If you follow me on Instagram that you probably already know, but Duncan and I are having a baby! And we are over the moon excited! I’m 16 weeks today (crazy!), so we are really starting to get pumped as we’re almost halfway there!
I shared some of our announcement photos on instagram but wanted to have a more permanent home for them on my blog. I went back and forth on whether I wanted to do photos, but Duncan and I ultimately decided it would be fun and special to document such a special time in our lives – so we went for it! I LOVE how they turned out! We used Nathan Shepard and could not have been more pleased!
A little Note About Writing This Post
Ok so to be completely honest, I’ve been putting off writing this post with every chance I could get. I mean, I literally started cleaning my room and organizing my pantry earlier today as an excuse or reason not to have to sit down and write this.
Whenever I find myself procrastinating like this, I like to ask myself what exactly is my fear or what’s the reason why I don’t want to do it. And I think that with a post like this, it’s not just one thing. So I thought it would be helpful for me to unpack some of the reasons why I’d be scared to open up.
I’m scared because for some of these questions, I don’t have an answer or I feel like my answer isn’t good enough. Or like my journey or truth isn’t something worth sharing. I know I am probably overthinking this in some ways, but I feel that because I’m a blogger and put myself in front of people, that I have to have the answers or be in a position to give ADVICE. I don’t always feel permission to be a learner alongside my audience, which is usually exactly what I am doing…LEARNING! The truth is, for most of my pregnancy so far, I’ve just been trying to get by (and probably not doing this whole pregnancy “perfectly” or how I see other people portray it on the internet.)
Did I read some books? Sure. But I wasn’t really able to follow them. I wanted to and had intentions of doing “all the right things”, but it can be an overwhelming learning curve. I had to take a step back and do the simple things like sleep, drink water, rest, get my work done, and take my prenatal vitamins. There is also still so much prep work and things to purchase! I’m sure I’ll get to that eventually!
So here’s what I’m trying to accomplish with this post. I am going to write about the topic of pregnancy from a BOTH/AND perspective because that is what I am living right now. Pregnancy is a huge blessing and I want to give it all the gratitude and respect it deserves, but it has also been really challenging.
The challenges I have experienced may not be the challenges you experienced and that is ok. I want to share my experience from an honest place, which means you will hear the reality of both sides of this journey and what I’m learning.
When I share the difficult side of my experience, I need you to know that I hold that in balance with my excitement and joy. Duncan and I are BEYOND excited and grateful for the miracle of pregnancy, but there are parts I didn’t know to expect.
I also want to acknowledge that pregnancy is a sensitive topic. I know some of you reading this are currently in a waiting period to get pregnant. I don’t know what that journey looks like for you, but I imagine it can be a very difficult, heartbreaking, and a lonely space to wait in and I just want to acknowledge you. In sharing my experience, I don’t want to minimize yours and while I may not know you by name, this is heavy on my heart.
Anyways I wanted to say that first before getting into things! But y’all sent in SO many questions which I’m so excited to get into below.
Let’s Get Into Your Questions!
Oh and BTW, thank you for all the support!!! And for sending in such great questions. I didn’t get to all of them but I tried to focus on ones that were sent more than once. Y’all are the best and your support really means the world. I hope I do your questions justice :)
What’s your due date?
March 10, 2021
Will you find out the gender?
Yes! Duncan actually wanted to wait and we might do that later in life (God willing) but I couldn’t stand it so we found out! I needed to know! We have only told close family and friends. I’m sure I’ll tell my audience soon, I just want to wait a little first and have it be private for now.
We did a sweet little gender reveal with our immediate families over ZOOM, which was really fun!
Were you pregnant when you and Duncan were at the OBGYN in the blue and pink masks?
Nope – that was in May!
What has been the hardest thing to give up? What food and drinks have you had to give up?
Wine. Oh, and sushi.
To be honest, I haven’t really done anything extreme. I know there are A LOT of rules, but if I’m being totally honest, I don’t follow all of them. I drink a little coffee in the morning still, but I’ve actually never really been a huge coffee drinker. I usually have a few sips and I’m done!
What prenatal are you using?
I’m taking Ritual prenatal and I love it! I took their daily essential before I got pregnant and love those too! My ritual code is BRIGHTON10. That is just what is working well for me!
What is the hardest thing about being pregnant for you?
I feel like my answer to this would be different depending on the day you ask me! But I guess one of the hardest parts for me has been learning how to show up in all the areas of life I need to show up in while also realizing I can’t operate at the same capacity. Life looks different, I feel different, and I just can’t do as much. Some days are better than others, but given the unpredictability with how I’ll feel on any given day, I have to leave lots of margin.
So there’s this attempt for balance between getting the necessary things done and learning when and where to give myself grace when it comes to pushing myself. After all, it’s not really about just ME anymore – there’s another soul involved. And I think that realization just continues to humble me.
As I write this post and reflect on the past 3 months, I think the root of a lot of my struggle has been comparison. Or rather, my tendency to compare or find a baseline has made things worse than they needed to be.
Yes, it has been hard physically, emotionally, and mentally. But isn’t that to be expected when you’re literally growing a human inside of you? And even though I knew this in my head, it was hard for me to live out everyday.
It was (and still is) difficult to know when to offer grace and when to push through or practice discipline. And I would often end up looking for validation in others instead of embracing that this was and is my story and that it’s okay.
Ok lastly, I just have to mention, THE HORMONES. I mean I knew you had more hormones while pregnant, but living it out week after week is another thing – for me at least! It was kind of like PMSing all the time! I’m not really getting into it, but that had been one of the hardest parts for me because it kind of made all the other stuff harder.
Questions about timing // How it happened
How did y’all decide it was the right time? Were you trying? How long was your process from deciding to start trying to conceive? What were your first physical signs of pregnancy? How did you find out? How did you tell Duncan?
I’m going to tackle all of these questions at once since they’re all pretty related to timing and the process of getting ready to get pregnant. I’ve been a little nervous about sharing my experience because I understand that getting pregnant is not always easy for everyone – and that it can be a long journey for SO many women. I understand this on a deep level and have seen firsthand the pain and suffering that comes with infertility.
So much so that I honestly expected I’d have some sort of struggle be a part of my story as well. Most, if not all, of the experiences I’d been familiar with (via my friendships) involved some sort of season of waiting. It seems like these days, getting pregnant is just harder than it used to be.
And since I’d been on birth control for a few years, I figured that would also make it harder for my body to adjust and get back into rhythm. I had the kind of birth control that was in my arm and my doctor told me that one in particular can take 6-9 months for your body to get off of and get back to normal.
After getting married, actually on our honeymoon, Duncan and I talked a lot about our life goals and when we wanted to start a family. I’ll never forget those conversations – they were so sweet! We decided we wanted to start soon since we both (God-willing) wanted a few kiddos but not too soon because we wanted to enjoy some time just us two. But also, we had no idea what our experience would be with getting pregnant. We decided we’d start the process of trying to figure things out around the Fall/Holidays. And I planned to get my birth control taken out over the summer.
But due to a number of reasons, I decided to get my birth control removed in May. Long story short, I think it was making me a little crazy. And since we knew we wanted to start trying in the next 6 months or so, it didn’t really make sense to get on something else and put my body through that. Plus, my doctor said it would probably take 6-9 months for my body to regulate anyway. And that’s without knowing if we’ll have any other issues.
Since I wanted to learn how my body worked and started getting curious about what the “getting pregnant” process looked like (I was kind of clueless), I bought the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility a month or so later. Many of my friends said it taught them so much and I knew I had a lot to learn. I mean, I knew the basics but I didn’t know anything about how to track or be smart. My plan was to read it leisurely over the summer and get a feel for how everything worked. I really just wanted to be more knowledgeable so that I could feel more confident.
The book came in the mail and it sat unopened for a few weeks. I remember we had a trip planned for the 4th of July and I told myself I’d get to it after that trip.
I was supposed to start my period the day or so before we left for the trip. I didn’t expect it to be exact since I figured my body was still adjusting to getting off my BC. But then 5 days had gone by and it didn’t come. I started to wonder what the deal was because I’d always been pretty regular – also I was having cramps. But I didn’t think much of it.
I remember Duncan and I went on a jog (I did this little challenge in June where I ran 1 mile/walked 1 mile a day) and my boobs hurt SO BAD I had to stop. I remember thinking, oh this must be a new PMS symptom now that I’m off BC. Again, I didn’t think much of it.
Also, the entire time we were on the trip, I took like 2 naps a day. I was exhausted. But I kind of figured it was just because I was tired from life and needed a reset. So when it had been almost a week and I hadn’t started, I was like…maybe I should get a test.
Oh also, THIS was the other weird thing. I had TERRIBLE cramps. So I thought…for sure I’m about to start, here it comes. They felt like PMS cramps but a little worse, which I figured was because I’d gotten off BC. I remember switching BC once and having really bad cramps (well worse than usual) during the transition.
ANYWAY. We got a test at a convenient store while picking up some candy lol. I took it that night without much expectation. There was a very (very) faint second line. So I took the 2nd test that came in the pack. The same thing happened, but the 2nd line got darker. And according to the instructions, that meant I was pregnant.
Duncan had actually just left to go get Pizza (he didn’t know I was taking it yet because again, I wasn’t expecting anything) – I texted him to COME BACK.
So to answer the question of HOW I told him….well, I actually just handed him the test and asked if he saw the line. He looked at it, checked the instructions and then looked back at me with a smile.
I think we were both a little shocked, but of course simultaneously excited! We spent the rest of the night letting it sink in and then started to get excited. I went back and forth between feeling excited and a little freaked out…but also so grateful too. It’s funny how you can feel so many things at once in moments like this! I knew I wanted to start a family and be a mom at some point, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that it was happening!
At the end of the day, I believe that God’s timing is specific, good, and intentional. It may not be the timing I expected, but I can trust it’s the right timing for us and I’m grateful for the joy it will create in our family and the ways it will shape us as people and parents.
Did you record anyone’s reaction? How did you tell your families?
I did not. I think in an ideal world, I maybe would have loved to record and then be able to watch people’s reactions again. But in reality, I ended up telling most of my family and friends organically and it just felt weird or unnatural to record them.
How has Duncan reacted to your mix of gratitude and being overwhelmed?
He has been my ROCK. I’ve had so many emotions and feelings that didn’t feel “right” or I felt like I shouldn’t be having them. And each time I voice them to Duncan, he has been nothing but encouraging and understanding.
What has been your saving grace so far in pregnancy?
Duncan – 100%. I truly could not have survived without him. There were about 2 straight months where I was obviously pretty useless in terms of helping around the house, etc, and he has helped me get through all those hard days – among basically keeping our life afloat.
But other than him, I’d say french fries and a heating pad. There were weeks where my back pain was so bad I could hardly walk – and sitting down with a heating pad was the only thing that really relieved the pain. I also took a lot of baths!
What lifts you up when you feel discouraged about pregnancy?
Duncan, mostly. I mean, if it isn’t clear already, he has literally been a SAINT through all of this and I couldn’t be more thankful. Sometimes when I think back to all that he did for me during those few months, it brings tears to my eyes or I get a little knot in my stomach because I feel a kind of gratitude that overwhelms me.
But also just remembering that most of my discouragement and fears are coming from comparison and reminding myself that everyone’s journey is different. It also helps for me to remember that my body is going through a lot and that it’s OK(!) to be in survival mode.
Lastly, it has been really helpful for me to remember that although there are so many things I could or should be doing, that ultimately this pregnancy and this baby is in God’s hands.
What’s something you’ve learned about pregnancy/parenting that’s surprised you?
Well, to be honest, everything about pregnancy has kind of surprised me. I guess I grew up always hearing about it but never really thinking hard about what that season would look like.
And since it came a little before I had time to seriously consider and look into it (which was my plan), I was definitely taken by surprise. I guess you could say I was VERY naive about what being pregnant would be like. Either that or I’ve just had a hard one compared to what’s “normal” – it’s really hard to tell! But I think a part of me thought I’d be able to do all the things I normally do and operate at the same level. I was very wrong.
How are you doing physically as you are getting more into 2nd trimester?
I think if you were my friend (or Duncan), you’d say that it’s like night and day – how I am right now during week 15/16 versus how I was all throughout July and August.
The changes have felt very gradual though. It’s not like I woke up after week 12 and felt like a new person. But I will say that each week has gotten better and I’m finally able to make commitments again without worrying about having to bail last minute. There was a time where I was too nervous to make plans with friends because I didn’t know how I was going to feel. Or the thought of going out to dinner or meeting up with friends (and that potentially lasting past 8 PM) felt like a burden. I still have days where I’m nauseous and it’s still really hard for me to get out of bed in the morning (even after 8 or 9 hrs of sleep), but I’m definitely feeling better.
What workouts have you been doing? Any tips with working out with 1st trimester nausea and exhaustion?
Okay I want to be very transparent here about working out during the first trimester. I *literally* did NOTHING. I could NOT. I remember trying to go on a walk one day during week 6 or 7 (I think?) and although I was able to complete 2 miles, it felt like I had just run several miles – I was exhausted.
Before getting pregnant, I had been meeting with a trainer 3x/week for a couple of months. Once I started feeling bad, I basically took 9 straight weeks off. I tried to schedule a few afternoon workouts thinking maybe that would be better since I wasn’t *as* sick then, but I ended up having to cancel them all.
I remember one time trying to go to the gym to walk on the treadmill, but I had such bad aches in my back and cramps that I had to stop after 10 minutes.
I know that sounds dramatic, but that was my experience. I’ll admit though, I’m kind of a baby when it comes to feeling bad and pushing myself in general. I know some people are able to keep working out through their first trimester, but that certainly was not my experience. I was just trying to make it through the day, honestly.
But I also want to NORMALIZE not working out or being super physical during pregnancy if that doesn’t feel good! Or if you’re too tired! I looked around the internet and social media (again, I struggle with comparison) and it felt like every pregnant person was doing some awesome workout. That wasn’t the case for me, and it might not be…and that’s OK. I’m doing what I can when I feel good and that’s enough for me!
I just started working out again a few weeks ago and although I’m not doing much cardio or getting my heart rate up, it feels good to move my body a little bit!
Do you have any favorite books to prepare yourself? What did you do to prepare your body to get pregnant?
There wasn’t anything particular I did to prepare my body for getting pregnant – although I honestly wish I had! I was planning on spending the summer learning and figuring out what changes I needed to start making in my lifestyle and diet. But again, that just wasn’t my story.
After finding out I got pregnant, I did order a few books. And I skimmed through some of them but I’ll admit that all of the information really overwhelmed me! I relied a lot on Duncan since he’s a wizard reader and was doing a lot of research on his own, which I am INCREDIBLY thankful for!
Plus, when I would read a book, I’d get a little discouraged. I’d feel like there were so many things I needed to be doing or could be doing better and it would overwhelm me a little (since I was feeling so bad).
I read/skimmed the following books but mostly I talked to my friends, my mom, Duncan and my sister.
Real Food For Pregnancy – there’s A LOT of really great information in here and I know so many people really enjoyed this. I like it, but I’ll probably need to dive back in now that I’m feeling a little better because I couldn’t really eat anything other than carbs and cheese for the first 3.5 months!
What To Expect – This is like the go-to book for pregnancy I feel like and has been around for YEARS. I think it’s really helpful and it’s just nice to have on hand. It goes week by week and tells you what to expect or what you might be experiencing.
Expecting Better – I’m actually only halfway through this one but I LOVE it so far! It is such a breath of fresh air amidst all the conflicting recommendations and advice you get from people and the internet. It focuses on the data and I really appreciate that!
Natural Mama – I liked reading the week-by-week from this book as well to see if there was anything additional it covered that wasn’t mentioned in the What To Expect book. Plus, I learned why people prefer to do things naturally. I’m not sure what my plan is yet, but I do know that I have a very low pain tolerance and I’m terrified of the whole process – ha!
Have you been praying any specific scripture through pregnancy?
Yes! I think I’ll answer this in a separate post.
Did you have any food aversions?
I mean, I don’t think there was anything specific that totally grossed me out but I just wanted NOTHING to do with anything that was healthy (veggies, salad, even chicken).
All I wanted to eat (and all I actually did eat) was pizza, sandwiches, pasta, Eggos, and French fries. There were a few times I ate a burger, but I mostly filled up on French fries or chips.
What were your pregnancy symptoms?
Gosh, I kinda feel bad answering this question because I feel like I had them all. I think the most difficult for me was how exhausted I was. But it was actually more than that – it was like I had ZERO drive or motivation on top of that and I felt SAD all the time. I also just felt really bad about myself, constantly feeling down and doubting myself. I’d say the combination of all of that was really a struggle.
But aside from being hormonal and exhausted, I did experience some other symptoms that I wasn’t expecting or hasn’t heard of. During the beginning of my pregnancy (weeks 5 through 8 – about a month), I had very intense stomach cramps.
It wasn’t always this consistent, but there were a few weeks where it was basically every 4 hours, I would have incredibly painful pain in my lower stomach. It felt like PMS cramps but a little more intense and they lasted longer – like a twisting of my ovaries. Sometimes it would also mess with my digestion too.
I’d be doubled over in pain with my heating pad, with a timer set, counting the minutes until it would pass (they usually lasted 4 minutes or so? Sometimes longer). I remember reading every single thing I could find on the internet about it, searching high and low trying to find others who had a similar experience.
But it didn’t seem like a normal thing.
I called my doctor and ended up going in during week 5 (I think) because she said that didn’t sound quite right and wanted to check things out to be safe.
We did an ultrasound and everything looked fine. She did say that what I was experiencing did not sound normal but assured me that everyone’s pregnancy is different and this might just be a weird part of mine.
Anyway, a few days went by and they kept coming. The cramps woke me up around 4 one Saturday morning and I started to wonder if it could maybe be my appendix? It did feel like it was specifically on my right side (at least this specific time). I don’t know but the pain just felt too intense for this to be nothing.
So after 3 or so hours of it, we ended up going to the emergency room and spent almost the entire day there. I got another ultrasound and an MRI, but everything looked fine. Honestly, we never figured out what was happening with my cramps but around week 8 or so they got better and started happening less often.
They have not come back and I am SO thankful. I just chalked it up to a combination of my uterus trying to grow and implantation cramps. But I wanted to share because I couldn’t find ANYONE else who had that experience and I was desperate for that “me too” feeling. The cramps were also a big reason why I was afraid to make plans – I never knew when an “attack” (what I’d call it lol) would come!
Gosh I feel like this is getting long, but I’ll list a few other symptoms:
Lower pack pain. I’ve never really had back pain before (except occasionally when I was PMSing), so this was new for me. It was actually more my seat than my back, but it’s like this ache that was always there and sometimes I’d be limping. I started seeing a chiropractor and I think that has been helping? It’s honestly hard to tell but it makes me feel better to do something rather than nothing.
Going to the bathroom a zillion times a day. Wow, this one continues to surprise me. Sometimes I’ll have to pee twice in a 10 minute span. And I’m not one to usually get up in the middle of the night but there are some nights where I need to get up 2 or 3 times because my bladder feels so full.
Headaches. I’ve read this is normal but I would get (and still do) headaches all the time.
My boobs. Wow. I have no words for what has been going on with my boobs since getting pregnant. I’d say that was the absolute first thing that happened – they got HUGE and were super sore. I remember putting on my swimsuit (this was before I knew I was pregnant) and being so confused, wondering if I had shrunk it in the dryer accidentally. This has stayed the same up until now (week 16) and continues to BLOW my mind. My bras do not fit (none of them) and I can’t wear many of my go-to tops. I’ve had to purchase 2 sizes up in my sports bras (and regular bra) and I now size up a size or two in tops.
Hormones. I mentioned this above but I need to mention it again. WOW. I don’t really want to get into it here, but I’ll just say that I really struggled with sadness and just feeling down throughout the first 14 or so weeks. The feelings (and drama of it, really) reminded me of some of my worst PMS experiences – where some things felt like the BIGGEST deal when in reality there weren’t. I felt really down about myself and just in general for weeks at a time. And I couldn’t always explain why the feelings were so intense – other than hormones! I cried a lot, and if you’re going through it, you need to know that it’s OKAY.
What week did you start not feeling well?
Around week 5 I started feeling pretty exhausted and I was having the cramps I talked about above. And then around week 7 was when the back pain started.
Is it hard to see your body changing even though you know it’s wonderful?
YES. Call me vain, but this has been VERY hard for me. Especially with putting together outfits being a part of my job, I’ve definitely struggled to find confidence and motivation to get dressed.
I started noticing my body change at the very beginning – around week 7 I think? And at that point, I had to start sizing up in clothes. And it was compounded by the fact that I didn’t feel well enough to workout and I was only eating CRAP food.
What are you enjoying most about being pregnant?
In the moments I have been able to get out of my own way (and that has gotten easier), I’ve actually really enjoyed being served (that sounds funny when I type it out). But Duncan has been such a servant throughout all of this and when I had really hard days/weeks, Duncan was there for me and it was nice to have the support.
And I’ve actually really enjoyed getting to eat whatever I wanted and have a good excuse. I mean, I’m not the most disciplined person when it comes to food anyway, but it has been nice to just not worry about it.
Okay last thing. This is going to sound strange, but I have enjoyed the struggle. Again, I know it sounds weird, but when I take a step back, it’s interesting to see how the process of wrestling with the different hardships has been (and still is) reshaping the way I view myself, my purpose, and life in general.
Is it fun? Not for me. But it’s GOOD and it’s making me better. The journey has been teaching me that this life is NOT about me, my job, my accomplishments, etc. It has reminded me of my own limitations and been a constant reminder to bring my weakness, struggles and fears to the Lord.
So in a sense, being pregnant has catapulted me into a season of true dependence that I’ve never really experienced before. It’s Above all, it has been incredibly humbling and I think the experience is actually helping me get ready to be a mom, which is a life of sacrifice.
Also, I’m obviously VERY excited for the baby but that just feels far off! I think I’ll get more excited or it’ll feel more real once I start buying clothes, nursery stuff, all that.
Do you regret starting a family in Co vs. where your facilities are? Do y’all plan to live in Denver forever/raise your kids there?
No, I definitely do not regret moving to Colorado! Although it has been a bit of an adjustment (especially with the wedding and quarantine lumped in there), the move has been great for us! I’ve learned A LOT about myself in the process too, including that I’m not as flexible and I thought I was (ha!) and that it’s hard to do my job without being settled in a home. But these lessons have been incredibly valuable and we’ve loved our time here in Colorado. Plus, we’ve started to make some good friends, which has really helped us feel more at home.
We aren’t sure what the future holds for us but are keeping open minds. I wouldn’t be surprised if we moved back to Texas at some point, but I also could see us staying here too!
How has the thought of “styling a bump” affected you?
Oh boy. So this has been different than I expected. I guess I’d never *really* thought about what that process would look like until it became a reality for me. I mean, sure, I would think about it casually at times when I’d see my friends or other people I follow styling their bumps. But I never actually thought about what that process would look like. And I could be wrong here, but I almost feel like once the bump gets bigger, it will be easier to style because it won’t look like I just ate too much lol.
Will you buy maternity clothing or prefer to size up?
I’ve been sizing up but if I want to wear actual pants, I feel like I’m going to have to get myself some maternity options. I don’t see how regular pants could be comfortable (even with all the tricks you can do!).
What are you and Duncan most/least excited about for parenthood?
It’s hard to think of just one things because we are so excited about all of it! I think Duncan is most excited about having morning time. He’s very much a morning person and has mentioned looking forward to having sweet one-on-one time in the mornings. As for me, I think I’m most excited to see his/her personality and what he/she looks like!
What was it about the blogs you read that made you feel alone or angry?
I think most of the reason I got upset had to do with me and not the blogger or person sharing their journey (lol OBVIOUSLY).
But some of the things that stick out to me are when people would say that their workout routine didn’t change at all or much during first trimester or that they ate really healthy.
Honestly, I think I just felt inadequate in general so anything I read about someone seemingly “having it together” just made me angry (which means I was just jealous, clearly). Instead of being okay with where I was in my journey, I found myself looking to others as a measurement to how well I was handling things or what I “should” be doing. But then when I would try to do those things, I just straight up couldn’t. And it was this endless negative cycle.
Have you started on nursery?
Nope, not at all. Ha!
Were you afraid it would be harder to conceive with being an older age?
Yes! I was. I realize 30 (almost 31) is not “old” per se, but I knew we wanted a few kids and so I know things get complicated as you get older. And with all the stories I’d heard, I figured I would have a similar challenging journey.
Will you do bump updates?
You know, it was my intention to do them. But I’m 16 weeks this week and haven’t done one “bump” update. Maybe I’ll start next week.
Thanks again for all your support! We are so excited and I can’t wait to meet our new BFF :)
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