Adventures in Pregnancy

cacti“Two or three quiet years.”

That’s what my husband and I both really wanted. When we discussed having children before we got married last year, we both wanted a few kid-free years, just the two of us. So when I took a pregnancy test three months ago confirming that I was pregnant after only seven months of marriage, my reaction was less than joyful. It was so not what we had wanted. We had both waited so long to find each other, so we wanted to enjoy the short time that we had as a couple before life got crazy. Now, it would seem, that time would be even shorter.

I was in shock. I was sad. I was angry. I was a million miles away from being happy, which made me feel guilty on top of everything else. I felt like I was supposed to feel joyful and happy, but all I could feel like was that the whole rug of my life had just been pulled from underneath me. It seemed all our plans would have to go out the door.

Would my husband still travel nurse? Would we still build a tiny house? Would we still rent our house out? Would I still pursue a life as a writer and health coach? Won’t pregnancy be awful? How will I have a baby on the road? What if we don’t get the house built in time?

The answer to most of those questions was, “Yes. You’ll be fine.” But it’s taken me three months to settle into that reality. After a whirlwind of emotion, I’ve settled into a mostly peaceful acceptance of our situation, and a burgeoning excitement to meet my child face to face. There are still hard days where I pine for the early days when we were first married and life felt open and exciting (thanks, hormones).

But, if anything, this baby has forced us to fast track the life we wanted. We are nearing the end of our first travel contract, saving like crazy for a tiny house, and I’m trying to finish my novel by the time this little person arrives. If anything, this baby has asked us, “Are you going to live the life you really want or not?”  Thanks, kid.

So, how are we traveling tiny and living healthy with a baby on the way?

By being really, really intentional and letting go of outside expectations about what babies need and what pregnancy is supposed to look like.

Eating healthy is a MASSIVE challenge when you’re pregnant (especially if you’re in the dreaded first trimester).

The first trimester was so hard. All the lovely healthy foods I normally enjoyed eating seemed to be nauseatingly foul and all I wanted was boxed macaroni and cheese and fried anything. Everything made me gag. I couldn’t even look at raw meat without wanting to die. Exercise was always shortened or totally curtailed by extreme exhaustion or nausea. Smoothies were just about the only way I could get anything nutritious down my gullet. But I wanted to try to be intentional about what I ate (which was all day long, btw) since those first few months are so crucial for baby’s development. I knew my cravings would go just as quickly as they came, so it seemed a little safer to ignore my cravings than give into them (save a few runs to the Thai restaurant and several to the taco place).

In my second trimester (currently), my nausea and food aversions have pretty much totally subsided, and my energy levels have returned.  Hooray for a window of opportunity! My green juices and most veggies are now back on the menu! I’m trying to avoid junk (especially sugar), and making sure that I get plenty of water and micronutrients and minerals so that baby and I are both feeling tip top. I’m back in the gym with lighter-than-usual weights, and trying to focus on keeping my core and my legs strong to keep my body prepared for labor and to avoid diastasis recti (hint, not crunches!). I figure that keeping my body ready to have a child is a little bit like training for a marathon: it’s not something to start thinking about two weeks beforehand! And, for those who think pregnant women are fragile lilies who should never move a muscle while they’re pregnant, that’s actually far more dangerous for mom-to-be than going to the gym and doing some light to moderate weight training (provided that was her custom before she was pregnant. If you never lifted a thing before you were pregnant, stick to healthy cardio). If you let your muscles turn to jelly, birth and recovery are going to be tough!

As we let people know we were pregnant, we got quite a few questions and comments about living tiny.

“You’re not still planning on building a tiny house, are you?”
“So you’re still going to travel nurse?”
“You can’t be a minimalist and have a kid – it’s impossible! Kids come with too much stuff.”
“You guys will do great!  I’m excited to watch your adventure!”

I realize having a baby in the midst of a gypsy life goes completely against the grain for most people. But if Mary and Joseph can have baby Jesus in a cave while on the road and then have to move Him to Egypt and back, I figure our kid will be fine. Billions of women since the dawn of time have been having and feeding babies without a Boppy and without wipe warmers and without 18 million toys.

So where will our baby actually sleep you ask? He or she will sleep in a baby box next to us, to start off with (in lieu of a bassinette). We’ve planned a few spaces for baby and things in the actual tiny house that should last for years. By the time we settle somewhere more permanently and have a slightly larger house (read slightly), little person and any others who have joined the tribe should still fit in the house fairly well.

There are a lot of “things” that people go hog wild for that supposedly come with babies when they’re born. I’ll tell you what comes with babies. Nothing. They literally come with nothing. You are the one who gets to decide how many toys they have, what kind of “mommy is actually the one who needs this” items, and which items you register for. Just because people tell you need something doesn’t mean you do.  My sister was good enough to send me a list of the bare minimum essential items that I’d need in a tiny house.  “Everything else is just extras!”  Thanks Jules!  My mother in law has also been amazingly encouraging (I struck actual gold in the mother-in-law department!).

But I knew I would be walking into a tsunami of advice, so at the beginning of my pregnancy I chose to trust the opinions of three women in regards to this: my mother (and mother-in-law), my sister, and my naturopath. All other opinions would be graciously smiled at. I’m 31, I have 13 nieces and nephews (some of whom I’ve lived with for stretches), I’ve been a nanny of infants/toddlers several times over, so I’m no stranger to babies or kids (I know, I know, I know: having your own is different). My mom has had six kids, my sister has had six kids, and my naturopath is also a midwife who had delivered countless babies.

So why do I want to avoid all the excess (other than I’ll be living in a 350 sq foot house)?The first days of bringing a baby home are exhausting and stressful. There are so many changes and transitions to deal with. The last thing I want to have to worry about is dealing with clutter or having to clean (there will be ENOUGH to clean if you know what I mean!) and then the eventual guilt that I shoved out a ton of money on an item I never used.

So, I’m curious (women who have already birthed babies): what was the weirdest food you wanted when you were pregnant, and what were two baby related items you wished you hadn’t invested in? Which Item was the major lifesaver? What was the worst advice you got while pregnant?

6 Replies to “Adventures in Pregnancy”

  1. No weird cravings, just food in general! Lifesaver has been a good baby carrier, like an Ergo 360, which is good from 7lbs up until something in the 40lb range and can wear baby in a variety of ways (facing out or in on front, side, or on your back). Breastfeeding doesn’t require a lot of gear or stuff, unless you are going somewhere a lot without baby and then you need to invest in a really good pump. Boppys or My Breast Friends are great, but NOT necessary. Also invest in a really good nursing bra. Or two or three. Each baby is different too, so one of mine loved cosleeping and one did not. Make friends with people who have kids slightly older than yours and take advantage of hand me downs for clothes. (Julia can maybe help with that). as for stuff I bought but didn’t use – didn’t happen. I struck gold in the hand me down department, and used everything we had. Lots of love to you!

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  2. My Ergo was/is the best. The crib was totally unnecessary.

    I originally thought the worst advice I got was placing baby on their belly to sleep because they sleep better that way but later I heard that increases the chances for SIDS. Then I found out SIDS deaths are linked to vaccines so you really can place a baby on their belly to sleep and they’ll be fine (just don’t vaccinate if you’re worried about your perfectly healthy baby dying from “unknown causes”)

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    1. Hi Jodi,

      I am writing out of respect and desire to make the lives of infants as safe as possible. And there are people that read Elizabeth’s blog and are reading the comments and I want all information about vaccines to be easily accessible to them. I am an ER physician and I have seen VERY DEADLY infections caused by children being unvaccinated. One of the more recent infections I saw was diphtheria and the child had a throat infection that almost completely obstructed their breathing. Measles and mumps were once almost unheard of in the US from vaccination and herd immunity, but now they’re back. If a pregnant woman is exposed to either of these diseases it can be deadly for her baby. SIDS is incredibly terrible (my own friend had this happen to her son who was put on his stomach to sleep at daycare) but good studies have shown SIDS is not related to vaccines.

      Please vaccinate your children. The original physician that wrote the study denouncing vaccines was found to be a fraud, that got reimbursement for his paper. He was not credible. Polio used to be incredibly common. Kids were in wheelchairs and put on ventilators. We never see it in the States anymore because of vaccines. Vaccines SAVE lives.

      http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/initiative/detection/immunization_misconceptions/en/index4.html

      https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/sids.html

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      1. Hi, Kathy!

        Not looking to argue on a blog but just so you and anyone else looking into vaccines have all the information, vaccine inserts list SIDS as a possible adverse effect. And here is a link to a court case where it was decided that vaccines caused the death of an otherwise completely healthy infant: https://ecf.cofc.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2013vv0611-73-0. Healthy babies don’t just die from unknown causes (or accidentally being put on their stomach to sleep). That may be one of the craziest things we’ve been taught to believe.

        I know which study and scientist you’re referring to but looking at the health of my own family I have seen the extremely dangerous, near irreversible effects of vaccines. The fact is there aren’t enough studies proving they’re safe and when vaccine inserts admit they could cause infant death, all kinds of auto-immune disease and admit they’ve never been tested for carcinogenisis (when they contain known carcinogens) one has to question if vaccines really are safe?

        With boosters given near yearly, and outbreaks of disease happening in 100% vaccinated populations (like recent mumps outbreaks) with the vaccines causing more cases of disease than the wild strain of the disease (like the polio vaccine in Syria, 33 kids paralyzed just last month from the vaccine) one has to question their touted effectiveness.

        And I have experienced in my family their dangerous ability to harm. So no more vaccines for us, ever. We’ll rely on the Lord, His design of our immune system (and it’s ability to heal itself) and all the knowledge I’ve gained on treating illness. And we won’t live in fear because every disease we vaccinate for is treatable.

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  3. Food cravings: Sauerkraut. Never liked it before my third pregnancy, started craving it during that and still like it, but craved it in each pregnancy thereafter (all the boys).
    When I think of investment, I think in terms of a larger expenditure, so, while both of these made me happy, I wish I hadn’t spent the money on them: custom made bedding set, and the book–of-the month-club (in fairness to the club, it introduced us to a couple of universal family favourites). A useless small expenditure for me was the baby bathtub, sinks work just fine, or that nifty little tub that you bring home from the hospital.
    Major lifesaver, no, but important for personal comfort after birth, believe me, it makes a difference, so spend the $$ and get this: Charmin Sensitive Toilet Paper!!! It comes with a green banner on the packaging and has aloe and lotion infused in it. It might seem like a small thing, but when you’re bruised and sore, I promise, it is NOT! As for most practical for Baby, and useful during the first four months especially, so much so that I started making my own and giving them as gifts: bath gloves for Mom, Dad, Granny, whomever washes Baby…wet, soapy babies are very slippery (also, put a washcloth under Baby’s back or bum when washing, which keeps him from slipping around).
    And finally, I have the gift of forgetting, so I don’t really remember if any bad advice was given, but it would be bad advice to not be unified with Jeremy as you make decisions on the proper care and feeding of baby, so continue building your home together with God and take each piece of advice and book on parenting to both Hims and enjoy the adventure, and the detours along the way.
    I love all of you,
    Go under the Joy,
    Aunt Rachelen

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  4. I don’t recall having weird cravings but I had an incredible sweet tooth- which I definitely passed on to my daughter!!

    My favorite things then were sleep sacks and good swaddling blankets. She loved being wrapped up like a tight burrito! My favorite now… a birthday hat she’s had since her first, and still wears proudly each year on her birthday- and she’ll be 11 in November. Everything else I’ve passed along.

    Best advice- don’t try to schedule the day, just pick a bedtime and stick with it.

    You’ll fill your tiny house with your big hearts (which will grow exponentially with the size of your family) and you’ll find freedom and joy in the moments you share and the memories you make. Oh, what stories you’ll have to tell… I’m excited and pulling for you!

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