Third Trimester Mama Drama

In general, I lucked out with my pregnancy. Morning sickness was brief, I had minimal food aversions, managed my sciatica, and avoided health conditions like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. The worst part was the toll on my body from gaining 40: pelvic/pubic pain, hip pain and lower back pain.

My third trimester was a little different than the rest. In bringing closure to my pregnancy journey, I hope that my story resonates with and supports another mom out there.

At the start of my third trimester my belly finally popped and Mark popped the question

By my third trimester, I really thought that I had done everything “right”. I was eating healthy and lightly exercising most days. My weight gain was consistent month after month. Most importantly, baby’s heartrate was strong at every appointment.

My doctor mentioned a few times during the second trimester that the baby was on the smaller side. At my 19-week anatomy scan, the baby looked to be 5 days smaller than the gestational age. At a 23 week ultrasound, it remained a few days small. Nothing of major concern, to my understanding.

I can’t remember if my 27-week ultrasound was routine, or scheduled specifically to check its size. Regardless, it was then that my doctor had a more serious conversation with me – it still looked small, specifically the abdomen, and I was going to need to return in another month for a growth scan.

30 weeks pregnant

My 31-week appointment: unlike every other appointment, I saw my doctor before the ultrasound. As a result, I received the results of the growth scan via a phone call from a nurse whom I had never met. In what seemed like a foreign language, she said I was being referred to maternal fetal medicine (MFM) for inter-uterine growth restriction (IUGR).

I didn’t know anything about MFM other than I needed to go to the hospital to see them. Then nurse was clearly not very familiar with IUGR. The only helpful tid-bit she relayed was that “maybe” the notes said “something” about the 5th percentile.

At 32 weeks I went to see an MFM for the first time. From then on, my pregnancy stopped being routine.

IUGR is when a fetus in the less than 10th percentile for its gestational. The baby can show asymmetrical or symmetrical growth restriction. Asymmetrical growth restriction, which was my case, is when one of those measurements is disproportionate to the rest, most commonly the abdomen.

IUGR is usually caused by one of three things: Infection, Down Syndrome (or chromosomal abnormality), or an unhealthy placenta. A small abdomen suggests that the placenta is not providing the baby enough adequate nutrients, therefore the fetus allocates the nutrients to the vital organs like the brain and heart and neglects the stomach. It is also possible that the mom simply grows small babies.

Small babies are at higher risk for pregnancy or birth complications. Specifically, babies in the 3rd percentile are at higher risk of still birth. Because of this, patients with IUGR get referred to MFM.

At 32 weeks my baby’s growth had been slowing and the total weight measured in the 3.5% percentile. The measurement that was skewing the total was the abdomen, which was in the <1%. I was determined to be a high-risk pregnancy and told that I would not be carrying to term.

IUGR patients are induced between 37 and 39 weeks. In my case, the MFM doctor didn’t advise carrying beyond 37 weeks. Rather, I was to have a growth scan at 34-weeks to make sure the baby was continuing to grow.  If the baby didn’t show enough progress I would be induced then. The rationale was that the environment in the NICU would be more conducive to growth than the womb.

With this knowledge, it was time to take action. The first thing the doctor’s recommended was to eliminate some “causes” of the IUGR. I got blood work done and was able to rule out infection. Mark and I opted out of genetic testing – we were largely influenced by the doctors assuring us there were no other physical markers of a disorder. Lastly, there is no way to “test” the health of the placenta.

The second thing the doctors did was establish a new protocol for how I would be monitored. In addition to bi-weekly growth scans (34 weeks and 36 weeks to be done with the MFM doctors), I was to have weekly NSTs and BPPs. Any abnormalities in these tests could result in an early delivery.

NSTs (non-stress tests) are common for a range of “complications”. You sit reclined in a comfy chair with a monitor around your belly for 20 minutes. The monitor tracks the baby’s movement and heart rate. The doctor looks for three movements/accelerations and for it to regulate itself afterwards. BPPs (bio-physical profiles) are ultra-sounds that monitor eight characteristics of baby’s health, such as fluid level, heart rate, a doppler reading of the blood flow in the umbilical cord, and movements of the diaphragm (hiccups or the baby practicing breathing). You get scored 8/8 if everything checks out perfectly.

I was given all of this information in a15-20-minute conversation with the high risk doctor. It was too much to process. Mark came home early from work that day and we spent the day on the couch with lots of cookies.

Yet it was hard to panic. Up until that day we were told everything looked great. All of the organs were growing and functioning as they should. The baby was moving a LOT, which both MFM and my OBGYN said was the most promising sign. The heart rate was strong. It was almost impossible to wrap our heads around something being wrong.

Many people would have been frustrated, anxious, or overwhelmed by the lack of control. I surprised myself when I realized this made me more calm. I knew I had done everything “right”, therefore I believed that if my child did have a disorder or needed to be induced pre-maturely, I was chosen to be his or her mother for a reason.

There were two nights those first two weeks that I prayed to my abuela. My version of prayer is to internally talk to her after I lie down to go to bed. I asked that she take care of my baby. Whether the baby was small, had a health condition, or the placenta was unhealthy, I believed Abuela would make sure the baby came into this world safely.

Sure enough, at my 34-week growth scan, the baby had gained a full pound. While the abdomen was still in the <1%, the total size increased from the 3rd percentile to the 9th. The MFM recommendation changed from inducing me at 37 weeks (March 2nd as discussed with my OBGYN) to 38 weeks. I now believe my baby has a guardian angel in Abuela.

Despite this good news, my next NST didn’t go as smoothly. The baby was incredibly active – kicking and rolling back and forth. The baby was so active that the baseline of the heart rate was consistently close to 180 beats per minute (vs. my typical 150-160). The heart rate hit 190 a lot. The doctor kept me hooked up for a full hour vs. 20 minutes, and the baby’s heart rate never normalized. I was sent to labor and delivery at the hospital.

They checked me in as if I was having the baby. Not knowing what to expect, I looked for cues from the doctors and nurses to gauge if Mark needed to leave work and come to the hospital. They hooked me up to the monitors and I waited. Luckily, the baby’s heart rate had normalized, and I was able to go home after another hour of monitoring.

35 Weeks – Baby Shower
35 weeks pregnant – Valentine’s Day

The Monday of week 36 I went back to MFM for a growth scan and their final recommendation for delivery. This time the news seemed even better. The baby had gained over another pound. The abdomen had increased from the <1% to the 6th percentile. The total weight of the baby increased to the 17th percentile. For the most part, we were out of the woods.

The fact that the abdomen was still asymmetrically small and within the 10th percentile warranted an early delivery. The MFM doctor gave a final recommendation of delivering at 39 weeks. I asked what the difference was between 39 weeks and carrying to term, but she still felt that the risks associated with delivering a baby with a small abdomen outweighed the benefits of going into labor naturally. I was to continue weekly NSTs and BPPs and, like before, if anything looked less than perfect, would be sent to labor and delivery. My last growth scan would be set for a few days before my induction date.

The Tuesday of week 36 I went to my OB/GYN for an NST. My OB/GYN was thrilled with the growth and we scheduled my induction for March 15th. We also scheduled a BPP for that Friday. Technically I got my weekly BPP at MFM that Monday, but my doctor suggested that I go at the end of the week as to not go too long between scans.

The Friday of week 36 I logged off of work early and went to my BPP. At first the ultrasound tech said that the baby’s diaphragm wasn’t moving. According to her, this isn’t atypical. While babies get the hiccups and practice breathing in the womb, it doesn’t happen 24/7. However, that brought my BPP score to a 7/8 and I would need to have an NST. After about 10 minutes of monitoring, the nurse practitioner came in with some news I wasn’t expecting.

It was time.

The way she described it was that doppler of the umbilical cord indicated that the placenta was working too hard to flow blood to the baby. That brought my BPP score to a 6/8. The lower score in consideration with the reactive NST at 34 weeks and the small abdomen brought the doctors to determine I should be induced that night – midnight on the dot so that I would officially be 37 weeks.

And just like that, my third trimester and entire pregnancy came to an end! Two days later our sweet, healthy, baby boy Grady was born, and our lives are forever changed.

Though we are assuming an unhealthy placenta caused the IUGR, the cause of Grady’s small size was never diagnosed. In fact, none of the doctors or nurses mentioned the IUGR after he arrived safely. For something that caused so much stress and called for so much attention for so many weeks, it shocks me that it warrants almost no conversation after the fact. I am already wondering how they are going to treat my next pregnancy. If I have another small baby, will they put me through the extra testing? Will it be accepted that I simply grow small babies? Luckily we don’t have to worry about it for another few years.

For the most part, I was able to stay positive during my third trimester. Rather than look at all of my extra appointments as an inconvenience, I told myself I was lucky to hear my baby’s heartbeat every week and see it in an ultrasound every week – most women only get that a few times during their pregnancy.

How did I cope with all the uncertainty? I focused on controlling the controllable. I packed our hospital bag at 33 weeks in case I had to be induced. I packed the hospital bag as if we were going to stay 4-5 days for a c-section (which was more likely with a small baby). I hustled to finish prepping my frozen meals by week 34 as well. When I had my baby shower at 35 weeks, I had my family help set everything up immediately afterwards, not knowing what would come of my 36 week ultra sound.

And ultimately, I trusted the doctors and my Abuela.

Stay tuned for my next post that shares all about my experience being induced.

xoxo

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Meal Prepping for Baby Y’s Arrival

Third trimester exhaustion is setting in. I need extra time on the couch after cleaning, cooking, or running errands. I also take full advantage of early bedtimes while I can (because once midnight sets in, baby has me peeing every few hours!). Because of this, I’m very thankful that I took care of my meal prep for baby’s arrival during the second to third trimester transition.

I had a few people reach out and say they were impressed by how “ahead of the game” I was with my meal prep. The reality is, I’m a huge planner, so I had this in the works for weeks. I also love to cook, so spending weekends cooking wasn’t a burden. Most importantly: I love to eat. Mark is good at ordering takeout, but I’m going to be trying to lose weight, not increase my junk food intake!

Meal prepping in bulk definitely requires planning. I prepped 12 meals in four weekends, and hope that they’ll last between 8-12 weeks (with some of Mark’s takeout and meals from our moms in between 😊). I collected recipes, made lists of ingredients, and budgeted time and cooking equipment.

Below is a list of all the recipes I made, whether recalled from memory, pictured from my books, or linked to a website. There are few foods I don’t like, so I think this list has a variety of options for different tastes. While this could be a great guide for pregnant mamas out there, I also hope it inspires non-pregnant women to cook up some meals to keep on hand.

Disclaimer: any recipes titled “My” are dinners I whipped up without a recipe. Quantities of ingredients aren’t included because it really depends on how much you’re cooking and your taste buds.

The Pasta

Mark is from an Italian family and grew up eating a lot of pasta. I grew up in a Latin household and grew up eating a lot of meat and rice. While we lived apart, I stuck mostly to my own repertoire in the kitchen. Since moving in together, we’ve decided to continue his Grams’ tradition of pasta on Wednesdays. It would be cruel of me to not include any pasta in our frozen meals!

That, and pasta dishes are by far the quickest and easiest to whip up in big batches.

  1. My Chicken Parm: I use chicken tenderloins for my chicken parm and do a double dredge, fry, bake technique. Mark, who grew up with family recipes of chicken parm, approves the way I do it!

Ingredients: Chicken tenderloins, salt, pepper, garlic powder, eggs, flour, panko/bread crumbs, vegetable oil, tomato sauce, cheese

Directions: PREP: Pre Heat oven to 350. Pour a quarter of an inch to half inch of vegetable oil in a frying pan and heat on medium. Scramble the eggs in one bowl, pour flour in one bowl, and the breadcrumbs/panko in another. Dry the tenderloins (you always want to dredge and fry dry meat) and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

DREDGE: Dunk the chicken in the egg, then coat in flour. Dunk the chicken back in the egg, then coat in the breadcrumb/panko mixture.

FRY: Fry the chicken tenders until they are golden brown all around. Put on a baking sheet when done.

BAKE: Spoon tomato sauce on chicken and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

PASTA: Cook your choice of pasta and sauce and rest the cooked chicken on top.

I cook my eggplant parm the same way, and Mark LOVES it!

2. My Naked Chicken Broccoli and Ziti:

Ingredients: be generous since this will flavor your pasta, too: olive oil, chopped yellow onion, minced garlic cloves, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, broccoli, chicken tenderloins

DIRECTIONS: In a large skillet on medium heat, heat olive oil, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until aromatic (before the garlic browns). Add broccoli and chicken tenderloin and cook through. Add more olive oil if needed. Optional: add some lemon juice.

PASTA: Cook the pasta and coat in melted butter or olive oil. Toss in the seasoned broccoli and chicken to spread the flavor.

3. Mac n’ Cheese: I read mixed reviews on whether Mac n’ Cheese is good to freeze or not. I decided to try it (worse comes to worst we always have boxed mac n’ cheese on hand as a backup).

Recipe here

The Meats

4. BBQ pulled pork: Recipe Here

I didn’t have onion powder, so substituted with Adobo (Goya) and it was delish.

5. Salsa Pork: I just started using my crock pot this winter, and this is by far the easiest recipe I found. I froze some tortillas along with this pork. All we’ll need when it’s time to eat is shredded cheese (which we almost always have) and a bag of shredded cabbage/pre-mixed salad.

The Soups

6. Hamburger Soup: This has become one of my favorite dinners to whip up on a weeknight. I even paired it with some homemade bread one night when hosting dinner for Mark’s parents.

7. Chili: Recipe Here

The Fun Stuff

8. Pizza Pockets: This has “Easy” in the title but working with the dough was a bit challenging. Once they were baked it was SO difficult not to eat them on the spot (Mark and I ended up making homemade pizza for dinner that night), but it was messy!

Recipe Here

9. Chicken Teriyaki Casserole: Recipe Here

10. My Breakfast Casserole:

Ingredients: 1 bag of shredded potato hash browns, thawed. 12 eggs, scrambled, 6 pieces of bacon cooked and chopped (or more if you loooove bacon), shredded cheddar cheese and green onion on top.

Directions:

PREP: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

ASSEMBLE: Spread the potatoes on the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer the bacon on top. Pour the eggs over the dish. Sprinkle cheese and onions on top.

BAKE: I think I ended up baking this for an hour. Bake until the center isn’t jiggly anymore. If there is a slight jiggle, turn the oven off and let the eggs finish cooking themselves. If the top is browning before the dish is cooking, cover loosely with tin foil.

11. My Chicken, Cheese, Pepper and Onion Quesadillas: I bought pre-cooked fajita seasoned chicken and sliced up the peppers and onions. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could cook the peppers and onions on the stove before fixing the quesadillas.

12.Shrimp and Quinoa: beware of the lemon. If I were to make this again, I would use less than the recipe calls for.

Recipe Here

Valentine’s Date Night In

Flowers Mark got me for our first Valentine’s Day

I think there are two types of women in the world: those who love the glitz and glam of Valentine’s Day, and those who prefer to dim the lights at home and snuggle up in some cozy pajamas with some wine. I am the second type of woman, and I know it is us who will be thriving this COVID Valentine’s Day.

While some women still have plans to get dressed up and venture out for a socially distant night, many women will trade their high heels for slippers and try to make a night at home a little more special than the groundhog day we’ve been experiencing.

As an experienced Valentine’s Date Night at home kind of gal, I wanted to share a few ideas to make a night at home a little extra special. Some of these are from Valentine’s Days past and some are just Mark’s and my favorite ways to spend time together at home.

Set the Mood The best part about dimming the lights, lighting some candles, and playing music softly in the background at home rather than a restaurant is that you don’t have any waiter squeezing by your table or strangers talking too loudly. You also don’t have to worry about being rushed.

The most important part of setting the mood, which is also most difficult, is putting your phone away. It’s much easier to tuck a phone away in a purse or jacket slung on the back of the chair than to put it away at home. It is something that Mark and I don’t do every night, but for Valentine’s Day and other special occasions spent at home, I leave my phone in another room.

Bake a Favorite Treat Even people who “aren’t dessert people” have their favorite dessert that hits the spot. (For the record Mark is NOT one of those people. Dessert is our favorite meal).

Mark is a chocolate lover like I’ve never known before and his favorite dessert is brownies. In my years of home-baking, brownies has been one of the toughest recipes to master. I get the texture wrong, don’t bake them enough, or end up with scrambled eggs inside. But I finally found a recipe that produces amazing results.

My keys to success: Ghirardelli baking chocolate, only letting the chocolate and butter mixture cool for 7 minutes, whisk the sugar in REALLY good, and trade a cup of chocolate chips for a cup, plus some, of chopped Reese’s.

Order Favorite Takeout Mark and I are big pizza eaters, but when it comes to special occasions Chinese is our go-to. After all, why not splurge for the more expensive, less healthy option??

If you and your significant other usually eat in, this is a great way to support a local business during the pandemic. If you normally eat out, this is a good opportunity to try something new! And if you truly love that pizza place around the corner, it’s a perfect excuse to order it again 🙂

Play a Favorite Board Game I’ve learned that there are people who grew up in board-game families and people who did not. As a member of a board-game family, I have a few tips that help keep all players happy (because non-board game family adults are usually not competitive!)

1. Keep it classic – Checkers may seem like one of the less extravagant games, but it is filled with nostalgia 2. Keep it simple – so that your companion can get the hang of it after one full game and you can spend most of the night playing vs. learning. A fun, simple choice is Sequence. 3. Keep it timely – games that can be played in a timely manner are fun because they allow for re-matches or “best two out of three” competitions. Games with timers keep the pace. Scategories is a favorite of ours for two-out-of-three competition.

Make Your Own Valentine’s Day Card: I am lucky that Mark goes along with all of my cheesy ideas. If your significant other is open to cheesy romance in the privacy of your own home, then this activity may be fun for you!

Last year on Valentine’s Day, I took a trip to the craft store and bought a handful of materials to make our own extravagant cards: poster board, stickers, foam letters, pipe cleaners, glitter, pom-poms, etc. Then we wrote our own personal note to each other.

Was it cheesy? Heck yes. Did we have anywhere practical to put our giant cards? Nope! But we kept them for almost a year! I was sad to throw them out (de-cluttering for baby!), but the memory of making them still makes me happy: we spread out on the living room floor, played some music, and slowly got messier and messier in glue and confetti.

Give Massages Buy some oil, turn down the lights, play some music or turn on a favorite movie, set a timer for twenty minutes…enough said 🙂

Already have plans for your own Valentine’s Day date night at home? Comment what you plan on doing below! Or let me know which of these ideas you’ll be trying yourself!

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My DIY Maternity Photoshoot

I’m pretty sure maternity photo shoots are a modern gimmick brought about my social media and the need to portray one’s life as picture perfect…but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful. Especially in a time when reasons to get dressed up are very few and very far between.

Knowing that time and energy for things like this dwindle with age, it was important to me to set time aside to take these phots. However, like all other mamas to be, brides to be, and general families this year, I struggled with whether or not hiring a photographer was the safest thing to do. Even after convincing myself that it would be safe, there was the much bigger issue of the cost.

The lowest cost photography session I found was $750…and that was the smallest package.

With a nursery to furnish, a house to update, a new car payment, and maternity leave creeping up, $750 (minimum!) could go a lot farther than a few pictures.

Luckily, I have sisters who will do anything for their first niece or nephew, and one of them is a college student who spends plenty of time working a camera for social media. With a free photographer, and some hair and makeup products that have been eagerly awaiting the light of day, I was willing to get creative and self-sufficient.

If you’re looking to save a few (75,000) pennies, one tip to running your own photoshoot is to google OTHER photoshoots and save your favorite poses – copying is the best form of flattery, after all! My second tip is to take a walk, or drive, around your own neighborhood. You don’t have to go to a fancy “location”. You just have to look at your own backyard through a different lens.

You can see in my photos that we used backdrops from the side of the road. A simple stone wall adds texture and dimension, but you could get the same effect with a white picket fence or stretch of hedges. The rail road is a great frame for a shot and adds depth, but you can get a similar effect with a driveway or walking trail.

We got a lot of great shots using portrait mode, which I find is best when you have trees, tall grass, and a natural back drop. In terms of the old farm wagon we used as a backdrop? That may have been us “borrowing” someone’s empty farm land we happen to live by.

I felt very confident on my photoshoot day. To be honest, there have been zero times that I have felt sexy during my pregnancy. Mark has told me I’m beautiful, and I recognize that a pregnant body is an amazing body, but my COVID pregnancy wardrobe consists of elastic waistbands, oversized sweaters, and underwear that is a size bigger than before. Without a reason to wear form fitting maternity jeans, cute accessories, or accentuate the bump…I usually don’t.

I bought three maternity dresses from ASOS, this dress being one of them, and all three made me feel sexy. They showed off the curves of my new body in a way leggings and sweaters don’t. My typical style probably wouldn’t include this dress (as my friend said, it gives off some definite Kim K pregnancy vibes), but every woman is out of her comfort zone in her pregnancy body and we should embrace it.

My favorite hair products give my thin, straight hair volume and curls – just one level beneath the capability of my hair stylist. These curls will last about three days on fresh washed hair! After towel drying, I brush a nickel size dollop of Living Proof style primer through my hair – to my knowledge this product has been discontinued, but the description looks identical to the PHD 5-in-1 styler. Next, I brush my heat protectant gel-cream through my hair and blow-dry. I curl away from my face with my trusted Eva NYC wand which I’ve had since college. It was perfect for my short hair days and still works for my long hair. Last, brush out the curls with the Bumble and Bumble beach waves spray. NO Hairspray!

For makeup, most of my products are Stila. Not many bloggers talk about Stila, but this is my trusted and true brand. I think Stila provides medium coverage. I’ve been using their mascara the longest, followed by foundation, micro-tip eyeliner, brow pencil, concealer (sometimes it gets creasy), and most recently the blush. I set my concealer with Bare Minerals powder and brush my eyelids with the Urban Decay Naked 2 pallet. Ulta and Sephora only sell the Naked 2 Basics pallet, but the Naked 2 in general has been the only eye shadow pallet I’ve worn for years!

The time was magical and helped me love my body. I can’t wait for Baby Y to get here, but want to savor these last weeks of pregnancy until then!

xoxo

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The ICEing on 2020

Everyone’s experience in 2020 has been radically different. Between October 2019 and January 2020 I traveled about once every three weeks for personal or business reasons. I dined in unique restaurants, saw friends who live all over the country, and was planning Mark’s birthday trip to Yellowstone. I was settled in my first home and my fifth year in a career at a major national retailer.

Old San Juan, PR – 4 months before the shut down I had a work trip to PR with two weeks notice. Mark and I flew down a few days early for a weekend together before he flew home and I stayed for work.

Like many others, I was shook up in March when my company had to close our stores for eight weeks. For weeks I was convinced I was going to lose my job, unsure about what was going to happen to my house or lifestyle (but was still convinced I was going to go to Yellowstone in May!). 

As it turned out, I was immensely lucky (didn’t lose my job), and 2020 has brought much joy to my life.

For starters, working from home means that I greet Mark at the door every night when he gets home. While I can’t see many of my friends, I make up the time with my family who lives down the road. I pursued hobbies like gardening and blogging. Most beneficial to my mental health is a fiancé who loves camping, stays calm, and makes the most of every moment.

About halfway into 2020 I learned that vacations, fancy dinners, and material things are just decorations to my life. What really makes my heart happy is pausing in the middle of a conversation to share a hug with Mark, eating dinner at the table with him, foot rubs and leg massages, cooking breakfast together, and transforming his house into our home through painting and renovations, cleaning and yardwork.

When we found out we were pregnant over the summer (months after our cancelled Yellowstone trip 😉 ), I cried for less than a day. It was the 2019 version of me creeping back in. An unexpected pregnancy simply didn’t match the decorations in my life. But Mark’s genuine joy at the news never faltered. He hugged me while I cried but always wore a big smile. That also made my heart happy.

Being pregnant throughout the second half of this year has brought us deep joy. I have always wanted to be a mom, and it wasn’t very long into dating Mark that I knew I wanted to be the mom to his children. We had talked about being married and parents together many times before finding out we were pregnant. It may not have been my “plan” from 2019, but as my best friend said, it was always THE plan. 2020 was just the year it came to fruition.

Since moving into Mark’s house on Halloween, I have felt an unwavering happiness. No back pain, amount of unpacking, or any events in the world outside the walls of our house has affected that. Not even moving farther away from my family into the “boonies”. This was what I was thinking while doing the dishes just hours before Mark proposed.

He proposed EXACTLY how I have always asked: at home, on the couch, in pajamas, no makeup, with absolutely no one else around.

I know it’s not everyone’s style – many like photo opps, to be feeling beautiful in a done-up face and new outfit, nails freshly manicured. But trust me, not much makes you feel more beautiful than a man asking you to be his partner forever just. The way. You are. (Although note that I did put on a cute outfit and makeup the next day for my first day as a fiancée!).

I’m quite a traditional lady – before getting pregnant Mark and I weren’t planning on living together until we were engaged – so was happy to hear that Mark had already asked my dad for permission to marry me. He had told his mom and best friend that he had a ring, but didn’t tell anyone when it was happening. After he proposed we showed me where he hid the ring all week, we sat on the stairs while I interrogated him about what it was like to buy an engagement ring, and then we snuggled on the couch to “watch” The Great British Baking Show (I didn’t watch much at all as my eyes were fixed on my hand and my finance!). We didn’t call anyone, bring out our phones, or anything.

And just like that we’re heading into 2021. In 2021 we will meet our future ring bearer or flower girl. We’ll start planning our wedding – simple but stylish. And we’ll continue being each other’s support through life’s changes. While 2021 will certainly be a better year for the world, little will top what 2020 has brought me.

The Fast Paced Story of my Second Trimester

My second trimester is coming to an end! I can’t believe that I am that much closer to having an actual miniature human in my arms every day, or how much has happened in the past thirteen weeks.

The second trimester is from Week 13-26. Traditionally, this is when a first time mom’s baby bump starts showing, when morning sickness subsides, and when pregnant women get their energy back!

In my experience, this was true. I started to notice my belly changing at week 9, but my belly definitely hardened into a “bump” at week 18. While I was fortunate to never have much sickness, by week 11 what sporadic nausea there was disappeared. In terms of energy – your girl has been walking, renovating, moving, cooking, blogging, and doing ALL the things.

But what did life look like during the past 13 weeks? Let me break it down for you:

Week 13: 127lbs (I gained 4lbs during the first trimester). I finally decided where we were going to live – yes, Mark told me it my decision to make. I was moving into Mark’s house!

Week 14: This was the week my back pain turned to sciatic pain, so I started pre-natal yoga! For gentle (but effective) stretches, I recommend the YouTube channel: Pregnancy and PostPartum TV.

Week 15: 129lbs 15 week appointment where I heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time! It sounded like the trot of a racehorse.

Week 16: The sciatic pain subsided which was a huge relief! Even more of a relief is that it hasn’t come back. Persisting back pain didn’t stop me, though. I started moving some items to Mark’s house.

Week 17: I bought a mom car! As tempting as a mini-van was (not!) I ended up coming home with an SUV. It was super convenient for moving, going on a family trip (COVID safe), and I know it will come in handy when I inevitably over pack for my miniature human.

Week 18: I secured a tenant for my condo! I started mentally preparing to move myself, not just my things, out of the home I worked so hard to buy myself.

Much more exciting, my brother got married! Hence the family trip down the Cape 🙂 2020 has been filled with lots of trials, unfortunate events, and negativity. But 2020 CANNOT stop love.

Three months after getting engaged, my brother and his girlfriend had a COVID safe intimate wedding. The wedding had 30 people (much lower than the 50 person state mandate). Every wedding guest tested negative for COVID the week of the wedding. We had a family weekend at a private village down the Cape and celebrated in a beautiful beach side venue.

Week 19: 133lbs The week of our anatomy scan! Despite rising COVID cases, Mark was able to join me for the ultra sound and to see the doctor. We got a 3D image of the baby’s face  and immediately fell in love.

Doctor also advised that I get a belly band that targets lower back support to help with back pain.

I started to feel tickles in my belly – the first feeling of baby moving!

Finally, we completed the move from my condo to Mark’s house

Week 20: Bellyband arrived just in time! Moving took a huge toll on my back and I was really struggling to stay comfortable. I started wearing the belly band and felt like a new woman! Daily walks resumed and house work got done. This was when I started thriving in my second trimester.

Tickles turned into the feeling of little bubbles in my belly.

Week 21: Finally finished updating the office to work from home in style.

Bubbles turned to real kicks!

Week 22: Mark, my mom, and my sisters felt the baby kick for the first time.

Week 23: 140lbs (yes that’s 7lbs in a month!) I saw baby in another ultrasound and had my 23 week appointment. I was told that baby is very low (which I could tell from the kicks and the way I was carrying) and that he or she is already head down! At this point I could tell I was feeling movement very low. We literally had to stick Mark’s hand in my pants every time he tried to feel it.

Week 24: Baby is growing and pubic symphysis came in HOT. One day, without warning, I was limping and unable to walk. It got better throughout the week, but it was not over.

Week 25: I baked with my sisters, chopped down a Christmas Tree in the snow and decorated the Christmas tree top to bottom. By Sunday night I was back on the couch, unable to walk. I called the doctor was given many tips to manage the pain.

Week 26: I ordered another belly band that targets pelvic support and it’s safe to say daily walks are not going to be a possibility until after baby is born. I tried to do yoga again, and the pressure in my pelvis increased, so we will have to see what I can manage.

Oh – and one more life event: Mark proposed 🙂 More to come on that!

I can feel the third trimester creeping in. My energy starting to drop – I took an afternoon nap yesterday, something I haven’t done since my first trimester, and am finding it easier to sleep in. I’m also starting to occasionally experience pregnancy insomnia, which they say is your body’s way of preparing you for the coming weeks of sleepless nights!

Want to shop my second trimester essentials? Click here to see what goodies I couldn’t have lived without!

To follow my daily pregnancy journal, follow @klosetbykrista on IG!

Our First Christmas Tradition

For me and Mark, this is our third holiday season together. We started dating in October, so our first season together sprung right on us. In fact, the first time we met each other’s families was on Thanksgiving! His mom hosts a Thanksgiving brunch rather than dinner, and I couldn’t stand the thought of him not having a Thanksgiving dinner, so after dating for less than two months I invited him to my parents’ house. I think some people thought that was a bold move, but we’re still here, so it doesn’t seem to matter anymore!

That year was also the first year I lived in my condo, so it was my first time decorating my own home for Christmas. I bought a small white Christmas tree and all of the pink and shiny Christmas decorations. Mark stayed over Thanksgiving night and that Friday was the first year I traded my Black Friday shopping for our first tradition: staying in pajamas all day, decorating while listening to Christmas carols, and watching Christmas movies.

Fast forward three Thanksgivings and now I’ve moved from my condo into Mark’s house. We have spent the past month collecting more traditional style Christmas decorations (my pink and shiny decorations have a home in my office 😉 ), stringing lights outside, and even got a head start on Christmas movies.

But our main tradition remained the same: we waited to decorate the inside of our house until the Friday after Thanksgiving.

After having Thanksgiving brunch leftovers for breakfast and cleaning the house, we spent three hours decorating and four hours watching Christmas movies – the new Christmas Chronicles 2 and Christmas Vacation. We listened to Carrie Underwood’s new Christmas album – My Gift, traditional carols, and a Country Christmas playlist. We ate a lot of left over desserts.

And the result is the coziest home we’ve had since being together. Cozier than my little condo lit only by Christmas lights strung across the wooden beam and Christmas tree; cozier than when we first updated Mark’s living room to have blankets, and pillows, and photos of loved ones; and cozier than when I first moved in and the only places to sit were right next to each other because stuff was overflowing.

I hope you enjoy our Christmas wonderland and have started the transformation of your own holiday home!

Click HERE to Shop the Bathroom

Click HERE to Shop the Placemats

Thanks for reading, and you can follow my daily escapades by following my instagram @klosetbykrista and shop all of my styles by following me on the LIKEtoKNOWit app!

xoxo Krista

Gift Guide: From a New Mom

Part two of my gift-guide is here! This gift-guide is still targeted toward new (or expecting, or everyday super-hero mom), but it’s about what those moms can give OTHERS. And I’m sharing from personal experience 🙂

While pregnant, Christmas shopping has been more enjoyable than years past. Rather than getting generic gifts for others like sweaters or pajamas, bakeware or kitchen appliances, I’ve been able to hone in on personalized gifts.

So are you still stumped on what to get your in-laws? Exhausted from all of your kid’s gifts for Grandma or Grandpa coming from you? This gift guide to your rescue! All of these gifts will feel especially personalized to every special someone in your little’s life without being specific to their knitting hobby or book club that (let’s be honest) you know nothing about.

This gift-guide is full of products I’ve actually purchased for the grandmother’s-to-be! Though almost all of them can be personalized for grandfathers, aunts, uncles, godparents, etc.

For Those Who Love to Brag

Click HERE to Shop these Gifts

Does your mother tell strangers about the genius thing your baby (who can’t even talk yet) did? Does your mother-in-law show every plumber who walks into the house the most recent school picture of your child? If so – these gifts are for you!

Sentimental Sign: “Grandma’s Brag Board” is my favorite saying to put on a sign. We got a sign for Mark’s mom with this saying, and another sign for my parents that says, “Grandkids Make Life Grand.” To make this gift extra personal, you can clip pictures of your children to the sign. First time mom? Do what I’m doing and clip some pictures from the ultra sounds!

Door Mats are just as kitchy, but you don’t have to put in the extra time to hunt down pictures of your children. Simply wrap some paper around it and wait for the smile when they open it!

For those who love knick-knacks

Click HERE to Shop these Gifts

Birthstone Jewelry: I got this idea from a co-worker who was gifted a ring with the birth stones of both her children for Mother’s Day. I got my mom a necklace and Mark’s mom a bracelet with aquamarine stones on them, the birth stone for March (my due date). While jewelry can be costly, these handmade pieces were affordable – under $40 – and I was satisfied with the quality.

Mug Giftset: Bring this traditionally emergency gift to the next level by personalizing it with the year your child was born, a complimentary sugar spoon, and/or the BEST hot chocolate around.

I’m not kidding about this hot chocolate. This is my go-to gift for in-laws and hostesses. The hot-chocolate is literally shaved chocolate that you melt into milk on the stove. It is incredibly rich and delectable, and totally worth the price. I linked a few gift-sets as well to add a little pizazz. If you don’t gift it to others, do yourself a favor and gift it to yourself!

For Your Babysitter

Click HERE to Shop These Gifts

Babysitting Survival Kit: This gift may be a roundabout way to stock up on some extra baby gear, but for good reason!

Both of our Mark’s and my parents are eager to babysit our little one. While I know always leaving the house with a diaper bag with extra outfits, blankets, diapers and socks is best practice during parenthood, Mark and I are not naïve enough to think we’ll always be on our game.

We bought decorative baskets and are stuffing with them with the basic necessities – white onesies and socks (0-3 months AND 3-6 months), burp cloths, and a blanket. I’m stuffing them all in decorative baskets for easy storage! I got my baskets at TJ Maxx, but linked some affordable options here.

Some other ideas along the same lines include a high chair and a pack and play. Both of these things we are stocking my mom’s house with. Though she would certainly buy these herself, giving them as a gift shows that you are just as excited as they are to bring your little one over for a visit.

And again, the less packing for me, the better!

If you’re a new/expecting/superhero mom, I hope you got some ideas from these gift guides! And if you’re not – thank you so much for reading along anyway:) xoxo

Gifting for a New Mom Part One

My growing baby is the first grandchild on my side of the family, and it is unbelievable to think that next year the crowded living room of adults and pets on Christmas Day will also have a baby sitting in the middle of it. By then, he or she will be 9 months old and probably able to rip up some paper and show an interest in some gifts…or just the wrapping paper.

Being pregnant has made this an exciting Christmas to both give unique gifts and make my own list for Santa. I want to share all of my ideas for gifting moms (new, expecting, or just your average superhero mom). To make it manageable, I decided to split it up in to two: Part One: Gifts for a mom and Part Two: Gifts for a mom to give others.

Per the title of this blog post, I’m starting off with Part one: Gifts for a Mom

This gift-guide is a mix of my personal must-haves and what is actually on my Christmas list this year. Keep in mind some of these gifts are for any superhero mom, not just the new or expecting!

Wedge Pillow/Body Pillow- Round ligament pain can keep expecting moms up at night and achy the next morning. Sleeping with a pillow between my legs alleviates the discomfort! It is also recommended to alleviate sciatic pain and back pain, neither of which you need to be pregnant to have.

I have the Boppy wedge pillow from Target and absolutely love it. It’s small at first sight, but boy is it mighty. It is also super affordable!

Body pillows are popular amongst pregnant women. There are some special pregnancy body pillows that are shaped in a U to support both belly AND back!

Belly Band- Know a pregnant mom entering her third trimester? Or one who is experiencing lower back pain earlier on? My belly band to the rescue! I have this black band that targets lower back support. It looks like a complex contraption, but it really does the trick. Mark noticed an immediate change in my posture.

The other option is the same brand and will give any expecting mama that extra bit of support.

Heating Pad – For those days you may have been on your feet a little too long.

Click HERE to Shop these Gifts

Stretch Mark Oil/Butter- I’m a little addicted. Though it won’t actually prevent stretch marks, the extra hydration prevents itching and the literal feeling of your skin stretching. Trust me, I can tell the difference when I skip a morning (talk about itchy boobs). I use this very affordable, but very effective, Palmer’s skin oil.

I then layer it with a butter that Mark gifted me when we found out we were expecting. The brand is The Spoiled Mama and I linked it here as well. This brand is vegan, cruelty free, fragrance free, and full of that good-ness. It’s a pricier splurge if buying for yourself, which makes it a great gift!

Eye Masks- There’s no way to prepare yourself for the sleepless nights that come with the first few months (years? Rest of your life?) of motherhood. But we can do a little re-con in our skin care.

One thing I am asking for are under-eye masks so that I don’t look so sleepless during those very sleepless weeks. Look for those that have serums specifically targeted towards alleviating puffiness or tired eyes. Masks infused with gold are a good option.

The Pixi in this guide are highly recommended by one of my favorite beauty bloggers Cristin Cooper. She invests in a lot of prestige skincare, so if she is recommending these $25 drug store brand, you KNOW they’re good.

Facial Pads (w/ moisturizer, serums, etc)I bought the Peach and Lily Lazy Day Moisture pads at the end of my first trimester, though I wish I had them sooner. When exhaustion hits, doing a 5 step skin care routine is very unappealing. Do the pros really outweigh getting into that comfy bed?

These face pads make my skin feel as luxurious as when I go through my whole routine in about one tenth of the amount of time.

I’m well into my second trimester and still using them on days I feel especially tired. I anticipate they will be used even more frequently in my third trimester and after Baby arrives!

Seamless Underwear- I wouldn’t disagree with you if you thought gifting someone underwear was weird, but seamless underwear has brought so much joy to my life the past two weeks.

As my hips have widened, I’ve naturally started to grow out of my underwear. And let me ask…have YOU ever worn underwear that is too small? Worst. Feeling. Ever.

In addition to sizing up in underwear, I discovered that SEAMLESS underwear is where it is at. My favorite seamless underwear is the Auden brand linked here. They are only $5.00 each!

Nursing Bras/Tops- My pregnancy boobs came in immediately (it was the first sign that I was pregnant) If the expecting mom in your life is like me, she’s needed to get new bras early in her pregnancy and is going to need them again later on.

When sizing up, I’ve bought nursing bras so that I can wear them post baby. This is more budget friendly than buying two sets of new bras.

One thing on my list for Christmas is nursing tops. I’m such an oversized sweater fan, I have minimal button up/nursing friendly tops. Whether these tops are found in the maternity section or simply a collection of cardigans. Santa to the rescue!

Maternity Leggings- Women vary in the amount of maternity clothing they wear, even pregnancy to pregnancy. Personally, I’m a little over halfway there and, if it’s not a maternity waist band, I am very uncomfortable.

The leggings linked are my favorite pair that I have on repeat. I love the faux leather stripe down the side. This store has the most affordable leggings I’ve found. They’re not the thickest material, but they do the trick!

This list has something for every budget- under $20, under $30, and with the exception of The Spoiled Mama (depending on the product), ALL under $50. But we know it’s not the price tag that counts, it’s that all of these gifts will bring COMFORT to your loved one’s daily life.

To follow along my daily pregnancy journey, make sure you follow @klosetbykrista on Instagram. To shop these gifts, in addition to my other favorite finds, you can follow me on the FREE LiketoKnowit app!

Thanks for reading! xoxo

Thanksgiving Outfit Inspo

Thanksgiving is officially three weeks away! It’s about time for 2020 to bring us something to be cheerful about, like the holidays. I don’t think I’ve wrapped my mind around the fact that this is our last holiday season just as me and Mark, your average young couple. Next year we’ll have an 8 month old who is sitting up in his or her high chair trying my mom’s signature butternut squash soup for the first time.

The holidays are a close knit affair at my house. Growing up, we had a few rare Thanksgivings where we would get together with Aunts and Cousins, but mostly it was just my immediate family and my Abuelos. Since their passing, we’ve stuck to immediate family, sometimes losing a sibling to a significant other and sometimes gaining the significant other of another sibling. I’m fortunate that this means COVID won’t be affecting my holiday feast in any way, whereas I know some of you will be experiencing the holidays much differently this year.

Because Thanksgiving is a smaller affair for me, I don’t tend to get too dressed up. Mark’s mom hosts a Thanksgiving brunch every year, so I have put in a little extra effort since dating him, but I still stick to my trusted leggings and sweater.

That being said, this blog post will show you how you can look good for Thanksgiving while feeling good and comfortable! How can you enjoy a Thanksgiving feast if you’re uncomfortable? All of these outfits are what I would really wear on turkey day, and I promise that none of them have zippers, buttons, or any type of restricted waistline 😉

Leggings and Oversized Sweater:

I’m starting off with my signature look that never fails: leggings, and oversized sweater, and boots!

I love leggings any time of year, but especially for holidays. Elastic waistbands stretch as you eat, and there is no button, pocket, zipper, or extra detail to cause any type of discomfort throughout the day.

I tend to festively wear harvest colors for Thanksgiving: browns, oranges, etc. I love the rust color of and orange these Old Navy tunics, and they are the perfect length to wear with leggings!

Maxi Dress layered with a Sweater:

What’s better than an elastic waistband? NO waistband! This is a perfect option if you are celebrating the day with people outside of your immediate family who have slightly higher expectations of you since they haven’t seen you at your makeup-less and sweatpants wearing worse.

I live in New England, so a maxi dress is a must to avoid getting goosebumps. Shorter dresses would require tights which, in my book, is an extra level of dressiness. Besides, tights on Turkey day? That sounds almost as unappealing as jeans!

If you do live somewhere warmer, I recommend staying away from the body con/tight materials, even if they’re stretchy. I’d stick to flowy silhouettes that hide your post-meal belly. Holidays are not a time to feel self-conscious!

Layering

I think layering is a great in-between options. Something about having extra components to your outfit portrays that you put effort into looking and feeling good, but you can keep it casual and comfy none the less.

Another great part about layers? You can take them off. I’m personally not one to get the meat sweats, but if eating large quantities of food at once elevates your temperature, you may be happy to have a cardigan to remove versus being stuck in a thicker sweater.

Keep this layer removal in mind when choosing your bottom layer! You don’t want to remove your flowy cardigan to reveal a skin tight shirt pulling against your belly during dessert. You’ll see in the outfits below I stuck peplum and silky tanks.

If you like these outfit ideas, make sure you subscribe to this blog and follow @klosetbykrista on IG! Thanks for reading xoxo