When I found out we were pregnant, something resonated in me:  “Do it differently, Amanda.”

As I’ve previously shared, I’d always been terrified I’d end up the neurotic mom from ‘Modern Family.’ Was I going to lose myself?  Would I become a high maintenance control freak? Would my life revolve around my children?  Would I end up trying to keep up with the Jones’ like our American culture demands? Would financial constraints turn me into a resentful monster?  

Part of me also couldn’t shake icky feelings from my days as a server in Los Angeles, waiting on moms who expected everyone’s existence to revolve around their very special children.  A-very special children.  Or rather, audacious moms and dads, that expected you to be a babysitter, allowing kids to play in the middle of an aisle with an entire backpack of sprawled out toys while you’re serving hot coffee in a tight diner setting.  UGH.  It can leave a bad taste in your mouth for sure.  

But when a friend recently asked what I meant by wanting to do motherhood differently, I was dumbfounded to be at a loss.  What the heck did I mean?  Where does this idea resonate from? Am I just totally full of shit?!  My kid is sure to the color on the walls– I’m not that naive, but how do I want to do it differently?  

In the brief moments I have to actually connect with Baby Soul, I let this idea marinate.  I asked my friend Stacer (now Aunt Stacer!!!) to send me articles about unconventional parenting and like the pro that she is, she has supplied me with articles and podcasts about living minimally, or selling everything to travel the world.  Thus far, I’ve hinted to my sweetie, nothing says good parenting like zip lining through the jungles of Africa and he wasn’t having it.  HE NEVER LETS ME DO ANYTHING!!!!  *hogs remote to watch 127th hour of HGTV* 😉

Before getting pregnant I watched ‘Captain Fantastic.’  SUCH A GOOD MOVIE!!  It’s such an unknown, little independent gem.  If I had the Harvard education and insane physique, I would be over the moon to raise my kids off the grid in the mountains.  Well, “Power to the people!” minus the plot twists.  😉  

Talking with my BF (now Aunt BF!!!) about our shared love of this movie, she suggested I read some queer parenting literature.  After scratching my head for a minute, she mentioned it’s Unconventional Parenting 101.  DUH.  Very true! That’s kind of a brilliant idea. 

I also began thinking about parents I did admire.  Friends that have traveled to Mexico or Italy with their newborn and haven’t let being parents stop them.  Parents that brought their kids to every social party their friends were throwing because having kids wasn’t going to stop them from a social life.  Parents that are still making music videos or auditioning despite being moms and dads.  Parents where the mom brings home the bacon and dad plays Mr. Mom.  Etc, etc, etc… 

In a podcast, I remember Elizabeth Gilbert (now Aunt Liz!!!!)  sharing a story about her mother going into her room and shutting the door behind her two kids.  They knew that for an hour every day, it was mommy’s writing time.  Soon, mommy’s writing time became Liz’s writing time and she still recalls the impact that had on her as a young girl.  She didn’t view it as selfish or mean, it’s just what mom does and it taught them to play on their own and develop their own creativity. WHAT A GIFT!!!

In my ‘Psychic Teachers’ podcast with Deb Bowen and Samantha Fey (LOVE THIS PODCAST!), Samantha talks about doing the same.  Once nap time was over for her girls at a certain age, she introduced ‘alone time.’  The girls would spend an hour a day doing their own thing alone in their room.  They write, they listen to music, etc. This allows their mom to spend time mediating or having the alone time she desperately needs as a psychic to cleanse and get her work done. Not to mention the girls have learned to love it as well!

Obviously, I’m still figuring it out (and have a sneaky suspicion I will be for the rest of my life 😉 ) but what I do know is that I don’t want to live in fear.  I would love for my kid to backpack through Europe after high school. I would love for Baby Soul to learn to fix cars and ride motorbikes like her dad.  Why not a Mother/Baby Soul photography adventure through Brazil?  Maybe a culinary adventure through Paris?  (Nothing says ‘Make mommy dinner, kid!’ like French cheeses!)  Maybe hiking the PCT?  Maybe it just means we don’t let our (potential) daughter watch Disney princess movies because there’s more to life than finding a man.  I don’t know! 

Painting an elephant in Jaipur would be pretty cool to do with Baby Soul? (Ten year visa!) The men who take care of these elephants in India literally live with them in their cement ‘houses.’ The elephants are so well loved, they are practically family members.

But I will love this adventure…  🙂  And I would LOVE to hear what ‘doing it different’ means to you.  Any ideas you’ve had or stories you’d like to share, it would be a LOT of fun to brainstorm.  Not to mention would help a sista’ out.  xoxo

 

 

 

 

I recently heard a story from a friend who was pregnant with her daughter 20+ years ago.  In her first trimester, she got so tired she was afraid she wasn’t going to be able to drive the hour or two she needed to get home.  Thankfully, she did make it home but when her husband arrived, he found her asleep on the stairs of their front porch with a car in the driveway that had been running for three hours.

First Trimester Fatigue… IT’S A THING AND I’M TALKING ABOUT IT. 

I have to admit (and tend to joke with my husband) that I have two emotions right now:  TIRED and RAGE.  So consider yourself warned!  For various reasons, there is definitely some cranky pants anger attached to this blog.  It has become very clear to me that people are uneducated about first trimester pregnancy.  Women go through intense shit early on and because they’re not showing yet, people (husbands, bosses, friends & family, society) don’t believe them and/or make a lot of assumptions. 

It has me feeling all… 

I had no idea before I got pregnant how freaking draining it is and, ultimately, I am dumbfounded it isn’t discussed more???  Maybe that makes me a whiner? Or maybe this is a societal thing where we like our pregnant women ‘glowing’ and ‘grateful.’  We are supposed to keep quiet and endure female pain on our own.  God, don’t we do that enough? 

I am soooo grateful to finally be ‘out’ about our pregnancy.  It has been a challenge having 26 different symptoms and when you’re at your lowest, needing support, you’re not allowed to ask for it because you’re not allowed to tell people about it.

Now that I can tell people, I’ve been shocked by the lack of empathy and belief from some. There are people I have trusted with the info that I have asked for support and their reactions lead me to believe they think I’m overreacting.  Do they think I’m just tired because I’m overweight? (Also, a thing).  Am I just milking it?  Some women’s husbands think they’re wives are trying to get out of chores or get angry when there’s not a meal on the table.  This also goes hand and hand with emotions.  Does what I’m saying hold no truth because it’s coming from heightened emotions?  It’s maddening (especially when you have more than one job and a million different activities on your plate) to be considered lazy or emotionally crazy or… or.. or…  UGH.  

Pre-pregnancy, when I thought of someone being pregnant, I only thought of two things:  morning sickness and crazy ice cream & pickle cravings.  I assumed women got really tired in their last trimester (which they do), being entirely ginormous, carrying  a ton of extra weight on swollen ankles.  In my clueless assumptions, I thought the first trimester was supposed to be a breeze!  “You can still exercise and have sex!”  Knowing what I know now, feeling the way I do, to brush fatigue under the rug just feels like another impossible standard for women to maintain and a societal construct that we’re supposed to endure.  

Every woman is different for sure, but for me, I can only compare this fatigue to my trip to India– spending ten days in the chaos of an awesome country with little sleep, and then taking a sleepless 20 hour flight home.  I wake up that tired every other day.  The rest of the time I don’t wake up India-tired, I feel ‘food sick’ tired.  Where you’re finally over your bug but are still really weak.  There are days where I don’t want to do the littlest things like email my parents or call someone back because all I have energy for is melting into the couch.  Like when you’re drunk and laying down anywhere will do. This is not typical.  I have to-do lists for my to-do lists.  And don’t get me started on nausea… 

In all of my 38 years, I think I’ve taken three or four afternoon naps.  My wheels spin, I can’t calm my brain in enough time, I’m just not a napper.  In this pregnancy?  I could nap almost any time of day.  I often don’t have the time to allow myself that luxury but when I do, I’m out like a light.  I’ve gotten up, driven down valley to get groceries and by the time I’m there, I am so wiped out, I do worry I won’t be able to get home.  On an inappropriate scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it to curl up at the grocery store for a month nap on a shelf with the large bags of cat food?  #noshame

This is actually what the first trimester looks like….

I took a quick photo from my cell phone at a hotel in Seattle.  I had my photography class and then my husband and I celebrated our first year anniversary.  It was so entirely exhausting, I could barely keep my eyes open.  I am soooo lucky to have him. He is super supportive and understanding.  He doesn’t judge me or belittle me.  He listens, he rubs my twitchy legs, he buys me chips for my nausea, he snuggles…

Also, God bless the internet because I know I am not alone!  Care to hear from other women?  Be sure to read the comments. 

The Bump

Pregnant Chicken

The Guardian

My favorite line is from Pregnant Chicken, “Fatigue is such a lame word. When I hear it I think of a yawn, stretch, and flutter of the eyes. Pregnancy fatigue in the first trimester is a BEAST.” #PREEEAACH

Not to mention that I am a line cook, lots of movement, on my feet. I work in a hot kitchen on packed summer nights.  Or I get up early for the breakfast shift which is worse because I haven’t slept due to three trips to the bathroom that night.  It’s brutal.  Not to mention my other jobs, trips to Seattle, photography class homework, home reno, etc, etc, etc… What’s the lesson here?

If someone you know is pregnant and claims to be tired, believe them.  It is waaaaay more than ‘tired.’ Know that it is an exhaustion that makes them feel like they barely exist.  Know that it has nothing to do with laziness or exaggeration and support them any way you can.  

And pregnant ladies… I SEE YOU.  Ask for what you need and F*CKING TAKE IT.  When almost one in three pregnancies ends in miscarriage, your biggest concern is taking care of yourself and your baby.  And nothing is worth that loss.  I know it’s easy to say… But don’t be afraid to disappoint people.  SAY NO.  The people who care are the ones who deserve your loyalty. Word?

Now, I want to hear from you!!! Tell me your stories… Who’s first?

What was the hardest part about your first trimester?  What was brutal?  I am hear to listen and would be grateful for your honesty!  In my opinion, the truth of the reality we experience only normalizes things in culture and makes us stronger…  Thanks for listening. xoxo

 

 

 

 

Pregnant.  I stared at the little plus sign for quite a while.  Am I sure it’s a plus?  I was running on such adrenaline, is it possible I made a mistake?  Do I just want it to be a plus and it’s not a plus?  I can’t believe I actually want it to be a plus…. Do I really want it to be a plus? Who am I????

Back in college with my girlfriends, our goal was to get degrees, an education and rack up a slew of fun experiences, but there is a joke in Christian college that women are mostly at school for their ‘MRS. Degree.’  And ooooooh, I was soooo on board for that major!  Amongst my friends, we all wanted to be married, find our ‘soul mate’ and have a gaggle of children.  

However, after NOT meeting Mr. Perfect at Christian college, I moved to LA to pursue acting.  I figured if I wasn’t going to get married out of college like everyone else, I wasn’t going to put my life on hold.  As I soon learned, finding my ‘soul mate’ was going to be a challenge. LA is not the kind of place where you’re going to find a laundry list of good guys, Christian or not. With a host of gorgeous women to choose from, in an incredibly (can-be) superficial environment, there really is no incentive for men to get married.  I was chunky, shy, lacked confidence and it just never worked out for me.  So I kept making choices outside the marriage box. 

Another year went by, and then five.  Ten. I continued to get older.  When you see that marriage might be something that never happens for you, you begin to see your life differently.  You lessen your tunnel vision.  The box opens and there is a whole world out there, outside of kids.  Few women get to see it really– wild possibility outside of the cultural norm. I widened my dreams to include travel and adventuring.  I learned that living passionately and choosing directions different than most energized me.  Twenty years later, I found myself asking if I even wanted kids.  I could barely relate to my 23 year old self.  

Then I unexpectedly met my honey at the age of 36, we got married at 38 and the baby inquiries rolled in.  I realized I still had time.  Very little time, but time.  There was a lot of pressure.  I am older.  Could we even have kids? When we talked about kids we decided we wanted them but we’d always kind of laughed nervously about it and never made any plans, mostly due to the financial monster that lurked behind the idea. It’s crazy to open your door to that guy.  We’d never be able to afford to have kids.  Let’s let the universe decide!  If it happens, it happens… And then it doesn’t have to be our fault. Ha!

I went to see my psychic while I was visiting in Los Angeles.  She was terrible! She answered none of my questions.  Instead, she told me there was a ‘baby soul lurking out there that wants you to be her mommy.’

Ummm…  

I ignored that and asked her if I should play the lottery.  Do I have lucky numbers?  When do I get rich?  She said that all of the creative things we had been talking about won’t happen for a few years really anyway, so why not have a baby girl!  

I told her that my husband and I were on board with letting the universe decide and she shut that down pretty quick.  She said that the baby wants to know it is safe and that you’re excited and more than “Egh, whatever, kid.”  She said we’d need to take responsibility and invite her.  None of this sounded like a surprise financial windfall from a deceased, unknown relative to me. 

I mentioned to the psychic that I felt like, for many reasons, I was finally discovering myself for the first time and that my life was just beginning.   I had all of these creative aspirations, I didn’t want to feel like my life was being put on hold again. She drew some cards, took a breath and then said that this child is ‘gifted intuitive’ and while I don’t exactly remember what she said…  what I heard was… This baby is going to make you laugh.  This baby is going to be a muse.  This baby is going to help heal.  This baby is going to get you out of your head.  This baby is going to teach you how to love yourself, others and the world around you.  This baby will breathe new life, not suck it out of you. 

It is A LOT these ears have put on Baby Soul. Ha! 

I always thought I was going to have a little girl.  I think it’s the close connection I had with my mom as a child.  Yet, in all of my adventuring I had never allowed myself the idea that a child would do anything but drain me and make me crazy. I imagined myself as the neurotic mom on ‘Modern Family’ and I immediately hated the idea of that person.  Or, the opposite, that I would entirely put my life on hold and live for my child, like I see soooo many women do.  I think I just needed to hear somebody say that this was going to be an inspired thing… even add to my existence? 

*Mind Blown*

So, here we are… After the shock wore off, an excited reality has set in.  Again, I have lessened my tunnel vision.  The box has opened and this time there is a whole world in front of me that shows a different kind of adventure where all of my loves, and a new love,  will meet. Once again I am energized by choosing a path different than what I had envisioned for myself, choosing a path that feels scary but true. There is a plus sign and with it comes an intuitive, little Aquarius baby!  We’ve been calling her Baby Soul.