We have news! Austin and I are beyond thrilled to announce that our family is growing. Our 2nd baby is due April 25, 2020 and we COULD NOT be more excited. Graysen (she’s going to be a big sister!) is excited, our families are thrilled, and Gus (now that he knows that baby = wayyy more cookies) is over-the-moon.
In today’s post, I’m going to share more than usual! The journey to pregnancy can feel so lonesome and if this comforts just one person, I’m glad for it.
Our “plan” for baby #2
What I’d like to tell you is that we got pregnant exactly when we thought we’d get pregnant. I’d like to tell you with a carefree shrug that, “our family puzzle pieces are just falling right into place!” While the pieces of our family ARE falling right into place, it doesn’t always feel that way when things don’t go according to my own carefully-timed plan. The waiting for baby #2 was hard and that surprised me. I was surprised by how challenged I felt by waiting for answers because I thought that I’d done the mental work to be past impatience over things I can’t control. What I didn’t account for, what secretly altered my context, was in my blind spot. The impact of a change in chemistry and circumstance were in my blind spot.
There was a time in the last year (in hindsight, a time when I was still riddled with postpartum hormones and emotions) that I even asked my sister-in-law, a savvy mom of 3 girls (hi, Sherin!) if she, “knows of any parenting resource recommendations for how to raise an amazing only child.” Conceiving our next baby was taking longer than I thought it would and I started to wonder if it meant we weren’t meant for more in the same way we had Gray. I was wondering if I’d misinterpreted what God had painted, through prayer, as a vision for our family.
“Irish twins would be amazing,” I’d said on more than one occasion. I was hopeful that if I let my body heal gradually, if I kept feeding it really well (read: don’t try to vainly shed pregnancy weight as fast as possible), focused on storing baby-building nutrients, if I stayed on top of my sleep, that our next baby would be here quickly. What’s the rush? Austin and I feel called to lead a large family! And, being 35 and 33, respectively, we’re ready to pack in the babies. How many would we like? As many as we’re given, but he (my husband) will probably cut me off around 4. I know it will be some real work, so many babies so close together, both with big professional dreams, but I also know that we’ll never ever regret it.
I believe that God is sovereign. I admire and respect deep-running faith like nothing else …and, I like to think that my story isn’t of faith questioned, but of acknowledging/making room for the mindset shift when you’re: postpartum, emblazoned with new purpose, and feeling as though you’re already on His chosen path.
Hindsight (which I’ll share here) offered me the healing and the perspective I was craving; and, (like all transformative lessons), I had to go through it before I could learn what I needed to learn from it.
My mindset shift
To be honest, I did not struggle with this expectation mindset when we were preparing to conceive Graysen. We spent about 6 months being open to having a baby before the positive pregnancy test, which didn’t feel like long at all (read our 1st pregnancy announcement) You see, I’d spent decades preparing myself for the twisted, unpredictable journey to parenthood. I didn’t let myself slip into expectation and remembered that the path to having a family can and (most likely will) be riddled with unexpected twists and turns. I was prepared for it to take: no time at all, some time, a very long time, or for my body never to hold life. I was prepared, I was open to His plan, and was at deep peace with a “come what may” attitude. Gray was so wanted, but not at all stressed over.
Little did I know, but apparently between being blessed with a very healthy pregnancy, birth, and baby, my (sleep deprived) subconscious slipped. Instead of a TRUE “come what may” perspective, I took our easy journey to parenthood to be a queue that I could freely paint/plan the rest myself.
My attitude was, “well, that was easy!” Maybe easy maybe isn’t the best word for birth (you can read my Graysen birth story), but the fact that we experienced a true miracle without tragedy made the whole thing feel so doable. Before we even left the hospital with Graysen, I looked to my husband with extreme clarity and said, “I want 4.”
Though I didn’t feel entitled to a smooth ride for our 1st baby, I was building an entitlement to more. What’s up with that?? I don’t feel pride in admitting this, but it’s the truth.
Okay, so I was in a rush. I kept telling myself that, even though life and our businesses were already BUSY, we would figure it out! “You’re only given what you can handle,” a comforting thought my mom repeats often. I thought that we’d have several babies back to back and then we’d figure out how to make it all work.
In hindsight… I’m so glad it happened according to His plan vs. mine. First of all, I desperately needed a jolt back into an actual gratitude (vs. entitlement) mindset. Secondly, the way our lives played out in the last 1.5 years showed me just how much I need to keep my trust in Him.
What happened in the last 1.5 years? Most importantly, I was able to adjust motherhood (as a mom to Gray and a wife to Austin) with a semblance of grace. I see now that if any more had been on my plate, I don’t know that I could have been as slow an intentional as a wife and mother. My business, Fed & Fit, enjoyed an incredibly transformative year – it was a LOT and we thrived as a family. I’ve arrived at a confidence as a wife, mother, homemaker, and business owner like never before. We’re now truly ready for the next chapter.
This pregnancy and this baby are coming at the most perfect time for all of us. Due-date wise, both my 3rd book and this baby are due in the same month (end of April). It may sound silly on paper, but this is actually ideal. I’ve built a schedule that will help me turn the material in about 6 weeks early (giving time for any unforeseen edits/work), but once the book is out of my hands, I’ll have a natural break in work. Graysen will be a little over 2 years old and, as I’m seeing as the weeks pass, more and more independent. We’ll be going into Summer! This represents a slower time of year for both mine and Austin’s businesses, my team will be moving into our new office (and out of my home), and I’ll have a full year before promotions amp up around book 3 activities. My team and I have time to build my maternity leave (2-3 months) and, because of our collective efforts over the last year, Fed & Fit is designed more than ever to gain traction with or without me.
After we thought through the timing, we couldn’t believe how perfectly it all works together. I couldn’t believe my rush and was awash in gratitude anew.
What I did, and then we finally got pregnant.
If you’re looking for details on how I prepared for this pregnancy, I’m going to share! Probably overshare. Brace yourself.
NURSING: First, it’s important to note that I breastfed Graysen through her 14th month. I weaned her right as I was leaving for the Cook Once, Eat All Week book tour. While my cycle came back (I warned you about the overshare) in month 11, I didn’t really feel like myself (when hormones settled) until a few months after I stopped breastfeeding. While there are plenty of women who can conceive while breastfeeding (I’d hoped to be one of them), it wasn’t in the cards this round.
SLEEP: Second, I REALLY worked on my sleep. Nothing will help your hormones and body heal like enough quality sleep. After a season with a newborn/infant who disrupts your sleep (I nursed Gray every hour though the night for 11 months – more of an issue I created than she did), it’s easy to mistake more sleep for enough sleep. It wasn’t until I replenished my sleep deficit (around the same 16th or so month after her birth that I actually started to *feel* better) that I was truly rested. This is when I could tell my body was fully healed from the pregnancy.
FOOD: Note that we have a more extensive pre-pregnancy + pregnancy nutrition series planned by trimester (and on into postpartum), I’m happy to share how I nourished my body in this season. Knowing that I could conceive at any month, I was sure to not go too low carb. I ate plenty of fruit (a variety thereof), found a way to consume pastured chicken livers at least 2x a month, did my best to consume high quality protein (grass-fed and pastured where possible), ate several servings of dense leafy greens a week (lemony kale to the rescue!), and topped off other nutrient reserves by mindfully consuming oysters + a variety of electrolytes (think: mushrooms and coconut water).
STRESS: I hired more help in just about every area of my life. This was an investment, but by delegating where possible, I was able to truly rest between tasks. If you want to hear more about my approach to hiring/delegation, be sure to to tune into my new Driven Podcast (which I launched with my friend Diane). At home, we upped the frequency by which our house cleaner visits (weekly now vs. 2x a month), brought on quality childcare where it made sense, and I gave up pieces of my personal business that can easily be handled by a pair of trusted hands on my team. I started actually taking relaxing baths, following a self-care routine (washing my face twice a day was actually a way to reduce my stress, turns out), stayed on top of my laundry (vs. letting it pile), kept my car tidy (helps with the underlying stress also), and de-cluttered my closet + pantry. Streamlining, simplifying, de-cluttering, showing myself consistent self-care, and delegating made a world of difference.
OVULATION TOOLS: What tools did I use? To help me figure out my cycle, I tried a few pieces of technology. I used the Ava bracelet, but disliked wearing an electronic through the night (also was inconsistent in remembering to charge it). I ultimately went back to what we used when we were figuring out my cycle in an effort to conceive Graysen: Clear Blue Ovulation Test Strips. They’re not cheap, but it was the only way I could really track. We wound up going through about 3 full boxes before that blessed positive pregnancy test. I know/respect the other methods out there (temperature tracking + more), but this is what worked for me. About a week before ovulation, I would start to sip on a small glass of grapefruit juice in the morning (in an effort to boost cervical fluid production), made sure I was plenty hydrated, and tried not to over-extend myself in work, play, or working out.
The lessons I’m taking with me.
I’ll be honest, I was (and still am) pretty hesitant to share this story. The path to pregnancy and a family can be monstrously different and involve more twists, turns, heartbreaks, and struggles than I could ever imagine. If you’re hoping I would understand that, please feel seen. What I want to get across here is on a more superficial level, but to stress the important awareness about how we show up: it’s that a (drastic) change in circumstances WILL (okay, “can”) have an impact on how you show up.
Don’t be so hard on yourself when your reactions start to stray from what you’d previously expected of yourself. I was disappointed in my disappointment. I was disappointed I was struggling with the wait and my emotional reaction. It took us 15 months after Graysen’s birth to conceive, which is exactly how long it was supposed to take. Some babies come sooner, some much much later.
I’m still grateful, still embarrassed by my impatience, and also hopeful that this helps you feel less alone if you, too, are feeling impatient as your family pieces fall into place.
At the end of the day, I remember again that He’s got this. My job is to decipher the lessons between the milestones with the hope that I’ll be better for and from it.