October 1, 2018

38 Week "Bumpdate" + Maternity Photos!

I'm going to have a baby this month. 


It feels weird to type that out but at the same time, it feels so right and I definitely feel ready.

I haven't written much about my pregnancy on this blog. 


Ok, I haven't written much about anything this blog lately but here we are, in the home stretch and I thought it was time to write something!

At 38 weeks, this little one could make their appearance any time this month. At one of my very first appointments, my midwife made it very clear that I could have our baby any time between 37 and 42 weeks. Honestly, I think this is the best thing anyone has told me. I've been prepared that baby could come "any day now" for the last week but I also know that I could still be pregnant for 4 more weeks. Yes, I'm tired. Yes, I'm uncomfortable but knowing that the whole concept of a due date is arbitrary is really putting me in a good headspace to just be prepared and take things one day at a time. 

I really wanted to love being pregnant but the road to getting here was too bumpy and my first 20 weeks were really hard. I found out I was pregnant at just 3 weeks and started getting sick almost immediately. I was throwing up 5-6 times a day and couldn't eat anything. With my history of loss, this terrified me. I was trying so hard to just take things one day at a time and not be scared of this pregnancy but not being able to eat made it hard. When I finally stopped being sick at around 14 weeks, I didn't have the energy for anything. I kept hearing about how magical the second trimester was but I felt awful. After a diagnosis of low iron and adding in a supplement, I finally started feeling better around 20 weeks and have felt really good right up until the last week or so when I've just started feeling tired and uncomfortable as I've come to full term. 


I've tried to stay active, walking almost every day and going to prenatal yoga every week. I haven't run my entire pregnancy and I desperately miss it. During my first trimester, I was honestly too scared to run. I know that running is safe during pregnancy but with my history, I couldn't bring myself to start running. Not to mention how sick I was. To be honest, I lived in a little bit of a bubble during the first five months of my pregnancy. By the time I finally felt like I could start running, I was already too big and uncomfortable. I tried easing into a walk/run routine but ultimately, I stuck to walking. I know that it will take a while before I'm able to run postpartum and I hope I'm not too lofty in dreaming of a fall marathon next year but I'm pretty good about managing my expectations and plan to take it slow and see what I'm able to do. 


One thing I wasn't prepared for was how real the nesting instinct would be. We moved into our house just a few weeks before I found out I was pregnant and because I got so sick so soon, there were a lot of things that needed to get done around the house that were left undone for a long time. I didn't unpack the last moving box until about a month ago! Before I could even think about the nursery, I had this desperate need to get the living room gallery wall up, the pantry repainted and organized, my office completely done, all of the outlet covers in the house replaced (they had been painted over by the previous owners), the laundry room redone, and a whole host of other projects. Surprisingly, I got through all of them and the nursery is finished (save a hole in the ceiling that appeared over the weekend!) and I'm ready to just take it easy and wait to bring home our little one. 


It's crazy to think that exactly one year ago, I was reeling from a second miscarriage and didn't think I ever wanted to get pregnant again. It was too scary and too painful and it took a lot for me to be in a place where I could think about getting pregnant again. We haven't even met our baby yet but I'm so glad I didn't give up. This journey is one that I wouldn't wish on anyone - it is cruel and painful and unbelievably lonely - but I survived it and I hope that there is a lesson in here somewhere that I can carry with me as I welcome our baby into this world. 

Thanks for reading.

September 28, 2018

Reading Lately: September Edition

Last month, I shared some of the top books I've read this year. I had been in a pretty bad reading rut and, while those books were my favorite reads of the year, there really weren't many others I've read but lately, I can't stop reading. The Pilot keeps commenting that he's never seen me go through books so fast. This definitely isn't a bad thing. Once I finally put my bookshelves together, I started going through them, reading books that I've had for months or even years without ever picking up. I've made a pretty good dent in that pile but I'm starting to get antsy for another library trip. I don't know what it is about the library but I love browsing the shelves and coming home with a stack of books! 

Here's a look at what I've read this month:

"Us Against You" by Fredrik Backman - I've said this every time I've finished a Backman book - if you haven't started reading Fredrik Backman, RUN to your nearest bookstore and pick up everything he's written. You will not be disappointed. This sequel to "Beartown" surprised me in the sense that I didn't really feel like "Beartown" needed a sequel but I'm so glad we got one. I liked this "Us Against You" even more than "Beartown" and I really like how Backman gave some of the characters more of a story and shared what happened in the aftermath of what shook up the town. I don't think this book can stand alone so definitely read "Beartown" first. 


"A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway - I feel like every time I tried to read a classic book or author, I'm disappointed. In some ways, I liked that this book felt like I was having coffee in Paris listening to Hemingway's musings about his friends - Picasso, Gloria Steinham, Scott Fitzgerald - and in other ways, I felt like this was just the musings of someone talking about their day and was bored through most of the book.

"My Not So Perfect Life" by Sophie Kinsella - This is definitely not the type of book I would normally ever read but my sister gave it to me and I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of being 20 and broke and living in London, trying to make the most of a job that was both exciting and would make my head spin. In "My Not So Perfect Life," Katie Brenner is trying to do all of those things until she loses her job and ends up moving back home to help her parents run the glamping site they've started when her old boss shows up as a guest. A comedy of errors and a very light, easy read, this one was cute. 

"The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls" by Anton DiSclafani - I had had this book on my reading list for years and finally cracked it open...only to be really disappointed. You know from the book's description that 15-year-old Thea Atwell has been sent away in the midst of a family tragedy that may or may not have been caused by her. 300 pages dragged on constantly referring to the "mistake" or the "secret" before you finally find out what it was and, well, it was pretty anti-climactic. This was a huge disappointment. 

Somehow, even in the middle of reading all of the baby books, I'm finally making a dent in my reading challenge! Even though I'm still 9 books behind schedule, I'm determined to hit my goal this year!

What have you been reading lately? Are you a Fredrik Backman fan? Have you started reading his books yet? If not, I highly recommend starting with "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry." I loved that story and definitely want to read it again while I'm on maternity leave!


As always, happy reading!

September 24, 2018

4 Magical Days in Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal. My first trip to Lisbon was planned on a whim. My mom and I had plans to go somewhere else that didn't quite work out and we wanted to go somewhere new and different. I don't remember what I read or saw but I texted my mom one day and said, "How about Lisbon?" And a few weeks later, we landed in a city that I have since referred to as the city that spoke to my soul.


I can't really put into words what makes Lisbon so magical. When The Pilot and I were planning our biennial trip to Paris this year and realized that the likelihood of us getting on a flight to Paris on standby was slim, we shifted gears and decided to go back to Lisbon. We were planning a babymoon and I really wanted to go to a place we had been to before so that I could take it easy when I wanted to and wouldn't feel the need to constantly be doing something!


I admit I was nervous. What if I didn't love it as much the second time around? What if it felt different? But the minute we landed, I knew that wouldn't happen and I was so happy to be back in this place that I've been dying to go to back to since before I even left the last time.


We landed in Lisbon on a Monday morning around 9:30 after the most miserable flight I had ever been on. We were on a super old plane (no TVs ashtrays still in the armrests!) and the seat in front of me was broken and reclined so far back that I had no leg room...not fun when I was getting up once an hour to use the bathroom! I was so grateful when we touched down! Lisbon airport is a breeze and we cleared customs in no time and were on the metro to the Airbnb we had booked in the Santos neighborhood of Lisbon.

We got to our Airbnb by around 11 and luckily, were able to check in right away. The Airbnb was lovely and the neighborhood was quiet but I wouldn't recommend staying there. It was more out of the way I thought it would be. I wanted something away from the hustle and bustle of the main city but this was a little too out of the way. It was about a 15-minute bus ride from central Lisbon but the buses weren't very reliable and came pretty infrequently.

Exhausted from our flight, we planned to take a nap and ended up sleeping until almost 3:00! Normally, I would have been upset about this but we were on our babymoon and I knew I needed the rest, so I embraced the long nap, took a nice, long shower, and then headed out to explore!

Having been to Lisbon before, our agenda was pretty slim. I was 22 weeks pregnant when we landed and had felt pretty miserable up until that week. We almost canceled our trip a few days before because I was still so sick but I'm so glad we didn't because this trip ended up being exactly what we needed. Although, as we explored the city revisiting some old favorites, I quickly learned that on our first trip, we had barely skimmed the surface! Here's what we got up to:

Seeing
Jeronimos Monastery. This 16th-century monastery is absolutely worth a visit. The cathedral and grounds are absolutely stunning. There isn't too much to do there other than to see the cathedral and the grounds but the grounds are stunning enough to warrant a visit.




Torre de Belem. The Jeronimos Monastery is in Belem, which is a neighborhood on the outskirts of Lisbon. When getting there from central Lisbon, you hit the monastery first and then it's a short walk to the Torre de Belem, a tower overlooking the water that was used as part of the defense system guarding Lisbon during the 16th century. I didn't go up to the top because the steps were narrow, slippery, and steep but The Pilot did and said the views weren't much different than from outside the tower. The architecture and intricacy of the tower are impeccable though and it's in unbelievable condition for being as old as it is!




Castelo Sao Jorge. The Tram 28 is Lisbon's iconic Lisbon tram line that takes you across the city and up the steep hills. It's also the best way to get to the Castelo Sao Jorge if you don't want to walk up a mountain. When you get to the top, you have to walk a bit to get to the castle entrance. There are street vendors and souvenir shops and a few coffee shops leading the way up the hill. It reminded me a little bit of Montmartre in Paris. As soon as we entered the castle grounds, I was shocked that we missed it the last time we were in Lisbon. The views of the city are unreal! The castle grounds are pretty cool to walk through too. We didn't spend too much time there because it started raining as soon as we got there and the castle is really just ruins, but it was pretty cool to explore!





Lisbon Under the Stars. This was a short-lived exhibit in Lisbon that has already ended so I was hesitant to write about it but since it was such an amazing experience, I had to! Hosted in the ruins of the Convento do Carmo, Lisbon Under the Stars told Lisbon's history - from the city's founding to the earthquake and tsunami that wiped out the city to Portugal's independence - through a multimedia presentation featuring art, music, and performance. I've never quite seen anything like it and I'm so glad we had the opportunity to go because it was incredible!



Sailboat cruise on the Tagus. On one of our nights in Lisbon, we booked a sunset sailboat cruise on the Tagus River through Airbnb. Set up on a vintage sailboat, the 3-hour cruise was a perfect date night. We were able to get off our feet and see the city from the water. There were only about 8 other passengers so it was small and intimate and the boat had wine, cheese, and bread for us to nibble on. About an hour into our cruise, it started downpouring but we still managed to enjoy ourselves despite being cold and wet on the water!


Eating
When people think of good food in Europe, they always think of France and Italy, maybe Spain but I think Portugal really needs to be on the map for excellent European food. I have yet to have had a meal in Lisbon that I didn't absolutely love. Here are a few highlights of places and things we ate!

Pasteis de Nata. No trip to Lisbon is complete without feasting on these delicate pastries. Just before we went, Martha Collison (famously of The Great British Baking Show) had been in Lisbon and went on a mission to find the best pasteis de nata in the city. Having let her do all of the work, and having already tried natas all over Lisbon on our first trip, we made our way to her top pick, Mantegenaria and we were not disappointed. The pastry shop only serves pasteis de nata and coffee and they're one of the very few places in Lisbon that serve the treats warm. Top them with both powdered sugar and cinnamon and you're in for absolute divinity. Alcoa was a close runner-up but they weren't served warm. I would skip the insanity that is Pasteis de Belem (where they were created), as they were warm but the egg custard had curdled and they weren't very appetizing. If you're planning a trip to Lisbon, try out a few different places but I think you'll come to the same conclusion that Mantegenaria's natas cannot be beaten.


LX Factory. The LX Factory isn't necessarily a place to eat - it's more like an outdoor market with little shops and restaurants. It's got a really cool hipster, industrial feel and is definitely worth checking out. While I typically stick to local cuisine when I'm traveling, I was also entertaining pregnancy cravings in Lisbon and jumped at the chance to have tacos when we spotted a Mexican restaurant, Mez Cais, in the LX Factory. Built to look like a wrestling ring with luchador masks adorning the walls, this was a pretty cool spot with fantastic Mexican food!



Santini. If you like ice cream or gelato, you need to stop by Santini. Get the nata flavored ice cream and mix it with something delicious like chocolate-hazelnut. You won't be disappointed.

Ribeira Market. The TimeOut Ribeira Market was definitely a favorite during our last trip to Lisbon and worth repeating. I had some kind of bacalhau (codfish) deliciousness at a spot called Felicidade that was honestly one of the best things I've ever eaten. I keep a very short list of some of my all-time favorite meals and this was easily one of them. The Ribeira Market has just about everything you could want and is perfect if you're eating with a crowd since everyone can get their own thing. Bonus: There's a Mantegenaria AND a Santini ice cream shop there!




Pharmacia. On our last night in Lisbon, we went to dinner at Pharmacia, a restaurant located in the Museum of Pharmacy with exceptional views over the city. While the interior of the restaurant is gorgeous, we opted for a table outside to enjoy the views. I didn't realize until we got the menu that that Pharmacia is run by the same chef that I had raved over the night before at Felicidade, Susana Felicidade. The food was just as excellent as the night before and my only disappointment was in not being able to enjoy a glass of Vinho Verde alongside my meal!


Our second trip to Lisbon was even better than the first! I fell in love with the city all over again and it was the perfect spot for a babymoon! We learned on our first night there that Portugal recently passed a law exempting pregnant women (and women with children under 2, seniors, and people with disabilities) from having to stand in line. We didn't want in line for anything, anywhere...ice cream shops, tourist sites, customs at the airport...it was amazing! As soon as I got on any form of public transportation, half the people would jump up to give me their seat. It was great!

I also really loved that we had been there before and could really just do one major thing a day and spend the rest of our time just being in the city, having long, leisurely meals and just enjoying each other's company. It was wonderful! Oh, and one of my favorite things was watching the World Cup in the Praca do Comercio. I always root against Portugal in the World Cup but I had to support the home team just this one time!


One thing I didn't include in this post is our day trip to Sintra - that deserves its own post so check back later this week for that!

Have you been to Lisbon or anywhere in Portugal?
If you took a babymoon, where did you go?

PS: You can check out my posts about our first trip to Lisbon here, here, here and here!

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