I'll pretend we're having coffee together and just chat about nothing and everything while we catch up. And then you can comment or email me and chat about nothing and everything on your side and we'll have a wonderful cyber coffee date. I will love this. (Looking at you, Atlanta family and friends! I know none of you are at work today, what with the snowpocalypse. What better time to catch up with your favorite friend in Germany?!)
First things first...I woke up this morning to social media FLOODED with pictures and posts about horrendous traffic, scary road conditions, abandoning vehicles, being stranded miles from home, etc. etc. I read about 10 hour commutes to go 15 miles. I saw a news story about a baby being born in the car on 285 (oh my goodness. I can't even...). I "liked" all posts of smiling friends and family out enjoying the snow or safely snuggled warm at home. I checked each of my brother's FB pages to make sure they were home safe (Max had to abandon his car and walk 3 miles, but that's not bad, all things considered). I vowed to not complain about being frequently startled awake at 4am by the snowplows and salt trucks who deal with our winter weather here in Germany...never have I been more thankful for the ability to still drive safely when a winter storm hits. Atlanta, sending thoughts and prayers your way.
Gosh, I love Atlanta. Even poor, snow-crippled Atlanta. Y'all stay warm.
What else? We're 5 weeks (plus or minus some days) away from meeting our baby girl. This both terrifies and excites me. There are too many feelings. I channel them into things like "eating cheesecake" and "not doing laundry". The number one question I'm asked these days is "how are you feeling?" and I find it a huge struggle to answer this question. Here is the struggle: do I smile and say "great! Just love experiencing the miracle of life growing inside of me", which is a lie, but really what people want to hear? Or do I give the way-too-honest response of, "well, my right hand is numb all day long and I'm afraid of losing functionality as time progresses, my back hurts a lot (and I mean A LOT), sometimes I can't fit my feet into the shoes I want to wear, I don't remember what good sleep is and basically I'm just so exhausted that I need to lay down after finishing this sentence. But enough about me, how are YOU?" (this response makes people uncomfortable, I fear).
There's probably some happy medium between these two responses that is both honest but not awkwardly overwhelming to the recipient of that diatribe...something socially acceptable like "I'm feeling very pregnant, but doing well!" but you know how these things go...balance is hard.
Do you know what else is hard? Putting on socks.
SIDEBAR: Years ago, when I was working in our Atlanta office, one of my coworkers (but not someone I was close to or worked with personally) was pregnant and worked pretty much up until the day her baby was born...I remember passing her in the hall one day and kindly asking "How are you feeling?" and she whipped around and snapped "How do you think I'm feeling?! I'm 9 months pregnant!" Whoa. I did not know what to do or say. It was so uncomfortable. But now I'm like, Ooooh, ok I get that. And my feelings towards her have softened tremendously. END SIDEBAR.
All that said, I am trying (really trying) not to spend all my time complaining (or to at least complain with a sense of humor). I know this pregnancy and resulting baby is a huge blessing. I am thankful. I am excited. I really can't wait to meet our daughter. It's just hard to see past all of the "miserable" some days, especially when the outcome is so unknown. I have no idea what it will be like to meet her and be her mama...I don't know the reward that is at the end of this. HOWEVER, the upside... and this is my favorite thing: God knows when we need encouragement. And He sends friends to offer this encouragement in WAVES when I need it most. The past week has been especially hard and exhausting...and this is the week that my inbox has been flooded with emails and my phone has been lit up with texts from mama friends who are just a little further down the road than we are with their first little babies (and all of them are baby girls, how fun is that!?) ... and these mama friends have offered encouragement and advice and love and have been cheerleaders and reassured me that "this too shall pass" and that I will forget these uncomfortable days and my heart and life are about to be filled to BURSTING with love and joy and all of the wonderful things. I don't know what's to come in the final weeks of pregnancy or the first weeks of motherhood, but the encouraging words and advice and precious glimpse into the future that these friends have offered me has been wind in my rapidly-deflating sails. I am so incredibly grateful. More than I can say...
In the meantime, we had maternity pictures taken a few weeks ago to document this time in our lives. I've shared a few of these on Facebook and Instagram, but for those friends/family/followers who aren't on social media, here's a few of my favorites. I am THRILLED with how these turned out...we had to reschedule 3 or 4 times due to terrible German winter weather, but we were rewarded with a beautiful, sunny day. Don't be fooled though, we were freezing our buns off. (Worth it.)
Photo credits: What the Focus Photography
|The belly (and belly button. It is so prominent. All the time.)|
|Our photographer brought the pink balloon. Such a fun detail.|
|Some color in the drab wintry landscape. Love it.|
|Ok, maybe not so much a "maternity" shot, but I love this of the two of us...|
|Our photographer snapped this as we were walking to the next "location". It was so freezing cold that I would wear my jacket between each shot.|
|Maybe my favorite. I just love everything about it.|
|Z looks extra military in this shot, which he will hate, but I secretly love. A lot.|
|Our baby girl|
|Ok maybe THIS is my favorite.|
I'm glad we made the investment to capture this season of life...so happy to have these pictures of our final days as two.
What else? Oh, I'm officially on maternity leave now. Many have asked me if I chose to start my leave this early or if it was doctor mandated or what...none of the above! It's German law...pregnant German employees are legally required to begin maternity leave 6 weeks before the due date, and then it continues for 8 weeks past the baby's arrival. Germany, well done with the maternity laws! 14 weeks of maternity leave...what a blessing! Today is really the first day that I'm fully experiencing and enjoying my time off. I announced to Z last night that I would not be doing anything today. Nothing. The house is (mostly) clean and the laundry is (pretty much) done. Leftovers are in the fridge and that's dinner (don't worry, I still take care of my man). Everything else can wait. I need to just BE. To sit and sip tea and enjoy a heating pad on my back and pillows under my feet. To write (check). To read. To watch a chick flick. This is the day of rest and relaxation. Even Olive seems to be on board with this plan. She's been conked out on her bed for the past few hours. Good dog.
Z continues to be incredible. I could write pages about how wonderful he has been during this pregnancy. He is wonderful anyways, but there's another level of wonderful that has emerged over the past months. He deserves all the awards for fulfilling pregnancy cravings, listening to all of the thoughts/feelings/emotions/complaints, giving hundreds of foot and back rubs, and offering incredible support and encouragement on every level. And all of this on top of his very demanding day job. Amazing. I can't even wait to see him as a dad. I know I've said this before, but seriously...I can't wait.
Ok, this got long and pregnancy-centric (sorry) and I'm tired and there's cheesecake in the fridge that needs to be eaten (the baby loves cheesecake). So that's all for now. Thanks for checking in and chatting, friends!