Pregnancy isn’t all bad…

The other day I received an email alerting me to a new comment on this much neglected blog of mine. I eagerly opened the message, anxious to see what lovely words awaited me, and was greeted with this:

twat

hahahaha. Thanks Gaben!

So with that lovely term of endearment representing my most recent blog correspondence, I thought this was a perfect time for my “twat” like self to pop on in and say hello!

In my last post so many months ago I wrote about how Kevin and I were going to Italy for a babymoon of sorts. We went. We ate. We lounged. We explored. It was wonderful. It was cold and quiet and misty and though not nearly as fun as it would have been not pregnant, we still had a great time.

For those wondering, yes, I am still pregnant! I’m almost 38 weeks so theoretically this little man of ours could make his arrival any day now. I still don’t particularly enjoy being pregnant, especially the larger and more uncomfortable I get, but since the finish line is so close I’m not quite as miserable as I was in the beginning. The end is in sight! Soon I will no longer be a hostage in my own body! I will be able to eat and drink and bend over and not have to pee every 20 minutes! Oh the glory!

 

Me at 36 weeks

Me at 36 weeks. Feeling large and not so much in charge.

While I know that my life is about to change completely, I feel like at least it’s changing for a purpose. A good and wonderful and life enriching purpose. Right now I just feel like I’ve been in this very long, very uncomfortable limbo stage in which I can’t really appreciate the process because I still don’t know what the payoff will be like. It’s too abstract for me to wrap my head around. Soon there will be a person that Kevin and I are 100% responsible and in charge of? How is that even possible? While I know it’s very real it still seems very surreal, if that makes any sense at all.

I’m well aware that I have sounded like a huge Debbie Downer regarding pregnancy, and that’s not my intention. It hasn’t been all bad. In fact, there are even a few things about being pregnant that I dare say I enjoy!

For example:

In general people are much nicer to you. In Italy, people treat you like you are famous! Strangers on the street would come up to me and fawn over my stomach. Hotels would upgrade our rooms. Restaurants would put us at the top of the wait list. Italians have a deep respect for mothers and I honestly felt as though I had celebrity-like status while I was there. It was awesome.

The United States doesn’t have quite the same reverence for us preggos, but people are still much friendlier. Even homeless people and crackheads. A while ago I was walking and a homeless man started following me and asking for money (a not so uncommon occurrence in SF). When he realized that I was pregnant, he apologized for following me, asked when I was due, and then congratulated me! It was unreal! A couple of weeks ago Kevin and I were walking in a somewhat sketchy part of downtown and passed a group of no-doubt-about-it crackheads. One woman yelled at me repeatedly “it’s gonna hurt! it’s gonna hurt!” (which I am well aware of, thank you very much) but everyone else was very nice and congratulatory. One dude said to Kevin “Congratulations! Nice work OG!” (and for those, like me, that had no idea what “OG” means, it apparently stands for “original gangster”).

Only in San Francisco, my friends, only in San Francisco.

Another pregnancy benefit is that for the first time in my life, I’m not self-consciously trying to suck in my stomach. I’ve always been a thin person, but abs have never been my strong suit, so a significant portion of my teenage and adult life has been spent sucking in my stomach in an attempt to appear more in shape than I actually am. But no more! Now it just hangs out for all to see, and people tell me how cute it is! And unlike a lot of pregnant women I’ve talked to, it doesn’t bother me when people ask if they can touch my belly. I let them go for it. There’s a human being in there! And that is so super weird! I would want to touch it too. I get it.

Lastly, I love that I can eat whatever I want without any judgement. Donuts for breakfast? Totally acceptable – I’m pregnant! A milkshake with lunch? Why not! Ice cream every night after dinner? I deserve it! My appetite has been total crap the entire pregnancy, but sugar is the one thing that tastes just as good to me now as it did to me before I was pregnant. While I try not to go too crazy with the sweets because I know that it is unhealthy, it’s still really great to be able to indulge like this without feeling guilty about it.

So like I said, pregnancy isn’t all bad. Don’t get me wrong – I still prefer not being pregnant and really truly do not understand when people tell me that I will miss this time, but who knows. Maybe I’ll be singing a different tune down the road when I find myself covered in spit up and other gross things in the middle of the night. However, I’ve had quite a few people tell me they much preferred having a newborn to pregnancy, and I suspect that I will fall into that category as well. Some women’s bodies just don’t react well to pregnancy. I am one of them.

And that’s what’s going on with me! Any tips on how to best enjoy these last couple of baby-free weeks?

CharlotteMarch 17, 2015 - 4:30 pm

I can’t believe how far along you are… that flew by. Well, easy for me to say, observing from afar.

In any case, I just wanted to share that while I ate a lot when I was pregnant, I eat even MORE now that I’m breastfeeding. I capitalize “more” because I eat A LOT, at least for someone my size. Eating was one of the joys of pregnancy for me, and it has continued. I know it was different for you, and I hope your appetite returns post-baby!

For now, good luck with everything, and see you on the other side =).

— Charlotte

Italy Bound!

Four-in-a-half years ago Kevin and I got engaged in Rome. It was a very hot muggy day in July, and sadly, we had been bickering for most of it. I was hungover, he was jet-lagged, and all I wanted to do was find some air conditioning. After walking around rather aimlessly for what felt like hours, Kevin finally gave up his secret quest for finding the perfect location, and in the middle of an alley in Rome’s Jewish ghetto, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

I said yes.

romeengaged

Engaged in Rome – 2010

In just a few short hours, the two (three?) of us are boarding a flight to take us back to that magical city that we officially decided to become a family in. We had booked our international Thanksgiving escape right before I found out I was pregnant, so what was originally going to be a wine-centric holiday getaway has morphed into our babymoon. We’re spending a few days in Rome (my most favorite of all European cities), and then renting a car and cruising around the Tuscan countryside. We’re basing ourselves in Montepulciano in the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany, and this will be the first time in the history of our relationship that I will have no choice but to be the designated driver. I’m really hoping my appetite cooperates on this trip, because while Kevin is indulging in glass after glass of delicious fine red wine, I plan on eating until I burst.

Italy holds a special place in my heart, and it always will. In addition to getting engaged there, I studied abroad in Perugia in college, and I’ve been fortunate to have been back a handful of times since. I know it sounds cliche, but Italy is a truly magical place to me.

We have no idea what our life is going to be like when our little dude arrives, so I’m not sure when our feet will be gracing international territory next. I hope it won’t be too long, but people keep telling me that life has a way of turning things upside down once kids enter the equation, so it might be longer than I would like. Because of that, I plan on reveling in every single delicious moment.

Neither one of us have ever been to the Val d’Orcia region, so if you have and have any recommendations (must-see towns to visit, restaurants, wineries, etc) please send them our way.

Happy (early) Thanksgiving!

Jessica NNovember 21, 2014 - 1:04 pm

Have so much fun! Can’t wait to see all the pictures when you are back! And yes enjoy every minute. Life with baby is so amazing, but so different (ie no time for yourself)!

MelissaNovember 21, 2014 - 2:18 pm

If you make it to Montelcino, Grappolo Blu is is a delicious and charming restaurant…or Poggio Antico if you’re looking to splurge!

AngieNovember 23, 2014 - 8:45 am

Have a great trip!

Mona Lisa GandzjukNovember 24, 2014 - 6:57 pm

you two are my inspiration ! You go , girl! I also am proud you picked the Perfect match.

I survived!

On Monday night, I stood up in front of a room full of more than 60 people, and read my story.

And… it felt awesome.

People laughed when they were supposed to laugh. Cheered when they were supposed to cheer. Clapped when they were supposed to clapped. My friend Lindsey cried when she wasn’t necessarily supposed to cry, but it worked. Though I’m quite sure that even if I had done a horrendous job no one would have told me that, I felt like I did relatively well.

I was by far the least accomplished of all the speakers, which, while definitely adding to my nerves, also made me really proud and excited that I had been asked to speak among them. Though I felt like I was way out of my league, it was inspiring because it made me think… maybe that could be me one day.

So, despite being so nervous I almost made myself sick (seriously) the experience was overall really cool and great and wonderful. I’m so glad I didn’t let my fear of public speaking hold me back from doing it, because I would have regretted it.

I am still a long ways away from conquering that fear. I’m not sure if there will ever be a time where I’m completely comfortable speaking in front of large groups, and I am baffled by those that are so at ease with it. But Monday night was a small victory for me.

And that’s something to celebrate.

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The very accomplished and inspiring readers I was somehow invited to be among.
From left to right, Lavinia Spalding, Amanda Jones, Kimberley Lovato, Don George, and me.
 

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A horrible picture, but there I am! Trying my best not to shit my pants!

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I survived!

And just in case you forgot, you can read my story in the The Best Women’s Travel Writing: Volume 10 by purchasing it here.

Patty McClainNovember 19, 2014 - 9:31 am

Way to go!!

Mona Lisa GandzjukNovember 19, 2014 - 12:09 pm

You are Amazing, and quite Beautiful

Lisa @ Two MartinisNovember 23, 2014 - 6:35 pm

YAY! Great job 🙂

Megan C. StroupDecember 5, 2014 - 2:12 pm

Yay you!!! Belated congrats on this awesome accomplishment. 🙂

Exciting News!

Hey friends! For those of you that have been following this blog for awhile, you might have gathered that this past year has been pretty big in terms of life changes. Last October I quit my job to walk the Camino de Santiago with Kevin, and while the Camino was definitely the catalyst for me quitting, I was in a place in my life where job-wise it was time to move on. Since then I’ve worked pretty hard to do a rather big career change, focusing on what makes me happy and trying to find a job that would nurture those things. I took a writing class, started doing some freelance writing and marketing work, and eventually I landed a new job as an editorial manager for an e-commerce site. And now I’m pregnant. It’s kinda crazy to think about just how much has changed in one year.

You might also remember that after one of my writing classes I wrote a long post about how awful it was and how everyone hated my story and how completely judged I felt by the so called “constructive criticism” I received in the class. I ended up removing that post because I ultimately felt that it came off as really negative and I was nervous that someone from my writing class was going to read it.

Well, life has a funny way of working itself out, because I ended up really loving the class.

Even better, one of the stories I wrote in that class just got published in The Best Women’s Travel Writing: Volume 10.

bestwomentravelwritingvol10

Crazy, right?!?

Something I wrote. In a book. A real book with real pages. An actual tangible book that you can read and put on your shelf and share with other people.

It’s just one story among many other incredible stories, but it’s my first officially published work and I’m proud of it.

TOC1

Screenshot of the table of contents from the kindle edition because I don’t yet have the physical copy

Anyway, on a different but similar note, the editor of the publication emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if I would read my story at an upcoming travel writing event she was hosting. This was a huge honor, so of course I said yes.

But here’s the thing…

I am terrified.

I despise public speaking. It is one of my biggest fears, and now that the event is creeping up on me, I am freaking the fu$k out. I have 10 minutes to read my story in front of a large room full of strangers and that seems like a lifetime to me.

When I first received the invitation my immediate inclination was to say “thanks but no thanks” and make up some excuse as to why I couldn’t attend. I quickly realized how completely ridiculous that would be. I never want to be the type of person that turns down opportunities out of fear. So I said yes.

And I’ve been silently freaking out ever since.

So, dear readers, do you get nervous speaking in front of large groups? Or are you a public speaking badass? Any tips and advice on how not to shit my pants next week would be greatly appreciated. And keep in mind I can’t drink, so calming my nerves with alcohol sadly isn’t an option…

P.S. For those of you interested, you can buy a copy of The Best Women’s Travel Writing here. The paperback version isn’t available until the end of this month, but you can preorder it now and it will ship as soon as the warehouse receives it. Otherwise you can get the kindle version today 🙂

AngieNovember 12, 2014 - 7:04 am

WOW! Congratulations and best of luck with your reading. I would just recommend practicing over and over again, get used to hearing your own voice reading your own story.

KariNovember 12, 2014 - 7:35 am

CONGRATULATIONS!!! This is AWESOME!! Way to go! Just practice a lot beforehand and try take a lot of deep breaths before you start. Try not to think about the fact that you’re nervous. You’ll do great!

Rachel AsimosNovember 12, 2014 - 8:48 am

Yay!!! So exciting! Proud of you! I think, as the other posters said, practice reading it out loud. In my public speaking classes, the more I practiced out loud, the less nervous I was during the speach. Pretend like it’s a group of your friends you’re reading to. I’ve also heard when you’re ‘nervous’ to tell yourself the feeling is ‘excitement’ instead. The two feelings are similar, but excitement is a more positive one. I’ve used that in job interviews and it totally works.

nancy @ adore to adornNovember 12, 2014 - 9:23 am

this is so exciting! congratulations on being PUBLISHED! there are not many people who can actually say that credibly! =)
I completely relate and understand your fear of public speaking. I am not one of those people who are natural in front of people. Even social gatherings give me anxiety if I don’t know enough of the people. But, I do feel this is a great and amazing opportunity for you. What a thrill it will be once you do it! The time leading up to it will be more “stressful” than actually doing it I feel. Everything is always “bigger” in our minds since we consume ourselves with so many thoughts/fears. Of course, practice is everything just to help get some jitters out and flubs that might occur. But, knowing your own pace within 10 minutes will definitely help. =)

Congrats again!

Mona GandzjukNovember 12, 2014 - 10:04 am

refer to comment from post

Alexander GandzjukNovember 12, 2014 - 10:45 am

Congrats Serena! Double Honor, not only published but also asked to read in public only shows how good U really are. As for getting over Ur fear of public speaking only the start is hard. Once U get started it becomes easier. Also tell Urself to slow down, going too fast just gets U stressed. Have Kevin Vidio Ur reading as a dry run. Reviewing it will show U where U need to change and improve. In short, I know U will do just fine. Good Luck and We Love U.

Linda MurphyNovember 12, 2014 - 11:04 am

Congratulations! Some advice from The Exotic Marigold Hotel. If you’re nervous about speaking to a group, “Picture them naked!”

Megan C. StroupNovember 15, 2014 - 11:28 pm

Congrats!! That is so awesome. I will definitely have to get my hands on a copy of that book. 🙂 Sorry I can’t help with the public speaking tips. :/ I just always try to know what I want to say ahead of time; then I feel more prepared and less nervous. 🙂

DJNovember 16, 2014 - 9:29 am

That’s amazing!! Congratulations!

On Being Pregnant

Disclaimer: in the post below I write about how I don’t particularly enjoy being pregnant. I know there are many women out there that are struggling to get pregnant or grieving a lost pregnancy and would love nothing more than to find themselves in my situation. The last thing I want to do is be insensitive to that. Though I have had a less than pleasant pregnancy, I hope it goes without saying that I am very grateful to be pregnant, and I truly hope that everyone that wants a child gets to have one. 

——-

Throughout my life, I’ve read a lot of pregnancy and mommy blogs. I would follow along the parenthood journey vicariously, occasionally skipping over a post that was not particularly interesting. For the most part, these mommy blogs made pregnancy sound awesome. Sure, you have to make a few sacrifices, but YOU ARE GROWING A HUMAN BEING AND OMG IT IS AMAZING!

Because of these people, I went into pregnancy thinking that outside of having to give up my beloved wine, it wouldn’t be so bad. Of course, I had a couple friends who told me that wasn’t really the case and that pregnancy was actually pretty shitty for lots of people. Yet for some reason, I chalked up these opinions as exceptions to the rule.

I mentioned the other day that I do not enjoy being pregnant. I feel like this is something I am not supposed to say, because it makes me sound ungrateful for this gift that has been bestowed upon me. But while I am very grateful for the ease of my fertility and incredibly excited to be having a child with the person I love most in this world, I truly and passionately do not enjoy being pregnant. Quite frankly, so far, for me, being pregnant sucks.

I know that there are some women out there who love being pregnant and have easy pregnancies with no symptoms. I am not one of those women. I do not relate to those women at all, whatsoever. In fact, I find myself getting very ragey when I come across them and hear them talk about how easy and awesome pregnancy is and how amazing and healthy and peaceful they feel. I have not felt that way. For those curious, here’s my take on it thus far:

The first trimester is really truly horrible. I was not prepared for just how horrible it would be. Prior to experiencing it myself, I thought that pregnant women just exaggerated their symptoms and that it really couldn’t be all that bad.

Well, karma is a bitch.

I have had crippling all-day nausea and vomiting that didn’t ease up until well into the second trimester. I didn’t know it was possible to feel so miserable so consistently without it being the direct result of having some horrible disease. Even now, at 19 weeks, I still don’t feel all that great. Do I feel better than I did a month ago? Definitely! Do I feel as good as I felt when I wasn’t pregnant? BWAHAHAHAHA. No.

My mom has said to me multiple times “enjoy this, it’s the best time of your life!”

I can assure you that this is, 100%, not the best time of my life. I can think of many other times that have been far better than this, and I sincerely hope that the best times of my life are not already behind me.

I no longer like food. Just typing that sentence is baffling to me as food has long been one of the greatest pleasures in my life. I used to spend a significant amount of my income going out to eat in search of delicious things, and I often plan entire trips around what I am going to eat. So to have this taken away from me has been really depressing. Nothing tastes that good to me and eating has become more of a chore. I keep waiting to get my appetite back but I’m starting to lose hope that it is ever going to happen.

I have no social life. While not being able to drink certainly contributes, it’s not the main reason. No matter how “good” I feel during the day (and I put that in quotes because feeling good has become relative to how bad I felt in the beginning), I almost always feel bad at night. When you combine feeling like shit with having no appetite and not being able to drink, the last thing I want to do is socialize with people and watch them devour food and wine while I sit there hoping I don’t throw up. So outside of the occasional weekend brunch, my social life is nonexistent. And this makes me feel very sad.

Then there are the raging hormones that turn you into an irrational bitch, acne, random hair growth, living in a state of paranoia, anxiety over every single twinge, digestion problems, insomnia… basically, it’s a long long list of unpleasantness. Some women don’t get any of it. Some women get it all. I am unfortunately in the latter. And according to this, there’s a whole slew of other upcoming symptoms to look forward to! Swelling genitals? Lucky me!

Almost everyone told me that most of these symptoms would end after the first trimester. They haven’t. I am now almost halfway through this pregnancy and while I am feeling significantly better, I am not confident that I’m ever going to cross over into that “I feel great” stage. I have accepted that, and though I am jealous of the ladies that feel awesome all of the time, it is what it is.

And yet, despite all of this misery, I am still very excited and happy to be having a child! I don’t enjoy the process that gets me there, but I am confident that when all is said and done, it will be worth it.

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chelseaNovember 5, 2014 - 7:21 am

I just had a baby in July. I hated being pregnant until about 25 weeks, and then I loved it. I threw up on and off throughout the day and night through 20 weeks. I was on Zofran until 20 weeks so I would stop losing weight. I couldn’t eat meat from week 5-26 or even see it at the store without gagging. I too LOVE food. Like with all my heart love food. It came back sort of near the end and this disappeared again at the very end when I ran out of stomach space. But it’s back in full force now that she’s here. I seriously hated pregnancy for the majority of it (but was also super thankful to be pregnant and to have gotten pregnant easily), but then when I started to feel better I really loved it and would definitely do it again. I really avoided all the other crappy symptoms after the sickness for the most part, so I hope you can dodge most of them too! And I hope your pregnancy gets better!

AngieNovember 5, 2014 - 7:36 am

Sorry to hear all of the lousy first trimester stuff hasn’t subsided yet. Try to take it one day at a time. There is some really cool stuff coming – feeling the baby kick (and then weeks later seeing your husband’s expression when he finally feels it) and seeing him/her (and all of the bones and organs) at that 20 week ultrasound is exciting.

RachelNovember 5, 2014 - 9:00 am

First off, congratulations! But more relevant: I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time so far! I know I was one of those pregnant ladies that make you (and many others) stabby! All I can say is that it most definitely WILL BE WORTH IT! And if it’s any consolation whatsoever, I spent my otherwise happy pregnancy being secretly jealous of those who lost their appetite and wouldn’t be gaining an additional 20lbs of “maternal stores” 😉 … Maybe not completely equal but there is your silver lining. Back to my lunges…!

AngieNovember 5, 2014 - 10:17 am

I truly hope you start feeling better soon and these symptoms subside! <3

Lisa @ Two MartinisNovember 5, 2014 - 12:35 pm

I hope you start feeling better and better as time goes on! As a sidenote, I kind of hate how it’s pretty much impossible to complain about pregnancy or anything child-related without adding in a footnote of sorts to say ‘of course I’m so grateful, but…’ – sometimes I just want to complain and not feel guilty about it!

KaitlynNovember 6, 2014 - 6:36 am

OK… I am regretting clicking on that SkepChick link. I SERIOUSLY hope your pregnancy becomes magically awesome sometime soon. I am at a waaaay pre-baby stage in my life and that article was ALARMING. All the best to you!! *shudders*