Friday Faves #11

Can you believe Friday Faves is back?! I definitely fell off the bandwagon, but waiting for your child to be born has a way of motivating you to find anything to take your mind off the fact you’re NOT in labor. So here we are!

As a reminder, each Friday (AKA random Fridays…) I’ll post five or more things I’m loving right now and links to where you can get them. Here’s what I’m loving this week!

1. Lo & Sons Catalina Deluxe Small Weekender (in Dove Grey)

You might remember that I posted about my old Po Campo weekender in a previous Friday Faves, but that got stolen (people suck), and I replaced it with this L&S bag. AND I AM OBSESSED. It fits SO much stuff, is durable, has a bottom shoe compartment (!!) and a side zipper situation that lets you slip it on a piece of rolling luggage to cart around the airport without it falling off. Can’t recommend this highly enough.

2. S’well Water Bottle (25oz)

My dear friend Katie gifted me this water bottle and I’m genuinely confused at the magic it uses to keep things cold. I can put ice in it and the ice is still there the next day. What?! How?! It can also keep things hot, but I haven’t used it for that since it’d never cool off enough to drink!

Grab a 25oz bottle and it fits a whole bottle of wine. You’re welcome. Chill your white or rosé and pour it into your S’well bottle and it’ll stay cold for basically ever, because “forever” isn’t long when we’re talking about wine since I just drink it all. #unashamed

They’re TOTALLY worth the price tag because they’re sturdy and steel and last. There are also SO many fun designs!

3. This Shirt from Print Liberation

I bought this a few years ago, and I don’t know if I’ve ever worn it and not had someone comment on it. I’m actually wearing it right now. It’s a true shirt, too. PS: This company has some other killer shirts. And they’re really soft.

4. Sweeter Than Honey: A Coloring Book to Nourish Your Soul

I love coloring, but most “adult” coloring books are way too intricate and time consuming for me to actually enjoy. Until this one! I’m a huge Lindsay Letters fan, and this coloring book is so well done. I’m about to finish mine and need to order another one! I color one page before bed each night and it calms me down. I love how thick the paper is, and that the pages are perforated so you can tear them out and use them as art in your home!

The signed edition is on sale for $10 on her website (link above), or you can grab it on Amazon.

5. Starbucks UPSIDE DOWN Caramel Macchiato 

Okay, tbh, I haven’t actually tried this. I’m addicted to iced caramel macchiatos right now, and the guy in front of me got an UPSIDE DOWN caramel macchiato. What?! What does that even mean? His drink looked decidedly different than mine, so I did a little research. This is what a “normal” caramel macchiato looks like:

A normal caramel macchiato is made in this order: vanilla syrup > milk > ice > espresso > caramel drizzle. It creates a “separated” drink, where you can see the milk on the bottom and the espresso on top. Some people order this “stirred”, because they want it to be more mixed from the beginning. But with an upside down CM, you get that from the get go! Weird!

An upside down CM is made in this order (basically opposite): caramel > espresso > milk > ice > vanilla syrup. The result is a drink that is more mixed, instead of separated. So you don’t really have to stir as much. It looks more like a regular iced coffee with cream.

Regardless, they’re both freaking delicious, so you’re safe ordering either way.

2016 Books

I’m only…oh…six months behind on posting this, but didn’t want to give it up since 2016 gave me three of my top five favorite books of all time. Here’s the list of all the books I read in 2016, and while the total number is lower than I’d like (I always shoot for 20+ books a year), the quality is spot on. (All links will take you to the Amazon listing of the book—not affiliate links.)

  1. The Nightingale {Kristin Hannah}: 10/10 stars
    Top three books I’ve ever read. This story about two sisters in Nazi Germany still sticks with me today. I absolutely cannot recommend this novel enough. It’s haunting and beautiful and just so well written.
  2. The Thing About Jellyfish {Ali Benjamin}: 4/10 stars
    So I didn’t actually realize this was a young adult novel? I mean, it is a story about a young girl, but I guess I didn’t assume anything. I don’t even know how I found this book? It’s a story about a young girl dealing with grief when her friend accidentally drowns. Wouldn’t really recommend it, unless you’re 12 and dealing with something similar.
  3. Bittersweet {Shauna Niequist}: 10/10 stars
    I can’t imagine giving anything Shauna writes less than a 10/10. This compilation of essays is summed up here: “Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness.” Definitely read this, and save it for a friend who might be going through a tough time.
  4. The Reader {Bernhard Schlink}: 6/10 stars
    I’ll pretty much read any fiction involving WWII/post-WWII Germany. This is one of those, but didn’t really stick with me. It’s an international bestseller, so if this description calls to you, maybe give it a try: “When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.”
  5. Bossypants {Tina Fey}: 5/10 stars
    What can I say? I just didn’t love it. If you love SNL or Tina Fey, though, this is probably right up your alley.
  6. The Screwtape Letters {C.S. Lewis}: 9/10 stars
    This theological classic (religious satire, really) is kind of hard to get through, but sooooo well worth it. I bought this book in 2007 and just now read it, so there’s that. But guys I promise you won’t be disappointed, and the deeper you get the more the story makes sense. I underlined a billion quotes in this book. It’s truly an eye-opener. Not sure what it’s about? It “entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to ‘Our Father Below.’ At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.”
  7. Wild and Free {Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan}: 10/10 stars
    Also in my top five books, ever. It’s highlighted throughout, with lots of “YES!” notes in the margins. Gals, I cannot recommend this book enough. When I finished reading it I immediately bought three other copies to give out to friends. It’s just that good. The subtitle is “A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Not Enough,” so, yeah. Get it.
  8. Outlander {Diana Gabaldon}: 9/10 stars
    I’d honestly give this a 10/10 if it weren’t such a dark book that left me depressed and mopey for weeks. It’s REALLY good, and I absolutely could not put it down, but be prepared for all the feels. It’s because of that that I chose not to continue reading the series. But if you’re up for a binger, this might be the stuff for you. And don’t let the length intimidate you—it’s a quick read because you can’t. put. it. down. Basically it’s about a woman in the 1940’s who gets magically transported to the Scottish Highlands and has to stay alive and try and figure out how to get back home, but circumstances along the way both prevent her from doing that and confuse her on whether or not she really wants to go home.
  9. Present Over Perfect {Shauna Niequist}: 10/10 stars
    See Bittersweet. All of Shauna’s writing gets a 10/10 from me, but this might be my favorite of hers (other than Bread & Wine). Subtitle: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
  10. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks {Rebecca Skloot}: 10/10 stars
    Okay, I *personally* think everyone should have to read this. (Oprah also just made it into a movie, because duh, but you still need to read this.) I’ll just grab the Amazon description to enlighten you: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.
  11. It’s Not Fair {Melanie Dale}: 8/10 stars
    This was really, really good at a time when I really, really needed it. When MTR and I were struggling to get pregnant, this gave me some hope. I’d give it a higher rating if I could remember more about it, though. It’s basically a collective “me, too” sigh of angst and frustration at the unfairness that we’re all dealt at some point.
  12. The Magnolia Story {Chip & Joanna Gaines}: 10/10 stars
    I loved reading about Chip and Joanna’s story and how much their faith plays into their business and fame. If you’re a fan like me of ship lap and Waco, TX then add this to your list.
  13. Proof of Heaven {Eben Alexander, MD}: 9/10 stars
    This is a wow book. This is a story about a neurosurgeon’s journey into the afterlife when his brain unexpectedly shut down. As someone who was not really a believer in Near Death Experiences (NDEs), he was shocked by his experience. And I was shocked to read what he experienced. It’s beautiful and encouraging, and maybe a little too scientific in parts, but such a great book if you have questions about heaven.
  14. Heaven is for Real {Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent}: 8/10 stars
    Same as above, except from a four year old’s perspective. I’d give it higher stars if it wasn’t mainly written by his pastor dad, but I was surprised at how much there still was to convince me that Colton’s experience was legit. There’s also a kids’ version of this book, so could be great if you experience a death in the family.

That’s it for 2016! What books did you read? Here’s a list of some I (hopefully) have on tap for 2017/books that are on my wish list:

  • Bringing Up Bebe
  • The Magic of Motherhood
  • Commonwealth
  • Dance, Stand, Run
  • Into the Water
  • Sisters First
  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • The Life Giving Home

xo, Amanda

The Second Trimester

Read about my first trimester here and why we’re choosing a home birth here!

Most people talk about how quickly pregnancy flies by. “Oh, I can’t believe we’re heading into the third trimester!” But for me, the most impatient person in the world, this is crawling by. I know I should be savoring this, but I am so ready to meet our little girl!

Feeling // Thankfully, the second trimester has been physically uneventful. My morning sickness bit the dust around 13 weeks. I did start getting migraines every few days, but seeing a chiropractor knocked those out in a few weeks. I did have more energy (although not the “surge” of energy they talk about!), and have loved seeing my belly grow! However, I also started having some killer SI joint pain (low back) around 16 weeks, and it’s still going strong. Sometimes it’s immobilizing, and makes it hard to be as active as I would have wished. And pubic bone pain has made a terrible bedfellow (who knew pubic bone pain was a thing?!).

I finally felt sweet babe kicking right at 20 weeks. It feels like a heart palpitation in your belly, or like big, underwater bubbles. Now that she’s bigger and stronger, they’re definitely more defined punches and kicks! Matt was able to feel her around 24 weeks, and he loves it—although sometimes I think Little Bird thinks she’s playing hide and seek with her daddy and will immediately stop kicking once his hand is on my belly!

Emotionally, the second trimester was pretty rough. For reasons that I probably won’t be sharing, we had a time where we thought we weren’t going to be able to deliver at home, and would be forced into seeing an OB and delivering at a hospital. To most that’s nbd, but to us it was devastating news. We still have some road bumps to cover before we’ll know 100% that we’re able to deliver at home, but we’re at about 90% now, which is reassuring. Obviously we’re being prayerful about this, and I’d love prayers for a continued ability to give this whole thing up to the Lord. We could still have a home birth, but something happen where we have to transfer to a hospital during labor, and I need to be emotionally prepared for that. Letting go of the control part of birth has been really, really hard for me, but I’m thankful that we worship a God who I love and trust and who will use all things for His glory.

Appointments // Weekly chiropractor appointments (with a Webster technique certified chiro), biweekly acupuncture appointments, and appointments with our midwives every four weeks. We did the gestational diabetes test (passed!), and the 28-week labs and everything came back great. I will have an injection of Rhogam at 28 weeks since my blood type is O-, meaning I am Rh-negative (Google it).

Bodywork // In addition to the Webster technique and regular adjustments by my chiropractor, I’m trying to do the following things as often as possible (goal: daily; actual: weekly) to help my pelvis stay balanced and my ligaments and cervix stay open and not twisted with the goal of helping baby girl get head down and in the anterior position:
+ Walking
+ Psoas Release (Activity #5 on Spinning Babies)
+ Pelvic tilts (AKA cat/cow with the focus on the cat)
+ Child’s pose
+ Deep squats (heels on the floor)
+ Sitting less on the couch and more sitting on the ball or in a “tailor sit” on the ground

Craving // Chocolate! Sugar! Fruit! And Starbucks’ Matcha Green Tea Lattes.

Hating // Slowly getting back into (decaf) coffee. Still don’t love eggs.

Other thoughts on the second trimester // This might be unpopular, but it’s something that has been on my mind. When we have shared our home birth hiccup, and that we’re worried about being forced to deliver at a hospital, soooooo many people have said “well the only thing that matters is a healthy baby!” And man, that’s just not the right thing to say (even though I know they mean well).

Sure, a healthy baby is of utmost importance. That’s a duh, you know? No one gets pregnant and is like, “I don’t really care if the baby is healthy!” So it’s a given. But that’s not the only thing that is important, and it’s this kind of language that tends to invalidate suffering and complicate mourning. I, as a mother and a woman and a human being, have every right to have desires and wishes and needs that surround my birth experience. I have certain things that may even be traumatizing to me if they do/don’t happen. So when those wants/needs aren’t met, it can lead to suffering on my part, which then requires mourning if I want to be able to move on in a healthy way. But when everyone tells you that the only thing that matters is a healthy baby, you start to think that there’s something wrong with you, and that you should just “get over” the loss of these hopes and dreams that you had taken away from you.

Obviously I don’t think you should risk the health of your baby for these wants/needs. That’s part of the sacrifice a mother makes. But that’s not the situation I’m talking about here. I really just wish people could learn to sit with another’s pain and say, “Man, that really just sucks. I’m hurting for you and I wish I could change it.” Having those types of conversation helps a person to grieve appropriately and validates their pain. So let’s learn how to sit with that and want a healthy baby.

Why We’re Choosing Home Birth

Note: All birth is beautiful. Period. End of story. I cry at any birth story I read, regardless of where it happened, how it happened, and whether or not I’d choose it for myself. Sharing about home birth isn’t to say that it’s better than any other type of birth; it’s simply the choice we’ve made. The information below might sound defensive, or mightier-than-thou, but it’s simply sharing information from our perspective because there’s so much misinformation out there about your options. These are just the things that are important to us. Education is my biggest thing, and I want women to feel empowered to know what their options are and then to choose–even if that’s different than what I choose. I love what Nancy Bardacke, CNM says in her book Mindful Birthing: “From a mindfulness perspective, every birth is ‘natural.’ It’s natural for a baby to grow inside its mother’s body, it’s natural for a baby to be born, and it’s natural for people to want to help with the process. That being said, if her intention is to birth with minimal to no medical interventions, she will definitely be learning skills for that–as well as skills for being in a hospital environment where people might want to help a little too much.”

***

I want to start this by saying that home birth isn’t for everyone, for a multitude of reasons (both physical and emotional). However, for low-risk pregnancies, midwife-attended home births have been shown to be as safe, if not safer, than hospital births.

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Home birth is still such a novel, out of the box idea for most Americans, and many people have terribly inaccurate perceptions of what a home birth is like. In 2012, only 1.36% of US births occurred outside a hospital, yet the US has one of the highest infant mortality rates of all developed nations. According to the Midwives’ Alliance of North America, in the five nations with the world’s lowest infant mortality and lowest rates of technological intervention, midwives attend seventy percent of all births without a physician in the birth room. Continue reading

The First Trimester

Matt and I were celebrating our one year anniversary when I woke up feeling…off. I had had a low backache a few days before, and that morning I woke up with a wave of nausea–the kind where you feel it in the back of your neck and feel like you might pass out. It passed as quickly as it came, but when Matt left for work I decided to take a pregnancy test.

We had been trying to get pregnant for months. And months. And months. I was so used to a negative pregnancy test, I just thought I was going through the motions (again). It was also the day before my missed period, so I knew I might be testing too soon. And, to top it off, I’d been charting my temps and thought they weren’t high enough. I had already given up on this cycle.

My friend Katie had recommended these ovulation predictor strips that came with pregnancy tests. These are waaaaay cheaper than the kind you normally buy at the drug store, so they were great for my monthly habit of peeing on a stick.

I waited the two minutes and came back in to check. SUPER. FAINT. LINE.

Cue test #2.

SUPER. FAINT. LINE.

Cue trip to the drug store, where I bought two more pregnancy tests that I thought might be more accurate. I knew that a line is a line is a line but I needed another brand to tell me that! So after another test: TWO. PINK. LINES. Clear as day.

But, of course, that’s never enough, so I took the digital test. Within a minute, it read: YES+

I was shocked. Genuinely. After you see what feels like a million negative pregnancy tests, you’re convinced you’ll literally never see a positive one. But there it was.

Matt came home for lunch and I was able to give him a “gift” for our anniversary: the positive tests. We were both ecstatic and overjoyed, and Matt said, “It’s a Christmas miracle!”

That was December 12th, and to say that I’ve enjoyed the first trimester would be…insane. Here’s our first trimester update:

Feeling: The first few weeks my pride got a hold of me. We found out just before week 4, and I was feeling great. I just knew I’d have an easy pregnancy.

WRONG.

Weeks 6-12 were full of nausea; all day, every day. There was just no relief. Weeks 8-10ish were also full of vomiting that never brought any relief.

I was also wildly exhausted, and sleeping a lot. To those of you who have to go to work every day feeling like this, I applaud you. #badassery

Appointments: We got in with my OB’s office pretty quickly, but didn’t have our first “real” appointment until week 8 where they did the dating ultrasound. Seeing that flickering heartbeat was…surreal. I know a lot of people say that, but it was honestly still kind of shocking. I didn’t even cry, and I am a CRIER. Matt and I were just so happy to see Little Bird’s heart beating away at a rapid 178bpm.

We had another ultrasound at 12 weeks to check for Down Syndrome (negative), and this time Little Bird looked much more like a baby! As soon as the wand was on my belly, she started jumping and dancing. The heart beat was still strong and beautiful at 161bpm, and we were able to see baby’s arms in little fists by the head and how she was laying.

I had recently read a study about how ultrasound techs were challenged to guess a baby’s sex between weeks 11-14, and how the techs were 98% accurate at 12 weeks! So we decided to have our tech take a guess.

She knew immediately what Little Bird was (girl), and was very confident! Later that week, our genetic screening blood test (also negative, thankfully!) confirmed the sex of the baby. (Side note: isn’t it crazy that they can tell the sex of the baby by drawing MY blood?!?) Knowing what Little Bird is has made this so much more real.

Finally, we made the decision to transfer care to Gainesville Midwives for the rest of our pregnancy and have a home birth since we’re low risk and I don’t love hospitals. My dear friend Kerri is a midwife, and we’re so excited to have her caring for us and Little Bird! We’re prayerful for a smooth, uneventful pregnancy and birth so that we can do this in the peace of our home.

Craving: Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich // Sonny’s BBQ // crab legs (I put away 3lbs of these) // fruit // french fries // McDonalds (can’t you tell I ate really healthy in the first trimester?!) // phô // anything vinegar-y

Hating: Coffee! I can’t stand it. // eggs

Other thoughts on the first trimester:

  • My friend Madison keeps telling me, “pregnancy is NOT for the faint of heart.” And she couldn’t be more right. The worry is insane. The first trimester was primarily filled with worrying about miscarriage and whether or not the baby was okay. Now that we’ve moved into the second trimester, the worry has simply shifted to hoping that baby doesn’t have any diseases or growth issues. I know worrying is a new constant since I’m a mother now, so I’m trying to settle into that and lean onto my Heavenly Father who loves this sweet baby even more than we do!
  • Creating a registry is overwhelming.
  • Natural birth books are wildly outdated. Someone write a new one!
  • Not 100% if we will share baby’s name. The name is something so personal and I love the thought of announcing along with the baby’s birth. Seems so regal. (I know we’ll miss out on monogrammed gifts, but I’m so particular about monograms anyway that might be a good thing!)
  • I’ll share more about why we’re choosing the home birth route and what that looks like. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s so important to know that you have options in birth!