My Pregnancy Favorites

ABalancedLifeCooks.com Pregnancy FavoritesWell here I am at 33.5 weeks! The countdown is on. Before becoming pregnant, I remember reading other bloggers’ pregnancy favorites and thinking, do you really need that much stuff? Of course, you don’t need much else besides a good prenatal vitamin (I take these), some TLC, and a few people who will tolerate you talking about baby stuff 24/7 (thank you Robert, Mom, and Leah!)

Yet I discovered that it never hurts to have a few things that make you feel a little more comfortable. I never could’ve anticipated that these items would be on my list, but with some trial and error I’ve found that they help me sleep better, stress less, move more, and feel better overall. And I think it’s thanks, in part, to these items that I’ve felt pretty darn good throughout my pregnancy. I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll help me sail through these final weeks.

{From left to right}

Crane Cool Mist Humidifer  There are some things nobody tells you about pregnancy, but are incredibly common. Like how you might get bloody noses all the time. I’ve been (un)lucky enough to experience them often. We finally got a humidifier in our bedroom that we use at night and I’ve noticed a huge difference ever since. Thank goodness.

Bump Nest Pregnancy Pillow I purchased one of these at the very beginning of my second trimester as a gift to myself (and our baby!) I’m so glad I did! This thing is soooo comfy. After the first trimester, you’re encouraged to sleep on your side. When you sleep on your back, there’s a risk that your growing uterus may compress the vena cava and affect blood flow to your baby and to your heart. While there’s some debate about whether this is truly an issue, I decided to follow the guidelines and sleep on my left side as much as possible. Normally, I sleep on my back so this pillow helps me comfortably lie on my side. I’ll admit that it takes up A LOT of space and takes some getting used to at first, but it has been so worth it. Fact: Dogs love Bump Nests as much as humans do. Husbands? Well let’s just say they love having well rested pregnant wives : )

Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee  Once I started liking coffee again, I made the informed personal decision to enjoy one cup per day. The problem is that it’s incredibly difficult to make one good tasting cup of coffee with a regular coffee maker or a French press. Instead of spending $2 a day for a cup at the pie shop a block away or $4 for a latte at Starbucks (though I’ve been known to do both from time to time), I discovered that Starbucks instant coffee is actually very delicious, convenient, and more affordable. Instant coffee has come a long way.

Fitbit Zip The Zip is basically a fancy pedometer. Since my main activities have been prenatal yoga and walking, I wanted to be sure I was getting in enough steps/activity per day. The Zip helps me keep track of that. Whenever I’m shy of my 10,000 steps per day goal, seeing that number encourages me to fit in some additional movement. I’m quite proud of the day I hit more than 22,000 steps!

Hugger Mugger Yoga Bolster I’ve had this bolster for years and only used it occasionally. Now? I keep it in our living room and use it almost daily. I’ve been fortunate to not have too many aches and pains, but I have experienced some low back pain and even a few days where I had full on back spasms. Not fun. The ONLY thing that helped was lying on the bolster in reclining bound angle pose. It helps relieve compression in my back, as well as open up my hips, chest, and shoulders, which often feel tight. Surprisingly, I’ve also found that the bolster is super helpful whenever I have heartburn. For some reason, I don’t get a burning in my chest as much as I feel it in my upper back, behind my heart. Lying over the bolster in the same position with a pillow propped under my head has been a lifesaver.

Coconut Oil I haven’t been too worried about stretch marks. If they happen, so be it. However, a few months ago I discovered the awesomeness that is coconut oil–for your skin. It makes your skin so soft and of course it smells delicious. I keep a jar by my bed and rub it on my belly most nights before I go to sleep. So far, I haven’t noticed any stretch marks (whether I can attribute that to the coconut oil, genetics, or my super pale skin, I have no idea.) But I think the coconut oil has been especially helpful for minimizing any itching that occurs as the skin on my belly stretches.

Lululemon Energy Bra I LIVE in this bra. I have two and it’s a sad day when I’m washing both at the same time. It’s super supportive without being too tight in the upper rib cage or shoulders, which is a rare combination. A word to any newly pregnant ladies: As soon as you outgrow your current bras get new ones ASAP even if you have to go up a size more than once. I waited way too long and can honestly say that I felt 100 percent happier when I finally found what worked for me. For regular bras, I like the hidden underwire ones from Gap. The underwire is great for support, but doesn’t cut into you like other underwires do.

Old Navy Rollover-Waist Jersey Lounge Pants (not maternity) and Old Navy Maternity Super-Soft Hoodie Welcome to my uniform. I have two pairs of the black pants and the tops in three different colors and I wear them pretty much every day of the week. Although the pants aren’t maternity, they’re perfect – the waist hits right below my belly so there’s absolutely no pressure on it. I love my Lululemon leggings and Groove pants as much as the next gal, but I found that as I got bigger, the rise was too high and put too much pressure on my tummy. And these hoodies are just as soft as their name implies. There’s plenty of room in the torso to accommodate growth, yet they don’t make me feel like I’m wearing a tent or come down to my knees. I’m sure I’ll still get plenty of use out of both of these items long after baby arrives.

Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup with Chickpeas

Kale Sausage Chickpea SoupThis is one of the best soup recipes I’ve made in a while and I absolutely couldn’t wait to share it with you. I hesitated for a moment because I already have a few similar soups that offer some combination of sausage and veggies on my site like chicken sausage vegetable soup and sausage sweet potato soup (and I highly recommend them all!) But when you live somewhere cold like Chicago, you can’t have too many soup recipes up your sleeve. You just can’t. Plus, soup is such a great way to pile in lean protein and a heap of veggies so I always feel good about it.

In this bowl of goodness, you’re looking at some lightly browned chicken sausage, chickpeas, lacinato kale, and tomatoes. There are also carrots, onions, and lots of garlic. It’s a winning combination.

Take my advice and serve this soup with some really yummy crusty bread. I don’t know what took me so long, but I normally don’t serve bread with soup. Now there’s no going back. I was in Costco recently eyeing the freshly baked multigrain loaves (they were still warm!) when another shopper talked me into it. She said she knew the exact day and time to arrive when they’re fresh and that they freeze beautifully (because of course you get two ginormous loaves.) She didn’t steer me wrong and I promise you’ll experience a whole new level of comfort when you serve some warm bread alongside your soup, too. Kale, Sausage and Chickpea Soup

Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup with Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 3/4 lb mild chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 28 oz can chopped tomatoes*
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed*
  • 2 bunches lacinato kale, stems removed and leaves cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt & black pepper
  • Parmesan for grating on top (optional)

*In order to avoid BPA, I’ve eliminated cans from our house as much as possible. Instead, I use organic tomatoes and beans in boxes. The sizes aren’t exactly the same as standard can sizes listed here (boxed beans tend to be 13.4 oz and boxed tomatoes are 26 oz), but the boxed sizes work just as well and you don’t need to make any adjustments. If you’re looking to switch from cans to boxes, you can find them at Whole Foods and Target.

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. It doesn’t need to be cooked through. Break up large sections with a wooden spoon. Once lightly browned, remove sausage to a bowl and set aside.

You may have enough fat from the sausage to cook the veggies in, but if the sausage is super lean you may want to add about 1 Tbsp olive oil to the pot. Add onions and carrots. Sautee until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir just until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds. To the pot, add chicken broth, tomatoes, and oregano. Increase heat to high, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add sausage, chickpeas, and kale to the pot. Cook for another 10 minutes  until kale is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls. Top soup with grated parmesan, if desired. Serve with crusty bread.

How we spent our Christmas vacation

I’ll always remember this Christmas vacation. We didn’t do anything special or go anywhere exciting. We were right here, at home, for two glorious weeks. It wasn’t exactly what we’d planned. We were supposed to be in Vermont for New Years with my family. However, due to Remy’s surgery we needed to be here to care for him. (By the way, thank you so much for your sweet thoughts regarding my last post! Your comments here, on Facebook, and on Instagram meant the world to me.)

It’s crazy to think about, but those two weeks were the last stretch of time that Robert and I will have, just us, for a very long time.

That time gave us the opportunity to spend our days doing productive things while also spending tons of time relaxing. We slept in, watched a whole bunch of movies (Magic in the Moonlight was my favorite), listened to hours of Pandora holiday music, binged on the first two seasons of The Americans (love!), cooked delicious meals, ate bowls upon bowls of popcorn from our new Whirley Pop (highly recommend!), downed daily plates of homemade Christmas cookies, and soaked in the holiday season by our Christmas tree. We also celebrated Christmas Eve and New Years Eve with wonderful friends.

I tried to snap at least one photo per day to remember this precious time. You won’t see anything especially exciting here (or a stitch of makeup or anything except sweats). Yet it captures, for me, some of the most memorable moments of the past year, cone-headed dog and all.

12/22: Planning our Christmas Eve dinner. This was so fun! It’s the first time I ever cooked for Christmas and we wanted to go big. I’m so happy with how everything turned out. Everyone says you shouldn’t make a recipe for the first time when cooking for guests (our friends Erica and Zack were joining us from Christmas Eve). I don’t agree–as long as I follow a Barefoot Contessa recipe to the letter, even if it’s new to me, it’s always going to be great. Ina didn’t disappoint.

IMG_1117 Robert made this beautiful display for our holiday cards. I loved walking by and seeing so many friends and family up there all season long. Hey look, that’s us at the top right! IMG_1125 I went cookie crazy! Over several days I made: these Christmas tree spritz cookies (a classic from my mom’s side of the family), peanut butter blossoms, chewy molasses crinkles, and frosted sugar cookies (Robert’s mom’s recipe). IMG_113412/23. Ooof, that morning. We’d just dropped Remy off for his surgery and had no idea what the future held. In a teary/numb/zombie-like state we made our way to Glazed and Infused for some good old-fashioned emotional eating. Happily, we got the call a few hours later that we’d be bringing our fluffanutter home. IMG_1181 12/24. Christmas Eve! We had the best day!! I woke up ridiculously early (like 4 a.m.) thanks to a little baby practicing his swim flips in my belly. So I did the only logical thing and started cooking. I made several more batches of cookies and began prepping for dinner. Before our friends arrived that evening, Robert set the table.  IMG_1210Party time!! Appetizers included a cheese plate, olives, homemade spiced nuts, and Barefoot Contessa’s roasted shrimp cocktail and cocktail sauce. IMG_1218 Next course: Apple and butternut squash soup. This recipe from Simply Recipes is SO good. The pinch of cayenne at the end really gives it a kick! Sweet and spicy is always a win. The next course, not pictured (oops), was a simple green salad with a Barefoot Contessa vinaigrette. IMG_1221 Onto the main event. Barefoot Contessa’s Filet of Beef Bourguignon. Oh. My. Goodness. It’s the best thing I’ve ever made. Hands down. Game over. I served it with mashed potatoes and sautéed broccolini. We chased it all down with a plate of Christmas cookies. I’m just sad I didn’t get a photo of the four of us, but we had a great time.IMG_1225 12/25. Christmas Day!! Before Christmas, Robert and I never discussed whether we’d be getting each other gifts or not. Lately, we’ve focused more on experiences (like our anniversary trip) rather than material things. And we love that. So it’s funny that we ended up giving each other a bunch of (thoughtful) material gifts this year. IMG_1261 Also funny: We gave each other bathrobes! Here, Robert’s testing out his new robe with his new shower radio. The man loves his NPR. IMG_1263This pretty much sums up how we spent the rest of our Christmas Day: Watching movies, relaxing, and napping. I didn’t even cook anything because we had so many delicious leftovers from the night before. In case you were wondering, beef bourguignon only gets better with time. IMG_1272 12/26. We may be crazy, but we’re planning to cloth diaper our baby boy. I may do a separate post about this (although do you really want to read about diapers on a blog that also has food?…) After LOTS of research it just feels like the right decision for us. I had everything we’ll need for the first few months and I was excited to prep these prefolds and fitteds. Prepping involves four to five cycles in the washer and dryer in order to strip away the natural cotton oils and increase their absorbency. I’ve never been so excited to do laundry in my entire life, which may explain why I appear slightly possessed : ) IMG_1309The end result! I still stare at his drawers of dipes and covers daily. Also: nursery sneak peek! (Full tour coming eventually.)IMG_1427This spread is basically how we ate for those two weeks. So many snack lunches & dinners!! We had some real home cooked meals in there too, I promise. We didn’t eat a single meal outside of the house for more than a week. It was extremely gratifying. Also, I’m currently obsessed with romaine and iceberg lettuce salads. I know darker leaves are better, but I just can’t get enough of the crunch right now. IMG_1402New Years Eve! Once again, I’m sad I didn’t get a group picture. Our friends Lisa and Brian had a bunch of friends over to their home for NYE. They recently gutted and remodeled nearly the entire house (themselves!!!!) so it was a great way to break it in. Everything came out so beautifully! IMG_1397New Year, new house projects!! Over the holiday we got a freezer for our garage. Robert hung a tennis ball from the garage ceiling so I won’t drive into the freezer. So far so good : ) IMG_1409Painting the baby’s bathroom!! I still can’t believe our baby has his own bathroom (?!??) The walls needed some patching and painting and Robert got ‘er done. Eventually we’ll tackle the weird door-less vanity situation… IMG_1437Chicago has been brutally cold since the New Year, but we had a fairly mild holiday. Finally, on the very last day before returning to work it snowed several inches. Here’s Remy watching the big flakes fall from the sky. I love this picture because it’s less than two weeks after his surgery and he was basically fully recovered by then. Dogs heal so quickly! A snowstorm and another day spent warm and cozy inside was the ideal way for our holiday to end. IMG_1444

We Love Remy!

fowler_2014-43Whether you know me in real life or we’re friends on Facebook or Instagram, then you have a glimpse into how much I love our goldendoodle, Remy. It’s difficult to articulate just what this dog means to me. As crazy as it sounds (and yes, I know he’s a dog and not a human), Remy is a part of me. He just is.fowler_2014-06 Remy came into my life when I was 23 years old. I was living on my own in Park City, Utah chasing a dream of being a full-time freelance writer and part-time ski bum. While I was learning how to support and care for myself, I was simultaneously learning how to support and care for him. I can say, without hesitation, that pieces of me exist because of this dog. He helped cultivate my ability and love for nurturing, which I can’t wait to shower upon our son. He’s taught me how to forgive in the face of disappointment. He’s shown me it’s possible to find the good and the fun in almost any circumstance. From him, I’ve learned to accept others exactly as they are. And most importantly, he’s shown me how to love unconditionally. Over and over again.fowler_2014-34Remy’s been by my side through countless miles, a cross-country move to Vermont, and infinite life lessons. He was with me when I moved to Chicago in 2010. We even share the same birthday.fowler_2014-09Remy was there the evening I came home giddy from my very first date with Robert. He was there the first time Robert visited my apartment and we cooked dinner together. He was there the moment Robert asked me to marry him. And he’ll be there the day we bring our baby boy home. fowler_2014-32And so, it breaks my heart to think that just over two weeks ago we thought we might be saying goodbye to Remy forever.

On December 19, I brought Remy in for what I thought was a relatively routine vet appointment. He’d recently lost some weight and was drinking a lot of water. The vet, Dr. Dann, felt something in Remy’s spleen and ran an X-ray and ultrasound. The tests showed a sizable mass. Dr. Dann explained that the mass could be one of two things: There was a 50 percent chance it was a benign tumor and a 50 percent chance it was hemangiosarcoma–a serious form of cancer in which about 90 percent of dogs die within one to three months. I sat there stunned. It was the last thing I ever expected to hear about our seemingly healthy and energetic 7.5-year-old pup. My mind struggled to process his words. Next, Dr. Dann explained that they wouldn’t know which one it was until they removed Remy’s spleen, biopsied tissues from other organs, and sent the samples to a pathologist. Even if it was benign, his spleen had to come out because there was a risk that the mass could burst and cause internal bleeding that could kill him. Surgery was our only option.

The final blow was this: If, during surgery, there was evidence of metastasis throughout Remy’s abdomen, Dr. Dann would call me and recommend putting him down rather than having him go through recovery only to get sick and pass away within a matter of months. As impossible as that was to hear, I agreed that it was the most humane thing to do, should it come to that. I never want Remy to suffer a day in his life. fowler_2014-11 Before Remy’s surgery, Robert and I wanted to have some photos of our family, just as we are now. We have so few photos of Robert, me, Remy, and Pippa* together that we couldn’t imagine saying goodbye to Remy without them. A friend put us in touch with a talented local photographer, Becca Heuer. I e-mailed her the day before Remy’s surgery. And, miraculously, despite being three days before Christmas, she was able to meet us that same afternoon. Although it was cold and rainy and one of the darkest days of the year (in more ways than one), she captured some of my all-time favorite photos. At the time, we knew it could be Remy’s last day with us. During the shoot that thought often crept into my mind, but I did my best to focus on the now and the love I have for him and our little family.fowler_2014-41fowler_2014-60I’m so happy to report that this fluffly white pup whose paw prints are stamped all over our hearts is still with us! His surgery went well, there were no visible signs of disease beyond his spleen, and, after seven nerve-wracking days of waiting, his biopsy results came back negative for cancer. Today, less than three weeks post-op, Remy is 100 percent back to his usual lovable, goofy self. fowler_2014-36We spent our Christmas caring for him as he recovered and loving on him as he healed. Since then, I’ve thought a lot about how fortunate we are with Remy’s outcome. Despite needing major surgery and requiring us to cancel a trip back East over the holiday so we could be with him, it’s turned out as well as we could’ve hoped. And let’s not forget, his tumor was in an organ he doesn’t even need. What are the chances? fowler_2014-22 I can’t help but think about the fact that every day families deal with uncertainty, heart-breaking news, and loss of all kinds. I’ll never know how we got so lucky, but I’m so deeply grateful. The experience isn’t lost on me.fowler_2014-14Whenever I look at these photos, watch Remy use a pillow like a human, hold Pippa as she falls asleep against my squirming belly, or feel Robert’s warm hand in mine, I’m reminded, more than ever, to never take any of it for granted. fowler_2014-01 *Oh, sweet Pippa!! She’s perfect and we love her every bit as much as we love Remy!

Breakfast Sandwich Quiche

Ham & Egg Breakfast Sandwich QuicheI’ve had a bit of a thing for breakfast sandwiches recently. I tend to keep it pretty simple – whole wheat English muffin, egg, and Canadian bacon. Occasionally I’ll get the egg white and turkey bacon sandwich from Starbucks and it’s pretty great. And fine, I’ll admit it, a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin just can’t be beat. Can I get an amen?

Well, what happens when you combine all of that breakfasty goodness into a flaky pie crust, add some shallot and chopped baby spinach for extra flavor and health and call it a quiche? Only good things, let me tell you. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing pretty much every week for the past month. It’s incredibly versatile and works for any meal. I’ll pop one in the oven whenever I have a backlog of ingredients in our refrigerator and we’ll eat it for breakfast (first or second), Robert often takes it to work for lunch, and it’s totally great for dinner, too. Make one and eat it all week!

Breakfast Sandwich Quiche

Breakfast Sandwich Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 store-bought pie dough
  • Olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 or 5 slices Canadian bacon, chopped
  • 2 heaping handfuls baby spinach, chopped
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk (I use skim or 1%, but I’ve used half-and-half and that’s pretty great, too)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Generous squeeze hot sauce (I like to use Sriracha–use whatever you like or omit)
  • Salt & pepper

Preparation

Prebake pie crust in a pie plate according to package directions (the one I use from Trader Joe’s cooks for 10 minutes at 450 degrees).

Meanwhile, prepare the quiche filling:

In a skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Saute shallot until softened, about 3 minutes. Add Canadian bacon and saute until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Add spinach, cook until wilted. Remove skillet from heat.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, baking powder, hot sauce, salt and pepper, and whisk until combined. Mix in shallot, Canadian bacon, and spinach.

When pie crust is done pre-baking, set oven to 350 degrees. Fill pie crust with egg mixture. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until eggs are cooked through and crust is golden brown. Serve with smashed avocado, salsa, ketchup, or whatever you like!

Second Trimester Recap

Happy 2015! I hope you had a fabulous holiday. We had a very low key and relaxing two weeks here at home, which I’ll be sharing more about very soon. I also have a few other posts in the pipeline that I’m excited about, including a few recipes (finally!) and life/baby-related things. You can expect to see more lifestyle posts in 2015 on A Balanced Life Cooks as life gets a bit fuller around here : ) I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I love writing them.

I’m now in my 30th week of pregnancy and a few weeks into my third trimester. Writing that completely blows my mind. Thirty weeks has always sounded so far along and I can’t believe I’m there. Now that I’ve had a few weeks to digest the experiences of my second trimester, here’s how those 14 or so weeks went down (along with some slightly humiliating selfies…)

17 weeks

Many women describe the second trimester as the “honeymoon trimester” and I’d say, overall, that was my experience. Soon after the 14-week mark my nausea subsided along with that crazy fatigue (I still experience both every five to 10 days on what I call “first trimester days,” but it’s more bearable than it was before). Mostly, though, my energy in the second trimester was kind of freakish. I think I drove Robert crazy at times because we’d plan to do something relaxing like watch a movie, but then I couldn’t sit still. I had to be up doing something like walking the dogs, cooking or baking, folding laundry, tidying–whatever I could come up with that kept me moving. I wouldn’t say I was in nesting mode quite yet unless I’m just always in nesting mode, homebody that I am.

For the most part, I felt like myself throughout the second trimester, except with a growing belly. I absolutely love it and the little life growing inside. At the same time, I have to admit, there’s been a bit of a mental adjustment that’s had to happen when it comes to accepting this bigger, rounder version of myself (especially lately). I think many women secretly hope they’ll be the type to stay exactly the same, but with a basketball-sized bump on their belly. That’s not the case for everyone and I don’t think that’s been the case for me. I’ve tried to approach the whole body-changing thing with a sense of acceptance and gratitude. As long as I feed myself nourishing foods (with occasional splurges, of course) and move my body in ways that feel right (more on that in a moment), then I’m okay with whatever this body needs to do to grow a healthy baby that we’re so incredibly grateful for.

As silly as it sounds, one of the most helpful things for me in terms of accepting the physical changes has been buying some maternity clothes. I’m fortunate that I don’t need an entire work wardrobe since I work from home, but purchasing a few items has made a big difference. Since I like to keep it real, here’s what it looks like when you try to squeeze into your pre-pregnancy stuff that no longer fits (yes, even sweaters and sweatshirts became too snug):

IMG_0664IMG_0784

Investing in a pair of Paige maternity jeans has been the best decision clothing-wise. I also bought a few sweaters from Gap and Old Navy maternity, all on sale. And I’ve purchased two dresses from the brand Seraphine, which I’ve already worn a few times to weddings and other events. Once my pre-pregnancy clothes stopped fitting by around 20 weeks, I packed most of them away. There’s no point looking at them or trying to make them work if they just don’t.

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20 weeks in one of my favorite Seraphine dresses

In terms of exercise, I was finally able to do a lot more in my second trimester. I took it very easy in my first trimester in part due to the nausea and fatigue, but mostly because I was afraid of doing anything that could hurt the baby (even though I know how important exercise is for a healthy pregnancy…) By 17 weeks I summoned the courage to take my first prenatal yoga class, which was also my first yoga class of any kind in months. And I discovered that prenatal yoga is kind of the BEST THING EVER. It made me feel like myself again since yoga is such a big part of who I am. It also makes me feel better overall because it helps open areas that are tight and achy such as the hips, shoulders, and low back. I take prenatal yoga classes twice a week and, bonus, the studios are within walking distance of our home (so no excuses!) I wish I hadn’t waited so long to go and next time around (if we’re lucky enough) I plan to start prenatal classes in the first trimester. I also try to walk a 3 to 5-mile loop with Remy most days of the week as long as the weather cooperates and that always feels great.

24 weeks

24 weeks

Other second trimester things:

Sleep For the most part, sleep has been good and restful. However, a few nights per week I experience what I describe as “running out of sleep.” I’ll wake up between 3 to 5 a.m. for absolutely no reason and can’t fall back asleep. Preparing me for what’s ahead? Perhaps. If you ever see my #firstbreakfast posts on Instagram, this is why. Once I’ve been lying awake for a while I start to get really hungry, which makes it even more difficult to fall back asleep so I get up and have something to eat.

Appetite I noticed that I have lower tolerance for hunger so when I get hungry I have to eat rightthisverysecond. I eat about one extra snack per day beyond what I ate before becoming pregnant or make some of my meals just a little bigger. Also, uh, digestion got a little rough around the 19 to 21-week mark and things were not moving. That was no fun at all. I’m thankful for a family that loves potty humor and always responded to my complaining texts with hilarious and appropriate emojis.

Cravings/aversions. I experienced phases throughout the second trimester where I loved and ate several different foods repeatedly until I pretty much got sick of them. Among them were: Sabra pine nut hummus with veggies, salty snacks such as cheddar rockets (Trader Joe’s version of cheddar goldfish, but better), chicken noodle soup, panini with fig jam, and citrus everything–orange juice, lemonade, oranges, and clementines. Oddly, I stopped liking Greek yogurt in the second trimester so that was kind of strange. I haven’t been a big fan of fish throughout my pregnancy, but I still try to down salmon once a week and take fish oil supplements.

So much homemade chicken noodle!

So much homemade chicken noodle!

Highlights of my second trimester included:

  • Healthy results at our 20-week anatomy scan!
  • Finding out that we’re having a BOY!
  • Feeling our baby kick for the first time and having his kicks become stronger and more frequent
  • My family’s visit in November!
  • Dreaming up nursery designs, starting to set up our nursery, and researching baby stuff

What I’m looking forward to most in my third trimester:

  • Watching baby (and my belly) grow and feeling consistent kicks and other movements
  • Baby showers in Kansas City this weekend and Chicago in February!!!
  • Finishing our nursery
  • Getting a stroller. Would it be weird if I practiced walking around the block with the stroller and the dogs? I kind of can’t wait for that.
  • Making LOTS of freezer meals. Over the holiday we bought a freezer for our garage and joined Costco. I also made a freezer meal Pinterest board that I will add to over the next few weeks. If you have any recommendations please let me know. It’s harder to find healthy freezer meals than I thought, but I’m up for the challenge and will keep you updated on that.
  • Meeting our baby boy in March! (Please stay put until then, little guy!) Hopefully we’ll have a name for him by then : )
27 weeks

27 weeks

For additional pregnancy posts see:

Our pregnancy announcement

Journey to baby

Gender reveal

First trimester recap

98 days until baby 

98 Days Until Baby!

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Holy moly. This week we passed a major milestone. Wednesday marked 100 days until our due date and now we’re in the double digit countdown. WHAT? That’s just crazy talk. Considering the fact that only five percent of babies are actually born on their due date I realize it’s just a ballpark, but it’s still a big deal to me. I’ll be posting a second trimester recap in a few weeks, but I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on this whole brewing a baby thing now that we’re just over three months away from meeting our little guy.

Physically, I’ve been feeling really great. I can feel him kick, which is the coolest thing ever and still totally weird. To feel your body move and have no control over it is just…wow! I first felt kicks around 21 weeks and we could feel kicks on the outside by 22 weeks (I’m 26 weeks today). Some days he’s more active than others. And some nights he wakes me up while doing a conga line across my belly (or maybe it’s hiccups!) and I secretly LOVE that. I just lie there in the dark with a hand over my little dancer and a smile on my face until he goes back to sleep.

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My belly is growing a lot more, too. I feel like it took a while for me to show and I’m happy to be out of that “is she pregnant or did she just let herself go?” phase. It’s sort of astonishing to watch my body change so much. I’ll never forget the first time a stranger commented on my belly. We were in the airport and the woman doing my pat down (I’ve been skipping the big X-ray machines) asked me right away how many weeks along I was. I kind of wanted to hug her right then and there, but figured I’d probably be breaking some TSA laws.

Once I passed the 20-week mark we started thinking about the nursery and buying and registering for baby stuff (!!!) We recently got a crib (already set it up!), mattress, dresser (that will double as a changing table), changing pad, bookcase, and ordered our glider. The glider will arrive in January and I can’t wait to sit in it, read, and just hang out in baby’s room. I realize that this stuff is just stuff and probably more than this little human will ever need. But I can’t tell you how helpful it’s been for my mental state. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve experienced a lot of fear throughout this pregnancy. It comes and goes, but sometimes the fear gets the best of me. There’s been something so reassuring about furnishing our nursery and researching baby items that’s made a big difference for me. I think it’s the fact that I can picture our baby using these things and it helps me trust that everything will be okay.

Speaking of our nursery, before becoming pregnant I wasn’t a huge fan of nurseries with a theme or that were overly babyish. Now? We’re going with a colorful safari/jungle theme and everything we’ve found is so cute I could just burst. Funny how things change, huh? Bring on the giraffes, elephants, rhinos, and monkeys!! Robert and I also bought baby’s very first clothing items last weekend: two onesies from Baby Gap and a hat and mittens. The thought of our little guy wearing them turns my heart to mush. Baby boy clothes are seriously the cutest.

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Thanksgiving Day in Kansas City

As someone who basically researches stuff for a living (and enjoys it), I always imagined I’d spend the entire pregnancy reading stacks of baby books. I’m surprised (and maybe a little embarrassed?) to say that so far I’ve only read one (Bringing Up Bebe) and it was actually more entertaining than informative. Robert just finished The Happiest Baby on the Block (seriously ask the man anything about the fourth trimester and the 5 S’s and he’s on it!) I’ll be reading that next followed by Heading Home with Your Newborn (it’s written by two pediatrician moms and the closest thing I’ve found to a baby owner’s manual; I actually received a copy years ago for a story I wrote for American Baby magazine so I’m happy I held onto it). I may read some Ina May Gaskin books I have, too. If you have any must-read recommendations, I’d love to hear them! We’ll also be taking some classes offered through the hospital in the next few weeks. But ultimately, I know that the real learning happens in getting to know our baby and figuring things out once he’s here. Plus, I’m relishing this time when I can still get through as many novels as I like : ) I just finished a really cute book called Vintage that I’d recommend if you’re in the mood for some chick lit fluff.

I have a feeling that with the holidays coming up, the next few weeks are going to fly by and all of a sudden we’ll be well into the third trimester and preparing for baby’s arrival (aaaaand making 10,000 freezer meals…I’m super excited about that). For now, I’m trying to make it a priority to slow down and soak in this time as much as I can because I know it really is so fleeting and such a gift.