Unusual bliss.

Well, you might have noticed that I haven’t been sharing many tasty recipes here lately (or posting much at all). That’s because we’ve been busy cooking up something in particular…

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After years of trying literally every option under the sun to start a family, we’ve finally got a bun in the oven! He or she will be baking away until early March, and our joy is indescribable. Some of our happiest moments as a couple have been hearing our baby’s heart beating and seeing a squirming alien on the ultrasound screen. It feels like a dream: that’s our squirming alien with a heartbeat as strong as an ox.

Cholula knew about our little doodlebug before we did. A week before we received the positive results from my blood test, she started hovering over me constantly. Laying her head on my belly. Sitting unusually close to me, following me from room to room, and watching my every move. Sneaking in extra licks and snuzzles. She already takes her baby guard dog duty very seriously.

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Confession: the last three months have been a struggle. I imagine that every pregnant woman who struggled to conceive has sworn the same thing that I did: I’ll never ever complain about being pregnant. I mean, we worked hard- unbelievably hard- to get here. It’s what I’ve dreamed of, prayed for. I must enjoy every millisecond of this experience because it is a gift. Well, I’m here to tell you that pregnancy is no joke. Despite the massive doses of hormones I’ve been injected with over many, many months, nothing compares to what the human body does on its own. Whoa. Extreme fatigue, inexplicable emotional breakdowns, super weird body changes, complete food aversion. My mommy readers are nodding their heads; none of these things is abnormal. But for a first-time baby mama, the changes hit me like a Mac truck.

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Entering my second trimester and feeling a little less wacky, I can laugh about certain moments now. There was the morning I sat at the kitchen counter, literally sobbing, watching birds visit the completely empty bird feeder outside and not having the energy to get up and fill it. My poor starving birds. Or the day my husband so sweetly made me a smoked salmon and fresh dill omelet before he left work. One sniff kicked my nausea into overdrive and sent me to the upstairs bathroom “just in case.” (Salmon remains on the NO list.) There was the afternoon I spent 10 minutes wrestling with our mailbox key before realizing I was in the completely wrong section of boxes, or the day I lost my way in Whole Foods (where I shop a few times each week) and had to ask someone where the dog food was. I could smell the fresh lilies on the dining room table from two floors away, washed a load of bath towels twice because I was sure I detected the smell of mildew, and made John take out multiple bags of hardly-full trash because I smelled “something rotten.” I’ll forever be wanting “Best Wife” credit for joining John for not one but TWO Grateful Dead concerts, sober at 5 weeks pregnant. And no matter how hard I tried to fight it, afternoons at 3pm found me deep in exhausted slumber on the guest bed, where I stayed until John found me there when he came home from work. Under the covers.

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It hasn’t been easy. In the back of my mind, I believed that since we had such an emotionally and physically tortuous time actually getting pregnant that I might be gifted with an easy nine months. Wishful thinking! After giving up my body to science for almost 3 years, I’ve now surrendered it to the baby, and the little body-snatcher has already changed everything. It’s been Summer, Interrupted. The things I adore about this season have taken a back seat to my symptoms. My daily hiking routine has been on hold, much to Cholula’s dismay. I missed the wildflower explosion on my favorite trails. The thought of hosting our big summer fiesta made me laugh AND cry. No dinner parties, no dining al fresco. Writing for this site or elsewhere didn’t even enter my mind. But probably the most disruptive change has been the food thing.

It’s clear that I love food. I love to eat it, experiment with it, shop for it, learn about it. But Baby says NO! I haven’t been nauseous enough to lose my cookies, so to speak. The worst of it was a constant, gnawing empty kind of pain, like when you feel sick because you’re hungry… only eating food didn’t help. In fact, I’ve had no interest in food at all. For someone who cooks as often as I do (and LOVES it), that’s weird. Farmers market? Yuck- no thanks. Experiment with new recipes? Not a chance. A walk around the grocery store has been semi-torturous, but even if I’m not eating, John has to. The poor guy has been living on pre-made store-bought meals and freezer food. My appetite is slowly returning, THANK GOD, and I’ve even ventured into the kitchen to cook once or twice (but keep the salmon away from me).

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I’ve heard a lot about “Mommy Guilt”- moms judging other moms for the way they do things, like how long a woman breastfeeds or how soon they go back to work. Examples: What a horrible woman to get an epidural! A good mother would never let her baby sleep with them! It baffles me that women do this to each other. For the record, my feeling is that parents have to do what is right for their own children regardless of what others think is “best.” But what I wasn’t prepared for is how hard I’ve been on myself. Even my simplest to-do list gathered dust, and my own new-mommy guilt was staggering. I’d look around at the things I couldn’t accomplish on any given day and beat myself up. Thoughts like: I should be able to do this. Other moms didn’t seem to struggle with being so tired/so sick/so emotional. I must be lazier/weaker than other women. I can’t even take a shower, let alone do any writing, exercising, or chores. Maybe I can’t do this. Did any of my friends ever feel this way? Am I already failing before I even become a mother?

I’m generally a positive person, and I’m still working to stop those destructive thoughts. When I get down on myself or feel my energy fading into oblivion, I remind myself that I’m growing a human, for Pete’s sake. If I don’t feel like my usual self, it’s because I’m not my usual self. I’m a miracle-incubator and a life-giver! John tells me often, “You’ve waited your whole life to feel this bad.” He means that this is what we’ve always wanted together, we went through a lot to get here, and it’s all worth it. The rough spots of these last few months (and actually, the last few years) are already fading in my mind, but there will be plenty more ahead. His words are a good reminder to embrace it all. To cut myself some slack. To stop comparing my pregnancy to anyone else’s and stop judging myself for not being Superwoman. He tells me daily that I’m doing an incredible job, regardless of what actually gets done. And he’s right. Every day that I feel like absolute crap means that little alien inside me is growing and dancing and becoming amazing. And really, there’s nothing more blissful than that.

Take a peek at the dance party I hosted a few weeks ago!

 

Baby Howe crashes the party in March 2016!

A bit about the early stages of our fertility struggle.

38 replies »

  1. Screeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaammmm!!!! I am so excited for you. Random, but I was just thinking about you the other day and wondering how things were going on the baby front. Don’t beat yourself up over anything and embrace every moment! What an exciting journey you have ahead of you. Thanks for sharing it

  2. CONGRATULATIONS, AMBER!!!! I am so very happy for you and John. I know how much you’ve wanted this and the long road to get here and for that I’m all the more thrilled for you. Seriously, I read this post with tears threatening to stream down my face because I just know how much you want to be a mommy and how wonderful you’re going to be at it. When I see my blogging buddies turn their dreams into reality… these are the posts I live for. 🙂 Throw those negative thoughts to the wind and bask in the bliss of your little miracle. I can’t wait to read more. xoxo

  3. I am doing the Happy Dance over here for the 3 of you – soon to be 4 – WOW – AMAZEBalls News – How Exciting and What a Blessing – Congrats 🙂 I know you have been working hard on this project, so take it easy and enjoy the process. Happy Day Indeed!!!

      • You will have to kick back on the couch and watch the movie What to Expect When You’re Expecting with Cameron Diaz, JLo, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Rock, Rebel Wilson, etc. I caught a bit of it this weekend and it had me laughing, tearing up, cracking up, and crying.

  4. So happy for you guys! I love the part about Cholula knowing. My Dina was the same. She was driving me nuts for more than week before I even knew I was pregnant. She was totally attached to me and had to be practically in my lap every time I sat down. When JJ was born, we put him on the floor and she promptly curled up next to him. That’s her boy! Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride! You’ll never have this time to rest on the couch this much again!

    • Thanks, Jamie! It’s been cool watching Cholula over the last few months. She is pumped to be a baby guard dog for sure. Animals are amazing! Good point about the couch time… I’ve certainly spent my fair share of time on it recently! xx

  5. I’ve only done two IVFs and they were so emotionally draining. I can’t imagine going through six!!! Plus, pregnancy sucks. I had fertility issues and I’ll flat out say that pregnancy sucks. 🙂 Once the baby is here, you will be tired, but it will be a different kind of tired. Exhausting, draining, but sooo worth it!

    • I think IVF is different for everyone- I have friends who sailed through the process. Not me! They certainly kicked my booty emotionally and physically, so at least I’m used to feeling not so good! It’s all for a good cause! I’m napping all I can now because I know my sleep-loving days are over!

  6. I am so happy for you! You don’t know me. I don’t really know you. But I have followed and enjoyed your blog for a long time and I was so genuinely excited to read this post, I couldn’t NOT extend my congratulations to you and your lovely family. I wish you all the best!! 🙂

    PS. I’ve never been pregnant, but I have had issues with my hormones being out of whack…the exhaustion can be unbelievable and indescribable sometimes (and that’s without all the other things you’re dealing with!). I would get frustrated and down on myself for having stretches of days where all I could do was drag myself out of bed for work, nap in my car over lunch, and come home and go to sleep. I finally decided you can’t argue with your body. If it wants you to rest, it has its reasons. Might as well give in and enjoy the extra chances to dream! Congratulations again!

  7. Really, this may be the best blog post I’ve read of late. Have loved following your blog over the last 2 years and am genuinely, blissfully, happy for you, from one mom to another. Congratulations on hanging in there and receiving what will be the most bliss you will ever known.

  8. How have I not commented on this post yet!!!!! I am so sorry!I read it immediately the day you posted it on my phone during work (trying to keep my screams of excitement to a low level) and forgot to post a comment as soon as I got home.

    I AM SO FRIGGING EXCITED FOR YOU TWO (THREE!!!!). You’re going to be such an amazing mother. I cannot wait to follow along this journey with you through your beautiful words and pictures. Sending you so much love. BEST NEWS EVER. love love love

    PS…the dance party you hosted made me tear. It’s was breathtaking. In awe

  9. Congrats on the big news! Sorry I’m a tad bit late, trying to catch up with my WP followers. I know you two are excited for the new joy that will be in your lives 🙂 Hope all is well.

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