The Second Pregnancy

My first bump picture (looking fresh at six weeks with Liam and rough at eleven weeks this time!) As I sat in Liam's room rocking him last night, I noticed how big his toddler body is. I remember rocking him when I could hold him against my shoulder with one hand. It seemed bittersweet to feel his weight against the new baby growing inside me, and I nearly teared up thinking about Liam not being my only baby. At the same time, I'm thrilled to be expecting, and I am so happy that we are having another son and giving Liam a brother to grow up with.

Like most moms, I often find myself comparing this pregnancy to my first pregnancy with Liam. Here are a few things I've found.

I was/am much more nervous about the baby this time. 

I had an even harder time believing I was pregnant this time. I think it was mostly because I remember the last part of pregnancy the most clearly--feeling the baby kick constantly. I was very fearful about this baby. I think that since having a baby, I've heard many more miscarriage stories.

Oddly, though, we announced the pregnancy earlier. 

Nearly a week after the first positive pregnancy test, we told most of our family members. After our 13 week ultrasound, we announced the news to friends and on Facebook. Last time, we waited until 10 weeks to tell anyone and until 22 weeks to post it on Facebook. This is because we were planning to quit our jobs as teachers and move last time, and everything felt very uncertain. This time I realized that if something happened to the baby, I would want family and close friends to know anyway.

The nausea has been worse; the fatigue has been better.

I remember reading that being distracted by a job made the nausea better for some moms. That was definitely the case for me. Teaching all day helped keep my first trimester nausea much lighter. On the flip side, though, teaching all day made me totally exhausted (mothering a toddler does not compare to the exhaustion of my teaching days.). So this time, I have tried to keep myself as distracted as possible for nausea's sake. But I do feel a lot less tired even though Liam is still up often at night (or maybe I've just come into a state of permanent exhaustion and now remember nothing else.).

I wasn't as anxious for the bump to grow.

Last time, I wanted a bump so badly. This time, I was excited about the bump and about showing but okay with taking my time getting there (and still hoping to avoid those dresses that made me look gigantic last time although maybe I just was gigantic).

As most moms say, the bump seems to grow faster the second time. However, I feel like it has evened out now. I was super excited to pull out maternity jeans this time--the button trick that worked for a while last time lasted all of two minutes this time.

I am much more excited about meeting the baby (I can picture it more easily).  

Last time, since I knew the baby would come eventually, I was in no rush. I went to forty-one weeks and had no urgent feelings about giving birth. We had just moved and finished our year of teaching, so all the time to rest before the baby came felt good.

This time, I know how much fun it will be to have a baby and meet him, so I just can't wait! I also feel both more confident and less confident. I feel more confident because I know a little more about babies (and have to buy very little!), but I also realize each baby is so unique and there's no predicting what will happen.

I don't have to worry about becoming a stay-at-home mom this time, though, because I already am one. I think that was a much harder transition than I expected. Also, moving right before the baby came was intense.

I'm more relaxed about life with baby. 

Last time, there was such a focus on stuff we would need. I remember being stressed about getting a crib and mattress before the baby came, even though Liam didn't sleep in his crib at all for months (and still not through the night). This time, we already have clothes, seats, cloth diapers, strollers, a carseat, etc. I hope to get a bassinet and we may eventually look into double strollers, but I realize now that stuff is so secondary and you can get it quickly after the baby comes.

I am failing at the bump pics.

I vowed not to be a mom who stopped documenting after the first baby. But I definitely have not kept up with weekly bump pictures. I think part of this is because I've already seen my bump grow weekly (also the first baby means my computer storage space is quite limited). Also, though having a toddler is not as exhausting as teaching was, it does consume most of my daily hours. I've also only written one letter to this baby, and we've bought only one thing (a penguin bath towel Liam picked out to go with his own monkey one).

Preparing for Birth

One of my greatest fears EVER was giving birth. I ignored it for my first trimester last time. But then, I started researching and reading and became interested in a natural birth, which made me much less scared. I did as much as I could to prepare my body and my mind.

Even though I had to be induced after my water broke and my body did not go into labor, I was able to labor without drugs (mostly because the thought of a needle in my back was AT ALL TIMES worse than the pain of labor itself) and deliver without a C-section, which was what I had hoped. I know that all births are different, and there is no way to predict what will happen. I think I hold my hopes more loosely this time.

At the same time, I want to do everything I can to prepare for a healthy birth (and I would love it if my body went into labor on its own this time!).

I'll share the things I'm doing to prepare tomorrow.

Trying to Build Rhythm Into Our Days

1-photo (21) Now that Fall is coming, our days are a little more predictable. I've been trying to find ways to bring a little more order and routine into our days. Life with a two-year-old can be (and maybe should be) a little unpredictable. While I don't want to rule out spontaneous trips to the playground or mornings when we spend time reading and accomplish less, I do think I am a better mother and Liam has an easier time when we have some rhythm built into the day.

I don't have a lot of advice, and it's been less than two weeks since we started this, but I'll share what we're trying so far. (I wrote a little about our daily life in the spring before the first trimester intervened!).

I sometimes hesitate to create too many routines because I have a tendency to become attached to them. When I think about how our lives will change in January when the new baby comes, I feel even more hesitant. Jon's work schedule varies often (sometimes daily), so it's hard to have a schedule based on time. Instead, I've focused on rhythm and pattern.

Here's how this is working so far, and I'd love to hear your ideas for adding daily rhythm to your life with a toddler (please!!).

Morning

We usually get up between 7:00 and 8:00. I give Liam a snack while I make coffee and breakfast. He is in and out of the kitchen, helping me and playing. We sit down and eat breakfast together. After breakfast, we tidy the house.

This usually looks like cleaning the kitchen, making the beds, and often a quick dusting and dust-mopping of the house. Sometimes I throw laundry in the washing machine. A lot of this depends on how Liam is doing with it all. If I've been tidying for a while, and he's begging me to play, I will finish up as quickly as I can and go play with him.

After we tidy everything (which usually takes less than an hour), we play outside or inside. Sometimes we go to the playground or for a walk. Other times we just hang out at home (Liam's favorite thing to do!). I try to be present and focus on playing with him (or reading to him or painting with him). I encourage more self-directed play after his nap.

Naptime

 Between 11 or 12 (and by 1:00 at the latest), we have naptime (I've written more about my own naptime here). We generally have a lunch/snack first, and sometimes I eat my lunch after I put Liam down for his nap. Then I read and try to sleep (which is not a problem due to pregnancy!). Liam sleeps for one and a half to two hours.

Afternoon

This is the most flexible (or unpredictable) time. We generally have a snack/lunch and then spend time playing or painting. I try to incorporate a lot of outdoor time in the afternoon. This is the block of time I'm trying to add a little more structure to. Usually we do some crafts (he loves letting me help him cut strips of colored paper and then paste them onto a sheet of paper). Sometimes I will get a little writing time or organizing time thrown in, and I'm trying to encourage independent play more and more.

Evening

I've been winding down our afternoon playtime about forty-five minutes before I need to make dinner. Lately, Liam loves to play with his Play-doh and watch Curious George while I do prenatal yoga. Some days I do the full forty minutes. Other days, I do the fifteen minute warm-up. Then we go in the kitchen to make dinner. Jon and I eat late, so Liam usually has some dinner quite a bit earlier. Then he sits with us (read: runs in and out) and eats a little when we eat too.

Bedtime

We usually give Liam a bath (which is often the time I go shower, too). Then Jon reads to him while I finish up anything that needs to be done. We brush his teeth. Then he runs on the bed. This has become a fundamental part of his nighttime routine (in Your-Two-Year-Old, the authors point out that doing something once often makes it a routine for a two-year-old). Jon and I each stand on one side of the bed, and Liam runs back and forth. We pick him up and toss him around. Then he helps us turn off the light and he nurses to sleep. He has had a hard time falling asleep lately, but the rhythm of our days seems to be helping.

Thoughts

I'm still tweaking this some. It's odd to me that there seem to be so many hours in the day, and yet less gets done than I expect. I want to find a good space to incorporate daily Bible time with Liam, as well as some preschool activities (potentially).

Though I absolutely love staying home with Liam, feeling like our days are "good" has been much harder than I thought. I am okay with a little bit of TV time for Liam, but there are so many things I could use that thirty minutes for (folding laundry, yoga, writing, etc.), and it's been hard to decide what takes priority.

Lately, I've decided that I feel best when the beds get made and the kitchen gets cleaned, when I have some good quality playtime with Liam (not the frantic trying-to-cram-in-one-more-thing-while-he-plays type), and when I do at least those fifteen minutes of yoga. It is still baffling to me how long activities like a snack can take with a two-year-old. I am far from feeling secure in how our days go, and life changes frequently.

I would LOVE to hear how you build rhythm into your day with your toddler!

Baby Number 2 is...

A BOY! photo (20)

And we are so excited! Most people assumed we wanted a girl to even out our family gender-wise. While we would have been delighted with a girl, we were secretly hoping for a little brother for Liam. At our thirteen week ultrasound, the ultrasound tech and I agreed that Baby looked rather like a boy. But is was so fun to have it confirmed earlier this week. I never expected to have boys! I generally babysat girls--or at least families where the girl was the oldest as I am--so I pictured our family would have mostly girls. It's been the best surprise to find out how fun it is to be a boy mom, and I can't believe I ever pictured it otherwise.

The baby was opening and closing his mouth throughout the ultrasound and wiggling around. We loved seeing the look of a smile on his face. I've felt little flutters for a few weeks now, but they are becoming more solid kicks now. I can't wait to feel him move more and more beneath my stomach.

We're pretty sure we have a name picked out, but we don't usually decide 100% until the baby is born. We are so grateful for this new little life!

Now I just need to finish Liam's baby book so I won't be behind when the new baby comes. I can't wait to share it with you.

Long Time No Post

Since I last wrote, a lot has happened. We've been in full swing summer mode. And we're expecting a baby! IMG_0534

I'm due in the middle of January, and we are super excited. I'm nineteen weeks along (though thirteen in the picture) and so glad to be feeling human again.

We found out we were expecting at the beginning of May. I took a pregnancy test--thinking it was too early--right before small group. There was only one line. I took a shower. When I got out, there was a very, very faint second line. We did some Googling (what else do you do?!), and I concluded that any line is a line, however faint. Jon was not convinced until we repeated the test a few days later and got a slightly darker line. We were super excited, and Liam immediately started talking about the baby (though I don't think he has any idea what it really means!).

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As I was writing my last day-in-the-life post, the nausea was starting to hit. But I thought that it might pass me by this time. Then it really got me for the next few months. I finally adopted the motto, "Fake it til you feel it," hoping that if I just lived life, the nausea would go away. While that motto worked for my energy levels, eating was still a challenge. Oddly, the thought of writing and the sight of certain books made me super sick as well until the nausea passed a few weeks ago.

Every time I thought of blogging, the nausea would intensify. So I finally stopped worrying about it and decided to live my life. We had a wonderful summer, made even better because my sister was in town. We made a bucket list, which helped us really live up the summer. My sister is super good with kids, and Liam adores her. It was life-saving having her here. We were very sad when she left to go back for her third year of teaching.

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Here's what I've been thinking about and reading:

Old age: I'm reading (well, listening to) Being Mortal, which is a crucial read for everyone. It's about how we deal with aging and death as a culture and as individuals. Gawande, a doctor, does not hide from the complexity of the issue, and I've learned so much about the history of nursing homes, what it means to live in a mortal body, and the goals of youth vs. age.

How we raise babies: It's no secret that I'm hesitant about our typical views and expectations of infancy. Our Babies, Ourselves looks at the evolutionary aspect of infancy and shows that much of parenting is based on culture, not biological needs. Interestingly, America may be one of the most out of touch nations when it comes to the physiological needs of babies. I loved this post on breastfeeding infants, as well, and it typifies a lot of my struggles in the early weeks. I also love "The Thing (in your head) That Might Change Everything."

Pregnancy: I've been thinking a lot about faith and hope, especially in the first trimester. I worry so much more than I remember (although Jon assures me I was just as worried about the baby the first time) and can't wait until we get to the point when I often feel the baby kick during the day.

Other fabulous reads include: The Royal WeLouise Penny's Inspector Gamache seriesGlittering ImagesUnbroken, Rules of CivilityCrossing to SafetyDesign Mom, Fangirl

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A Few Other Links: 

  • I love the parenting around the world series at Cup of Jo. Recently, she talked about mothering in Spain.
  • This article that forces us to rethink disciplining kids has been making the rounds and will give you a lot to think about.
  • We just renewed our Costco membership, and I loved this article about how one woman shops there for herself and her husband (and she doesn't focus on freezing stuff!).
  • Have you seen this article on how to estimate the wealth of a city from space?
  • I loved reading this teenager's take on various forms of social media.
Here's what I've been doing:

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We've been taking walks, spending time with family, redoing our deck, and growing a baby. Liam is at a fun age, and I see his preferences get stronger each day. We celebrated his second birthday, and I still can't get over the difference language makes in everyday life. I love being able to communicate with him. He is still a terrible, newborn-like sleeper, so we've got to work on that this fall before the baby comes.

I finally finished our family photo album for 2014 (and almost ordered it with a big 2015 on the front cover, but I realized my mistake at the last minute). It is over eighty pages, which might be overkill. I'm using Blurb this time, and I will post all about how it turns out.

After all the blogging aversion, I started to slowly miss it, and it forced me to clarify again why I love blogging so much (especially as I kept up with other blogs and reread tons of other early pregnancy posts!). In early summer, I was having doubts about whether my writing matters and whether blogging is significant. I was tired of the resistance I found in Liam when I tried to write with him around. So it was helpful to take a break. But the break showed me that I miss this space and the conversation that takes place online.

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Coming up: I plan to share a list of some of the best picture books for children, our most recent family photo album, and some thoughts on church and parenting.

Follow me on Instagram for more daily snapshots into our lives.

How was your summer?

The Right to Question: The Vaccine War

photo (19) I didn't think much about vaccinations until I had a baby. However, my research on natural childbirth had also brought up questions about vaccines that became much more concrete when I held my newborn son.

I read the fact sheet, and my son was given his first vaccination in the hospital. But after that, I hesitated. I researched constantly and came away more than a little confused. For one thing, it wasn't just a question of whether to vaccinate or not. If I did decide to vaccinate, I needed to decide whether delays or spacing were important.

In the end, I appreciate vaccinations, and my son receives his. But I also appreciate the complexity surrounding the issue.

I recently read (listened to) On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss. Biss presents new ways of looking at vaccinations, focusing almost less on the science and more on language and literature, which makes for a fascinating discussion (although there is plenty of science, too!).

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I especially loved how Biss makes us reconsider the word, "natural," how she shows the relationship between vaccinations and literature, and her tactful discussion of our communal responsibility to vaccinate.

1) Redefining "natural": Generally anti-vaccinators are associated with babywearing, organic, attachment parenting type people (like myself!) who are scared to ruin their perfectly natural baby with foreign substances. However, Biss shows that disease itself is natural, and we can't equate "natural" with "good" or "the way things should be."

This helped me realize the importance of a word like "natural." It has come to mean unsullied or pure, but those are not correct definitions. Much of the natural world is dangerous to humans, and safety precautions may seem unnatural, but that does not mean they are bad.

2) Vaccines and language and literature: The English teacher side of me loved this aspect of the book. From the myth of Achilles to Dracula to Silent Spring, Biss shows how literature has influenced how we look at vaccinations and disease and conversely, how vaccinations have played into literature. She weaves this throughout the book.

Language shapes how we view vaccinating our kids and ourselves. Do we call vaccinations "shots" or "jabs"? Do we see germs as invaders that our bodies need to fight? How do we refer to our body's cellular work--do cells have minds and brains?  Is it a war or an intellectual work? Our language--both spoken and mental--shapes our beliefs, usually more than even science does.

 3) The community responsibility: I understand that people take this too far. But Biss also shows that we do have a community responsibility. I was especially fascinated by her section on vaccinations and "the other"--how people equate certain diseases with "them" and not "us," labeling other groups "dirty" or "impure." Biss weaves her own story in here, speaking about her decision to vaccinate her newborn even for diseases not part of his immediate community.

We can't neglect the fact that we are part of a community in considering our own--or our children's--health.

It never feels as though Biss is trying to persuade--or even take part in the vaccination war. But she ultimately does convince the reader to look at vaccinations from a new standpoint.

Biss talks about the history of forced (often at gunpoint!) vaccination. Obviously the right to question--and even refuse--vaccinations is important. This is why we need to rethink how we talk about and view vaccines.

Too often, groups on either side of the vaccine war try to convince using worst case scenarios or terrifying stories. This is not helpful. It is also not helpful to portray the other side as ignorant. Angry, hate-filled articles pop up often on my Facebook, talking about how irresponsible it is to even consider not vaccinating your child. This doesn't make it a dialogue, nor does it honor the complexity. In my experience, most medical professionals also make it hard to ask questions. But the right to question and research must be protected. The more we can make sure facts are responsibly presented, the better.

I was finally convinced by seeing the vaccine sheets--the part where it shows the common or potential results of the shots side by side with the side effects of the disease itself. This made me willing to expose my son to potential vaccine side effects rather than the disease side effects (which were often death).

It also helped me to read articles that showed the true effects of diseases like Polio and hear from older people who would have been thrilled to have the option of vaccinating. Their stories helped me appreciate something that, to me, seems scary.

The dialogue and freedom are what made me finally decide and reach contentment with my decision.

It's important that mothers be content with their decision. If they feel forced or peer-pressured into vaccines, how will they feel if their baby does experience the small percentage of negative side effects? I needed to know I was making a responsible decision, and that I was willing to accept the consequences.

It's scary to bring a beautiful, seemingly-perfect baby into the world and then inject that baby with "harmful" substances. The thought of disease itself is utterly terrifying to mothers. We need to acknowledge that the choice of vaccines is what makes the responsibility so heavy. Finding new ways to look at vaccines and their history, as Biss does, is a huge step in the right direction.

P.S. I read the audio version of On Immunity on Audible and loved the narration.