Expecting Naomi

Naomi turned 6 months old yesterday and it is blowing my mind. Mark and I created that tiny person and kept her alive and it has consumed us. People have been asking us “do you even remember what life was like before Naomi?” I was responding “um, yes, it was spontaneous and full of sleep” up until about a month ago, but now I am beginning to understand.

I don’t want to forget this beautiful, messy, wild year. I’m not one for scrapbooks, so thus begins the resurrection of this old, neglected blog for Part 1 of a series dedicated to our journey with Naomi so far.

Last summer, Mark, our housemates, and I had taken on the challenge of doing a 60-day sugar cleanse. We felt great and had a TON of energy – I had shaved off a few pounds, was training for a 5K with a running group, and Mark was in the middle of marathon training. We were excited for the challenge of hiking in Denver, where we vacationed with friends the first week of July. It wasn’t until I was sitting in a restaurant bathroom in Denver, crying, that the possibility of a pregnancy first entered my mind. I had the worst migraine and nausea of my life, and it was the first time I lost my appetite for tacos…. ever. If I was honest with myself, I hadn’t felt well for the last few hours, but I wanted to be an easy-going guest for our wonderful hosts and tried to push through the last couple miles of our hike together. It was just altitude sickness, right?

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Mark and I on our second hike of the Denver trip at about 12K feet, blissfully unaware of our days-old pregnancy.  I was feeling much better here. 

We found out we were pregnant on an otherwise dull Tuesday morning a couple weeks later in July. I had been late for a few days and Mark wanted to wait until the weekend to take the test. But it was a hot week and I had a 5K planned (as well as some drinks at the end). I wanted to know if I should take it easy on the run in 90+ heat and say no thanks to the drinks, or run my heart out and drink and be merry. So at 7am on Tuesday, July 21, I took the test, and it was overwhelmingly positive. Someone might as well have woken me up with an alarm : “PREGNANT PREGNANT PREGNANT”. Mark was still sleeping so I hopped over to the bed and, out of breath, told him we were pregnant. All I remember was Mark saying ‘oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh’. We did the math… I would be due at the end of March or mid-April. I cancelled my meeting that morning and went into work late so we could process the news more.

We were both really scared – we had naively dreamed this would happen in a year, or two, when we had paid off more loans and saved more, traveled more, etc. We had just celebrated our third anniversary and felt like we were hitting a good stride – both of us had jobs we were growing into, we had been setting financial goals, traveling lots, and we were loving our house and church community. We knew all of this would change with a baby. Our combined incomes at the time couldn’t pay all of our school loans and daycare, but we also couldn’t afford to have one of us quit our jobs and stay at home (neither of us really wanted to do that anyway). It was a classic middle class crisis which continues to haunt us today. We also had housemates that we were living with on a lease that wasn’t set to end until one month past our due date, AND I had just agreed to teach a course in the spring which would also run well past my due date. It was hilarious timing, one that made us laugh most days and cry many others.

The first person I told, two days after taking the test, was a relative stranger – my coach in a women’s running group with which I had been training for just about two months. I went to my 5K as planned, getting there early to talk to my coach about the news and ask her advice about the heat. It was really sweet – she cried a couple tears of joy and told me to take it easy – run/walk the race and drink lots of water. She had miscarried years ago, working herself too hard, and didn’t want me and my poppy seed baby to suffer the same experience. I ended up blurting out the news to my friend, Liz, that night too – I couldn’t think about anything else. I was a terrible running buddy.

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Running the Esprit de She with Liz. Our housemate later told me she thought I was glowing in this photo, pre-pregnancy news.  

I made an appointment with a midwife to confirm my pregnancy in early August, and things started to fall into place as the pregnancy became more real to us. We told our housemates at the end of July, with an open question mark about our housing situation. They graciously invited us to stay in the unit with them with our newborn until the lease ended, so we could avoid paying double rent. They’re amazing people. I told my boss in August that I couldn’t teach the course in the spring and that I would need to use all of my accrued sick time for a maternity leave. She was overwhelmingly supportive. We told our families, and they were THRILLED for us. We started talking with some friends and homeowners at our church about our upcoming housing need, and we signed a lease to move into their Avondale building at the end of April 2016. We found an affordable in-home daycare that our friends recommended.

We also made a lot of important medical decisions. We chose to work with Swedish Covenant Hospital’s midwifery practice. They were an incredible team of supportive, thoughtful women, caring for me as a person, not a patient, and educating us about all of our options through the whole journey. And we invited our rockstar doula, Beth Nielsen, to work with us and coach us through labor in March. I’ll share more about how great she is in the labor story.

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Naomi’s ultrasound. Not pictured: the creepy ghost-skeleton panorama. 

At 28 weeks, we had our first (and only!) ultrasound. Mark and I decided to find out the gender because we wanted to imagine who our little person would or could be. Turns out Naomi didn’t want us to find out! The ultrasound tech gave us a very, very unconfident guess that it was a girl, but Naomi had conveniently placed her hands over her crotch so we couldn’t see anything. Nice. We didn’t want to risk telling everyone we knew that it was a girl, only to have a surprise at the end, so we kept it a secret – although we were bad at this.

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30 weeks pregnant. 

My pregnancy was smooth without complications, although I always braced myself for the worst. I never experienced nausea beyond that day in Denver, which was a HUGE blessing. And even though I was nervous about the history of gestational diabetes in my family, I passed each test with flying colors. I started to trust my body and listen to it more during prenatal yoga, practicing the poses and breathing techniques I would later use in labor. I am still in awe of how blessed we were with a simple pregnancy.

One of the only books I actually finished during pregnancy was Creating with God by Sarah Jobe. Sarah and her Rutba House community hosted me for a few days in 2011 when I had a spring break from grad school. She had just finished writing this book and had asked her house community, and me, for help picking a self-portrait picture to go on the back of the book. 4 years later, I was devouring her every word with fascination and gratitude and relief that someone else understood how strange it was to be in a body burgeoning with responsibility and hope and fear and joy. In the book, Sarah invited me to consider the ways that pregnancy could train us in the very practices we need to live a life of faith. And oh, did it train me. At work and at home, pregnancy trained me to give up and let go of the things I wanted to control. My body became a sacred space, teaching and requiring me to be still and rest.

And rest I did. Through the whole pregnancy, I was so, so tired. I regularly slept 10+ hours/night on weekends. I fell asleep on the train often. I took naps before dinner on weeknights. During the second trimester, I started experiencing insane heartburn and severe hip and back pain. Prenatal yoga helped a lot but the pain and heartburn often interrupted my sleep at night, even before Naomi started kicking. I didn’t experience any long-lasting relief until almost immediately after Naomi arrived.

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 Looking considerably more exhausted at 37 weeks, just one week before I went into labor. Here is what I wrote with this picture on Instagram: 37 weeks pregnant today 😳, tired of my CTA commute 😩, and weary of the week’s news 😨, yet very thankful for the chance to work from home, take a few hours off 🤗. There’s much to do at work and at home before baby Wright arrives (and after too!), but we are full of gratitude for all the gifts and support from friends, colleagues, and family! It’s a good challenge to trust that everything will come together as it should, and to be humbly aware that there are millions of families without the same access to the quality healthcare, education, and resources we have had. We are so excited to meet you, baby Wright, and so hopeful for your life and your heart, despite bringing you into a dark and strange world. ☺️🙏😍

Speaking of Naomi’s arrival, stay tuned for my next post about naming and meeting her!

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birthday resolutions

In just about a month, I will turn 26.

The first quarter century has been full to the brim of plans and dreams, struggles and successes. I studied hard for not one degree, but two. I’ve worked challenging and rewarding non-profit jobs that have led me to an amazing career and an office with my name on the door. I managed to create and keep up more than a couple meaningful and invaluable relationships in this big city. And I married the gentlest, bravest, goofiest guy I know. It feels like we’ve climbed valleys and mountains since our wedding day – battling financial setbacks one after another – finding joy in the mundane – asking, and praying, for help – wondering when we’ll feel “grown-up” – learning how to trust and love each other day in and day out.

And I feel more like myself than I have, well, in years.

I am finally seeing _steady_ in my future, but my natural urge is to ask God: what’s next? What big project, what big change, what big transition will I begin next?

So I created this blog to document this 26th year, a seemingly uneventful year by most standards : no new job, no more wedding to plan, no babies yet (knock on wood), no house to buy or rehab, no grad school graduation or enrollment. **

Yet I have this list. Of 26 things to do in my 26th year. It may be trite, too ambitious, too much information #sorryimnotsorry, or perhaps impossible. But by the end of it, I hope to emerge a changed person with a bigger faith and a stronger will. Perhaps a little bruised if I fail, perhaps a little taller because I tried.

Without further ado, here is the aforementioned list:

  1. Write weekly thank-you and just-because notes.
  2. Read 26 books.
  3. Limit screen-time each day, post-work.
  4. Learn how to swim. Yep. You read that right!
  5. Run 26 miles… consecutively.
  6. Go to physical therapy to survive running 26 miles.
  7. Observe and teach a class at work.
  8. Create and maintain a blog.
  9. Pass the LSW (License of Social Work) exam.
  10. Practice being a neighbor : invite a stranger over for dinner : volunteer for a local organization more than once.
  11. Save $$ for a road trip.
  12. Go to individual and couples therapy.
  13. Pay off lots o’ debt.
  14. Learn to bike in the city.
  15. Try sugar-free, dairy-free, and/or gluten-free diets for at least 30 days.
  16. Learn to can.
  17. Babysit friends’ and families’ kids for free. Often.
  18. Romance Mark. Take him on dates. Sacrifice your spending money on his favorite booze. Love that guy. (Okay this is more than one!)
  19. Wear make-up only when necessary.
  20. Go green(er)! Stop using paper towels. Recycle more. Make your own cleaning supplies.
  21. Create and use a cleaning schedule.
  22. Set apart daily time for prayer, scripture, and meditation.
  23. Join a CSA.
  24. Spend a weekend vo-cationing at a monastery.
  25. Publish a research article with colleagues.
  26. Go to a live taping of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!

The plan is to blog about each of these at least once, in no particular order, and keep you up to date on their progress.

Your encouragement, wisdom, and camaraderie are most welcome! My hope is that this space becomes less about me and more about the God, the movements, and the people that inspire and guide me along the way.

Much love,

Kendra

**Disclaimer: this isn’t taking into account the wonderfully amazing things Mark will be accomplishing and beginning this year. I can’t tell you how excited I am to share in his journey of free-lancing and new PJ work, post his December 2013 graduation. What a talented guy! Check out his website, admire his work, and hire him, for goodness’ sake.