Favorite Pregnancy Books

When I found out I was pregnant, I didn't really know what to do with myself. As someone who likes to be prepared and avoid procrastination, the first few weeks of pregnancy are tough. There are so many risks during the first couple of months, and I didn't want to get ahead of myself until I was fairly confident that I would have a healthy pregnancy. I used the time to read up on the months ahead. These were the books I found most helpful.

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  1. Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy - This book was both informative and humorous (as in laugh out loud funny). I read this book within the first week of having a positive pregnancy test. It was the perfect first read because it gets into the nitty-gritty, non-medical aspects of pregnancy but is lighthearted enough to not completely freak out a fragile, newly pregnant mama. When I started cracking up in laughter at part of the book and then immediately started sobbing, it confirmed my pregnancy test. The tears lasted for a solid 10 minutes, and I was grateful nobody was home except for the dog, who didn’t seem concerned about the outburst.

  2. What to Expect When You're Expecting - This is the most comprehensive guide to explaining symptoms and the baby's development on my list, and it breaks down pregnancy month by month. There are also “For Dad” tips sprinkled throughout, and I conveniently leave those pages open for Jay to see, especially ones like “be patient when your partner is cranky” and “help out with more household chores.” While I've skimmed the entire book, I'm reading each chapter month by month because there are a LOT of details. I wish they would redesign the cover to something a little less loud, but you know what they say about judging a book by its cover.

  3. Bringing up Bebe - Written by Pamela Druckerman, an American journalist, who delivers and raises three children in Paris, this book provided a perspective into French parenting. It explains the French healthcare and childcare systems, but it also gives insight into how French parenting techniques lead to kids sleeping through the night, having adventurous tastes, and directing themselves in play. There are definitely some techniques I plan to use, and it was interesting to think about the cultural and behavioral differences between American and French families. 

  4. Expecting Better - Being pregnant for the first time, I wasn't sure what pregnancy "rules" I needed to follow. I'd heard that I should avoid cheese and lunch meat, give up my morning cup of coffee, and avoid taking medicine. Luckily my doctor is pretty laid back and gave me a fairly short list of off-limit items and recommendations. However, I didn't want to do anything that might cause harm. This book is written by an economist who digs deep into conventional pregnancy wisdom and uses evidence-based research to break down the real risks of "off limit" items and different medical tests and practices. While it wasn't the most fun book to read, it did put me at ease. Essentially, you can continue drinking your morning coffee, but don't smoke or do drugs.

Let's be honest, you can read hundreds of pregnancy and child-rearing books, and learn something new with each one. There were a couple more books that I read and still more that were recommended to me, but I honestly got burnt out on reading pregnancy books. After reading these and talking with my doctor, my mom, and girlfriends, I feel like I have a good handle on what's to come. I do have a two more books that I plan to read in my third trimester to prepare for the first few months of motherhood. These come highly recommended by some of my girlfriends. 

On Becoming Baby Wise

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

Do you have any pregnancy or parenting books that are must-reads?

 
 

Coffee Conversations

Happy Monday! I wish you lots of coffee or whatever your fuel of choice is this morning! If we were having coffee together, here's what I would share... 

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I kept a food diary for several days and met with a nutritionist a few weeks ago to make sure I was eating healthfully during pregnancy, and she determined I need to add more protein to my diet. Here's my new favorite protein-filled snack - a cup of vanilla Greek yogurt mixed with a tablespoon of peanut butter. OMG, it tastes like peanut butter pie ice cream! It may be a little heavy on the calories, but it's better than eating pie or ice cream. 

I've been in a funk all of January. Illness followed by the mess of home renovations in the middle of winter can really bring a gal down. I have a lot to be thankful for right now, so I'm doing everything I can to get out of it. Exercise, fresh air, and a good book can usually do wonders for my mood. 

My dad was diagnosed with cancer at the end of last summer, and he did really well with chemo and radiation in the fall. I'm leaving later today to head to Nashville for his surgery, and we hope it will be the last part of his treatment. It's supposed to be a doozy of a surgery, and even if everything goes smoothly, he'll probably be in the hospital for about 10 days. Please send us prayers and good vibes!

I feel great in my pregnancy right now, but my acne is the worse it has ever been. I talked to my doctor, and she basically said there isn't much I can do about it. She did suggest trying sulfur soap and a Clarisonic, so both of those were ordered. I hope to see some results soon. If you have any suggestions for pregnancy acne, please send them my way!

After a kinda lousy day, I was walking to my car and a driver almost hit me at a pedestrian crosswalk, and then he had the audacity to put his hand out the window and flip ME off as he sped away. To put it lightly, I was really bothered. However, later that night, a glove must have fallen out of my car into the parking lot, and someone tucked it into my car door handle. I was so grateful to this stranger for saving my glove and generally restoring my faith in humanity. It takes just as much effort to do the kind thing as it does to do the blatantly nasty thing, so let's just use our energy to be kind.  

I wish you lots of coffee or whatever your fuel of choice is this morning!

 
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Combating Morning Sickness

It is so fascinating how quickly your body and habits change during pregnancy. I originally wrote this post in early December, and since then, my diet and eating habits have changed dramatically. 

A quick snap from week 15. I survived the first trimester and started eating salads again!

A quick snap from week 15. I survived the first trimester and started eating salads again!

I’d heard that morning sickness reared its ugly head around 6 weeks, and when the 6 week mark came and I went, I thought I was out of the woods. Around week 7, it definitely hit. Everyone is different, but here’s what worked for me.

  1. Eat something right before bed and as soon as you wake up - After going to bed once with too empty of a stomach, I vowed not to do that again. I frequently had some applesauce or a small glass of juice or milk before bed to tide me over until the next morning. I almost always woke up lightheaded and slightly queasy, so I ate a pre-breakfast snack as soon as I woke up. This is usually more applesauce, a piece of fruit, a handful of protein cereal, or half a muffin. Other than craving citrus, I normally wanted something bland and starchy.

  2. Allow yourself time to wake up - Pre-pregnancy, I would hop out of bed before 6 AM, throw on clothes, and workout (or at the very least, walk the dog). After the first few weeks of pregnancy, this was absolutely not happening for the foreseeable future. When my alarm went off, I usually stumbled out of bed and shuffled to the kitchen. It took at least 15 minutes for me to even begin thinking about walking the dog or getting ready for work.

  3. Once you get going, stay busy - Once I was awake and fed, I did better making it through the workday if I was busy. My job involves meeting with students throughout the day, and if I had a long break in meetings, I noticed how lousy I felt. I tried to be more intentional in making sure I had tasks to fill breaks, so I had something else to focus my attention on.

  4. Diffuse essential oils - For some reason, citrus was really appealing to me , so I diffused a blend of grapefruit, lemon, lime, and orange oils at my desk at work. That blend seemed to keep me alert and energized throughout the day. After reading through lots of essential oil forums and suggestions for morning sickness, some other helpful oils are lavender, ginger, chamomile, peppermint, and sandalwood.  

  5. Keep snack food around and don’t be afraid to eat it - The first couple of weeks, I was hesitant to snack. I was afraid I would start packing on pregnancy weight before I even had a baby bump. I quickly realized I couldn’t function without snacks though, so I’ve tried to eat smaller meals with more snacks between them. I’ve found almonds and popcorn to be the most satisfying quick snacks.

  6. Stay active - Sometimes the last thing I want to do is go to the gym or workout, but I found once I start a workout, I usually don’t notice that I feel lousy. However, I have been listening to my body more, and I don’t push myself as much as I normally would. Mornings, which used to be my workout time, are when I feel the worst, so I’ve had to shift my workouts to the evening. A lot of evenings I only have time to fit in a walk or a short workout, and I’m learning to appreciate and accept more rest.

Thankfully, most women start feeling better around week 12, but when I was in the thick of the first trimester, I wasn't confident I would ever feel normal again. What are your tips for managing morning sickness?

 
 

Surviving a Home Renovation (Round 3)

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We've lived in our current home for about 14 months now, and we did an upstairs master renovation on it before we moved in. If you have the option to not live in your home during a renovation, that is the way to do it! There were a few minor aches and pains along the way, but for the most part, my sanity remained intact. 

In our first home, we started a renovation while we were on our honeymoon. We arrived home after a relaxing week in Turks and Caicos to a complete disaster. While I Jay and I were able to maintain a strong relationship throughout the process (we were newlyweds after all), home renovation craziness still dominates my thoughts about our first six months of marriage. I wrote this post about renovation survival tips during our first renovation, and the gist of it is that you'll become very friendly with your neighborhood wine shop employees. You can see the end result of that renovation here.

When we moved into our current home, I loved everything about it - the layout, the fire pit in the backyard, the covered porch, the spacious master closet, the location - EXCEPT the kitchen. While it was functional with a decent size and layout, it wasn't aesthetically pleasing. However, after two extensive renovations and the stress of moving, which always comes with numerous home projects, we decided to live with it for a while.

Fast forward about 10 months and a positive pregnancy test, and I had a bee in my bonnet. It was time to tackle the kitchen! Because the layout worked for our needs and the cabinets were in good shape, we decided to keep them. While they wouldn't be my first choice, paying thousands of dollars to replace perfectly good cabinets didn't make sense for us. Because we decided to keep our existing cabinets, here's what we wanted to accomplish:

  1. Paint cabinets (Professional spray paint)
  2. Replace tile backsplash
  3. Replace countertops
  4. Replace sink
  5. Replace hardware
  6. Replace lighting over the island and add undermount kitchen lights
  7. Paint kitchen

When we made this list, I thought to myself, this isn't a renovation, this is just a home project or a kitchen "facelift." However, three weeks in, I'm realizing it is more than a mere facelift. No minor home project looks like this for two weeks. Realistically, everything should be done by mid-February, and I have high hopes for accessing the oven, stove, and dishwasher this weekend. 

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For this renovation, we did several things differently that I would 100% do again next time to make it easier. (Although, I'm hoping it will be our last home renovation for at least the next decade.)

  • Don't rush into the project - With this project, we took a lot of time to think about what we wanted and met with a variety of vendors several weeks or even months before we started. This allowed us time to get estimates, determine who/what was best for our needs, and not feel rushed to pick someone or something. 
  • Become your own general contractor - Nothing is more frustrating than workers not showing up when they say they are going to, especially if you are dependent on them to start the next phase of the project, and the lack of control or knowledge with what was going on was very frustrating during our first two renovations. By meeting each of our vendors/workers before we started the process, I knew the exact schedule and who was supposed to show up when. If someone didn't show up when they said they would, you better believe I called them right away to figure out a solution.
  • Schedule the renovation during a slow season - We talked to multiple vendors about what month worked best for their schedules, and overwhelmingly January and February were their slowest months. We were even able to get a discount from our cabinet painters because it was a slow time. 
  • Similarly, get on your vendors' calendars early - Because we took our time and decided to hold off a couple months, we were able to book everyone exactly when we needed them, so there were no gaps in the process while we waited on the next step. 
 
This Girl doesn't mind a little dust and Chaos.

This Girl doesn't mind a little dust and Chaos.

 

I can't wait to show you the final project in a few weeks! What home renovations or projects are you doing, and do you have any tips to make the process easier?

 
 

Oh Boy!

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Jay and I have some big news to share! We are expecting a baby boy to arrive in early June! While most of our family and friends have known since around Thanksgiving, we waited until the new year to share publicly. I'm currently 21 weeks and feeling the best I've felt since about week 7. 

We were planning to share on New Year's Day with a cute picture and clever caption about exciting things to come in 2018. BUT around December 30, I got the flu, gave it to Jay, and then, as a result of the flu combined with pregnancy, I developed a lung infection. Needless to say, there were no adorable pictures taken that week.

Onto plan two, which was to take a picture with a newborn life jacket because we spend so much time at the lake during the summer. BUT single degree temperatures and snow and ice descending upon our city, and we didn't think that would make a great backdrop. The snow finally melted and the thermometer rose above freezing this weekend, so we trekked to our local park with our life jacket and snapped this photo. We determined it was good enough and time to share, especially since I can't hide the bump very well anymore and some of the older ladies at church started stopping me and hesitantly asking if we were expecting. 

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While I don't want to blog about only pregnancy and baby topics, I'll plan to share a little bit about our journey since I enjoy reading about other women's experiences. 

 
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