Last Pregnancy Favorites

It feels strange to call this out as our last pregnancy. I’m sure I’m jinxing it – never say never, right? At the same time, I really feel done. So done that I’ll be handing off my maternity clothes the day I get home from the hospital, probably.

 33 weeks with baby boy #3.

33 weeks with baby boy #3.

Maybe because time seemed to go so much more quickly this pregnancy, I didn’t use some of the things that were “essential” in my last pregnancies, like the body pillow (substitute: husband) and the BellaBand (went straight to the stretchy pants). It’s been a struggle to even remember to take my prenatal vitamins and DHA.

So, a short list of pregnancy faves this time around:

Beauty

My midwife told me that skin care-wise, pretty much everything was ok except retinol. So no Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil for me in this season (but I’ve stocked up for after baby comes). I’ve tried to be more intentional about my beauty routine, and my consumption in general, and I’ve found the following to be super effective with minimal effort: The Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla +Air for Creativity, Clinique Total Turnaround Overnight Revitalizing Moisturizer, SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, C-Rush Brightening Gel Creme, and neuLASH Lash Enhancing Serum. I know that the stretch marks and saggy postpartum belly skin (so gross, I know) are par for the course, but using SheaMoisture Coconut Oil and the Vitamin E oil from Trader Joe’s makes me feel like I’m doing something to minimize the damage. I wanted to spring for The Balm by Nucifera, but couldn’t justify the additional expense. Scent-wise, I’ve been loving all things bergamot. I’m not a rose person normally, and definitely not red, but the Jo Malone Red Roses cologne has been just the right amount of “extra” without being too much.

Books

I read so many pregnancy books the first time around! Now I have just two that I’ll read again: Mindful Birthing (to prep for another unmedicated, natural birth) and The First Forty Days (the granola recipe is my go-to).

Wardrobe

I’ve been wearing the same maternity dresses in rotation from my other two pregnancies. I added a few things to my wardrobe this time around, all of which I’ll still be able to wear post-pregnancy: Ingrid & Isabel Zip Front Denim Dress (on sale right now, and nursing-friendly), ASOS raw hem maternity shorts (regularly paired with one of my husband’s t-shirts), and a Show Me Your MuMu pregs & regs dress. I’ve also been living in Calvin Klein loungewear - so stretchy and so soft – they are the best.

 31 weeks pregnant.

31 weeks pregnant.

Workouts

I did Kayla Itsines’ BBG workouts early in the pregnancy along with ClassPass (mostly CorePower Yoga and TRIM Fitness pilates reformer classes), but eventually found them to be too strenuous. Since getting a Peloton, spinning has been my go-to workout. My goal is to make it through a 60-day streak, and I’m currently on day twenty-something. I gravitate more to say, SusieCakes, in pregnancy than I do to any sort of athletic endeavor, so keeping the workout threshold low, but the daily habit going has worked for me. I also keep my Lulu yoga mat laid out by my bed along with a yoga bolster pillow and Tiger Tail for bedtime routine stretches.

Hospital Bag

The hospital bag I packed for my first was ridiculous: Bluetooth speakers, art to hang outside my room, battery-operated votive candles. Insane. This time, I’ll pack a pillow, shower flip-flops, a going-home outfit for baby, some toiletries so that I look human when we leave, postpartum leggings, a pretty nursing bra, a robe, and fuzzy socks. I bought this Skip Hop Highline diaper bag to put it all in because it opens wide – I hate having to search for something that’s inevitably at the bottom of my bag – and the zippered close is optional. Last time around we had a “birth day” gift ready for big brother, and we’re planning to do the same this time around – probably these magnet building tiles, but I’m open to suggestions.

My wish list is shorter this time around too, as it should be. Three things: a BOB Duallie stroller for my November/December trail walks before I’m cleared for more strenuous exercise again, The Story of You baby book (in olive or midnight blue, I can’t decide), and pretty newborn/family of five photos taken in our house.

In a few weeks, we’ll head to southern California wine country (baby will be far enough baked for a tiny glass of almond champagne, right??) for another mini babymoon/birthday celebration. The countdown is on, and we can’t wait to meet our baby boy. If you have any recs for making it through this home stretch, I’d love to know!

Summer: Refresh

It’s not officially fall yet, but I do love the back-to-school season. After the emotionally intense month that August was, I’m more ready than ever for September.

 Throwback to last year's Oak Glen day when I wasn't a million weeks pregnant.

Throwback to last year's Oak Glen day when I wasn't a million weeks pregnant.

A list to kick off the summer/fall transition:

PLACES

  • I'm starting off the month with a pregnancy massage (here, for all you OC locals) and a Sephora shopping date (see my picks for the VIB sale below).
  • Labor Day weekend means that the apple orchards at Oak Glen are officially open! Los Rios Rancho is our go-to – their apple cider, cinnamon crumble apple pies, and caramel apples are unrivaled, and on the weekends, they smoke tri-tip. We've never tried the cider donuts further down the hill, but maybe we will this year.
  • My work leadership retreat is on a Hornblower yacht, which means I'll get to spend the afternoon in Newport Beach and finally try the new Tanoshi Hour at Nobu. Speaking of Lido Marina Village...
 Vintage wagons in front of the Lido House Hotel. DREAM.

Vintage wagons in front of the Lido House Hotel. DREAM.

FAVORITES

  • ... how cute is this vintage wagon in front of the Lido House Hotel? All the cool California vibes. Reminds me of this art piece from McGee & Co (15% off for Labor Day!). I'm looking at art for our downstairs powder room and am currently debating getting this photo printed and framed or purchasing the McGee piece.
  • The 2019 Day Designer planners launch on September 5! The printed covers are my "pop of color" in my workspace.
  • So many Labor Day sales! Linking my favorite purchases and my September beauty shopping list:

ON MY MIND

You learn that the people who love you do, in fact, love *you* – not what you do, not what you accomplish, not what you “do for God”… And so you are worth the relief of honesty. Take a deep breath. Speak your truth. Let the chips fall as they may. You will be far more grateful than you ever imagined.
— Sarah Bessey, https://www.instagram.com/sarahbessey/
All I’m saying is, this boy loves that girl, and that girl loves this boy, so much that perfect strangers can see it from their living room window. That’s the kind of love I’m going to keep believing in.
— Ashley Brooks, https://www.ashleybrookswrites.com/love-story
You are to pay special attention to those who, by accident of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you.
— Augustine
  • Rise Together Podcast with Chris Heuertz – The Sacred Enneagram was one of my favorite reads this summer, and I loved hearing Chris Heuertz talk about the Enneagram in this podcast, particularly about 3’s (which I identify with) and 9’s and the relationship between those two types. I especially related to this about 3's: “They look into the relationship they value… and they see what’s missing – and it’s on the subconscious level – they volunteer themselves, they say, “I’ll fill that space. I’ll take on another role.” Attending a grounding retreat (the schedule is up for their September session) at the Gravity Center which he and his wife lead is on my bucket list for 2019. 
  • Streak: What I Learned From Running Every Day for a Year by Laura Vanderkam – I’m not a runner, but I do have a Peloton (find me @ruthiegyll) that makes it insanely easy to exercise. My new goal from now until baby comes: ride everyday – even if the ride is only 10 minutes. As long as I don't go into labor super early, I should be able to hit a 60-day streak at minimum.

Any tips for the end of summer season? I'd love to know!

The Transition.

I thought the summer of 2005 was hard, when I had to pack up for college and leave all my best friends. I went to a small, Christian school, which was like its own world – a bubble – hard to really understand unless you grew up in the same environment.

What I know now is that there is leaving what you knew, and there is loss of what you believed to be true. Those are not the same. That summer was an emotional rollercoaster, but this summer is soul-searching heartbreak and confusion.

Necessary change and sudden loss are so entirely different. One is like being in water that is turned up so slowly, you don’t realize that it’s boiling until you’ve spent some time simmering in it. It hurts, but you become acclimated. The other is an amputation, quick and irreversible, so abrupt and shocking that you wake up in the morning still reaching for that phantom limb.

There is so much that I’ve learned recently in the most painful way. So much that I wish I knew even a few months ago. There were feelings that I thought I buried, unchecked assumptions, and unmet needs that all came bubbling to the surface like a science project volcano. The gasoline was everywhere, but I was still convinced that no one would possibly dare to the light the match that would set everything on fire.

I learned that even good intentions can get complicated, something I only knew before cerebrally – it’s the number one takeaway from the field of international development. Proverbs 18:21 (MSG) has never rang more true: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” Honesty is bittersweet, and even things that are true are sometimes better left unsaid. We never really know what’s lying beneath the surface that can resurrect into the perfect storm of human error.

I find myself trying to do everything possible not to sit with the grief. My coping strategy is to read a million books (currently on my nightstand: Bittersweet, The Meaning of Marriage, Becoming Mom Strong, How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids, The Eternal Current, What Comes Next and How to Like It, Be the Gift, The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, You and Me Forever), to move the ache from my heart space to my head space, because it’s easier to understand up there.

I made new goals, new lists – everything is a task. If you’ve listened to the most recent Typology podcasts with Claire Diaz-Ortiz, that’s me, right now, in a nutshell. I have appointments lined up, a wardrobe refresh in progress, birthday parties planned, and my postpartum exercise regimen researched (yup, still 7 months pregnant). I even signed up for the Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club. I mean, good food heals all, right?  I was operating at 60%, and now it’s time to bump it up to 100, because it’s easier to forget what’s broken when you keep moving towards the better and the best. The record playing in my mind: what’s next, what’s next, what’s next, do better, do better, do better.

Spoiler alert: Move on and move on fast is not a strategy that works. There is no fast-forwarding. There are no shortcuts. If you’re lucky, there are second chances, but no do-overs.

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I’d rather have all the sunshine and iced lattes, but I’m learning that the layers of love and loss, lessons and let-it-be’s are moving me closer to wholeness. Shauna Niequist wrote: “Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity.”

Fall is a season of layering, of falling leaves and sweater weather. Even as I prepare for it – buying cardigans and faux leather leggings (that in reality, I won't be able to fit into for six months), I don’t wish for it to come sooner. There’s still healing to be had in the long days and golden hours and warm, beach nights, but even those days are coming to a close. Now is the in-between.

There’s a point in childbirth known as the transition. It’s the absolute worst. (I’ve had two unmedicated natural births with the obvious impending one on my mind). It’s the lowest point in all of labor, the point where it feels like the contractions are never going to end. They hit back to back, and there’s no relief. It doesn’t feel like dying. It feels like you are very much alive, and what you want is to not feel everything quite so much. Like, right about now would be an excellent time to go numb or pass out until it’s all over.

That’s the point when you know that you’re close. You just need to hang on a little bit longer. You need to breathe deeply and hold tightly to your husband’s hand. Time will pass at the slowest rate possible.

And then, your baby comes.

The time that seemed to pass at a snail’s pace, stops. Completely.

Not every real-life transition ends with something as transcendently beautiful as a newborn baby. But there’s hope in that. The cross was not the end of the story. It was the in-between, the transition, the slow passing of time. The story is still being written.

I came across an Instagram post recently that said that sometimes the wisest and kindest thing you can do is walk away. Part of walking away is giving up knowing how the story ends. Uncertainty about what comes next has never been easy for me, but I hold onto the belief that the ending is always about the deepest, fullest kind of life and that the transition is what gets us there.

Summer: Rituals.

In this season, I’m finding that the rituals that we have as a family are the ones that carry me through the hard days of exhaustion, emotions, and crazy pregnancy hormones.

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Even when I don’t sleep at night, I know that in the morning, there will be coffee and scrambled eggs and #fabfour smoothies and little boy snuggles.

After a hard week, we still have Friday night. Whether we stay in for tacos, or go out for Costco pizza, we start off the weekend together.

“We’ll always have Saturday” is my grown-up-mom-of-three-boys(!) version of “we’ll always have Paris.” Less romantic, for sure, but the nostalgia is still there. Even when we have no plans, we still have each other.

We stroll the farmers’ market, then hit the playground, then the library. Sometimes we go to church on Saturday night, so that on Sunday morning, we can sleep in – as much as you can sleep in with a toddler and a preschooler – before hitting our circuit of Starbucks, donut shop, breakfast burritos and sometimes Bagels & Brew.

We have rituals with words, too. I love you. I’m sorry. Do you want to snuggle? Can I kiss it better? Thank you, Jesus.

In the strongest relationships, the mind, the heart,  and the body come together to form a rope of three strands. Do you have my attention? Am I showing you that I love you? Am I physically present?

I hope that our little ones remember the trips and weekend getaways. I hope they remember what it feels like to roast marshmellows by moonlight at the lake and to jump into a pool surrounded by pine trees. But I hope they also remember the quotidien. I know I will.

On Fight & On Grace.

 “All is grace in our one brutal and beautiful life.” - Ann Voskamp

 One of my very favorite places. Someday, I'll have an epic party on that rooftop.

One of my very favorite places. Someday, I'll have an epic party on that rooftop.

I wonder if grace is written in the sunsets and the clear blue skies and iced half-decaf mint lattes by the pool and clothes that are not maternity but still miraculously fit. I wonder if grace is found in quiet mornings by the ocean, the perfect glass of pinot noir rosé, and running into friends at the farmers’ market.

I wonder if grace is holding both the light and the darkness, what is and what isn’t, the homecoming and the ache. I wonder if grace is being showered with love that you don’t deserve and never asked for.

Jen Hatmaker wrote a book about fighting for grace. I haven’t read it. It seems like an oxymoron – like fighting for peace, which doesn’t seem to make sense until you look back at all of human history and see that all peace was hard-won and paid for in blood, tears, and loss.

Maybe what we need is a little more fight and a little more grace. Maybe it’s in the juxtaposition that we sense more clearly, like with bitter and sweet. In Come Matter Here, Hannah Brencher describes fight songs as reminders to keep going.

She writes:  “I just hope you always know you deserve beautiful things. You deserve the chance to close chapters and write new endings and cry loud and not be sorry for whatever makes that wild heart of yours beat. (Fight Song #4).”

Here’s to reclaiming that wild heart and letting it beat, for the fight and for the grace.