An Attitude of Gratitude :)

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I am 35 weeks and 1 day in to my pregnancy journey, and today, I have nothing but gratitude for my life, my love, my family, and my friends. How could I not? I had two amazing showers this weekend and got to see some of my favorite people! And, Nugget is stocked. The next few weeks are going to be over in a flash, and I am going to use my week off over spring break to install the car seat, pack a bag, and wash the baby clothes.

Soccer season is officially underway, and my JV ladies are a fantastic group thus far! We had our team pictures made on Monday, and nugget has now officially been in two team photos this school year. 🙂

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I also wanted to recount a funny story from Tuesday of this week, wherein I had to ask some gentlemen at a volunteer fire station to help me remove my wedding ring, which had basically gotten stuck on my finger, trapping my swollen knuckle and cutting off my circulation. After a few days of contemplation, and trying “not to think about it”, I finally called Nick on my way home from soccer and said, “I HAVE TO GET THIS THING OFF RIGHT NOW!!” Nick, being the cool, calm, and collected problem-solver that he is, called a jeweler on Leesville Road. They told him cutting off rings was not a problem, but that their ring cutter was broken. They also told him that I should go to the fire station on Pinecrest to receive some immediate assistance. So… I drove over there, walked my pregnant belly into the station, and told the firefighters I needed help. They, of course, immediately jumped up out of their chairs, probably because they assumed I was in labor (looking back, I should have been more clear about that from the get-go, haha) but they were so kind and sweet when I explained what I needed, and even comforted me when I got a bit teary-eyed over the whole situation. However, at the end of the day, I am so grateful to have had the help, and really do appreciate the tools/technology we have available to us in this modern world.

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Then, on Friday, our weekend began with a visit from a dear old friend, Catherine. She lives in Oregon, and we do not get to see her but a few times a year, so having her over to our house that evening was a real treat. Having friends near and far makes it so much more special when they come to visit after months of not seeing one another, and it is a really great feeling to know that your support network literally spans from coast to coast!

On Saturday, my best friend Jenn threw the most incredible baby shower for us. This woman really does have a career in party planning if she wants it! She is a fabulous cook, incredible decorator/crafter, and an excellent hostess. My dear friend Amanda came down from Baltimore for the occasion, as well as my grandparents who live in Virginia and my parents who live in Charlotte. Nick’s family who lives in Greensboro, including his Grammy, made the trip as well. You wouldn’t believe how many gifts, surprises, and treats that our sweet baby nugget was showered with. The two of us were stunned. Having all of this love is so much more than we could have ever hoped for, and so much more than we feel like we deserve at times. It makes looking forward to this time in our lives so much more joyous than we could have imagined, and we are truly blessed.

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And then, as if my week couldn’t have been any more wonderful, the girls JV and Varsity soccer teams threw me a baby shower that included… drum roll… CAKE POPS!! Delicious!!! We had so much fun getting together off the soccer field, and the girls even wore blue and pink to show which gender they thought Nugget would be. Some of nug’s gifts included a soccer ball onesie, an infant-sized warm-up suit, baby crocs (because the girls are obsessed with wearing them on game days), and nug’s first soccer ball!

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I am still trying to find a way to express how happy I am, and how grateful we are to have such a wonderful life. I simply can’t do it justice. I know there are so many people who have to “do this” on their own, or with much less help than we have, and someday, before this is all said and done, I am going to try my best to bottle up this feeling, label it, and share it with others.

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A Much Needed Weekend in Atlanta

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Yesterday, I had a long car ride home from a weekend in Atlanta to think about and reflect upon the past few days. It was nice to have this opportunity to gather my thoughts and to have my moments of gratitude because, quite frankly, time is starting to move at a break-neck pace, and the closer I get to meeting my nugget, the more I wish time would speed up.

Before I get into my weekend and why I “needed” it so much, I want to say thank you to Nick, who has been (even in his recent sickness) unconditionally and entirely supportive and loving towards me throughout the past 8 months. I am 34 weeks and 1 day pregnant, and with each new day, starting to feel bigger and bigger. My ankles and knuckles have disappeared (my wedding ring is permanently stuck), and although I know they are not going to come back until after the baby comes out, Nick still sits next to me on the couch every night and tries to rub the fluid out of them. He showers me with compliments, even though he knows I don’t “hear” them, and offers to let me go shopping for things like new shoes because my feet don’t fit into my old ones anymore. He sees me struggling with my self-esteem and with feeling too needy at times, and still greets me with a smile and hug at the beginning of each day and at the end of each night. He thanks me for carrying and growing our baby, and tells me that he can never repay me. I know that it is not always easy to love somebody that doesn’t love themselves all the time. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without him, truly. I love you, Daddy Nick… thank you for everything.

So, now on to me. Things are starting to change pretty quickly as far as my body goes. Physically, I feel fine. And I continue to say and think that I am grateful for this because I know that a lot of women do not. I’m not going to lie… at the end of the day, I am a bit sore, and my swelling feels slightly “tight”, but it’s not painful. It’s just… different. More than anything, it’s hard to feel like my old self. My self-esteem is starting to take a little hit. Its hard to wake up in the morning and feel “pretty” when my feet and ankles and now, calves, are twice the size they were last week. The skin on my finger is bulging out around my wedding ring and my face is swollen and puffy. I haven’t been able to color my hair… so the two-tone black/orange look is starting to annoy me, and the big purple stretch marks that are covering my entire stomach are enough to make any woman a bit sad. Also, I know you all who read this are aware that I struggle with an eating disorder and my body image… so being pregnant and gaining a lot of weight is constantly on my mind too. And by “a lot of weight” I mean it… a lot. I’m way over the “goal” I had set for myself and the one that women are “supposed” to gain for my height, age, and pre-pregnancy weight. So it’s hard to escape the mindset of “you did this to yourself” or… “you wouldn’t be so swollen if you hadn’t gotten so fat” or “your blood pressure is high because you’ve gained too much weight too quickly.” I have to constantly remind myself to stay as present as possible, and to appreciate this opportunity I’ve been given to grow a child inside me. Mindfulness practices after mindfulness practices help… but also, talking about it does too. I want to chronicle this. Just because I feel like I have no room to complain because my pregnancy journey has been relatively easy compared to some, doesn’t mean that my feelings aren’t real and that the “physical” effects of pregnancy have to be greater than the “emotional” ones. Also, none of this means that I am not enjoying my pregnancy, or that I am not cherishing this time in my life. I am absolutely enjoying being an expectant mom… I am maybe just starting to look forward to having my baby in my arms and not worrying about what feels like “petty stuff.” Although I am fully aware of the fact that my concerns will shift and change with each new phase of expectancy, infancy, motherhood, and beyond.

And then… just in time… as if the universe knew that I needed a boost… I was surrounded with some of my favorite people in the whole world over the weekend. Lots of strong, empowering, amazing, independent women who have been role models to me throughout my entire life, came to my aunt’s house and reminded me that I can do this, and that I have a support network who is ready for me whenever I need them. They shared such beautiful words of wisdom, showered nugget with gifts and love, and were so attentive in asking me how I was doing, how I was feeling, and how things have been going. They listened to me, loved on me, comforted me, and reminded me that I am doing the best I can, which is more than anybody can ask for. Their genuine care and curiosity was so refreshing for me, and was the extra little “something” I needed to get me through this week.

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I was nervous that Saturday wasn’t going to “go my way” from the beginning when I got out of the shower, started to get dressed, and the two different pairs of boots that I had packed to wear with my dress did not fit on my feet. Like, they actually wouldn’t zip (I am still mourning this fact and the fact that we have to purchase new shoes for me to wear for the next few weeks) but my aunt Molly immediately ran upstairs and found two pairs of shoes to offer me for the day, and even suggested that we go shopping if need be. Every now and then, you need those little reminders… where people would literally give you the shirt off their back if you needed them too. It also helps that my family is amazing. My mothers, grandmothers, sisters-in-law, aunt, cousins, etc… all of them, love me AND my baby, and are right there with me, every step of the way.

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The universe was at it again on the way home… we drove right past the biggest and brightest rainbow I have ever seen 🙂

 

Week 33 Update!

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33 weeks down, 7ish left to go! This post will just be a brief update because I have a much bigger one planned after my Atlanta baby shower this weekend! Nugget and I are doing well, we had two visits to the birth center this week. The first was a planned check-up, and the second was a follow-up to the original because I had a little blood pressure “scare”. As it turns out, I just had a random spike in blood pressure after a stressful day at school, and everything was back to normal the next time I went in. So, no hypertension and no risks to report. I am cleared to travel and I can’t wait to see my friends and family in just a few short days! 🙂

 

Laurel Bluffs + Eno Quarry + Cabe Lands Loop – Eno River State Park

There’s a moment every year when it hits you that Spring is just around the corner. You know Winter isn’t quite over, but you feel a warmth and a smell in the air, that let’s you know Spring is near. It always feels wonderful. This year, it hit me while on a hike at the Eno River. Yes, I know I’ve written about this place before, and I can assure you I will write about it again. After this, I will have only written about 13 of the 28 miles of trails that make up the park.

For this loop, you could start at one of two parking areas – either the Pleasant Green Access or Cabe Lands Access. Full disclosure – we broke the hike up over two different trips, (with Sarah in her third trimester, 3 miles is about the limit) so we actually started at both locations. See picture below.

This is a hike I’d recommend doing anytime except on a Summer weekend. The reason being, both access points are popular parking spots for trips to the Eno River Quarry. The quarry is a popular swimming hole for high schoolers, but also families alike and can get quite crowded during summer days. Parking can be quite difficult on those days, and I’ve even paid local residents to park on their property in the past.

The hike itself has three distinct parts. The first is the western most portion of the Laurel Bluffs Trail. This is my favorite part of the hike, as it follows along a ridge a couple hundred feet from the river, providing wonderful views. The rhododendron and steep drop offs give the allusion of mountain hiking.

The next part is a loop around the Eno Quarry Trail. The Quarry was initially dug up in the 1940s to provide rock that would become interstate 85. Once the quarrying was done, it slowly filled with water over the years. As I mentioned before, it is a popular swimming destination in the summer months, but also a very nice view and unique part of the park.

 

The last part is known as the Cabe Lands Trail. It’s a steep trail, going down to the river, following the river a bit, and back up to connect to the Quary Trail.

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We loved the chance to do some Eno hiking as Spring is beginning. With this Spring in particular we are so excited as it is a reminder at how close we are to the arrival at our first child, which increasingly can’t come soon enough. The hike also gave me a chance to play with a new camera I recently got so I can capture some quality photos and videos of our little gal or guy when they arrive!

Full map of the hike is here:

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Hike Info:

  • MapMyHike Link, MapMyHike Link #2
  • Starting Point: Eno River Pleasant Green Access Point (4702 Pleasant Green Rd, Durham, NC 27705)
  • End Point: Same (Note: You could also do same hike and start at Cabe Lands Access parking lot)
  • Length: 5.25 Miles
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 1 Hour, 45 minutes