A letter to my future self

Pregnancy Status: 39 weeks, 0 days
Currently: Snuggled up in a blanket on a cloudy summer morning, questioning the difference between possible contractions or Braxton Hicks.

Dear Me,

If you’re reading this, you’re feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, or just plain sad. I’ve read the articles, I’ve heard from friends; I know that it’s inevitable.

If you’re feeling exhausted, remember that you are STRONG. And you harness more energy from laughter, taking in precious little moments like sunsets, watching the pup run, a sweet hug from your husband.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Remember that everything is temporary and this too shall pass. Be mindful of the moment. Acknowledge it, accept it. Think of what you are learning and how much stronger you’re becoming as a result. Then, take a deep breath and move on. Remember, everything you do is a manifestation of how you ultimately want to feel. You are so much stronger than you think you are in this very moment. You. can. do. this.

If you’re feeling sad, make a list of all the things you’re grateful for. Take a picture. Or a walk down memory lane with the thousands of photos you have stacked in your favor on google photos, the pregnancy photos, the wedding, maybe a video. Tap into your inner “Cody” and remember the words, “I choose to be happy.” Smile. Even if you don’t mean it. Smile anyways, and smile directly face-to-face with at least 2 strangers today. Or your precious baby. Or your pup, or your husband. Ask for a hug and give one in return. Life’s too short.

I write this letter to you, future self, to remind you that the waves will come and go, the sun will always set, and each day will be one less that we have together with the ones we love. I write this letter to you to remind you that you are strong, beautiful, independent, and able. You can be both people, you can handle this. You have solace. Meditation. A beating heart pumping fresh blood, oxygen, and love through your veins. You are as strong as you think you are. Be mindful. Remember how much you are loved, and remember how much you love in return.

Love,

Me

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10 Reasons I LOVE Being Pregnant

Pregnancy Status: 38 weeks, 3 days
Currently: Nesting, installing shelves, and taking a break while the AC guy examines our house (#SummerisComing)

Well, it’s official. Our babe is officially the last babe on board. I have had 4 friends who were all pregnant with me, with our babies due within just weeks of each other (if not on the same day). Every single baby is here – including the one my due date twin! – and our little one is officially the last to join the baby bonanza.

In these last few days, hours, minutes, I am starting to feel anxious. Anticipating the inevitable. Eager to meet our baby girl. (Still trying to dial in on her NAME!) But ultimately, we are incredibly excited and counting down each day patiently until we meet our little one.

I’ve seen a few posts out there as to why women love being pregnant and I’ve heard from quite a few people how much they miss being pregnant (or hated it, either way). I figured I may as well make a list of all the things I’ve loved about my pregnancy, especially seeing as I could pop any day now!

  1. An excuse to eat WHATEVER I want. (What’s that “#soccermom drive thru to snag a quick soda fountain beverage from Jack in the Box at 12 in the afternoon”? Hey, I’m pregnant and on maternity leave! YOLO.)
  2. An excuse to watch mindless tv and relax my body when I’m feeling sore. OR when I just don’t want to do anything else. 😉
  3. The ability to be part of the fabric that constitutes our very existence. To carry, create and experience human life on a totally different level that is completely indescribable. I am honored, grateful, humbled that I am a woman and part of this incredible experience.
  4. Little baby kicks and jabs. She is moving around in there! It’s incredible.
  5. Experiencing the love and support that your friends and family bring. The shower, the questions, the genuine care and kindness by so many of those around me has exceeded anything and everything that I thought was possible.
  6. The kindness and care of the physicians who have supported me throughout my journey.
  7. The growing dynamic and strength of my marriage, we see a different side of each other. One that is more compassionate, loving, supportive. I feel like we’re stronger now than we have ever been.
  8. The consciousness that comes with being mindful every time you take a bite of something or take down a green smoothie. Mindfulness has been a wonderful component to my pregnancy.
  9. All of the freaking ridiculously cool apps (technology, you DA BOMB) that allow me to connect with other women across the world who are going through their own experiences. There is nothing cooler than waking up every Wednesday and watching my favorite videos on Ovia and the What to Expect app.
  10. Lastly… knowing our bodies can do this. That we are strong, powerful, incredible, women who literally give up everything to nurture a tiny little human and help them grow into someone who is compassionate, kind, loving and full of joy. I know this is only the first part of this miraculous chapter into motherhood, but I can’t help but recognize how lucky I am to have had the pregnancy I have had to date – despite the few roadblocks along the way. I know without hesitation that I will be a better mother, wife, and human because of the last 9 months and cannot wait to meet our precious girl.

XO

Krysten

Here are a few special moments throughout the past 9 months…

Hello, Maternity Leave!

It’s my first day of maternity leave, and wow – let me tell you, does it feel GREAT. Outside of the few butterflies I’ve felt since last night and the mild shifts towards anxiety in not working or feeling like I should be doing “something else” right now, I’m trying to take in each moment and really enjoy it for what it is.

The friends of mine who have already had babies have talked about how fast time flies. This, more than anything else (labor, breastfeeding, crazy and hormonal mood swings) probably freaks me out the most. How do you avoid time going to by so quickly? Already, I’ve noticed that my pregnancy – despite the incredibly long lulls in between – has quickly come and is now going… I read an article recently in Huff Post on how you can play mental tricks on yourself to slow down time. The premise that this neuroscientist dude, David Eaglemen, cites in the article is, the more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. My lesson here? Get off my phone. Take notice of the small things, the scents, the sounds, the vivid colors around. Make it feel different so it feels like a world outside of one that is mundane and simple. The monotony and methodical routines that are so easy to fall into can strip away the ‘newness’ feeling that we may get with each new moment or experience we create.

Increasing mindfulness is going to be my goal these next few weeks before the baby comes. I’m probably going to write (read: bore) this blog with more information on it, but as I prep for my first time mom-hood as well as my feeble attempt at hypnobirthing, I’m certainly aware that every thought, every moment, every second adds up to something bigger. This life we live. This life that I so badly want to cherish in every way and hold close to my heart. It feels so weird being home right now, but I am committed to not wasting one second of it while I still have the energy to move around and get things done. And I promise to savor every positive experience, remember it, log it, detail it out somewhere so I’ll have these little moments to look back on.

I know I haven’t been the best blogger / logger / journaler (#distractions) but definitely going to make an effort to improve so I can bend time to my advantage and extend these little life experiences as much as I possibly can.

Today’s Mom docket:

  • Couple house chores
  • Took the dog to this beautiful dog park where the sun perfectly kissed each blade of grass (and my sweet pup wandered aimlessly wondering why the hell he deserved such a treat on a Monday)
  • Lunch by the water with a friend of mine who’s celebrating her first day of Maternity Leave as well
  • Returns at Buy Buy Baby + Grocery Store
  • A little afternoon waterside action for the pup before the hubs comes home
  • Yummy baked potato bar for dinner & prepping my birth plan this evening

So I just kept going, I just kept going…

Pregnancy Status: 24 weeks, 1 day
Currently: Waking up from a long deep sleep, rubbing eyes and anxiously counting down the days until the weekend

Yesterday, we saw our baby girl yawn. Like, a real human yawn. She grabbed her foot, held her hand against her head and then at one point we even saw her drink. She’s 1 lb, 9 oz and currently the size of an eggplant. I feel her move constantly, little wiggles, shakes and tiny waves ripple when I least expect it. I also bought a doppler from Amazon, just so I can check in on her in those moments where I can’t feel her.

Overall, I’ve been feeling better – more energy infused into every step. It might be the cream of wheat upping my iron intake by 50% a day, or moving my prenatals to first thing in the morning. I’ve been hard at work cutting out dairy, cold veggies, layering in increased amounts of water, acupuncture, herbs, and meditations. Every day has been a simultaneous blur of slow and fast, and walking into my 24 week appointment yesterday – ultrasound to check in on the previa and a check-in with Dr. Lee – I felt anxious and quite confident that I alone, with these changes, have shifted my body to the point where the previa just poof, went away. It had to have just been a few minutes when the ultrasound technician shared (quite abruptly, I might add) that my placenta is right at the cervix, basically the same exact place it had been before. Disappointed, yes. Discouraged, yes. Frustrated, definitely.

Walking out of that appointment, another uncontrolled breakdown in front of my Dr., husband, and mom, I just felt depleted and confused. I really thought that things had moved. Maybe, I didn’t know my body as well as I thought I did. Outside of this, I felt confused. How could I be sad when I saw her actually freaking yawn? And hold her foot, and drink… and I felt her move constantly. I have friends right now who are desperately trying to get pregnant, who have to work on their own, personal form of patience. I should feel so grateful that I have this perfect little girl waiting for me, dancing about, waiting for the perfect time to join this world. Stifling sadness (or maybe it was just exhaustion) isn’t easy, especially when the world around you is full of heartache and really scary experiences. Maybe, I just don’t want to be scared anymore. Maybe, I want to (read: selfishly) live a “normal” life and travel and put my soul back into work all while having the perfect pregnancy, never having a care in the world. But, I guess that isn’t realistic and that just flat out is. not. motherhood. Maybe this experience is showing me how to live my life, adjust and transition into this next chapter. Accept the things we can control, make sacrifices when we physically and mentally think that we can ‘do it all’, and just maybe – this is all a major blessing. A long extended period of time where I am forced to physically resist the forces of the world that have swept me up for so long and mentally and physically connect with the precious little girl growing and yawning and drinking inside me. That is something I can get behind. And, that is what I’m going to focus on every single day for the next 4 weeks. With a smile on my face and a baby moving inside my belly.

Song of the moment: Alabama Shakes, “This Feeling”

So I just kept going, I just kept going
And hoping I’m growing in
Well this good I’ve found, I spent all this time
Tryna find my way here

XO,

K

Motherhood and Hamilton: Our Personal Revolution

Pregnancy Status: 21 weeks, 4 days
Currently: Reading “Hamilton’s Revolution” by Lin Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter ona cloudy morning sprinkled with showers and sipping on an extra hot decaf almond milk latte with a splash of maple.

I’ve been listening to Hamilton a lot lately. Like, really listening. To the words. The energy. The desperate impulse that Lin Manuel Miranda had to share a story that just had to be told – a revolution extended, a flame that burns – never to be extinguished. In this, I’ve been thinking about how this translates to motherhood. How suddenly, just one day, everything changes. You discover who you are. A moment. This unshakeable instance where the world suddenly stops and you summon a deeper purpose, one that is dense with passion, love, and an unmistakable dedication to do something larger than you ever have before.

I remember when we first found out that I was pregnant, that it didn’t seem real. It was as if this world that I had known so well was suddenly colliding and fusing with something I couldn’t comprehend. Immediately, I felt scared and totally overwhelmed. I retracted into this little girl. How would I know what to do? I could barely take care of myself, let alone my new husband, our dog and the new house we had just moved into months before. It’s funny how our ego takes hold so quickly upon the discovery of something new – “you can’t do this, you’re not capable.” Everything from that moment on for a while felt foreign and forced. I knew what I was and wasn’t supposed to do based on the experiences I’ve had with so many wonderful other mothers – my sisters, my aunts, my Mom.

And yet, in one of the first doctor’s appointments we had, where I laid there awkwardly with a paper sheet over my legs and my husband at my side, holding hands, our doe-eyed stares locked with this screen blinking with static and an awkward little triangle that I’ve only seen in TV shows, we saw her heart beat for the first time. A pulsing, blinking, magnetic star pushing itself in and out of the screen. “There she is….” the ultrasound technician continued. As a tear dropped down my face, I was overwhelmed and overcome with a deeper sense of being than I could have ever begun to imagine. It’s as if something clicked right then and there – I was forever changed and continue to shift with every evolution of days, weeks, flutters and kicks. Every moment of my day has purpose – everything I eat, drink, consume. The decisions I make, the ways I react.

Pregnancy, this impending chapter of motherhood is such an incredible gift, one that I feel so blessed to be able to experience. As a woman, as a woman who wants children, and as a woman has the opportunity to infuse a deeper level of meaning with her soulmate. Terrifying and unpredictable as it may be, the days glitter with new beginnings and new opportunities for me to continue evolving into this new person that I am becoming, the person that I have already started to be. Which feels weird because she isn’t here yet, however, yesterday – throughout the countless happy kicks and dancing there isn’t a doubt in my mind that we’ll be forever connected and this experience, these 9 months, will forever shape the mother that I will be to our precious little girl. There have been times where I feel like I’ll be pregnant forever, but perhaps this whole idea of pregnancy – the one where our precious little babies develop into the incredible children and humans we’ll raise, perhaps this time is for us to develop and evolve along with them. Time for us to grow. Recognize and realize the opportunities and changes we can make in our own lives.

Revolution is defined as a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system. Perhaps, this evolution of becoming a mother, this inevitable shift into a different state of being is similar: our lives are being turned completely upside down, we’re infused with a stronger sense of purpose, one that surpasses ourselves – one that consumes something larger than our minds can imagine. Our lives have become deeper, richer with love and excitement and miracles that we’ll never quite be able to shape into words. It’s a new system.

One that I cannot wait to experience for the rest of my life.

“We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you. If we lay a strong enough foundation. We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you. And you’ll blow us all away.” – Hamilton, Dear Theodosia Lyrics

XO

K

21-weeks

The moment where everything changed. My experience with Placenta Previa.

Tuesday, February 7 is when it all changed for me. It was a normal night followed by a normal day at work. Dinner with a friend, copious refills of hot water with lemon followed by good conversation, laughs and a hug goodbye. I came home, kissed my husband and settled into my cozies for the latest episode of Bachelor. I had to pee but thought to myself, I’ll just wait. I don’t feel like getting up right now. (As I write this, it’s hard for me to avoid any mode of self-critique, which I’m actively trying to edit out as I let these words / thoughts / moments slip out. Words that I have been delaying, a memory that I don’t want to relive. But, I am…)

And that’s when the bleeding started.

It was a moment of panic, an earth-shattering lifetime of walls closing in me, blood gushing and the paralysis of realizing that these beautiful moments that I had taken for granted, that these beautiful moments were physically leaving me. Had I taken them for granted – these moments? All of this? I screamed for my husband, tried to block the open wound that was waving through me with gentle, forced, desperate wads of toilet paper, unable to speak. Bone-chilling fear running through every single cell. Hadn’t I just felt her move? Hadn’t I just talked with my friend over dinner about how wonderful my pregnancy had been? My husband came in, the soothing and incredibly supportive force that he is – terrified, and yet he never would have revealed it. We called my sister who had been through a miscarriage and it took all of me just to say those words out loud, “I’m bleeding.” I’ll never be able to quite capture the fear, the anxiety, the thought that I might lose my precious little girl at just 18 weeks. 18 weeks. Something in that moment changed me, those steps that we took to leave the house before the hospital. It might have been when my husband locked eyes with me – his soft, patient, loving eyes – warmly held my shoulders and said, “No matter what happens. We will get through this. I love you so much.” I nodded a muted, silent yes. Unable to speak. It might have been moments before where my sister was telling me through the phone, just breathe. BREATHE. This was the last thing my precious baby needed – me going into a panic attack and losing all of my sensibilities; losing it to the physical manifestation of what I just couldn’t bear to wrap my head or heart around.

I’m not sure what it was. But we left, heads up. No crying. No fear. Just get in the car and go.

That journey to the hospital felt like a sad and terrifying eternity, the sluggish seconds and bright lights blurring themselves together as I squinted out the window. Would I be able to see her. Hold her. What would I tell everyone? How would I get through this, how would we get through this.  In this forever-streaming river of a 4-lane freeway is where I thought I might actually lose it. Deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths. Deep, intense, desperate breaths – begging for air. Begging for this to all be a dream.

As we pulled up to the ER, I eagerly kept checking to see if there was more blood. It was sparse, dark and I had leveled out to what appeared to be spotting. As I clutched at the check-in desk, an inaudible version of my voice sounded, something weak and vulnerable – a person I didn’t recognize. “Almost 20 weeks, we’re almost 20 weeks. I have been bleeding. Please help me….” Those moments and interactions, sterile as they were, felt almost comfortable though in the methodical way that only frequent trips to Urgent Care and previous ER trips would be. Bright lights. Signature on the dotted line. Take a seat. As we sat and waited, I felt for her movements. Nothing. But. Silence.

To my left, a young man and mother crowded around a wheelchair where a young girl sat getting her blood pressure. I heard ectopic pregnancy come out of her mouth, “previous experiences with them” she said. She was going through this too. How am I here? I’m not her. This isn’t happening.

We checked into our hospital room shortly after, laid there cold. Bright lights again, bleaching their way into the despair and anxiousness that I had been denying, the sobering reality of which had me here – in the Emergency Room at 10:30pm on a Tuesday evening. My mom showed up along with her warm voice, as did the tears that I had been holding back with every fiber of my being. My mom and my tears made it real, either way – she was here and was going to support us. And, how I ached for this to be just support of what would ultimately be fine news. How I ached and pushed away all the things I couldn’t accept. We got blankets and we waited patiently for the doctor. And while we waited, and my husband kept whispering to me. He tried to cheer me up with the spoiler alert from the Bachelor. I laughed. And then in the uncomfortable silence that followed, I prayed.

Here is the prayer I put in my phone at 12:56am on February 8, 2017.

It’s very rary that I pray. Please don’t leave me baby girl. I pray for health, strong and consistent heartbeats, attachment until week 40 to the moment where you take your first gaping breath into this bright beautiful world that we will turn upside down for you if needed. Can you feel my heartbeat like I can feel yours? Can you feel how much I love you and will care for you? Your dad and I love you, please don’t go. Don’t leave. I’m scared, but I saw your heart pulse. Little flutters and patters and squirms. Like you know we were watching. I love you so much, even though I don’t know your name yet. You’re mine, you’re ours. Through and through. I’ll nurture you and love you forever. Stay with me, please, forever. 

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

From that moment on, we had a series of good news. Audible heartbeats, visual movements. It wasn’t obvious what was causing the bleeding, but through an anatomy scan I had shortly thereafter that week and after another bout of bleeding and what appeared to be incredibly terrifying clots that followed, we discovered that I have partial placenta previa. My placenta is approximately 3mm away from my cervix – or the width of two pennies. And, as a result, everything normal that we had planned throughout the next few weeks has had to, unfortunately, hit the pause button. 5 flights, 1 babymoon, 1 sister/mom trip, 1 hotel room and 2 Broadway show ticket cancellations later, I’m officially on near bed rest. I’m working, but I’m not able to do any of the things that I envisioned myself doing throughout this pregnancy. No yoga, no walking the dog, no walks on the beach. No travel, no babymoon. No long awaited Hamilton (I bought those tickets almost one year ago).

And, while there is a small part of me that grieves that this pregnancy isn’t “normal”, my heart is unbearably happy and grateful that this happened – a reminder that I will always be a mom first, and the normalcy that we so often ache for will ultimately take a back seat for this little life we’re bringing into the world. Nothing is ever ideal. Life will never, ever be what we plan for. But our souls will adapt. Our agile hearts will grow stronger and our minds will help us navigate the next best step. That’s all we can do. Take this crazy wild adventure one step at a time.

I’m doing acupuncture twice a week now, have completely changed my diet to remove dairy and anything hard to digest – like cold raw vegetables (I heat them up slightly instead). Organic bone broth has become my drink of choice along with more water than I can imagine, along with listening to my body when I really need to pee.

I still won’t know what cause my bouts of bleeding. Or why my placenta started growing in the place that it did. As I sit here writing in San Diego, while I was supposed to be in New York, I can’t help but think of the wonderful things that I’ve discovered about my husband, my family – and most of all myself.

Where there is sadness, there is compassion. Where there is fear, there is support and wisdom. Where there is anxiety, there are hugs and the power of this magical thing called our breath. And where there are hard decisions, there is an undeniable intuition that I’ve only recently started to discover. One that guides me, relaxes me. Let’s me know that everything is going to be ok. While I have no doubt that there will always be this undercurrent of fear every time I look down, I take comfort in knowing that my mind and body are connected and that I can guide myself towards solitude, peace, and a lightness as I broach these next 20 weeks. I’m halfway there and feeling stronger by the day. Mentally, physically – and those little kicks as reminders sure are helping.

Ladies out there with previa, I know how terrifying your experience can be. Just know that I’m with you, in solidarity, and hoping that your cases (like mine) will resolve themselves naturally – just like our bodies know they should.

XO

K

Women: We are strong, we are mighty.

Well, hello! It’s me, again. Sixteen weeks, going on seventeen come Wednesday! (Love me some musicals, so had to give that musical nod). 😉 It’s been quite a few weeks since I last posted. I had a feeling this blog would end up being something that I would visit now and then, and I have been realistic in the sense that I don’t always follow through in my ‘journaling endeavors’. But it’s something that I can come back to, and that’s gotta count for something, right?

Let’s see, what has been happening the last few weeks. Hmm.. Well, first of all, I finally ended up telling my work that I was pregnant. And, it was terrifying. I imagine a lot of my anxiety was self-provoked, due to my eagerness and ambition to continue climbing my career ladder, but what I’ve realized throughout this whole experience is that it’s only as intense as you make it. Granted, I work in a work environment that’s pretty liberal focusing on human rights issues and behavior change with a female CEO who has two kids, but

As I unsuccessfully pushed back tears (thanks, hormones) and took a deep breath to break the news with my “I have something to share with you guys”, it dawned on me that my emotional response probably led them to believe that I was giving notice. I quickly reassured them that the news was good and that I was pregnant. I’m probably undermining how emotional I was, I was pretty emotional (haha) but thankfully I’m close with both of my bosses and it wasn’t an issue at all. All that anticipation quickly resolved itself into sheer, unconditional bliss, joy, and soooo many strong happy hugs. 🙂 Since then, I’ve been hyper-focused, planning for maternity leave and doing everything I can to prove that I am capable of being both working woman and mother. (Sheryl Sandberg, “Lean In”, here I come!!)

What I’ve learned throughout all of this, especially in this last month or so, is that women are kickass individuals. We have so much that we have to deal with – balancing bias and stereotypes in the workplace and our home lives, bearing children and navigating the beautifully complex and incredible experience of pregnancy, being a wife and a partner, and eventually, and come July… being a mother. There are times where I’ve felt like it’s unfair, unfair that we have to do it all. Unfair that we have to shoulder the burden of concern around workplace bias when we’re pregnant, unfair that even though I don’t feel like I doing anything at all, that I’m still making dinner, doing the dishes, tidying up the home and still finding time to paint my nails. Unfair that the millions upon millions of us women (and men) across the world have to march and fight for equality, love, and respect in the world. And then throughout all of it, I feel so unbelievably blessed to share this bond with so many incredibly strong women in the world who shoulder this burden with me.

We are strong. We are fierce. We are mighty. Despite the fears, despite our doubts, despite the tears of frustration or happiness or the tears of just being overwhelmed, it’s so worth it. It’s worth this journey. This ability to experience another dimension of life and humanity, to feel little waves in the middle of the night and think it might be my baby girl swimming about and saying “Hi, Mom!”, it’s worth it to know that every single bite I take or sip of water I drink, I know that I am nourishing my future daughter – a future female who will be showered with love, opportunity, and joy. I am SO grateful for all of it and would not trade it for the world.

So hello, almost week 17. I am woman, hear me roar.

PS it was a historic day yesterday with the women and men marching across the world for the Women’s March, on the heels of Trump becoming our new President. (I’ll save the tears and my sadness on that topic for later)… Here are some of my favorite pics from Harpers Bazaar. I, unfortunately, couldn’t march due to a funeral, but proud to share that my sisters, nephews, niece and so many amazing and incredible friends marched in my (and my little girl’s) honor.

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XO
Krysten
womens-march-2 womens-march