When you’ve tried for years to get pregnant and stay pregnant, it’s a thrill get that positive pregnancy test. Each week that passes feels monumental as the life inside you continues to grow. You feel thankful and joyous and excited. It’s a beautiful time, for sure.
But pregnancy isn’t all glowy and angelic.
Any woman who’s carried a baby knows that there are hard parts about it, too. I spent the first 4 months of this pregnancy nauseous and vomiting in awkward and uncomfortable places. One time I threw up so violently I broke the capillaries in my neck and cheeks. I pee a little when I cough. My underwear cut into my hips and fall down (how these are possible at the same time is beyond me). If I’m not sitting up perfectly straight when I eat, I can feel the food in my stomach rising. There are tattoos I can no longer see. Some days I cry for no reason, and worry that’s I’m getting pre-post-partum depression. I have cankles all my closed-toe shoes are too tight.
I could go on, but I don’t want to seem ungrateful.
You see, when you’ve been through infertility and miscarriage, you look forward to being pregnant with such mythical enthusiasm, you build it up to be something beyond wonderful. It will make everything you’ve gone through worth it, and you can finally move forward. You tell yourself you would never complain about being pregnant; after all, it’s a gift, a privilege! When you’re trying to conceive, it is physically painful to hear other women complaining about being pregnant. If they only knew how lucky they are!
But it’s not that simple.
Along with the classic discomforts of pregnancy, a woman who has lost a baby or babies also has to deal with something else. We face the cold reality that being pregnant does not mean the same thing as bringing home a baby.
Those first several weeks after getting a positive pregnancy test are both thrilling and terrifying. You dare to dream about your family with a new baby and everything that comes after. And yet you’re deeply worried things won’t work out the way you want them to. For months, every time I went to the bathroom I checked for blood. Every twinge, cramp, and ache made me worry that this was the beginning of the end.
That worry doesn’t go away.
This is my fourth pregnancy, and I know that concern will stay with me until I am holding this baby boy in my arms. It’s just a part of the journey for me. I’ve learned to manage those fears, and for me they have receded somewhat now that I’m nearing the end of my 2nd trimester. But they will always be there.
I try not to feel resentful and accept that those experiences have helped shape me, but the truth is I wish they hadn’t happened. I wish we had those babies in our family and that I never had to feel the unbearable ache of my heart actually breaking. Like anything painful in life, pregnancy loss is something that changes you. Time can make it hurt less, but it’s always a part of you. It colors your experience of everything having to do with pregnancy, birth, and babies. It just does.
All of this is to say that I am thrilled to be pregnant. It’s been a long journey for my partner and I to get to this point, and I’m thankful that we get the opportunity to parent another child. But it’s hasn’t been easy, and we will always feel the loss of the babies that didn’t make it.
And at the same time, it’s okay for me to complain about hemorrhoids and cankles. They suck.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. By writing this, I’m simply trying to share my experiences in the hope that it may help another woman or family.
The night before a trip always finds me feeling a little bit unsettled. My brain is zooming around from what is or isn’t packed yet, did I turn on my vacation responder, remember to take out the garbage tomorrow, is the camera charged, remember to bring the prenatal vitamins, and on and on.
Last night I woke up for a bathroom break (the baby has found my bladder) and couldn’t stop thinking once I was up. After tossing around for a while, I decided to get back up and deal with the question of vacation knitting. I had been worrying about having the right amount of knitting with the appropriate ratio of interest to mindlessness. So I utilized this time between 2:30 and 4 pm to think, start a knitting project, and catch up on a couple of blogs. Thankfully, I went back to sleep eventually, and there was some coffee waiting for me when I woke up.
Knitting: Wurm in Freia
What’s on your needles and on on your nightstand this week?
Over the weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the wedding of a childhood friend back in my home state of Idaho. This trip was exciting on multiple levels: reconnect with good friends I haven’t seen in ages; spend time with my mom & sister; spend time alone; all the knitting, reading, and watching I could handle. All of these things were lovely, and I came home refreshed and ready to jump back into my daily life as mom, wife, friend, and business owner.
I cast on two brand new projects in anticipation of all the knitting time I’d have on the plane and in the hotel. I brought the book I’m reading and my iPad to catch up on things I’ve been wanting to watch. I was set up! I may have eaten chocolate in bed and ordered room service a time or two. It was glorious, and relaxing, and the perfect blend of solitude and social interaction this introvert needs.
For the knitting crowd: I cast on a Renfrew hat in Road to China and a Brush Creek Cowlette in Brooklyn Tweed Loft. (you can view my Ravelry project page here for more details) The hat is finished, and after a gentle block will be on its way to a dear friend who is about to need it as a chemo cap. The cowlette has given me a couple of problems, and I’m not sure what will happen to it next. Let me just say this: you should do a gauge swatch, even if it’s for a fingering weight shawl/cowl thing, of which you have knit dozens. Experience doesn’t always trump the tricks Gauge has up her sleeve!
And now this week is halfway through, and we’re beginning October! I’m looking forward to all that this month has to bring. Hope you’re having a good one.
Well hello again, friends! It’s good to be back. So sorry to disappear on you like that, without any notice or explanation. All I can say by way of excuse is that I was going through a hard time personally, felt stuck creatively, and couldn’t muster up the motivation to try to force it.
But that’s over now.
I’m going to ease back into the blogging with one of my favorite weekly traditions, Ginny’s Yarn Along. During my hiatus, I thought about Yarn Along nearly every week. And I read some of the other posts, and always gleaned a few new ideas for things to knit and books to read. I’m almost always doing both, so this is the perfect platform for a little sharing.
My blogging friend Katie Gibson is a formidable reader, moving along at an enviable pace. She posts regular updates and reviews on what she’s been reading, and I’ve often taken her lists along to the bookstore or library. You can see her 2014 book list here.
She recently recommended a book by Jojo Moyes. After looking through all of her titles, I decided to start with Me Before You. When I picked it up at the library, I was a bit embarrassed to see that it had a romance sticker on the spine. Not my typical genre, but I do enjoy a good love story. So far, it’s not romancey in the heaving bosom sort of way at all. It didn’t take long to get hooked, and now I can’t wait to read her other books! Don’t you love it when that happens?
There have been a lot of baby knits on the needles the past couple of months. Not only am I pregnant (yay! more on that another time), but so are a couple of my friends. After a first trimester with my head stuck in the toilet and zero knitting mojo, it’s a relief to be back with my wool and needles. Here are two finished Puerperium cardigans awaiting buttons. Both are knit in Madelinetosh, one in DK the other in Vintage for two different sizes. This is a fun, free pattern that takes just one skein of DK weight yarn. Win!
It’s good to be back, friends. Thanks for stopping by!
Time away from home, on adventures big and small, is an essential part of what brings me happiness. This may be a bit ironic since I consider myself a homebody. And yet I regularly need a break from our routine, a breath of fresh air, and new sights to help clear my head, bring my priorities back into focus, and jumpstart new daydreams.
And that’s just what our most recent trip to Florida did for me. At first, it was all about playing in the sun and spending time together. As our trip stretched on and we really settled in to the un-rhythym of family life on the road, it hit me. So many of the things that stress me out, cause me worry or upset, don’t matter. They just don’t! Sure, this is easy to feel while on vacation, that’s half the point of getting away! But I am feeling this acutely right now, and want to hold on to it for as long as possible.
My other vacation revelation has to do with work. Life goes on all around us, whether we’re there or not. Both of our jobs were moving along smoothly without us. This took some careful pre-plannig, but we were able to leave and not look back (for the most part) for 10 days. It’s not necessary to check email after hours, work on the weekends, or be preoccupied with work while at home. I can’t help but wonder what we can both do on a weekly basis to maintain this feeling and separation.
And during those 10 days, we had nothing but each other, and that truly is all that matters. I fell more in love with my wife, our family, and our life on this trip. And that makes me insanely happy! And being happy means I have more energy for friends, work and family, hopefully without too much fretting over the small stuff.
So even though I woke up at 3 am and feel bone tired this morning thanks to a 3 hour time difference, I am so grateful. Grateful for the time and the ability to take off into the sunshine for 10 days. Grateful for an adventurous family that helps push me outside my comfort zone. Grateful for the uninhibited, playful excitement of my 4 year old. And yes, grateful for the warmth of the sun and a brief reprieve from the cold, wet, grayness of our winter.
From Ginny: ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?
I have been knitting and reading up a storm this winter. Something about the weather sends me to the couch in the evenings for knitting, curled up in front of the fire watching something on tv with my sweetie. And then to bed early to curl up with a book. There has been plenty of both the past couple of months, and it feels really good. Good to take care of myself and make time for the things that bring me comfort, peace, and creativity.
Currently I’m reading The House Girl. It’s a rich story of the complications of two women, generations apart: life as a young slave, and life as a young career woman. There’s a lot of complexity to the story that I’m really enjoying, even early on. I can’t wait to see how it all ties together. Some other recent reads that have been a treat: Divergent, Love Walked In, Belong to Me.
My fall sweater has been seeing a lot of action recently. I started this as part of a Stash knit along, but it got set aside in favor of another sweater and holdiay projects. The Anzula For Better or Worsted is a dream to knit with; once I start, I don’t want to touch anything else! So now I’m pointing my laser focus at it and trying to get the pieces finished asap.
And yet…I just wound up yarn for 4 new projects. We’re heading out on a sunny vacation soon, and I may have gotten a bit carried away. But you know what? Each of these projects has been on my mind for ages, so why not have the yarn, pattern, and needles ready to go when the mood strikes?! I’ll probably take 2 with me on vacation. Or 3. We’ll see.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite bloggers and internet friends in real life. It was sort of surreal looking at one another in the flesh after years of reading her blog! We got to spend some time fondling a gorilla, slurping lattes, and talking about our respective mama-hoods and business lives. And amid all of that, Kathy mentioned that she had recently started a podcast and would be interested in interviewing me.
I love podcasts. Knitting and parenting podcasts are my jam. They have kept me company while cleaning, painting, nursing, cooking, driving, exercising, and knitting. I look up to the women I listen to every week, for their bravery at pulling up the mic and sharing themselves.
When faced with the opportunity to be on a podcast myself, I was simultaneously excited and terrified. It turns out I was in good hands. Talking with Kathy is easy and fun, and it really felt like a phone call with a good friend.
We talked about my new passion, exploring making and mothering. It’s a topic we’ve been exploring over on the Stash blog with interviews and guest posts with some pretty amazing women (click here to see them all in one place). To get to speak about this subject from a personal standpoint had me feeling vulnerable and empowered at the same time. I’m no expert on parenting, and I certainly don’t do things the way I want to 100% of the time. But I do the best I can, and I am constantly learning and evolving.
If you’re so inclined, head on over to Kathy’s blog Bliss Beyond Naptime and listen to my interview! The time flew by so quickly that we didn’t get a chance to delve into all the things I was ready to talk about. Kathy asked me two big questions that we could have kept talking about for hours. Below I’ve shared more of my answers that we didn’t necessarily get to in the interview. I hope you enjoy!
For me, I’m never more connected to my creative spirit than when I am creating. Knitting is the main way I feel that connection, but there are infinite ways. Find yours and give it everything you have. Some other sources of bliss that rejuvenate and nourish my soul:
Baking—did you know I went to school to be a pastry chef?
Being out in nature—gardening, walking/hiking, the beach. Being near water. Love living in the PNW!
Reading–love to bliss out on an amazing story (fiction or otherwise). I make time for reading by enforcing and early bedtime for myself.
Travel—doesn’t have to be big, but I find that about every 2 months or so I need a change of scenery and routine. We also take a lot of daytrips as a family, and our staff at Stash try to take a field trip every couple of months.
Grooming!—long baths & self-manicure sessions help me clear my head and invite in all sorts of amazing ideas. Maybe it’s the polish fumes, but it works!
Friends—a good long talk with a girlfriend is so important. My social life has been one of the things to take a hit since starting my business, and this makes me very sad. Whenever possible, I try to reach out to my friends and touch base.
How have you simplified motherhood so you can carve out the time and energy to follow your bliss?
- Changing expectations of self. I don’t have to do it all, nor do I want to. And I don’t have to do it like She does. We’re all different and doing the best we can as women and moms. This was a hard transition to make when I became a mother, and again when I started running Stash. I’m learning to put my energy into the activities that make me feel most myself, as well as a loving mother, creative business owner, fun and supportive spouse. It’s like my biz mentor Marie Forleo says, “if isn’t a hell yes, it’s a hell no!” Letting go of other people’s expectations. This is hard—I tend to take things personally and am very sensitive.
- Routine: Getting rid of what doesn’t work, add in more of what does & repeat. Children love repetition and routine. And guess what? Busy adults do, too! We have a family rhythm that works really well for us right now. My daughter eats the same thing (with minor variations) every day for breakfast and lunch. I used to worry about her becoming a picky eater, but I’ve let that go in favor of knowing she always has healthy choices I don’t have to think so much about. We save new foods for our nightly family dinners and when we’re out of the house.
- Present moment. When I’m at work I’m 100% focused on Stash. When I’m at home, I attempt to be 100% focused on my family. I don’t work from home when my daughter is here. This is a big challenge, but one that has enabled me to notice, appreciate, and soak up the special moments in my everyday life. It also helps me feel a bigger sense of gratitude for the little things: friendly customers, soft yarn, belly laughs, silly faces, and a thousand other things.
- By encouraging solo play. Kathy was the first person who I ever heard lay it out so clearly, bluntly, yet lovingly: I don’t play with my kids. I felt that this was the way for me intuitively, but I felt a lot of guilt around it. For my daughter and I, our play is reading, cooking, or creating together. We have a craft room where we’re free to get messy and have fun, and we read together every single day. We also have a lot of family dance parties to blow off steam and reconnect at the end of a busy day!
- House cleaner! I used to have a weekly cleaning schedule. It helped me feel productive and like I was contributing to the household when I wasn’t working full time. When my daughter was born I gave myself the gift of letting go of the deep cleanings. Once a month someone comes in and cleans the house top to bottom. It’s amazing what happened when I let go of worrying about scrubbing the tub or mopping the floors! We still clean, but our standards have changed and it’s very liberating!
- Free days and family dinners. No matter how busy the week is, we know that we will be having dinner together every night. This is a huge priority for all of us, as it is often the only time we’re all sitting down in the same place at the same time. We also do our best to not schedule more than one outside activity on the weekends so we have time together and each parent can be free to pursue passion projects. All that routine does get a little monotonous! Keeping weekends free allows for more spontaneity and fun.
- Bedtime and quiet time Ever since my daughter was an infant, we have held bedtime and naptimes sacred. Not only does this mean we’re all better rested, it means we all get our own downtime, too. When I stayed at home, I would only let myself do housework type things for a few minutes, the rest was for soul-filling activities.
- Less work I’ve also slowly simplified my work schedule so I have more room to dream and hunt inspiration for my life and my business. There is this antiquated notion that entrepreneurs have to work 24/7 in order to be successful. I regularly only work 24 hours a week As much as possible I separate my two jobs as entrepreneur and mama so that each can have my full attention.
- Bonus Day My daughter goes to preschool on one of my days off! I usually do a little bit of work to keep things running smoothly, then I take care of what need to in order to fill my bliss cup back up. It usually involves not getting dressed, writing a blog post or two, reading, knitting, and cooking up something yummy.
What are your sources of joy and rejuvenation, dear mama? How do you take care of your creative self while also being the mama of your dreams? Do share~I’d love to hear from you!