For many months now we’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our little one. We took weekly pictures to capture Alicen’s growing belly, and she even had a henna tattoo applied on her bump. Over the months Alicen blogged periodically about the experience. Her thoughts are below.
I got a henna tattoo on my belly on Saturday. I’d heard of a few people doing it, and a lady in my yoga class had one done last week and showed it to us all. It was beautiful! The lady who does them only does pregnant lady’s bellies. She calls it ‘henna pampering’. It was fun to pick out the design and just lay there while she drew it on my tummy. Before she came I’d perused her designs online and was really drawn to floral designs. But when she was here and I was looking through her books, she had a sheet of snowflakes and I decided that maybe a tree and snowflakes would be appropriate, since I’m having you in the middle of winter, and since it’s my favorite season. So we decided on a winter tree – with no leaves – and snowflakes. I also wanted a bird or animal for some sign of life, to represent you, so I selected an owl. The final outcome was amazing.
It took her about two hours. During the session she told me about the history of henna and how in many cultures henna is used to signify a special occasion for a woman – a pregnancy, a wedding, etc – and whenever a women has henna on, the whole community knows that something momentous is happening for that women, and to give her a break, help her with chores, relieve her of stress, etc. I loved these stories that she told me about the history of henna.
Afterwards we took pictures, and the art is really dark, almost black. The henna is like puffy paint and dries in about 30 minutes. I left it on all day, and by bedtime it was peeling off. I peeled it all off and there was a very faint, light brown design. She informed me it would darken over the next 2-3 days.
Last night I was trying to fall asleep and you were kicking up a storm. You are always most active at night. As I lay there wondering what you were doing in there, when I’d meet you, why you suddenly get these bursts of energy at night, it struck me that you are my little night owl!!
COMIN’ AND STAYIN’ HOME
I’m on the return leg of my last work trip for awhile. I have no work travel planned in the next few months, and no personal travel planned either (although I am hopefully that you and I will be able to have some travel adventures to visit family and friends while I’m on leave). This is the first time in a long time when I’ll be on the ground for more than a few weeks at a time.
Traveling has become a big part of my life, both personally and professionally. Your dad and I love to travel; we’ve visited all the continents except Antarctica (we’re saving that one for you ☺). One of my goals in the next ~8 years before my next passport expires is to travel so much that I need to get more pages added to my passport. I simply thrive on traveling and the planning and researching that precedes a trip accompanied by the revelations and new perspectives that emerge during and following travels. I’m so excited to bring you along on our adventures!
I travel a fair amount for work, and your dad and I usually do a good job of combining business and pleasure on these trips whenever we can. We’ve been able to explore places like Napa, Hawaii, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Orlando, San Antonio and Tucson by combining my work travel with an extended stay for exploring. I’m hopeful we can continue to do this with you, so that you can be exposed to some of the many locations I get to visit, and so that I can continue to travel for work but not leave you and your father behind too often.
It is going to be interesting to see how my travel life evolves after you join our family. I usually enjoy my professional travels, although at times the schedule can be intense, with no trips for a month or two, followed by weeks of back-to-back travel. The work that I do on the road – speaking at conferences, providing trainings, or performing on-site, technical work such as energy audits or renewable assessments – is some of the most enjoyable and technically challenging for me. This type of hands-on work is the reason I became an engineer. I fear that I may have a hard time achieving a good balance between this kind of work, which requires travel, and being with you enough.
I’ve always been a fan of countdowns, generally employing them before big trips or a school year wrapping up. I have never before in my life, however, been so conscious of time passing by. With each week we’ve been adding one to the mental tally of how far along I am (in weeks), how big the little baby in my belly is becoming, and keeping track of other important growth and developmental milestones. We have a tradition of wishing you happy birthday every Friday right when we wake up, with a gentle rub of my belly and sending good thoughts for whatever week we’re embarking on.
Smosh smosh ohmygosh, we’re going to have a baby soon! I’m 30 weeks along (three-quarters of the way there!) and we’re getting excited and anxious to meet you. Your nursery is almost all done and it is so cute and just ready for a little one. We’ve been acquiring various baby paraphernalia from friends, and have a ton more items on our registry. Now all we need is you!
We’ve had a couple little nicknames for you throughout the past few months, all of which are goofy and require long-winded spiels into personal stories for them to make any sense. This weekend you earned a new (equally goofy) nickname – smosh smosh. This one came from a brochure your dad was looking through at the paint store, describing a painting technique called ‘smoshing’. I’m not sure why, but we both thought it was so funny and started saying ‘smosh smosh’. Soon we started calling you smosh smosh!
In our first meeting with the doulas they asked if we had a nickname for you, and both your dad and I paused for a minute (during which I’m sure we were each wondering if the other one would be brave enough to proclaim your new name), then simply said, ‘no, we just call it ‘the baby’’. But for now the goofy name seems to be sticking, even if it is just used between your dad and I. Smosh smosh, oh my gosh, you won’t believe how much we love you already and cannot wait for you to join our family and make it complete.
I’m twenty weeks pregnant with you and at the halfway point until we get to meet you! We had our 20 week appointment this week and this is the one where many people find out the sex of their baby. Your dad and I decided not to do this. Your dad was impartial about wanting to do this and I definitely didn’t want to find out the sex, so we didn’t. During the ultrasound, the tech told us that she was about to look at that area and to look away if we wanted, so your dad and I held hands and looked at each other and didn’t peek at all. So fun! I’m so excited for the big reveal in February!
Also this week you’ve really made your presence known with some good movement in my belly. This was the first time I’ve felt you. I felt you move on Monday night (Sept 12). I wasn’t sure if that’s what it was and didn’t tell your dad until Tues, by which point you’d been kicking up a storm and I was sure it was you. On Tuesday night he was even able to feel it! You were quite active during the ultrasound and ever since, and we’re wondering if you’re already practicing your kicks for soccer. ☺
Your father and I have been on our first international trip with you on board. We were in Thailand for two and a half weeks with our good friends, Deanna and John. I was approximately 8 to 10 weeks pregnant with you on the trip, and you were on my mind throughout our vacation. Although you definitely made your presence known with morning sickness here and there, most thoughts were positive and powerful. I was constantly thinking of how our trips in the future would be different because we’d have you in tow. I’m so excited by all the places we’ll get to take you and show you, places we’ve already experienced and locales that will be new to all of us. I’m hopeful that you’ll be as excited as I am to ponder new destinations, try new food, and get new stamps in your passport.
I was also often reminded of you when I saw other families on vacation. From fathers and daughters having swim races in the pool to mothers and daughters taking cooking classes together, I couldn’t help but be excited and think that I want those kinds of experiences with you. And we’re going to do our best to create them for you.
OUT WITH THE NEWS
I’m twelve weeks pregnant with you. Twelve weeks! This is a big milestone for us. Although we saw your heartbeat at eight weeks and were told that the odds were very small that we could lose you, we were still waiting for the 12 week mark before we officially started spreading the news. And what a big secret it’s been! We only let a few loved ones in on the news, and your dad and I have been living these past couple of months anxiously wanting to tell others but also reveling in this one special, big, private, life-changing secret.
We told your grandma and grandpa Kandt via photo album. Your grandma thought the message we were trying to tell her was that we were going to be on the TV show ‘The Amazing Race’, and your grandpa seemed only mildly interested in the pictures until the grand finale, the last page where we proclaimed our good news.
We told your Uncle Brett by informing him that we had something very big planned for grandma Kandt’s birthday, and when he asked what, we told him we were giving her a grandbaby for her birthday. Her birthday is your due date!
We were lucky to get to tell your Great Aunt Nancy and Uncle Denny in person in Chicago this past weekend, and they were thrilled by the news. Your dad told your grandma and grandpa Stephans and Aunt and Uncle Compston last week, and they all were ecstatic.
The news sharing has been especially fun because it really is surprising for most; many people didn’t know if we’d ever have kids and certainly weren’t expecting the news. For some people we get the common proclamation of, ‘oh, that explains why you’re not playing soccer’ or ‘well that explains why you haven’t been drinking’. Ha, I guess maybe we weren’t so sly after all.
Well, a little pee on a stick and our life has changed forever. I had a feeling that I might be pregnant, and took the test without telling your dad; I wanted to surprise him. When it came up positive I had more of a reaction of ‘well that confirms that’ rather than surprise. I schemed and schemed for an original, not too cheesy way to tell your father. I had worked from home that day and decided I’d walk down with the dogs and meet him from the bus. On the walk home while conversing with him I just kept thinking of the news that lay ahead for him, and with that news I now had the power to change his life forever, and how he had no idea what was coming his way.
When we got home I had laid a Scrabble board out and written the news on the board. We are semi-frequent, semi-competitive (i.e. I get really angry if I don’t win) players and this was an original, personal way I thought of telling him. On the board, although scattered all over, I wrote the slightly incomprehensible message ‘Get ready for our next big adventure. Congratulations, we are pregnant!’ (of course no punctuation).
I was so excited to tell him that right when we walked in I ran over and slyly turned on the iPhone to record the moment, then told him I had a surprise for him. He seemed suspicious and I walked him over to the board. He puzzled over it for a big and then his eyes saw ‘pregnant’, and although he hadn’t pieced the entire message all together yet, he sure understood that one big important word. He was so excited and asked if I was serious, and gave me a hug. I explained to him what the message was saying and he opened a card, which contained the pregnancy test inside.