As I ponder what I've learned the past seven-plus months, I recognize our partnership with God in creating new life is much more than merely a physical experience -- it's also a matter of heart, mind, and spirit. Since we're 29 weeks along, here are 29 surprises so far:
1. Finding out: We didn't officially find out I was pregnant until nearly the tail end of the first trimester. I cried with happiness and surprise to learn at our first doctor appointment our baby measured at 12 weeks!
2. How great I'd feel: One never knows how the body will react to pregnancy, and I've felt so fortunate every day. Don't hate me, friends who get really sick, but I've not thrown up once. I even ran a 5k at 16 weeks, went (lightly) backpacking at 17 weeks, and on a 40-minute hike as recently as yesterday. Who knew?
3. Losing interest in salsa: I've blogged before about being a salsa addict most of my life. Normally, I guzzle the stuff, but in the past seven months I've lost interest. It's just not appetizing to me. Weird!
4. My new cheesy obsession: On the flip side, before growing a person, I hadn't eaten dairy products in years. Now, all I want is cheese, milk, and sour cream, as described here.
5. Having a free French manicure. Usually, I'm lucky to have any "white stuff" at all on my nails. Now, they grow so strong and fast, Ryan literally asked last week if I'd gotten a French manicure. Nope, it's au naturel, baby!
6. Tiredness: My only real struggle being pregnant has been spurts of weeks when I want to go to bed at 7 p.m. One time at my full-time gig, I was so bone tired I locked myself in a closet so I could lay down for a 10-minute cat nap.
7. Time it took for Ryan to feel her: Despite many attempts, it was a full two months after I first felt little butterfly-wing kicks that Ryan could feel baby's movements from the outside. I didn't realize it would take that long.
8. Rocking the belly: There's not really any other time in life to be so proud of gaining weight. I've been surprised at how beautiful I feel in my pregnant body. I've never felt so content in my own skin as I do now.
9. The need to pee: It's always there.
11. Feeling content: My writing friend, Sam, said it so well in her post about being pregnant. I also feel this deep sense of contentment and purpose, knowing I'm in the midst of experiencing the most important thing I'll ever do.
12. Lonely no more: Usually, when we're apart for more than two nights, I really start missing my husband. I don't sleep as well with his side of the bed empty. Recently we had a four-night hiatus with him at a conference, and I didn't feel lonely one bit. I kept feeling little reassuring kicks, a tiny person keeping me company.
13. Being protective: With precious cargo aboard, I've found my pedestrian self being less risky crossing the street, opting to wait through another cycle, rather than rush to beat traffic. Also, whenever I smell folks smoking ahead of me, I speed up and pass them so my baby doesn't get their yucky second-hand smoke.
14. Kinship I feel with other preggos: When I meet other women with rounded bellies, there's an instant understanding. I met a lady at a conference whose due date is the day after mine, and she might as well have been a long-time friend.
15. Having two cousins coming too: It's been exciting to have my sister AND my sister-in-law expecting. Our babies are due in a six-week span next year, and our girl will have two "twin-age" cousins! More little ones to love. ❤
16. Phenomenon of nesting: I had no idea how real "nesting" would be. It's a matter of the heart to realize how much I want to make a space for our baby - both literally and emotionally.
17. Loving hypnobirthing: We took a hypnobirthing class together, and I'm in love with the concept that birth can be a peaceful, calm experience. If you would have asked me pre-pregnancy, I had a completely different opinion on the matter. I used to be deathly afraid, but I've learned torturous, traumatic displays of birth a la Hollywood aren't how it goes for everyone. That's not the experience I want. Hypnobirthing's been a wonderful surprise: discovering my own inner-strength, developing trust in my body, my baby, and the natural process of birth. It's empowering to replace former fears with joy and excitement. I've learned much from other like-minded women, reading books, and watching this documentary. (If you see any of it, watch from 13:15 to 15:00) Yes, I'm planning for an unmedicated birth. My body is literally made for this, and now my mind believes it.
18. I'd finally learn to relax: A big part of the hypnobirthing philosophy is calming the mind with affirmations. I've never been very good at relaxing, but for the sake of my baby, I've learned to take my mind to a safe, comfortable place. It's quite a gift she's giving me - one I've needed for a long time.
19. Finally understanding why pregnancy is measured in weeks: I'll admit, I used to get a little annoyed at the preggo attachment to "weeks." I'd think, why not say "I'm five and a half months pregnant"? I get it now. I totally get it. It's a true accomplishment to tally up another week. If you had to wait a whole MONTH to earn a new number, it would get pretty discouraging. Weeks matter.
20. Looking forward to Thursdays: We officially hit a new week each Thursday, and I get to take another link off my handmade countdown paper chain. I love Thursdays.
21. Support at work: I've never gone on maternity leave before, and had been a bit nervous about the logistics of FMLA. I've been pleased at the support I've had in the professional realm.
22. Video views: I think like a marketer, and wanted our baby announcement to be memorable. Imagine my surprise to see our little video get 600 views in the first 24 hours, and now more than 9,500!
23. All the free swag for registering: I'm not sure what other category this fits in, but it's pretty rad what you can get for registering at Target, Buy Buy Baby, and shopping at Motherhood Maternity.
24. Nursery setup: I always imagined setting up a baby nursery would be a simple thing, but for us, it's been a matter of debate. I won't go into details, but will leave it at this: It's been one of the most collaborative experiences of our marriage to decide when and how to set it up. A meeting of the minds, indeed.
25. Countdown: In addition to my weekly countdown paper chain, I have a daily prego app update. In truth, I've been waiting much longer than seven months, or even my whole mortal life. I believe I looked forward to being a mother before I was born, while I waited in heaven to come to earth. It's about time!
26. How gender impacts our identity: In the Family Proclamation, it states, "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." I've always believed that, but never more so than the day we found out the gender of our first baby.
27. Gender revealed: I'd been convinced for some reason we were starting off with a boy, but surprise of surprises, she's a girl baby! I wrote about that day here.
28. Parenting patterns: I've been studying parenting rockstars in scriptures. As I highlight them, my Book of Mormon is getting pretty colorful. From Lehi's last words to his sons, to Mary's love for the Christ child, to King Benjamin's way of leaving a legacy for his son Mosiah, there are many examples of faithful parents. God has sent us all to earth in families, and it's our turn in the ongoing chain of love.
29. Added measure of love in life: It would be hard to count how many people have shared their parenting experiences with me during my pregnancy. From a grandmother in the gym saying, "You're entering the best part of your life!" to a guy at work showing me pictures of his darling six-month-old, I'm seeing more love in my life. I won't really understand that parental bond until we meet our girl, but I like hearing about how others love their kids.
For parents out there: What were surprises in your first pregnancy?