Pregnancy Update: Halfway There

The anatomy scan. The mid-pregnancy ultrasound where you get to see your baby and make sure everything is developing properly. Being the worry-wort that I am, I've been looking forward to this appointment since its been scheduled, hoping it will ease my conscience, but also because I just want to see the baby. The belly is getting bigger, the heartbeat is becoming my favorite sound in the world, and I've been feeling flutters, swishes, rolls, and kicks, but there's something about seeing him moving on the ultrasound screen that just makes me want to cry happy weepy tears. Maybe it's because I love him so much already my chest feels like its about to burst, or maybe seeing him makes me fall in love with Michael all over again. After all, this little miracle wouldn't be possible without our love for each other.

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As you can tell, pregnancy makes me emotional. The abundance of love I feel for my husband and child is hard to describe, and I feel like it's one of those things you don't really get until you experience it for yourself. Like I knew I was already capable of love, but just when you think it can't get any deeper, it does. 

Everyone thought I would want a girl first seeing as I come from such a badass female family, but when I thought of having a child, I knew I wanted a mini-Michael. I get so much support from the femme fatales in my life, I knew in my own family unit I would want a boy like his father to melt my heart for years to come. I am literally counting down the days until I get to meet him, even knowing the first few weeks will be insane and my chances of sleep or null. #worthit

As I enter motherhood, it's made me really appreciate my family in a whole new light. It takes a village to raise a child, and I can't help but count my blessings for my mom and my sisters who raised me. We didn't have much growing up, but we had each other, and really that's all you need.

But back to the scan. I've been a bundle of nerves because I don't really sleep well anymore since I am no longer allowed to snooze on my back. Couple that with revisions, work, and getting things sorted in my personal life, it's been one heck of a rollercoaster, but once the day arrived, I couldn't help but count down the hours, wishing on every minute like it was a star that our baby would be healthy and progressing normally. I'm not sure my heart could take it if we heard otherwise.

Luckily, the ultrasound tech put me at ease immediately. He was smiling, which made me smile, and he went through all the body parts of the baby, constantly reassuring us that everything looked good. I started to relax, enjoying the show as baby seemed to be dancing to his own groove, fist pumping in the utero. The doctor came in afterwards to give us the final report. Baby was healthy and growing within one day of his due date, and he saw no reason for us to come back for any future ultrasounds. Now, it was all about taking good care of myself and baby for the next 19 weeks to ensure optimum health.

Now, that all the scary testing stuff is over with, I am finally enjoying my pregnancy :)

Other fun pregnancy updates:

Things I don't love about being pregnant:

  • Not being able to drink wine. Most days I don't really think about it, but some days I really miss it. It was an experience Michael and I shared, and I miss having that. This is the first year we are breaking tradition and not going on a wine trip *pouts*.
  • Not being able to eat sushi. I dream of having an omakase meal post-pregnancy. I keep telling myself it's going to be my push reward along with a bottle of champagne. Though oddly, it's been difficult for me to eat some kinds of cooked fish, so Michael brought up the point that even though I want sushi while pregnant, my body would probably revolt against it.
  • Pregnancy acne. I never really had to struggle with acne in general, so it's really been a pain to deal with it all pregnancy. Starting to think this pregnancy glow is non-existent. Ha.
  • Hating to wear clothes. Ha. Nothing looks good! And I'm so not into purchasing a whole new wardrobe to dress up the bump, so I've only bought a few essentials that I hope will get me through the next few months.
  • Being hungry all the time. You would think the excuse to eat more would actually excite me because I love food, but it's actually kind of torture when you have no room in your belly, so you have to constantly graze every two hours. It makes eating a chore when you can't really enjoy a full meal and your taste buds are off.

Things I love about being pregnant:

  • Feeling him move. Nothing is more magical. Sometimes when I feel alone and I doubt myself as a mother and wife, I always seem to get a reassuring nudge from the little one as if he's saying, Chill ma, you're doing great.
  • Baby likes the sound of Michael's voice. He is more receptive to moving and kicking when he can hear his papa close by. It's so neat now that Michael can feel him, too.
  • My relationship with Michael. I feel like the baby has brought us much closer and or marriage is better because of it.

Behind the scenes: 2018 NVA finalist & the gender reveal!

When I first moved to Seattle and my sister came to visit me, we decided to see a fortune teller for fun off Broadway in Capitol Hill. I'll admit, I sometimes go once a year to get my fortune told. I don't know if I believe in them one hundred percent, but when I get good news, I like to think it manifests itself into reality.

Anyway, this particular reading occurred in the summer of 2014, and the only reason I remember it is because the fortune teller told me, Writing for you, goes hand in hand with your love life. I took that to mean that if my relationship was good, so would my writing be. Who knows if it's true, but my young twenty-something self had recently moved to Seattle for love, and I was one year into seriously writing novel-length works with the intent for publication. Back then I had been naive. I thought I could make a three-year plan to be published, and I would be financially stable enough to quit my day job. I'm shaking my head at my past self as I write this. Oh, how I wish I could have warned my past self just how difficult that would be. That's not to say it can't happen--because it has for the fortunate few, but I am not so fortunate. And the reality is, most authors still have a full-time job in addition to their writing contracts.

The whole point of going to the fortune teller though was for me to ask if I would make it into PitchWars, to which I got the vague reply, Writing will be a long journey, but when your door opens, it will happen very fast. Suffice it to say, I did not get in that year, and my relationship with Michael was still relatively new. After that summer though, I stopped thinking about that fortune, until things started to line up.

In 2015, Michael and I went to Vietnam with my family. During this trip he asked my mom for my hand in marriage. When we came home from that trip, I started working on a manuscript inspired by that trip. That was the year I got into PitchWars and Michael proposed. For a moment, it looked like things were getting serious! Writing and relationship-wise!

In 2016 we booked the venue for our wedding, and I also got my first agent. Finally, I thought. Something is happening! During this year, I wedding planned and also went on submission for the first time. All the while, I waited thinking, This is it. My door is opening!

Except it didn't. The rejections came in, and my writing confidence took a hit which showed in my other works. I started to doubt myself and my ability. Then my 3-year plan was up.

In 2017, I got married, but then my agent and I parted ways amicably. I felt like a complete and utter failure. I felt like I'd failed everyone whoever believed in me, and then eventually, I stopped believing in myself.

I took a long break from writing after that. I thought of doing something else for awhile. Maybe I should learn to code? Maybe I should become a sommelier? Maybe I should focus more on my career! Looking back, I know that my hesitation to pursue my dream came out of fear. I didn't want to admit I failed on my dream.

But with the push of writing friends, I decided to try again. It's only failure if you stop, right? Except when I tried, I was faced with rejection yet again (Seriously, miss fortune lady. Where is this door? And why won't it open?). 

Then I saw the New Visions Award contest, and I thought, why not? I liked the imprint's mission, and it became more important for me to want to share my story with readers then to simply be published. I also wanted to give an old manuscript one more shot before putting it in my trunk forever. So I submitted, and retreated to drafting once more.

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In 2018, I got pregnant. And then the beginning of my second trimester I found out I was a finalist for the award. I didn't win, but I was finalist, which meant, I wasn't outright rejected. I was in the top five, after feeling like the past five years of writing amounted to what seemed like nothing. After years of rejection and setbacks, I didn't realize at first just how monumental or how much this affected me until I received an encouraging e-mail from an editor.

Sometimes, you just need encouragement from someone who isn't family or friend who sees something in your work for you to realize, Hey, I've improved over the course of my journey. Which means I can only get better if I keep at it. And if I do, maybe a door will finally appear.

So sure, being a finalist was a small victory, but one I needed.

I have no idea whether or not the fortune lady will be right, but that's really besides the point. As long as I believe in myself then eventually some door--wherever it may be--will open. Only because I won't stop pounding on it until someone let's me in.

There will be no more 3 or 5 year plans for me. Only a lifelong dream.

Now, I'm about to dive into a cool writing opportunity this summer which may or may not come to anything. But I'm excited to tackle it just because opportunities in the writing world don't come up every often. Hopefully I'll rise to the occasion, but if I don't, that's okay too as long as I try my best, because I know I'll grow and learn from the experience (which I consider a win). To do so, I'll have to put drafting The Gilded Cage on hold, but I plan to get back to it soon.

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On another life-related note, I'm having a baby boy. We revealed the gender to the family on Mother's Day, and my heart is full of warmth and happiness for my family and in-laws from all the support we've been given. My son is already loved by everyone, and we haven't even had the pleasure of meeting yet!

The fortune lady was right about one thing though: writing and love goes hand in hand for me because the act of writing is the best way I know how to express my love.

A Valentine's Surprise: We're Expecting!

I've been keeping a secret: Michael and I are expecting! It's been a wild ride during the first trimester, but I'm so happy to finally start sharing our journey with you.

How we found out:

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So funny story, the night before Valentine's day, Michael made a chicken stir-fry with chili oil for dinner that for some reason soured my stomach. The smell made me so upset, and I got angry because the house just reeked of it. I ended up holing myself in the bedroom and going to bed early. When Michael came up to get ready for bed, the sounds woke me and I could not fall back asleep (as you can tell, I was in a terrible mood that night). Then around eleven p.m. I started to get painful cramps in my abdomen. I tried a heating pad, but that didn't help. I tossed and turned which woke Michael up. It was so bad I started pacing in the room. At that point Michael and I both weren't getting any sleep. He suggested we either go to the ER or I take some aspirin. I was stubborn. I did not want to go to the ER, since I thought it was a hormonal side effect from going off BCP, nor did I want to take aspirin on an empty stomach since I felt nauseous. So I ended up sleeping in the guest room so Michael could get some sleep.

Then my alarm went off and it was time to get to ready for work. My sister had mentioned off-handedly the night before that maybe I should take a pregnancy test, but I waved it off since I'd taken one a week before and it had been negative. I thought all my symptoms were contributed to PCOS since my doctor was going to test me for that soon. Then lo and behold the pink line showed up.

Oh shit! was my first thought, but I couldn't believe it. Poor Michael did not get any sleep because I woke him up immediately and showed it to him thinking it was a trick of my eye, but it wasn't. He saw it, too. I saw my doctor that day who confirmed it with a blood test. That night we flew to see my family and traded Valentine's Day cards at the airport to commemorate the big news.

Was this a planned pregnancy?

Yes and no. Ha. On our trip to Santa Barbara for Michael's Birthday last Summer, Michael brought up the idea about us having kids earlier than we had planned. In my head, I always thought I would start trying when I was 29-30. At the time, I was only 26. The more we thought about it though, we knew we would at least have one, and we didn't know if I would have fertility issues or not so we planned to start trying in January 2018. In October 2017, however, my doctor suggested that I be off the BCP for at least 3 months before starting to try. So I got off of them and received a rude awakening in exchange. After being on BCP for over a decade, I ended up having really bad side effects and pain on my left side. My periods became irregular, and after an ultrasound they found ovarian cysts. I was dealing with a hormonal imbalance and they suspected I might have PCOS since I might not be ovulating.

At the end of December, we weren't thinking of trying anymore. We were thinking it would take 2018 for my body to heal from whatever it was going through.

So was this a planned pregnancy? Yes, as in we wanted it to happen if it could this year. No, as in we weren't actively trying.

The big reveal. How did you let the family know?

It was our intention that Michael's parents would be the first to know since it would be the first grandchild on their side of the family. Going home for Valentine's Day/Lunar New Year weekend made that kind of difficult. We almost got away with it up until the last hour we were leaving when I ate something I shouldn't have. My sister guessed it when I didn't react. To her credit, I also didn't drink wine at dinner which was a huge flag considering I'm a big wino. I blamed it on PCOS, but I don't think that was really convincing. So when we flew back to Seattle that night, I face timed and told my sisters (because once one sister knows, they all do ;)). In the end, I was glad to have the moral support of my sisters because I was really afraid of miscarrying since I had hormonal imbalances prior to conception. And also, my oldest sister was already a mother and a nurse, so when I fell sick with a fever, it was nice for Michael and I to seek her advice on what I should do and how I should care for myself during that time.

Once we received news of a stable heartbeat at week 8, we felt it was time to spread the news to the rest of the family. We met up with Michael's sister and brother-in-law for dinner to tell them before leaving the next day to Palm Desert to visit Michael's parents and to tell them the news. We face timed my mom that Sunday after sending flowers. We wanted to tell my Mom in person, but it wasn't financially smart of us to try last minute, but we plan to go back down for Mother's Day to properly celebrate!

Time line of the first trimester:

Week Four: We find out we're pregnant. Symptoms: cramping, increase in appetite,  frequent urination

Week Five: My sisters learn the news. I catch a fever/cold. I'm sick with absolutely no appetite whatsoever. Extreme fatigue.

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Week Six: First ultrasound and we realize I'm not far along as we thought (at this point we thought I was 8 weeks). There's a flickering heartbeat. I'm still getting over my cold. Blood tests are run. Symptoms: Nausea, food aversions, no appetite, emotional weep fests, extreme fatigue where I'm sleeping 10-12 hours.

Week Seven: Same as week six. Ha, except the only thing I want to eat is carbs. Oh yeah, and I have food aversions.

Week Eight: Second ultrasound. Heart beat is at 176 bpm. Things are looking good. Nausea is slowly subsiding, but the fatigue has not. We deliver the news to the rest of the family.

Week Nine: We celebrate my 27th Birthday and the nausea is subsiding. Fatigue during the beginning of the week, but slowly getting my energy back. Cravings have started.

Week Ten: No more nausea. Increase in appetite and cravings, but I am sleeping so much more. Dizziness when I work out. Clothes are not feeling very comfortable anymore.

Week Eleven: Appearance of weight gain, and the start of taking belly progress photos! Which we totally fail at as we have yet to take any more.

Week Twelve: I look into getting maternity pants because my jeans are getting uncomfortable. And OMG, maternity pants are like heaven.

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Week Thirteen (Fourteen): Ultrasound! Our baby bean is no longer a bean, but an actually baby! Also, I was super surprised at how active it was in my uterus and the fact I can't even feel it. It's so bizarre. And we get to hear the heartbeat for the first time. We also find out that I am a week further along than we thought! We start doing genetic testing, and we decide to do the gender blood test.

Week Fifteen: I feel like I've suddenly grown in my belly. It kind of just popped out. Whoa. Weird. By week 15, my co-workers all know my news, and we've told close friends. It feels good not to try and hide it anymore.

Week Sixteen: Check up appointment with my OBGYN. Baby is developing well. My uterus is up to my belly button. I no longer look chubby. There's an actual bump! And we receive the results for the gender test! Though we are keeping it a secret until Mother's Day.

Thoughts on pregnancy:

It's crazy how much my thoughts became consumed by the baby growing inside me. From the moment we found out, it was ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT. I devoured books on pregnancy, read forums, and literally crammed my head with info, and then the nausea and fatigue set in. Ha. And then all the emotions! Then I became useless. A crying puddle who just slept all day and hardly left the house. First trimester was no joke, and I started feeling very guilty because I was not enjoying my pregnancy because I felt completely out of control of my own body. I already felt like a horrible mother for even thinking it. Especially when I had thoughts about how raising this child would cut into all my writing time and would hinder me from traveling, and how I was missing out on life experiences.

Once I started feeling better though, once the sickness subsided and things became more real with the heartbeat and ultrasounds, and I was no longer controlled by my irrational emotions, I realized that what I was undergoing was an even more amazing experience that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. In truth, I never saw myself as a mom. I didn't want it ending up as my  only identity, but there's something about the process, growing closer with your husband, and the baby you have yet to know, that flips a biological switch.

Now, I want to be the best possible mom I can be, on top of all my other roles in life (wife, sister, daughter, writer, friend). It's a privilege to be a mother, and I can't believe I didn't see that at the beginning of the journey. What's happening is pretty miraculous and the bond that's being established during it is just something that can't be put into words until felt.

The only downside is I'm constantly worried about the little one, but I think that goes along with the territory of being a parent. Michael and I both are becoming worry warts and it's kind of cute because it just shows how much we love our baby.

So far we're waiting on results for the genetic testing and spina bifida, and then we have the anatomy ultrasound in June. After that, it's all about growing, so hopefully the worries will lessen for us and we can enjoy our summer.

Anyway, that's my lengthy post :) The secret is officially out (online anyway)!