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.
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.
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
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.
Well hello friends! How have you all been for the past 6 months? I’ve been great, thanks for asking.
Instead of drawing this out, I’m just going to come out and say it. I am pregnant.
I’m fairly confident that 99% of the readers I have left are friends and family that actually know me in real life, so this is probably not news to you. But to the other 1%, it’s true! There is a tiny human currently occupying space inside this thing we refer to as my womb. And yes, it’s really effing weird.
To those of you thinking “What the?! It seems like just yesterday you were not even close to wanting kids!” you are correct. Basically, this is what happened:
Up until about six months ago I still had very little desire to get pregnant anytime soon. In fact, Kevin and I were still trying very hard not to get me pregnant. But then one month I just felt off, and I convinced myself I was knocked up. Well, I wasn’t, but in that blink-of-an-eye period in which I thought I might have been, I was actually, surprisingly, pretty excited about it. This then led to the realization that I kinda sorta wouldn’t mind being pregnant. So we decided and to pull the goalie see what happened.
And, well, this happened:
Mini-McClain at 12 weeks.
(Yes I am aware that I just committed the ultimate cliche – I posted an ultrasound picture. Who am I?)
It happened much sooner than Kevin and I had ever expected it to, and the whole thing still seems very surreal to both of us. I vacillate between being overwhelmed with joy to feeling completely terrified that perhaps we have just ruined our lives by embarking on this life-altering journey a bit too soon. But more than anything I am excited, and though I do not enjoy being pregnant (more on that to come) I am very grateful that this happened so easily.
There’s so much more to say about this crazy thing called pregnancy, but for now, I’ll leave you with this video. It’s something I still believe wholeheartedly, and if I ever start acting even remotely close to this, you have permission to punch me in the face (well, not really, but do let me know).
What’s new with you?
P.S. Happy Halloween!
Hi friends! A few weeks ago I went to Seattle, and today I’m over on Trippy sharing my culinary favorites of this lovely rainy city. You can check it out over on their blog here, or on medium here. And if you want to make me really really happy, you can leave a comment, share it on facebook or twitter, or recommend it on medium! It will make my day.
Also, if you’re not already a member of Trippy, you should be! It’s like quora for travel, and it has become my go-to resource when I’m planning a trip. Check it out and sign up here!
Last Thursday I had my first alcoholic beverage in 31 days. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you are probably very perplexed by this. As you know, I love my wine. And my beer. And my baileys. And my fancy cocktails. So let me back up.
In mid-March I went “glamping” along the Santa Cruz coast, which is basically fancy camping. You stay in a tent bungalow and inside it you have a real bed and electricity. It’s very basic and you’re still on a campground and cooking your meals via fire, etc., but it’s much easier than real camping. It was a blast. Unfortunately, while there I got bit by a deer tick (it seems disgusting bugs are very attracted to me). Because all signs pointed to the possibility of lyme disease, I was put on 28 days of heavy antibiotics. For 4 weeks, I couldn’t drink anything alcoholic. I’m pretty sure that this is the longest amount of time I’ve ever gone without drinking since I started drinking, and this forced sobriety proved to be a very interesting experiment for me. Now that it’s over and regular life has resumed, I thought I’d share my insights.
- No hangovers! This is, hands down, the best benefit. Waking up feeling good every. single. morning. was really nice. Hangovers suck and the older I get the worse they seem to become.
- Increased productivity! Shockingly, you are far more productive when you don’t spend half of your day nursing a hangover.
- Weight loss! Though it wasn’t a significant amount, I did lose a couple of pounds without changing my diet at all — if anything, I was actually eating more sweets. I think this has more to do with the alcohol-related food decisions I would make vs. the lack of alcoholic calories. I no longer had pizza at 1 AM or had to carboload the next morning in an effort to soak up my hangover. When I’m drinking, I often eat really unhealthy food well past midnight, and I wake up being like CARBS CARBS I NEED CARBS!
- Great sleep! I thought I would sleep less, but I actually slept more. My body loved the continuous nights of sober sleep, and I felt like I could have easily slept for 12 hours a day if I let myself.
- Boredom. I was very antisocial for most of this month. San Francisco is a big drinking city, and hanging out with drunk people when you are not drunk is very annoying.
- People think you are pregnant. When you go out and order water, people assume you’re pregnant. Even when you explain that you’re not, you get the side eye because they think you are telling the “antibiotic lie,” and they continue to sneak glances at your stomach.
- Lack of things to drink. Most bars have very few, if any, options for good non-alcoholic beverages.
- My hangovers are now even worse. On Thursday I had less than 3 glasses of wine, but I woke up on Friday feeling like I’d had a crazy night out on the town. WTF? Apparently my body no longer knows how to process alcohol anymore. Not cool.
- I’m now addicted to sugar. I craved sugar like a son of a bitch, and I ate an insane amount of desserts and sweets.
The pros are clearly awesome, but are they so amazing that I am going to give up alcohol for good? To that, I say: HAHAHA! I still love my wine. I love meeting my friends for happy hour and exploring cute new bars, and I love having boozy date nights with Kevin.
Overall I think taking this forced break was really great for me, and I definitely learned some good lessons from my booze free month. I developed some really good habits that I plan on continuing, and it also gave me a peek into what being pregnant is going to be like. Which apparently means that for me, being pregnant equals being very very bored for nine months and eating my weight in chocolate. Awesome!
For all of you alcohol connoisseurs out there like myself, what’s the longest you’ve ever gone without some boozy libations? Did it help change your drinking habits?
P.S. I realize I’ve been absent from these parts for a long long time, but instead of writing some long diatribe about what I’ve been up to and why I’ve been gone and what my future blogging intentions are, I thought I’d just jump back into it, and pretend that we are the kind of friends that can go months without talking and it doesn’t matter, because when you finally do, it feels like no time has passed at all.