Baby Starks: Week 13

Sorry about the radio silence last week. Things got busy and I got lazy and the 12-week post just didn’t happen. Honestly, though, I think maybe I’ll cut back to just doing these every 2 weeks anyway. We’ll see.

Anyway, back to regularly scheduled programming…

It’s now week 13, and the beginning of the second trimester!


How big is baby?

This week, our little bundle is the size of a peach! Which is awesome since I am in love with peaches right now and am oh so grateful that I live in a place where I can get awesome local peaches in May.

It was also time for another ultrasound this week!


I don’t know why exactly, but this was an emotional one for me. Maybe it was the excitement of getting to see her move for the first time, or maybe it was the relief for my NICU-weary brain of hearing that everything looked normal… but I shed several tears during the ultrasound and then had a real, hardcore bawl when I got out to my car. I’m so unimaginably grateful that everything is going well so far, and it gets a little more real every time I get to see my baby on that screen.

How am I feeling?

For the most part, I do feel a bit better. Mornings are still a bit rough despite my continued nighttime snacks, and I have to be careful about what I eat first thing in the morning. My gag reflex is still in overdrive, too… I gag when I cough, when I brush my teeth, and definitely when I try to take pills. I still get heartburn almost daily, too.

But, overall, I have better energy and don’t feel totally crummy all day long anymore. I’ve actually made it back to the gym the last 2 weeks, too. I haven’t been doing anything too terribly strenuous… 20 minutes or so of intervals on the eliptical, and a few sets on the weight machines. I certainly won’t be winning any fitness contests anytime soon, but my goals are to keep my weight gain in check to minimize my diabetes risk, and to improve my strength and stamina for delivery. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

What am I eating?

I’m almost back to normal on this front. I even ate enchiladas over the weekend and didn’t die! I’m still not eating anything sweet right now, though, because it still really upsets my stomach. It’s gonna be a long summer if I can’t eat ice cream [tear].

Favorites right now still include lots of cold, juicy fruit (grapes, pineapple, peaches, cantaloupe), veggies (celery, bell peppers, carrots), and buttery biscuits from the hospital cafeteria.

Other exciting things?

We got baby’s first onesie last week!


All of you fellow Game of Thrones nerds will appreciate this one. Especially since our last name is Starks. Anyone want to volunteer to buy baby her own plush direwolf to go with it? 😀

Well, see you in a week or two for another update! Thanks for following!

Baby Starks: Week 11

As promised, I’m back for week 11!


Baby Starks took her first trip this weekend! (It’s still too early to know the gender, but forgive me, I can’t bring myself call my baby “It”. So I’m picking a gender-specific pronoun for now.) I went back home to Idaho to celebrate some milestone birthdays for both my mom and my grandpa, and we had a great time. The big celebration took place on Saturday – a 50’s themed sock hop! My mom and a couple of her friends dressed up like the Pink Ladies from Grease (including the pink jackets), and I wore this adorable red dress for which I received many compliments.


The dance included a live band – which included my old saxophone teacher from high school! – and it was so much fun. We danced until our feet were blistered and didn’t stop until they shut us down at 11 per the noise ordinance. Even my grandpa – who was a fantastic dancer back in the day – couldn’t resist cutting a rug to a few songs despite his terrible COPD slowing him down.


My whole family was excited to congratulate me on the good news, but my sister, Megan was especially happy. She was so excited about the baby that she talked to her frequently (“Good morning, baby!”) and anything I did, baby did (“Surfer baby!”). It was pretty adorable.


Another awesome part of this trip was getting to see my oldest best friend, Savannah. She is 24 weeks pregnant with her second baby right now (a girl!), and it was fun to compare our size. While I definitely do not feel tiny this week,  it’s obvious that my little bump has a long ways to go before I catch up!

So, how big is the baby?


Well, like I said, definitely not tiny this week. Even though my app says she is only the size of a brussels sprout this week, she is definitely starting to make an appearance! I first noticed during the middle of last week when I literally could not button my jeans. I am up one pound from the week before, and it is all in my lower belly. I did the rubber band trick with a Bella band for a few days, and then decided it was just too awkward. So I broke down and bought my first pair of maternity jeans this weekend. And I have to say, those, too, feel pretty awkward. I’m used to having my pants kind of hold me in a little (thicker girls, know what I’m sayin’?) and it’s strange to suddenly just let it all hang out. I guess it will just take some getting used to.

How am I feeling? 


Well, for the most part, I feel like I have my nausea under control. I learned the hard way, though, that that mid-night snack is really what’s keeping me going. Saturday night, after the dance, I was super tired from being out late and did not want to get up to eat in the middle of my sleeping time. So I skipped it, and paid the price the next morning. After throwing up breakfast, it took me all day to get back to feeling semi-normal. It was really frustrating to spend one entire day of my trip home feeling so terrible. So lesson definitely learned.

Flying was also a challenge. I am prone to motion sickness anyway, and having this underlying nausea now be my baseline made me very nervous. I had tried these PSI bands before (pictured above) and found that they don’t help me much during the day. But I decided to wear them during my flights and found that they did help a bit for that. PSI bands or “sea bands” work on the principle of acupressure, with the idea that there is a pressure point in your wrist that helps to reduce nausea when pressed. These bands have a little knob that holds constant pressure at that point for that reason. So for the flight I took some dramamine while I waited to board, kept my hospital-issue emesis bag within easy reach, and pressed that PSI knob harder into my skin whenever we hit a rough spot. The tummy still wasn’t happy by landing, but at least I managed to keep my pretzels down.


Otherwise, I have a bit more energy these days. I think that has a lot to do with better management of the nausea and more consistent intake of good food. It may also help that I’ve been able to get more prenatal vitamins down. Thank you, Tawna, for recommending these Vitamin Code Raw prenatals! They are a bit difficult to swallow – especially because I’m supposed to be taking 3 of them a day – but so far they do not upset my stomach at all. I like, too, that, if I want to, I can split the capsule open and mix the contents with juice for days that I simply cannot swallow any pills. So far they seem worth the $40 per bottle.

What am I eating?


Well, things are becoming more normal on this front. Although I’m still not eating spicy food, tacos, or BBQ-flavored things yet, I was fortunately able to eat things like my step-dad’s grilled tri-tip and homemade potato salad and cole slaw this weekend. And remember how I was all about the Mexican rice and beans last week? This week was all about the pork fried rice. I even brought some through airport security with me on Friday and made the whole terminal smell like takeout. Sorry, not sorry.

Easy, go-to foods when I’m starting to not feel well continue to be cold, juicy fruits. Pineapple was a big staple for me last weekend. And still lots and lots of strawberries. Nighttime snacks and first-thing breakfasts continue to be crunchy granola with milk. Hey, when you find what works, you stick with it.

What I’m not eating much of these days is anything sugary. Soda, cake, pie, chocolate… they taste amazing but all unfortunately upset my stomach. And while this makes my tastebuds sad, it probably makes my at-risk pancreas very happy to not have me eating it. Oh well.

And with one more gratuitous photo from my weekend…


…I think we’ll call that a wrap for this week. Thanks for following! See you next week!

Baby Starks: Week 10

Well, as I’m sure basically everyone knows by now… we’re having a baby!


After nearly a year of trying (the subject of another post entirely), we will finally be welcoming a new little bundle of joy in early December! We are beyond excited, and thrilled to finally be able to share the news.


We finally told James just a week or so ago, deciding to wait until after we had our first doctor’s appointment. We all dressed up and went out to Wilder Ranch to take some family photos, and surprised him with the news once we got there.


He’s been wanting a little brother or sister for a long time now, and, needless to say, he was pretty excited.


A few years ago, I followed one of my favorite bloggers through her pregnancy, as she posted weekly updates on how she was growing and changing, what symptoms she was experiencing and how she was dealing with them, and how they were preparing to welcome their first baby home. I simply loved reading those posts, so, this being my first (new! exciting!) pregnancy, when it finally happened for me I thought that maybe I might want to do some too! I went back and forth on it – partially because it seems kind of selfish, and I wasn’t sure if anyone would really even care to see them – but then I decided that a) my mother and I live far away from each other, so she might appreciate getting to follow along, and b) who am I kidding, I would love to be able to look back and see how things changed once it has all come and gone. So follow along if you wish, or feel free to ignore if you don’t. But we’re doing this. 🙂

Please forgive my picture. It’s just me, my tripod, and the self-timer on my DSLR here, and there aren’t a lot of good places in my apartment to take a picture that doesn’t have a bunch of clutter in the background. And yes, you get me in yoga pants because, hey, we’re keeping it real here!


Growth: Let’s be honest, most of that tummy is me right now. (Big surprise, I wasn’t exactly skinny to begin with.) And being only 10 weeks along, baby is still tiny and not really ready to make an appearance yet. But this is why I’ll be doing these photos… because hopefully soon we will start seeing some changes!

I’m only up 0.8 pounds from pre-pregnancy so far, a lot of which has to do with some gnarly nausea and lack of appetite. And before anyone freaks out, let me say that I am not obsessing over baby weight, it’s just another interesting piece of information that I’m keeping track of as we go along, because I like numbers and tangible things, ok?!

One – or should I say two – things that have definitely grown are *ahem* the girls. They’ve always been my biggest asset, if you will, but now they are definitely large and in charge. I think I’m gonna need a new bra before I need new pants.


How big is the baby? Who doesn’t love getting those updates that say “You baby is as big as _____!” I certainly do. The Ovia app lets me choose a theme – food, funny animals, game-related things – and this week it told me that our little peanut is the size of a little Lego man! I’m sure James will be thrilled to hear this. For food comparisons, baby is also the size of a kumquat. But those are hard to find in May, so we’ll stick with the Lego dude for now. 🙂


How I’m feeling: The first couple of weeks were a breeze. I felt normal, was able to eat like normal, was still going to the gym… only thing I really noticed was some increased fatigue. Then I started having wicked heartburn in the evenings. Then I’d get about halfway through a meal and decide it didn’t taste good or I didn’t like the texture anymore. And then – right on time – right about week 6 the nausea hit and it has not gone away. It has definitely been worst in the morning for me, but it also comes and goes all day. The key to controlling it, I’m finding, has been to eat very frequently. Keep meals small but regular, and then eat a small snack – a banana, berries, yogurt, mandarin oranges, celery with ranch – every hour or so. By the end of the day, I pretty much do not want to eat anything else ever again – which is something my food-loving self never, ever thought I would say – because nothing sounds good and few things feel good once they go down, but I have to keep forcing them down or the nausea becomes really, really bad if my stomach becomes empty. But baby apparently has healthy taste, because the things that make me feel the best have honestly been fresh fruits and veggies. I did toast, saltines, goldfish, and other varieties of bland, processed carbs for a while, and after a while my tummy just didn’t like them anymore. (Which is good, considering that I have lots of risk factors for gestational diabetes, so it’s best if I lay off the carbs anyway.) Meals recently have been mostly a lot of homemade chicken soup, and rice and beans from the taqueria down the street. But sadly no tacos, and no spicy food for now.

I found that even with frequent snacks and meals, I was waking up at 3am terribly nauseated and sometimes retching with an empty stomach. I received some wise advice to eat something right before bed and then again immediately when I got up, but I’ve found that this was not enough. What I discovered last week is that I have to actually eat in the middle of the night. Like set an alarm for midnight, eat a bowl of granola with milk, and go back to bed. Then do the same thing when I get up for the day. It’s been the only way I don’t wake up overwhelmingly nauseated and behind the 8 ball for the rest of the day. It cuts into my sleep, but it helps me function better during the day, so it’s what I’m doing for now.

I also cannot stomach my prenatal vitamin right now. I’d been taking the same vitamin for many months prior to getting pregnant with no issues at all, but now it makes me so nauseated that I can’t bring myself to take it right now. The last time I took it I threw it back up 30 minutes later. I had also been taking a fish oil supplement that I also cannot deal with right now, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back to taking both when my stomach is less sensitive.

In addition to the nausea, I’ve also had 2 colds in the last month, and I am always exhausted. It’s been really difficult to get myself off the couch when I’m not working, and there have been many marathons of Band of Brothers and Lord of the Rings. I’m hoping that come week 12 everything will finally get better like everyone keeps saying it will (and that I won’t be one of those unlucky women who feels like crap for her entire pregnancy), and when it does I will hopefully get back to working out and actually doing things again. But for now, I am lazy.

I haven’t had a ton of mood swings yet – except for that one day I watched Saving Private Ryan and bawled through most of it. And stupid California drivers make me extra rage-y lately. Otherwise I think I’ve been pretty level in the mood department.


One more photo from our shoot for S&Gs. 🙂

And now that I’ve talked your ear off, I think we’ll call that good for now! See you guys back next week for week 11!



I had a conversation with someone recently about what I missed most about Idaho. The honest answer, aside from my family and friends, was the seasons. I missed the way things were always changing. I missed knowing that the weather and the scenery were never going to be the same for long. I missed knowing that even though 100 degree summer was awful, that crisp, beautiful autumn was not far behind. I realized that I loved anticipating all these things: the snow would melt into happy flowers, the rain would clear to gorgeous hot sunshine, summer would fade to orange leaves and sweaters, and just when everything turned ugly brown the snow would come to bless us with more dazzling white. I loved knowing that there was something different just around the corner. It filled me with hope, and it made me cherish the season we were in, because I knew it would soon be over. And it wasn’t until several quiet, thought-filled plane rides later, that I realized just how much this really paralleled to the rest of my life.

When I graduated from college, I had this, mostly unfounded, idea that “This is my life now. This is how it will always be.” Everything felt so permanent, so final. I knew there would be a season in the future with children, and that would change things a little, but, for the most part, I had this fatalistic feeling that I was simply stuck with what I had. “This is as good as it gets.” I would work the same job until I retired. I would live in the same house until one of us died. This was my life, so I’d better learn how to like it.

Obviously a lot has changed since then.

I have since come to believe that everything we experience is only temporary. Like the raging heat of summer or the dead cold of winter, no matter what season we happen to be in at the moment, it will pass.

I see now that I have already experienced many seasons in my life.

Working at the children’s hospital was a season. One filled with great learning and personal growth… a special time for sure… but it was never meant to be permanent. I see now that my career will pass through many seasons. Last year was a season of eye-opening, of learning what my expectations really were and what I really want out of the rest of my career. It was also a year of mourning over the loss of the job that I did really enjoy so much. It was also a year of pure survival, of learning how to simply get by with what I had, and how to assert myself without arrogance. It was humbling. Full of struggle and growth. But it was not permanent. Now I find myself in a new season. I don’t know yet what this season brings, because it is still too new. But I know I am excited about it. I do know it will be a time of growth and skill-building, as I venture further out of the realm of children’s therapy and into more full-time adult care. And that’s ok. This season has lots of support and wonderful people behind it. I know I will be better for it. And honestly, I know this, too, is ultimately just temporary. I don’t know what lies ahead in the next 5 or 10 years. But I do know that this season, right here, right now, is getting me ready for it, whatever it is.

My adult life in Idaho was a season. Even though I had briefly dreamed of moving elsewhere prior to college, once I had my degree and was all set to get married, it seemed that we would always be in Idaho. Yet here I am, in a new season, in a new state. I have already grown so much here, already learned so many things and gained so much more confidence. Now that I have moved far away from home for the first time, moving somewhere else far away does not seem nearly as daunting, either. That first move was filled with much doubt and fear… “Will I really be able to manage in a place that is brand new to me? Where I know no one, where my job is not guaranteed, where my mom is not just a short drive away to come help me if I can’t do it?” But true courage means feeling the fear and doing it anyway. And now that I’ve done it, I know I could do it again. I know that California is a season for us. I don’t know just where the next one will take us… maybe back to Idaho, maybe somewhere else. But there is comfort in knowing that this is not permanent. In knowing that I must really cherish the time we have here, because it will not always be this way.

We will eventually enter a new season with babies, too. I have no idea what that will hold. What I know for certain is that it will be hard. It will be exhausting and trying and, in all honesty, probably very depressing. This is not to say at all that I am not excited about having babies. But I know myself. I know that I will spend much of that time feeling sad and burnt out and doubting myself. But I know that the baby-toddler phase is a season. It too shall pass. I will come out the other side with my sanity intact, and I will, somehow, find a way to continue being myself. The childhood-teenage years are also temporary. There will be a season after those, too.

My point, if I have one, is that there is both great hope and responsibility in knowing that each season is only temporary. There is hope in knowing that whatever we are struggling with, it will be over eventually. We must not be defeated by our circumstances, because, as long as we keep moving forward, they are not permanent. If you feel, like I did, that you “don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, but this isn’t it,” fear not. Keep looking, keep trying. The right opportunity will present itself at the right moment. We cannot lose ourselves to hopelessness.

But because these seasons are only temporary, we have a great responsibility to find a way to enjoy them. Find a way to cherish each time period, because it will not be this way forever. I wish I had realized that my time in Idaho was only temporary. I would have gone camping with my family more. I would have made more time for my friends. I would have worried less about things that didn’t really matter. Make memories. Do the things you want to do. Because you may not get the opportunity to do them again.

We also have a responsibility to learn from each season, too. We experience everything for a reason, and sometimes that reason is simply to get us ready for what’s next. So, even though it sounds totally cliche, we really should be asking ourselves all the time, “What I am learning? How I am growing? How is this making me better?” Especially when times are hard. Because those tough times are often what teach us the most.

I realize now that I need seasons. It is never enough for me to be stagnant, to be standing still. I need something to look forward to. Every once in a while I need to turn over a new leaf. And knowing that I can… knowing that I will… that makes me free.


A grateful prayer.


It is late. I write this on the floor of my bedroom, next to the bed where the love of my life is softly snoring. There was a time in my life that such a phrase (“love of my life”) seemed so trite. But I use it now because it seems the most true thing I can say about it. No matter what happens in a year or 20 or 60 from now, he will have been the great love of my life.

I write this, because it is something I say almost every night as we’re both drifting off to sleep. My arm around him, tucked into his chest, I say this quiet prayer, because it is what fills my heart. And perhaps it’s the sleep-aid lowering my inhibitions, but it felt right to share my little prayer with you, finally. And here it is.

  • I am so grateful for this man.
  • For this beautiful, wonderful man.
  • For this kind, compassionate, patient man.
  • For this man who loves me so tenderly in my own language, that of affection and touch.
  • For this man who wraps me in love every day, even if our days are brief.
  • For this man who treats me as his partner in every aspect of this lovely complicated life we’ve built. Who puts my intelligence and opinion on the same pedestal as his own.
  • For this man who so willingly sacrifices his own desires for my happiness.
  • For this man who smiles simply at seeing me smile. For this man whose happiness is my own.
  • For this man who truly sees my strength and my ability to survive – the foundations of who I am -, and yet is not content to allow me to simply endure. For this man takes my burdens as his own, so that I may know peace.
  • For this man who truly cherishes me, who watches me putter about the house in my sloppy clothes and my hair a mess and yet looks at me as though I am the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. Who knows every little nuance of me, down to the way I shuffle when I am happy.
  • For this man who is strong without aggression, and proud without boasting.
  • For this man who is calm yet fierce.
  • For this man, in whose eyes I see the world – the pain of each transgression he’s endured yet also the spirit of tenacity that drives him forward. In those eyes I see love and hope and the promise of a life that is already rich in its own way yet will only get better with time.
  • For this man who has known love and loss, and who knows the ways of making it on one’s own. For in this, we are kindred… together in our brokenness.
  • For this man who is gentle with my broken parts, yet does not treat me as an item to be fixed.
  • For this man, for whom there have already been a few before me. For the lessons he’s learned from them, and for the ways he strives now to not repeat his mistakes.
  • For this man who strives every day to be the best he can be, for me, for his son, for himself.
  • For this man who regards me as perfect, yet inspires me to be my best.
  • For this man who makes me feel. Love, lust, tenderness, passion… at once both at home and alive.
  • In all things, I love this man. In his best moments and in his worst, I love this man.
  • And I’m so grateful, Lord, that you gave him to me. Thank you.