Monday, June 15, 2015

Tips and Tricks for Growing a Garden while Growing a Human

When I gave you the gory details of my 1st trimester, I promised that I would tell you all about how growing a garden while growing a human went for me. It's mid June now, and I've definitely spent enough time nurturing both human and garden to tell you a little bit about my experience. I think the best way to do this is through a little "tips and tricks" list. This list ought to give you a pretty good idea of how I'm managing pregnancy in general, too. I'm doing awesome! Except when I'm not.

The following is a small compilation of what I've learned as a pregnant gardener:

1) Who cares about the garden? You're growing a freakin' human! 
The number one lesson that I learned is also a lesson that I will need to learn as a parent -- prioritize. This spring and early summer, I got about half of the work done in our yard and garden as I normally do. Weeds were allowed to grow, plants were left to fend for themselves, and I didn't plant a single new perennial. The work that was left undone drove me crazy sometimes, but I came to terms with the fact that I couldn't do it all. Plentiful Braxton Hicks contractions plagued me through my late 2nd trimester and all through my 3rd trimester, and I had to listen to my body when it was telling me to slow my roll. My pregnant body just couldn't handle a long (or even short) day of yard work anymore. I had to get over that.
Sorry garden, I'm a little busy right now.
Look how well plants grow when you leave them alone! Bonus: you can't see any weeds from this far away!

2) Find new positions for weeding and yard waste removal. 
Bending over to weed and pick up spent leaves, twigs and stems is a big no-no. I learned this after spending the entire day of the Spring Equinox weeding the garden bed, pulling up giant, leftover carrots, trimming back perennials and picking up yard debris. My back and contracting uterus were screaming at me towards the end of the day, but I refused to listen. I paid for it in pain and discomfort that night and the next few days. Now, my go-to gardening positions are kneeling, side-sitting and sitting on my gardening stool.

You're about to be in a lot of pain, girl
Not graceful, but pretty comfortable. I used cushions under my knees and my butt.

Sitting on my gardening stool was ok for a while, but it was really hard getting up and I still had to bend over my belly.

3) Do a little at a time. 
This could be part of number two, but deserves its own section. I'm a weekend warrior when it comes to yard work. I enjoy spending an entire day or two sweating it out in the yard. I don't like to come home after work and then go out to weed. Maybe this will change once I have the kid and want to get in some alone time. I've been way too tired to get anything done on a weekday after work, and I have to slow it way down on weekend. This means I get less done. See lesson number one.
Look! Giant carrots! And a naive pregnant lady who thinks she can do whatever she wants!

Proof that the garden did get planted! 
4) Find projects you can do while sitting on your butt. 
Start seeds! Plant containers! Design your dream garden! Read about how you could create your dream garden! Keep a gardening journal! The possibilities of on-your-butt work are much more abundant than you realize. A word of warning: be careful with the starting seeds project -- all these seeds turn into plants that need to be planted eventually -- and that's hard work.

I felt so accomplished after getting some seeds planted, and I barely had to move to do it!

Sitting in the sun and eating instead of doing work. Good job, mama!

5) Ask for help.
Last, but not least, ask someone who is not growing a human to help you. Asking for help is an important skill for pregnant ladies and parents to master. Again, see rule number one -- you can't do it all! Nor should you. I asked my strong, hunky husband to loosen the soil for me when I wanted to weed. And a good friend spent one gorgeous May morning helping me weed and plant the veggie garden. Their help was much appreciated and needed.

Patrick loosened up the soil so I could weed a little easier.

I'm not sure I would have been able to get the garden planted without Lauren's help!

And One Bonus Tip for you Planners (I know you're out there):
6) Plant bulbs
I planted bulbs about a week before we conceived our baby boy. Wow, I'm such a good planner; I just amaze myself every day with my genius. Ok, seriously though, planting bulbs had been on my "to-do" garden list for a couple of years before I finally got around to it, but I distinctly remember planting them and thinking to myself "if we conceive in the next month or two, these bulbs will be blooming right as my belly is blowing up." And what do you know? They did! And it was such a joy to see them sprouting up and welcoming the early Spring. Bulbs are extremely low-maintenance, and you can always count on them to brighten your garden (and your day) when nothing else is blooming. Oh. and you should definitely plant them even if you aren't planning on conceiving a kid -- they are worth the small amount of work and initial investment.
Mini Iris bloomed first, around mid March
Mini daffodils bloomed second, around early April
Next were tulips

Stay tuned for the much more chaotic chapter in this series, "Raising a Garden while Raising a Human: Watch me as I Struggle!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2nd Trimester: The Golden Age

2nd trimester was the best! I walked quickly and lithely, I opened the refrigerator without dry heaving, I often went more than 30 minutes without having to pee and migraines were becoming a distant memory. My skin was clear and bright, and my pregnant double chin was only beginning to form. People told me I was "cute" and "tiny" and "glowing." The only thing I regret about my 2nd trimester is not gracefully accepting these compliments, and instead getting defensive of my future, bigger self. Instead of smiling and saying "thank you", I would ask the well-meaning person to "tell me that in 15 weeks." Or, upon hearing how "small" I looked, I would inform them "don't worry, I'll be huge in another three or four months." I wish I would have soaked up every last compliment and reveled in my little-bellied state.
24 weeks
I like to think that the biggest hurdle of my 2nd trimester was finding maternity jeans that actually fit. I bought three pairs of maternity jeans and all of them were terrible. It's unfortunate that I was never able to find a pair of jeans that were both long enough and didn't have that poopy-pants butt sag; but hey, it's skirt and dress weather now, so who cares. 2nd trimester life was good. Even with the constant tiredness, annoying back aches and evenings full of unexplained crying, I felt like a goddess of  life and fertility. The really hard stuff didn't start until the very end of my 2nd trimester, but we can talk about that when I give you the details on my 3rd trimester. Let's just pretend for now that the 2nd trimester is the golden age.
26 weeks pregnant and celebrating the Spring Equinox with my pregnant best friend  (notice skirt, no jeans)
Some of the best moments of my entire pregnancy happened in my 2nd trimester. I spent a week with my parents, also-pregnant sister and niece in Florida, three of my oldest friends came to visit for a weekend, and I met my niece a day after she was born. All three of these events would have been wonderful in their own right, but experiencing them while nurturing and growing our child made them priceless and unforgettable.

Hanging out on the beach with my sister and niece. 17 weeks pregnant

With my niece, then an only child. Now, she's a big sister!
A hike and a night on the town with my best hometown friends -- no big deal in the 2nd trimester!

Super sexy with my little 21-week bump

I met my newborn  niece Emma when I was nearly 25 weeks pregnant

Check out those feet!

Speaking of unforgettable, how about that 20 week ultrasound!? Holy moly was that incredible. Patrick and I got to see our baby for the first time, and we learned that we are having a son. That boy was moving so much, it took several attempts to get some decent pictures of him. We got to see his big lips, cute little nose, crossed legs and yep, his little testicles. Upon seeing those testicles for the first time, I said "Ooooh my god, what am I going to do with a boy?" I was in no way disappointed -- I already loved that boy so, so much -- but I did need to take some time to grieve the feminist flower-child daughter my intuition and dreams told me I was having.

 I took some time to grieve being a mother of a daughter and all that comes with it -- I was primed and ready to raise an empowered, body-positive girl and to be there at her wedding, birth and postpartum journey. I'm starting to feel more confident in my ability to raise a respectful, knowledgeable and empowered boy, even though I  have no clue what I'm doing. Growing up with two sisters made me feel like I was more prepared  for raising a girl. The truth is, I don't have a clue how to raise a child at all, whether it's a girl or a boy. I'll be learning as I go, and I'll be doing the best I can.
27 weeks and saying goodbye to the Goddess Months of the 2nd trimester
Let's just forget about raising a child for now. I've still got the rest of my 3rd trimester to go. And, oh yeah, that thing called "birth."