Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Week in NYC

In July, I spent a week living in Brooklyn for work, volunteering at a non-profit.  This was cool for a number of reasons.  1) I got to pretend I lived in NYC for a bit, 2) I got per diem to EAT ALL THE THINGS, and 3) I met new friends but also got to visit family.

My project partners

We lived and worked near the MetroTech center, near the shopping on Fulton Street south of Dumbo and north of Boerum Hill.  Our first night, we walked to Bijan's for dinner, which had delicious Persian fusion food.  They offer a delicious stew special, which I had.  So much flavor!

We also had beautiful dinners (my coworkers enjoyed some great seafood!) at Atrium Dumbo (in Dumbo, obvi) and Midnights in Williamsburg.  We really enjoyed exploring some of the other neighborhoods in Brooklyn while we could.  I also frequented Dekalb Market Hall, an awesome new food court that had so many options from bagels to Hawaiian to Katz's Deli.  And Shake Shack, OF COURSE.  Two of my other favorites?  We hit up Yaso Tangbao for a delicious lunch, because SOUP DUMPLINGS and spicy noodles are amazing.  We also ate at Aunt Jake's in Little Italy for fresh pasta that was just... perfection!  So good my Italian mother-in-law would approve.

Takeout from Yaso Tangbao

My favorite sightseeing, other than the beautiful bridge views in Brooklyn, was our visit to Merchant's House Museum in lower Manhattan.  If you're a history buff, I really think a tour of this impeccably-preserved home is in order.  It is the only historic house museum in the Greenwich Village/Soho/NoHo neighborhoods, where every other building has made way to development.  It's also considered one of the best examples of architecture of its period (1832 late-Federal brick exterior with Greek revival interior rooms), because the same family owned/occupied it until 1906.  I loved that so much of the family's original belongings were part of it.

The garden at Merchant's House

After a full week of work, I extended my visit to include a weekend staying with my cousin on the Upper West Side.  Her little girl is getting so big!  I loved spending time with family.  Our baby cousin (okay, he's grown, but I still call him our baby) came in from college in Boston to spend time with us too.  We walked to Gotham West Market (another food court, because this is a hot thing, right?) and I had pizza from Corner Slice, Ivan Orkin's pizza joint.  Yum.

We walked through Central Park and indulged in fro-yo, baked goods, and bubble tea/boba.  We also had a yummy brunch at Spring Natural Kitchen, my last meal with family before heading home.  Because that is what you do when you're in NYC.  You get out, eat all the things, and walk your butt off so you can eat some more!

I must say, I don't think I've ever gotten to "live" in NYC for an entire week every, so it was kind of awesome to wake up every day, walk out the door, and find AMAZING BAGELS everywhere.  And everything else you could imagine.  It wasn't as glamorous as Carrie Bradshaw made it look, but it was certainly loud, colorful, delicious, and fun.  I will admit that being in the super early stages of pregnancy on the trip kept me from eating/drinking some things I wanted, and the smells could be a little overwhelming... but it was still worth every bite.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Sometimes, trying to get pregnant sucks.

I'm six months pregnant.  I know I've mentioned here on the blog before that we were hoping to get pregnant, but I haven't written much about this pregnancy itself.  Pregnancy is the main reason I haven't posted as much as usual since the July timeframe, mostly because I was nauseous for 19 weeks!

Don't worry about me.  I'm happy.  I'm excited.  It's starting to feel real.  But it wasn't always this baby bliss feeling.

11 weeks

I had a plan.  That plan was to be pregnant, like, in fall 2015, right after we got married.  That's when I went off birth control and we were in that newlywed phase of "let's see what happens" and figuring that within about 6 months or so we'd probably get knocked up.

For my entire adulthood, I was really good at not getting pregnant.  I'd never been pregnant before, not once.  Consequently, that meant I didn't know if I could!  But then I got to my 30s and actually wanted to get pregnant, and every monthly visit from "Aunt Flo" felt like a failure.

Sometimes, trying to get pregnant sucks.  I chalk up my feelings on the subject to three key mistakes.

Mistake #1:  Thinking you can plan a baby.
Honestly, whether you get pregnant when you plan to or not, there's no truly perfect time to have a baby.  My world is going to be rocked when this little dude shows up!  I just don't think you can Type A the heck out of this and make it happen exactly when you want it to.  It puts too much pressure and expectation on you and your partner, and it's just not really realistic.  Rookie thinking.

Mistake #2:  Telling people you're trying to have a baby.
The earlier you tell people, the more time they have to give you unsolicited and conflicting advice.  And sometimes, that advice lacks tact.  When people would ask us when we were starting a family, I often wouldn't tell them proactively that we were trying, just that we hoped it would happen soon or we would welcome it as soon as it happens... vague things like that.   But it still opened the can of worms.

I got multiple reminders/hints/suggestions that my "reason" for not conceiving was being overweight.  (Got it, thanks, now let me go crawl into a hole to eat my feelings.  None of them were doctors, BTW.)  Or they told me to eat more kale.  Or they told me to have sex every day, have sex every other day NOT every day, or some kind of weird sex scheduling that my iCal would blush over.  I swear some of my friends figured out my menstrual cycle and would text me to see if my period came... true story, and I love them, but sometimes it stung.

Sometimes you get good advice too, like tracking basal body temperature, using apps, and checking cervical mucus (more on that in Mistake #3), but then there are others who will say, "Don't stress over stuff like that, tracking will only make it worse, don't track those things!"  See?  Conflicting advice!

Honestly, everyone believes their personal or anecdotal experience is gospel, like they're all experts because they've had a kid or know someone who has...  and it's just frustrating when you're not in the mood or mindset to take it with a grain of salt.  So don't tell people you're trying, unless you're okay with this happening.

Mistake #3:  Thinking you can do XYZ to conceive a baby.
I tried massage and acupuncture.  I'm terrified of needles, so acupuncture was OMFG scary.  Like 35 needles head to toe, 3-4 times per menstrual/ovulation cycle.  Woof.

I gave up almost all caffeine and alcohol.  I worked out.  I used apps to track things.  I tracked my temperature (I suck at that!).  I tracked cervical mucus.  (Gross.)  I tracked every single thing.  I peed on so many ovulation predictor thingys.

We got tested by doctors after a year of trying.  Dan, too.  I had an ultrasound (with the wand thingy, all up in my biz) and then this HSG radiology test that HURT LIKE A MFer (they insert a catheter and run contrast through your tubes to check for blockages).  Everything on me checked out; I was fit as a fiddle to get knocked up.  After about 18 months of trying to conceive, we scheduled a fertility consult appointment.  We both decided we were willing to give fertility meds and IUI a shot, but that we'd likely draw the line at IVF and focus on adoption after that, for personal reasons.

And then I got pregnant in June, and we cancelled the appointment.  Because that's how the universe works sometimes, y'all!

This whole journey cost us over $2000 out of pocket for medical, acupuncture, massage, ovulation predictor kits, and other expenses.  That's nothing compared to what people pay once you actually get into fertility treatments, but it is a dent considering it was what we spent BEFORE a fertility consult.

20 weeks

So now that I'm pregnant...
I think that our journey to pregnancy taught me a lot.  It taught me to have the most sympathy and empathy ever for those who struggle to conceive.  18 months is not a long time compared to the journey many couples have had and continue to have.  I feel so fortunate to have gotten pregnant, though honestly I think the pre-pregnancy struggle kind of quashed my initial enthusiasm for a while.  I think for about 12 weeks I would tell Dan, "Don't get too excited, it might not stick."  I didn't let myself look at baby things.  I didn't share "bump" photos for a long time.  I just didn't let myself feel too much joy because I was feeling too much fear that if I wanted it too much, it would slip away.  Even at 25 weeks, sometimes I worry it could slip away, but I have to just accept that what will be, will be.

Our journey taught me not to overshare (hence why I haven't posted here about it much), but to instead talk to a handful of close friends and crowdsource on more mundane things.  People give me their opinions all the time, whether I want them or not, but my attitude is that I don't have to listen to them or let it give me anxiety.

Sometimes, it does get to me... but then there's my favorite example of my friend asking me if she could give me some advice after looking at my baby registry.  I told her that I would receive her advice happily so long as she didn't care whether I listened to it or not.  And she totally got it.  I did make some changes based on her advice, but not everything.  I wish everyone approached giving baby/parenting advice in that way, understanding that my choice to ignore your advice is not a judgment of your own choices!

One thing that really helped during our journey?  I talked to a therapist every week, via Talkspace.  We talked about my anxiety over not getting pregnant, how to have productive conversations with Dan about everything, how to be a good partner and comfort each other during this trial.  This is the #1 best thing I did.  I went from 5 days a week texting plus a monthly video chat, to 5 days a week texting, to a few times a week, now down to once a week.  And if I get stressed out once baby comes, I'll increase it for my sanity.

If you're out there trying to get pregnant, I feel for you!  It's just not as easy as some make it look.  Sometimes, it just sucks.  But you're not alone, and it doesn't always help when people tell you things like "everything happens for a reason" or whatever.  You just have to embrace the suck, the best way you can.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Dressing Downton at Cheekwood

I'm soooo behind on blog posts, but I still want to share how I spent my summer!  So you're getting it anyways LOL #latergram #laterblog

A bunch of local girls in DAR get together for a monthly happy hour in an unofficial capacity, simply because we love each other's company and enjoy a lot of the same things.  So for one of them, we decided to grab drinks and enjoy the Dressing Downton touring exhibit visiting Cheekwood!  Cheekwood had these fun Thursday night activities (food trucks, a bar, and more!) during the summer, so we timed our visit to the exhibit with that.

For fans of the show, seeing these outfits up close is just fascinating and mesmerizing!  I highly recommend it!  While the exhibit is no longer in Nashville, you can still catch it on tour.

You have to stop and take time to read about the clothing.  Some of it is reproduction, some of it is authentic vintage, and some of it is made from vintage pieces.  It's so neat how a vintage curtain or tablecloth became the basis for a gorgeous gown.  Cheekwood also incorporated the history of its own family and mansion into the exhibits, which made it even more unique for us.

I loved seeing this exhibit with my friends.  Cheekwood is a really special place in Nashville, one that I come back to almost every year at least once for visiting exhibits.  If you've got a girl squad and you're looking to do something beyond the usual happy hour, make sure you look up local exhibits and events to see if you can mix it up!

P.S.  Did you hear they're working on a Downton Abbey MOVIE?!  Yay!
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