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!"

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