occasionally where high heels. 

10. Got it. Heels = touchy topic. So what's this about a house? 
To our surprise, we happened upon a house in September and liked it so much we decided to buy it. It's our very first one, built in 1994 with the most annoying bullnose corners someone building a home in the 90s would've chosen. (It's only annoying because it requires special baseboard corners.) It needs work, it's not perfect, but it's ours. We imagine raising our kid(s) here; growing fruit trees, vegetables, and animals; and hosting friends and family to rest and play. We hope you'll come and visit. :)

11. Let's end on a note of gratitude, especially since we don't know the fate of the US after election day. What have you been grateful for this past month?
There are so many things. Truly. I've continually felt the love and support of all these women and mamas in my life. From being sent this incredible book of poetry and a handmade quilt, to a massive kimchi mailing (mouth watering!), to women asking me if they can host a mama shower for me, to a patient husband who loves me through all of my ups and downs, to a new home to raise our baby, to elastic dresses and persimmons sent to me with the utmost love. There is a lot to be grateful for. Thanks for being part of my journey.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

How to get Diclegis for cheap

Listen up all you nauseous pregnant ladies. I have news for you that might blow your mind about DRUGS that'll make your miserable life a tiny bit better while pregnant.

But first, let me say that I had a (imagine saying this Donald Trump style) HUGE mental barrier to taking prescription meds while pregnant. I just kept thinking to myself, "I don't need to do that. Be tough. Just do the over-the-counter stuff. BLAH BLAH." Well, after seven months of being nauseous, gagging, vomiting, and hearing me say how nauseous I've been, my midwife touched my arm and compassionately said to me, "It's time." I nodded and said, send the prescription over mama!

(Side bar: After I had gotten over the mental barrier to going on prescription meds, I had to get over the financial barrier of paying $14/day for Diclegis. It's $7/pill and it's recommended I take one in the morning and one in the evening.) HOLY MOLY. That's like 4 lattes a day! But I conceded to pay.)

Here's the thing, I'm part of a health share program called Samaritan ministries, so I pay everything out-of-pocket, and then get reimbursed. I knew I'd get reimbursed for the drugs, but these are real people who are sending real checks to me, and I felt like if I could hold out as long as I possibly could, I wouldn't have to burden all these health share members with my obscene Diclegis bill.

Well, I couldn't take the nausea anymore so I decided to burden them all. No one should have to suffer like that every day. No one.

Anyway, here's what I learned about getting Diclegis for cheap if you do not have traditional insurance or don't have insurance at all. (There's information about how to get a discount if you do have insurance, but I didn't go that route, so that's up to you to figure out.)
  1. Go to
  2. Click in "Savings & Resources"
  3. Under "I don't have or Diclegis is not covered by my insurance," you'll want to download this form, fill it out, and send it to your medical provider to complete it. 
  4. Call your medical provider and let them know you're sending the form and ask them to fill it out and mail it in asap. (I did this, so they would have it top-of-mind.)
  5. Once your medical provider submits it, a rep from Foundation Care will call you. Answer it. Verify your address and your identity. 
  6. Pay for your pills.
Voila! You'll get in in the mail a few days later. For $90, I got 90 pills!

I've been on Diclegis now for about one week. I take one pill in the morning and one in the evening and the first day, I felt a big difference. The subsequent days were hit and miss. I was gagging less, but just felt my normal pregnancy self = bad. But after about a week, the meds are in my system and I seem to be able to handle the day SO MUCH BETTER. I'm still occasionally nauseous and certain smells or sights will trigger gagging, but it's not nearly as much as before. 

Next time I'm pregnant, I'm not even going to think twice about getting on Big-D!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Interview with 7-month pregnant Liz

1. When are you due again?
(I get this question a lot and don't expect anyone to remember even though I am counting each day.) I'm 29 1/2 weeks, which puts me at 7 months and the third trimester. I'm due December 18-22ish.

2. Do you have a birth plan? 
Yes! My plan is to give birth.

3. Are you taking a birthing class?
If I am, I don't know about it yet. [3 minutes later] I literally just signed up for a class at the hospital we're delivering at. This was a good reminder.

4. How much weight have you gained now? 
I've gained 19.2 lbs since I got pregnant. My husband is eagerly waiting for the day we are the same weight. I think his wish will 100% come true in the next month. I think he weighs around 155lbs and I'm at 152.7lbs now.

5. What? You still have morning sickness?
Yup. Also, a rant: I find "morning sickness" to be a fairly dismissive term. I call it "pregnancy illness" because I'm not only sick in the morning and in fact, a lot of women are sick at all hours of the day. In my first trimester, I was sick from the moment I woke up until I went to bed, not to mention depressed and miserable. And now I'm nauseous intermittently throughout the whole day. I usually feel "best" when I wake up before I eat breakfast because I often get nauseous immediately after I eat breakfast. Sadly, I'm still nauseous every day and it seems to have gotten worse after my second trimester. Nausea is limiting in a way I couldn't have imagined before I got pregnant. Some days I have the energy to just fight through it, but usually I have to submit and take it easy. When I am able to "fight through it," what I mean is that I'm still nauseous, but I just do whatever I need to while feeling bad, gagging, and sometimes vomiting.

6. Do you take any meds for your pregnancy illness?
I've been on unisom+vitamin b6 for five months now. I think it helps, but I'm thinking I need to up my dosage. Some have suggested going on prescription meds, but I have a real mental barrier to that idea, so I'm tolerating what is. 

7. So what's your belly button look like these days?
I wish I took a picture when it actually got bigger before it got smaller. My sister says it'll turn into a pancake! I'll have to report back as I get further along. It's not quite a pancake yet. See. (Whoa, my skin looks super discolored. Did that happen to any of you while pregnant?)

8. What's been a top priority this month in terms of preparing for baby's arrival? 
It's been getting our house in order. As in, we are in escrow to buy a home and it needs a little work before we can move in. I think when we get new flooring in and move all our stuff, I'll feel a bit more settled. At least I hope to be. We're sort of floating in transition right now and that's been a medium source of stress. 

9. What's your approach to getting baby stuff?
I'm basically getting a few essentials to survive the first three months and then planning on purchasing things (hopefully mostly used) on an as-needed basis. I've heard from many parents that you don't need a lot of stuff and you don't know what your kid is going to take to or not. Almost everything I've gotten so far (it's not a lot) is used. If you're curious what's informed my thinking, you can read this and this. I also asked some girlfriends to share their "must" list for baby related goods and that's been a helpful gauge.

Let me tell you, it is somewhat tempting to set up the perfect pinterest-worthy nursery, but from what I've gathered from mom experiences I've heard/read about, if something doesn't have to do with pooping, sleeping, or eating...forget about it. So that's what I'm doing: focusing on the stuff that will help me with baby's poop, sleep, and eat cycles.

10. Do you feel like a pregnant goddess lady? 
OMG. Have you heard that some pregnant women feel like a goddess? I don't know any of these supposed women and they seem as mythical to me as mermaids. Well, I thought AT LEAST the hair on my head would grow faster so I can finally have Joanna Gaines luscious locks, but it's still barely above my shoulders after a major haircut last fall. My hair growth seems to have come to a halt, except for my big toe hairs. They seem to be growing suspiciously long. Ew?

10.5. Did you really have to post such a large picture of your toe hairs?
Uh, yeah. How else would you believe me?

11. Speaking of...any unusual cravings?
I want SUSHI and KOREAN food every day. I guess this isn't unusual. Confession: This is totally pathetic, but when I wake up in the morning, I'm usually starving. But instead of fixing myself a meal, I'll look through my instagram feed and scroll through pictures of delicious foods primarily consisting of sushi, korean, breads/cakes (with puppies and babies sprinkled in between) until I can't handle it anymore and I have to rush to eat. Sadly, I just stuff some whatever I can into my mouth and then sit there nauseous for a while. I don't know why I torture myself like this. 

12. Any "whoa this is really happening" moments this month?
I think I had one, but I'm too nauseous to remember. 

13. What normal activities are getting harder to do? 
Leaning over to put on socks and shoes or scrubbing my feet in the shower. I finally realized today (10/5/16) that when I lean over/bend down, I get super nauseous and start gagging. I don't know why it took me so long to realize this, but now that I know...time to ask husband to help me put on my shoes and scrub my feet.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Interview with 6-month pregnant Liz

First, ramblings.
I just noticed that my last post was January of 2016. It's August 31September 1, September 2, 2016 today. Clearly I haven't been "writing inspired" or perhaps "living inspired" lately. Okay, that's not fair. A lot's transpired since January of this past year. For instance, I'm 6 months pregnant now and this is the first time I've actually wanted - and had the energy and motivation - to write a post in a while. The first trimester was a grueling time of my life. I was depressed and sick as a dog bed-ridden for months. I could've never known how horrible I would feel. If you want to know a bit more, I wrote a short piece here.

Anyway, I was in France for a couple weeks visiting my husband's family, napping, eating, enjoying the sunsets and trying to stay cool. (I swear, trying to stay cool as a pregnant woman is a full-time job.) While in France, I had this idea of conducting a monthly self-interview of my last few months of being pregnant. It's more for me than anything so I can remember what was happening to me during this period of my life, but if it amuses you too, I'll consider that a huge victory. I'll take any victory these days, like even taking a shower. VICTORY. Cooking a fresh meal. VICTORY. Going for a short walk. VICTORY.

Second, FAQ's.
1. Do you feel the baby moving?
YES! It's graduated from light flutters (that feel like bubbles) to distinct kicks/punches. I like to imagine the baby is HI-YAing me and doing lots of flips like a penguin. 

2. Do you know what you're having?
A human baby! During the first four months, I was 100% sure I was having a dragon-alien in the shape of a bunny, but my most recent ultrasound confirmed I'm having a human. 

3. Are you going to find out the gender?
Yes! When the baby is born. 

4. How many weeks are you?
I'm in my 24th week. This means, I'm still in my 2nd trimester. I still have 16 more weeks to go.

5. When are you due? 
Mid to late December 2016.

Finally, the real interview.
6. What's been the easiest part of pregnancy?

Uhh, not much. Wait. Being present. When I'm feeling nauseous, I'm right there. Being present to pain/suffering has come quite easily.

7. What's surprised me in pregnancy?
Three things: 
a) How destroyed I would feel
b) How vast the spectrum of pregnancy experiences are and
c) How pregnancy and entering motherhood connects me to a huge line of mothers who have come before me and who will come after me.

8. What did you hear about pregnancy symptoms that's been true for you?
I heard about constipation and thought..."no way, not me." Well, "yes way, yes me." My BM's have gone from fast and easy to slow and labored. It's starting to change now that I'm eating more vegetables and less cheez-its. 

9. Any other notable side effects? 
I never really broke out even as a teenager, but my forehead is now covered in those small annoying pimples you can scratch and/or squeeze. Also, my white hair count has doubled. (Note: Believe me, this forehead selfie really does not do the pimples and white hairs justice.) Oh, and I am hot all the time now. Even as I type, 60 degrees outside, windows open...I am sweating, especially between the boobs and belly and my pits. Dear pits. 

10. If you could get rid of one pregnancy symptom, what would it be? 
NAUSEA. Hands down. Even though I don't like vomiting, if the vomiting wasn't married to the nausea, I would take vomit over nausea. But feeling nauseous every day now for 6 months is just plain torture. I mean, vomiting sucks too...but which is the lesser evil? Vomit.

11. Do you mind if people touch your belly?
Nope! I actually feel like it's a way people bless me and the baby. There's something intriguing about making that physical connection with someone. I've noticed that women of color are more prone to just going for it, but most white women have been quite hesitant to touch my belly. I'll often have to give permission. I know some pregnant women can't stand having their belly touched, but I'm really enjoying it. 

12. Would you want to go through all this again? 
Oddly, yes. When I was barely crawling out of the first trimester, I remember I was showering (which didn't happen very often mind you), and I had a thought float through my mind that I'd want to be pregnant again. I was completely surprised that I would even think that when I was still feeling miserable.

13. How many times a night do you get up to pee?

1-2xs/night. It just started becoming 2xs/night. Pre-pregnancy: I would sleep 8 hours straight without waking up ever. I don't think I'll experience that sleep bliss for many years to come...

14. How do you feel about your body?
Big question for any woman! I've always struggled with my body and feeling comfortable in it without pregnancy as part of the equation. I read about how women finally accepting their bodies during pregnancy, but I don't think that's happened for me necessarily. I think my focus/attention is just redirected by the wonders of my changing body like the dark line forming down the center of my belly or the kicks I feel, or the shape of this growing bump. But overall, it just feels like it is what it is. I don't ever really feel sexy, sometimes I feel cute, but mostly I feel kinda frumpy and just plain big. In my better moments, I try to appreciate that I still have some muscle tone despite my lack of physical movement. :) Yesterday I wore earrings and let my hair down (for as long as I could tolerate before tying it back up again), to try switching things up. I felt cuter than normal and that was nice, but honestly, I couldn't wait to get back home, take off the earrings and slip into comfortable shorts. nice.

15. Any wisdom you've gained from pregnancy you'd like to share?
Nausea cures me of all the cares of this world (even one as scary as Trump). Haha. For real, I've learned that 1) we really need each other to get through suffering and 2) when we ask for help, it comes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Quote | To Bless What Is

"To bless whatever there is, and for no other reason but simply because it is—that is our raison d’etre; that is what we are made for as human beings. This singular command is engraved in our heart. Whether we understand this or not matters little. Whether we agree or disagree makes no difference. And in our heart of hearts we know it."

Br. David Steindl-Rast
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