The labour technically started when I woke Mitchell up at 1:50 AM on April 7, 2022 because I was getting (more) regular contractions than the ones I was getting a week prior, and that I couldn’t sleep off. I got out of bed and starting bouncing on my exercise ball and Mitchell called my parents to give them a heads up that my contractions were more regular and consistent (since my parents are driving all the way from Calgary to stay with Jackson while we’re at the hospital). Thank God my parents have been packed and ready to go for a week now, so upon getting the phone call from Mitchell at 3-ish in the morning, they quickly got ready and started driving to Red Deer.
After talking with my parents, Mitchell called our doula to give her a heads up and Keshia told him to touch base in about 30 minutes to see where my contractions are at. Within 15 minutes, our doula texted Mitchell to say that she’s heading over.
Once our doula arrived, she went straight to rubbing my back and squeezing my hips, which I didn’t know I needed then! A huge part of my birth plan this time (as with Jackson’s birth) was to give birth naturally with no intervention. I’d like to think that my pain tolerance is pretty high given that I had severe period cramps before getting pregnant ever. Plus, having gone through this less than 2 years ago with no pain meds, I was very confident that my body would be able to do it again, but it definitely felt good to have some sort of pain relief while my body was doing its job.
Since I was induced with Jackson, and my labour from start to finish was (only) 7 hours, and normally your subsequent labour is much shorter than the first, Mitchell and I were both scared that things would progress faster than we liked, i.e. we would have to go to the hospital before my parents could get here to stay with Jackson. Thank God that things moved slower and that my parents were able to make it to Red Deer before we had to go to the hospital.
We left the house for the hospital at around 5:30 AM and when we got to Labour & Delivery, one of the nurses checked my cervix and I was 5 cm dilated. By 6:15 AM, I was admitted to the delivery room. The nurse that triaged me (and the other nurses that were on shift during my labour) asked why I was with an OB if I didn’t have any complications with this pregnancy, ie high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, etc., and I had to explain that I had pre-eclampsia at the very end, like 2 hours before I was induced, with my firstborn, hence why my prenatal doctor handed me over to an OB this time.
Anyways, the first nurse that I had this time was one of the nurses I had with Jackson’s birth, which was super cool because I remember her being so amazing when I gave birth to Jackson! Her shift ended literally 30 minutes after I was admitted, and she was replaced by another amazing nurse (who our doula recognized and also said was a great nurse!)
Once all the paperwork was filled out, I asked if I could go in the bath. I was in the bath for a loooooooong time. At one point, Mitchell and I were making bets with our doula and the nurse on when baby was gonna come out. The nurse bet that baby was gonna come before her shift ended at 3 PM, Keshia bet around noon, and Mitchell and I bet around 9:30 AM. It was around 7:30 AM when we made the bet. Mitchell and I were under the impression that because Jackson came out after 7 hours of induced labour, this baby was gonna come out waaaay faster lol.
I remember the bath being soothing and all, but it felt really nice to be in the bath NOT hooked up to an IV and fetal monitors as I was with Jackson. Mitchell ordered us Timmies, which was nice to snack on every now and then, along with my ice water and cold apple juice.
I think I was in the bath until noon when I felt like my contractions were getting stronger. The nurse asked if my water broke, and since I had my water broken by the nurse with Jackson, I didn’t really know (or don’t remember) what that felt like. So I stepped out of the bath and they took me to the room to get checked. When the nurse checked, she saw that my water hadn’t broken yet. So the nurse broke my water and at once, THAT feeling came back to me. I asked the nurse if I could go back in the bath after having my water broken, and she said that as long as I’m not close to pushing, then I can go back in the bath. She checked my cervix before sending me off to the bath and at that point, I was 7 cm dilated. Once I was back in the bath, I thought that I would only need to be there for an hour max before I was fully dilated, but I was in there for another 2 hours! I remember the contractions being soooo painful at this point. Like I remember growling at every contraction in the bath, which made me think that I was maybe at 9 cm and will be ready to push in no time.
The walk back to the room was so eventful in that I had Mitchell holding both my hands and guiding me back to the room, our doula rubbing my back and squeezing my hips, and the nurse holding my robe so I don’t flash everyone in the unit lol. When we got back to the room, the nurse checked me again and I was STILL at 7 cm! I vividly remember her words: “Oh dear, you haven’t progressed yet.” And I remember being so mad at myself at this point. Like why did I waste 2 hours in the bath only to stay at 7 cm?!?! At this point, I asked for the laughing gas, which I also used with Jackson. The nurse then recommended that I change positions. (I was lying on my left side at this point) They then lifted the top of the bed and told me to go on my knees and lean over the top of the bed, so I did. And that position made the pain way worse, which meant that it worked with helping baby descend. I remember thinking thoughts like, “Just give me an epidural now!” and “Just cut me up now and take the baby out!”, and although I never voiced those thoughts out, in hindsight, our doula said that that’s when you know your body is getting close to pushing! (According to Mitchell, he was on the verge of crying from seeing me in so much pain at this point, but he was trying his hardest to hold back his tears and stay strong so I can stay strong!) After 10 minutes of crying and growling and Mitchell letting me break his fingers from my death grip, I told the nurse that I needed to push. She asked if she could check me again, and when she did, she found a tiny lip on my cervix which put me at 9.5 cm dilated! This meant that the urge to push was there. BIG TIME. But since I wasn’t fully dilated, pushing might cause my cervix to swell, which might cause baby to actually go back up and not descend, which may lead to a C-section. At this point, I switched to lie on my right side and the nurse told me to push a little bit so she can move the lip for me. As soon as the lip was moved and I was fully dilated, I saw the doctor and 3 nurses and glove up and prep for me to push. I thought that the nurses came to help hold my legs while I push, but according to Mitchell, the only people holding my legs up were him and I!
During the pushing stage, the OB was giving me instructions on when to push, our doula was doing hip squeezes to help with the pain, and Mitchell was using the roller on my back, all while helping me hold my leg up. I was lying on my right side with my left arm wrapped around my left leg and Mitchell helping me hold my left leg up. I remember the OB telling me to take a deep breath and then to push, but because I had been practicing my breathing exercises for weeks now (and I had been doing it for hours now during labour), every time I inhaled for 4 counts, I would exhale for 8 counts. When the OB realized what I was doing, she said “No, no, no. Take a deep breath and then push! Don’t exhale!” (A little TMI side note - at one point, I started getting the urge to poop and I even said “I don’t think I’m pushing the baby out!” Lolollll) Soon after I passed stool, I started feeling the burn and I remember yelling, “It burns! It burns!” to which the OB replied, “Push through the burn! Push through the burn!” And soon after, I started to feel Naomi’s head, and then she was fully out! I pushed for a total of 7 minutes with her, compared to 20 minutes with Jackson!
As soon as Naomi was out, they placed her on my chest, and all I could do was cry out of joy that she was here!!! After a few more minutes had passed, Mitchell cut the umbilical cord, just like he did with Jackson, and according to him, it was much “easier” to cut the cord this time around.
Here is miss Naomi weighing at 7 lbs and 11 oz, Mitchell and I were shocked at how much she weighed. All my prenatal ultrasounds showed that she was in the 75th percentile, but I took those estimates with a grain of salt, seeing as how small my frame is and seeing as Jackson was in the 7th percentile when he was born.
NAOMI JOY GRAZA LEE: THE MEANING BEHIND HER NAME
A huge thank you to Joy Breitkreutz Photography for capturing all of our big milestones. We love you Joy and we adore your work!
JACKSON'S BIRTHDAY DAY
Mitchell and I both went into Jackson's nursery singing "Happy Birthday" and I think I wanna keep doing this for all of our kids' birthdays until they tell us to stop. We had McDonald's pancakes and OJ and coffee (both for Mitchell and I) for breakfast to commemorate our first breakfast at home when we brought Jackson home from the hospital. After breakfast, we had a slow and cozy morning at home until Mitchell went to work. After Jackson's first nap, we (Jackson and I) had pancit for lunch before heading to the mall. We facetimed Lolo, Lola, Auntie Jan and Auntie Giddel after we got home and after that, Jackson had Lola's famous sourdough for a snack before going down for his second nap. While he was napping, I set-up his birthday styled shoot, which I had been working on since the beginning of the month.
Detail-wise, I had a bunch of leftover plywood from previous calligraphy projects that I turned into decor for my baby boy. The "1" sign was inspired by Whistle & Flute's milestones shirts and I'm pretty sure I got the "one year of Jackson" idea on Pinterest. I had been taking monthly photos of Jackson in the same Moses basket and seeing him fill the basket over the past year as I put the Polaroid photos together legit made me cry! Mitchell and I wrote him a letter looking back on his first year with us, which I've sealed in the green envelope. The white box with his name written all over it contained our birthday gift for him. We got him his first toothbrush and toothpaste lol. The blue box contained all of the sentimental things I've collected since he's been born - his hospital hat, his hospital tags, his first soother, his first artwork, you name it! Then the brown box just has all of the extra decor we have to bring to Calgary for his drive-by parties. The letterboard was from Euris Company and the balloons were from Flying Cactus Balloon. His denim overalls were from Old Navy and his ONE shirt was a blank shirt from Michaels that I wrote on. His brown party hat was a DIY idea thanks to one of my mama friends.
DEDICATION AND RED DEER DRIVE-BY PARTY
CALGARY DRIVE-BY PARTIES
CAKE SMASH PARTY WITH MY FAMILY
ONE YEAR OF JACSKON
Banner by Minilogie
Wooden Letterboard by Euris Company
Wooden J Caketopper by Hux and Oak Woodworx
Envelope by Blush Paper Supply Co.
Paper by Jade Tempest Art
Balloons by Flying Cactus Balloon
Smash Cake, Bear Paw Cookie and "1" Sugar Cookie by Stay Sweet YYC
Bear Macarons by Macarons By Megan
Graph Check Tablecloth from Amazon
Black "1" Balloon from Amazon
I can't believe Jackson is already HALF A YEAR OLD! Before this year ends and before he officially enters the next half of his first year with us, I wanna put all his monthly photos and his half birthday photoshoot in one post!
Photo credit for his half birthday photoshoot goes to Parcero Photography.
JACKSON'S FIRST 6 MONTHS
HALF BIRTHDAY PHOTOSHOOT
Banner by me
Styling by me, Auntie Jan and Auntie Giddel
Hype by Daddy and Lola
Cake by Cassidy Boux
High chair accessories (Silicone tray mat, bamboo footrest, and bamboo leg wraps) from Yeah Baby Goods
Wooden letter board from Euris Co.
I'm typing this after listening to a recorded audio of Mitchell and I sharing the story
As with most moms, my goal was to give birth naturally with no interventions, and certainly no medications. We hired a doula to help us prepare for an all-natural unmedicated birth, but sometime after the whole world went on shut down because of the pandemic, things started taking an interesting turn in my otherwise low-risk pregnancy. Needless to say, I still got the unmedicated* part of my birth plan, and my baby boy was born healthy.
(*With the exception of Pitocin that was administered to me upon induction.)
Side note: This is the full extensive version for my own record. Scroll down to "At the Hospital" if you wanna skip to the part when we get to the hospital.
THE FINAL 4 WEEKS
At my routine 36-week prenatal appointment on April 24th, my doctor ordered me an ultrasound to confirm baby's size and position. The day after I got my ultrasound done, I got a phone call from our doctor (who was at the hospital at that time) saying we needed to see her to discuss the results of the ultrasound. Once we got to the hospital, were told that baby was measuring small for his gestational age and that his belly was measuring smaller than his head, which means that baby might not be getting enough nutrients from the placenta, hence the disproportion. The ultrasound also showed that my amniotic fluid was on the low end, and that if it got too low, it could be detrimental for baby in utero which means baby would need to be delivered ASAP to get him out. You can imagine how heavy my heart felt after hearing those words. I can still feel it to this day.
The results from the ultrasound immediately moved me from being low-risk to high-risk, which meant our doctor had to hand us over to an Obstetrician. I remember complaining to God, "as if navigating my last trimester in the middle of a pandemic wasn't hard enough, now I have to be under the care of a doctor I don't even know???" After meeting the OB and after having him explain how baby will be monitored closely and how the goal is for baby to be delivered healthy, I started to feel a tiny bit better.
The OB ordered us to come back to the hospital for a Non-Stress Test every other day for one week to monitor fetal movement, fetal heart rate, and my contractions. He also ordered an ultrasound for me every week for 2 weeks, to measure baby's growth and my amniotic fluid level. Mitchell and I basically got to know the Labour and Delivery unit really well in my last month of pregnancy. After every Non-Stress Test, the nurses would always ask me to fill out a fetal movement chart and I remember always telling them that baby moved soooo much in my belly, I would need a whole binder for all the charts I'd fill out.
At around 38 weeks, we met with the OB again to discuss the ultrasound results. He confirmed that baby's small gestational size is most likely because of genetics (seeing as I'm under 5 feet and both Mitchell and I aren't overly large people). I later confirmed with both my mom and mother-in-law that both Mitchell and I were small babies when we were born, but we. both quickly climbed up to the 75th + percentile by 2 months.
During that week, I saw my Pelvic Floor Physio twice for pelvic floor/perineal prep and I also started seeing my Chiro again for adjustments for me and baby. Mind you, everything had been shut down since after my baby shower in March. Physio and Chiro literally opened up that week and I know it was God's way of helping me prepare for labour.
At my 39-week appointment (39+4 to be exact), my blood pressure was higher than usual so the OB booked me in for induction that evening. Because of Covid protocols, the hospital was limiting the number of doctors on call. So even if I was under the care of OB "A", I would get whatever OB was on-call the day I go to the hospital to give birth. Turns out, our current OB wasn't on-call until 2 days after my now induction date, which meant that I had to be transferred to yet another physician. At this point, it didn't matter whose care I was under. I just wanted baby out safe and healthy! My induction was scheduled for 6 PM that evening (May 19th) and I went to see my Chiro 2 hours before my induction for final adjustments for me and baby.
After my Chiro appointment, I took a nap while Mitchell finalized all the stuff we were bringing to the hospital - bags, snacks, car seat, etc. We managed to snap a few photos of just the two of us before meeting our little guy!
AT THE HOSPITAL
We headed to the hospital for 6 PM for my scheduled induction. We met the OB on call who will administer the induction, as well as our first nurse who happens to be a friend from Young Adults! The OB checked my cervix and I was already 3-4 cm dilated at this point. Shortly after, I was given Cervidil to induce labour and the OB also ordered blood work to make sure "I'm not sicker than I look", as per his words. I was supposed to stay at the hospital overnight while Cervidil worked (since it takes anywhere from 4-12 hours to work), but the blood work came back showing that I was waaaaay sicker than I looked. The OB diagnosed me with pre-eclampsia so he took the Cervidil out and decided to give me Pitocin to get labour going faster since I was already 4 cm dilated.
By 8:15 PM I was moved to the Labour & Delivery Room, hooked up on Pitocin and had my water broken. About 15 minutes after, the contractions started coming in, and every 10 or so minutes, they came stronger and stronger but were still very manageable. The first time the OB checked in on me (which was maybe 30-45 min after I started getting contractions), I was offered pain meds (epidural) and I refused cuz I honestly didn't think the pain was bad. I mean, I was comparing it to my period cramps which were reeeaaaally bad.
One thing I remember that helped with the contractions was bouncing on the exercise ball + Mitchell applying pressure on my lower back/hips, just like we did almost every night at home since I was 36 weeks pregnant. I hella bounced on the exercise ball!
I remember going for a walk with Mitchell around the unit, stopping at every contraction and pushing my head against the wall. After what felt like 2 laps around the unit, we went back to the L&D room so I could bounce on the exercise ball more.
After a while, I asked the nurses if I could try the bath and I remember feeling relieved in the water for a couple of hours. The thing was, I was too short for the rub that if I wanted to lie on my back and submerge as much of my body as I can, I'd end up submerging my whole body, lol. So I had no choice but to sit on my knees and have Mitchell pour water on my back using the shower head. I think I was in the bath for a good hour or so. I started passing out of exhaustion and that's when Mitchell called the nurses to take me back to the room.
By the time we got back to the Labour & Delivery Room, the OB checked me again and I was at 8 cm. (The last time he checked me was 2 hours prior.) By this point, my contractions were back to back and the pain started becoming unbearable so I asked for the laughing gas. I think I asked for the epidural at this point, but I was told that I was at the "no turning back point" where it was already too late to get the epidural. I think I was also lying on my left side by this point, with Mitchell pushing on my lower back/hips to relieve the pain. I remember feeling like I needed to poop and push (and I remember making a weird "oooooo" noise to deal with the pain). I asked the nurses when the next time I could see the OB, thinking that I had to wait another 2 hours before I could see him. The nurses said I can see him whenever I want to which I replied (according to Mitchell), "Are you kidding me? Why didn't anyone tell me that?! I wanna see him now!"
The OB came, checked me again and I was fully dilated. I asked if I could push now, to which he replied "Yeah, I guess if you want to." LOL! I asked to lie on my side (instead of on my back) and the OB let me try pushing that way but we had no luck. Baby started to go into distress, so they had to put me on my back to push. I went on my back, with one of the nurses holding my left leg, and Mitchell holding my right leg up, pushing on their cue. I remember biting my tongue while pushing to distract me from the pain going on down there (spoiler: I ended up with a blister on my tongue because of how hard I was biting it while pushing. NTS, don't do that again lol) According to Mitchell, I hella popped blood vessels on my face!
Because of COVID restrictions, we couldn't have our doula at the hospital with us so she equipped Mitchell with the massages and moves and mojos to help me with the unmedicated labour I wanted to have. For someone who hadn't done this before, he did an AMAZING job encouraging me and keeping me calm and advocating for me!!! One of the nurses (Nurse Sarah) stayed by my side, holding my hand as she calmly directed my breathing and pushing (like I imagined our doula would have done.) After about 15 minutes of pushing, the baby's heart rate started going down so the OB brought out the forceps. He was telling us about forceps and basically asking for consent to use it, and according to Mitchell, I had ZERO care in what they were and what they were going to be used for. Mitchell gave the OB permission on my behalf to use the forceps (mind you, NO EPIDURAL). I gave it a few more pushes and at this point, I remember Mitchell telling me that he can see baby's head! And with that bit of encouragement, Baby Lee came out after a couple stronger pushes!
Mitchell got to cut the umbilical cord, which was super special. And because baby's heart rate was in distress, he had to get checked by a team of NICU doctor and nurses before they could give him to me. Once everything was clear, one of the nurses put baby on my chest for skin to skin and IT. WAS. UNREAL. The surge of emotions I had holding my baby was more than I could handle. It was the most beautiful feeling I've ever felt. He is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen.
JACKSON MITCHELL GRAZA LEE: THE MEANING BEHIND HIS NAME
Well, there it is! The birth story of my first born. The story that made me a mother and Mitchell a father. We love him so so so much and I still can't believe we get the honour of parenting and discipling Jackson!
I am writing this 6 weeks post-baby party. which is also 6 weeks since the government of Canada put the whole country on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It's so crazy to think that 6 Saturdays ago, we were surrounded by some of our favourite people, celebrating our baby boy over a massive Filipino feast and lots of dancing and chanting and laughter. And now I sit in our living room, typing this out, reliving the last time I hugged our family and friends because 6 weeks without it is 6 weeks too long. It's even crazier to think that 4 weeks prior to our baby party, Mitchell and I were actually closer to the epicentre of the virus during our babymoon in Tokyo than we are now, yet the effects of the pandemic is hitting us more this time than it was when we were in Tokyo.
Anyways, the point of this blog post was to remember the last party we threw. I'll save the pity party for another blog post lol.
We picked March 14th as our baby party date because 1) Pi Day, and 2) we figured throwing a baby party sooner than later in my pregnancy would be more beneficial for me since I'd still have the energy to walk (in heels) without feeling like a whale. And in hindsight, I'm really glad we decided to throw the party at 30 weeks. We rented the Hearth Room at Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association and my sisters and my mom did an AMAZING job with helping me plan and pick the decor for the party! They honestly made my baby shower dream come true!
The main focal point was the balloon arch that framed the faux greenery with a wicker love seat that we borrowed from Rebekah Bronte of Brontë Bride. (PS, this part of the post is about to feel like an Amazon ad but it ain't. Amazon was just real clutch with having all the things we needed for the party so we basically bought everything from there. Plus, prime membership is the answered prayer to my impatient side!)
I also made a linen banner with Scripture that Mitchell and I have been speaking over our baby since we found out we were expecting! This banner served as a backdrop for our Books and Gifts table as we opted for Books for Baby Lee in lieu of cards. We figured this was a good way to start baby's library, and of course we kicked it off with books that Mitchell and I picked that rep us individuals and as parents-to-be: T is for Turbo (because Baby Lee wouldn't be Mitchell's baby if he didn't know car parts), My First Book of Tagalog Words (because I want him to embrace and carry on his Filipino heritage), and God Gave Us You (because he literally is the greatest blessing we've received). The letter board was from Euris Co. and the baby onesie is from TLC Decor.
FEAST FOR DAYS
And of course I can't forget about the food. It's just the most essential part of every Filipino get-together. Mitchell and I requested a feast with some of our favourite Filipino and Chinese dishes to honour Baby Lee's heritage. We had a whole Lechon - the biggest one my parents could order (as per Mitchell's request) and we had homemade Pansit Palabok and Lumpia. And we had our favourite House Special Fried Rice and Chicken Wings from our favourite Chinese restaurant by my parents' house. (This fried rice + chicken wing combo is something Mitchell and I have been ordering from this Chinese restaurant since we were in University, so it's more of a sentimental menu item than it is an authentic Chinese item). One thing I forgot to mention is that the day before our baby party, the Government of Alberta was already putting protocols in place prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people. This affected the number of people that were able to make it to our party, for health and personal reasons, which was totally understandable. But man, my parents stepped their game up to a whole new level to ensure that cleanliness and sanitation was the top priority food-wise. Not only did they buy food warmers just for the party, they also bought Lysol and individual wet wipes for our guests to use and they handled all the food with specific measures to make sure that cleanliness was top notch. MY PARENTS ARE SERIOUSLY THE BEST.
And what would a feast be without desserts? Mitchell's siblings and their SO's all teamed up to get us the best dessert spread from local bakeries in Calgary and it was so bomb! We had donut holes, cake pops, and egg tarts from Glamorgan Bakery and macarons from Ollia which were gone in a heartbeat!
Lastly, what would desserts be without coffee? My sister and brother-in-love graciously provided coffee for our guests, which helped warm us all up since it was snowing that day! Honestly, we had the best team that pulled together to make our feast request a reality! One thing I didn't have a photo of was the massive BABY LEE balloons that hung over our dessert and coffee table, which I plan to use for all the other Baby Lees I plan to make in the future lol!
OTHER EXTRAS BECAUSE WE'RE EXTRA
We had originally made arrangements with a photographer for the baby party, but because of the government protocol that was announced the day before our party, we decided to cancel the photographer. It was a tough decision for us to make since we wanted this day documented and we didn't want any of our photogra-friends to be working that day. But thank God for, and thanks to, my brother-in-love for stepping in and volunteering to take family photos (hence the photos I have here) AND take video footage of the party for us to remember this day by. It was one of the most beautiful gifts we received that day, especially now looking in hindsight.
And to top everything off... what would a Graza (my maiden name) party be without someone (or specifically some Graza Girls) busting out into a song? My sisters who are beyond talented and beyond extra wrote a med-lee for Baby Lee. I don't have it on video because I was too busy enjoying their gift and marvelling at their love for Mitchell and I and our growing baby. You can see a snippet of them singing in the video below. Who knows, I might be able to convince them to redo their medley and record it so I can share it on here!
And that's that for our Baby Party! Post-party blues got me wanting to hug every single person that celebrated with us, but I unfortunately will have to wait until this whole lockdown gets lifted. Maybe then we'll plan another party?
Wow, where has time gone? I'm writing this exactly 10 days since I've entered my third trimester and 104 days since my last blog post (which was also my first blog post). My second trimester was super busy and super eventful (which isn't a surprise for the type of person that I am) that I barely found time to blog while I was in it. But I figured I'd do it sooner than later while everything's still fresh in my mind. So let's get recapping!
DECEMBER (MONTH 4)
Christmas is my next busiest season as a calligrapher, after weddings. Although I didn't go as ham on marketing my stuff this year (for obvious reasons.. um first trimester fatigue hit me hard right when I'd be prepping for Christmas advertising), I still found myself busy with tons of ornament orders. Praise Jesus of course! But on top of managing the custom orders, Mitchell and I were busy writing our P. Eng application. We dreaded that whole process SO MUCH, but it had to be done. So we spent most weeknights and weekends typing our hearts out, trying to prove to APEGA that we are competent professionals worthy of an Engineer seal. The moment we hit "Submit" on that thing, we felt a heightened sense of freedom lol!
We also researched doulas this month. We interviewed two and ended up hiring the first doula we met with! She bought us treats from the cafe she owns with her sister and I swear we were hooked the moment we took a bite out of the protein balls she brought lol. She spoke with so much enthusiasm and confidence over her work as a doula and her why and we felt at peace the whole time she was with us. Oh, we also sent out our first ever Christmas postcard! I figured we're probably gonna end up sending Christmas cards when baby comes, so why not start one with baby in da bump?
Just before our trip to Cali for Christmas, Mitchell and I both finally submitted our P. Eng application! The second we hit SUBMIT on that application, a huge boulder was lifted off my chest and I finally felt like I could breathe. It brought me back to writing finals around Christmas time and waiting until you were done finals to start Christmas shopping.
And lastly, baby bump made its first international flight to San Francisco with the whole Graza fam for a Ruiz Christmas! The last time we were down in Cali for Christmas was in 2000! Also it was the first time all seven of us in my family had flown together! I thoroughly enjoyed flexing my bump at this point, since it's gotten more visible since our pregnancy announcement photoshoot. It was also low-key nice to visit family in the States preggers since the question we get the most from family is, "When are you guys gonna have kids?" lol. Anyways, the fam Christmas party was a typical Ruiz/Graza gathering - we played bingo, the Titas gave out money, and my fam and I showed up proud in our red plaid shirts lol. On our last night with family, before heading to San Francisco, we were spoiled with one of the most epic boodle feasts I've ever seen in my life. Click HERE if you don't know what a boodle feast is.
JANUARY (MONTH 5)
After coming back from our Christmas vacay, Mitchell and I took a much needed 3-day Sabbath at home where all we did was sleep in, snuggle in bed for hours, and move slowly because we know that in 4 month's time, such luxuries would no longer be available to us. Well we didn't just live the retired life; we also started studying for our NPPE Exam which was scheduled for February 4th, and this was our life every weeknight - wake up, go to work, work out, have dinner, study, sleep, repeat. On a few free weekends in Red Deer, we treated ourselves to a trip to Home Depot where we bought stacks on stacks of totes and shelves and purged and organized our basement! Talk about Adulting 101. We also started moving my studio to the basement where Mitchell's office is (yay office neighbours!) and we started turning my studio into a nursery, one Amazon purchase at a time lol. And by "WE", I mean Mitchell because my short torso and growing belly made it real hard for me to carry anything big.
The main event of our January 2020 was our gender reveal! We had the 20-week anatomy scan 4 days after we got back from Cali and it was so surreal seeing our baby's features, especially since the last time we saw him/her were at 7 weeks! And at that point, baby was just a cute little blob! Now he/she's an actual fetus with a head and feet and hands! It was also really nerve-wracking to look at the ultrasound screen and not catch a glimpse of baby's genitals since we wanted the ultrasound tech to keep the gender a secret from us and write it on an envelope instead so we could give it to our friends, Joy and Chilton. Anyways, as soon as we got in the car after the scan, both Mitchell and I *TRIED* peeking through the envelope to see if we could read what the sheet said. We both thought we saw a penis on the ultrasound screen and we both thought the sheet inside the envelope said "boy", but at this point anything was possible.
Anyways, back to our gender reveal. I seriously have the best and the most extra family ever! We rented the Panorama Community Hall to fit around 30+ people for our gender reveal. Everything that went into our gender reveal was a fruit of my family's love for Mitchell, myself and Baby Lee. We had a beautiful balloon arch, coffee from Monogram, a 12-foot grazing table, custom sugar cookies, my mom's famous Oreo cheesecake, and pins with mine and Mitchell's baby faces for guests to guess the gender.
Best part of the night? Finding out that Baby Lee is a BOY!!!!!! I get to have my own mini-Mitchell!!!!! Our hunch after the ultrasound was right, even though we didn't explicitly see a penis on the ultrasound and the writing on the sheet inside the envelope was so faint, the only way you'd be able to read it is if you actually unfolded the sheet. This was such insane news considering that ever since getting pregnant, I've had vivid dreams about having a baby girl AND my gut feeling was that I was having a baby girl! Talk about the opposite lol!
It was also around this time that I started getting carpal tunnel syndrome on my right hand. MY RIGHT HAND! MY MONEY-MAKING HAND! I was writing on a card for a friend's wedding when I started feeling numbness after 3 words! It was painful and I was confused. I started getting it checked by my Physio and I also bought a brace to wear at night.
We also started our baby gear shopping and first stop was buybuyBABY to check out 2 strollers. You see, Mitchell and I have a foot in height difference, so we wanted to make sure that whatever stroller we end up getting fits both of our heights comfortably. And we also wanted to make sure that the stroller we get is travel-friendly since we plan on travelling a lot with baby! I initially wanted to check out the Babyzen YOYO in person since I had my heart set on it after seeing multiple petite bloggers rave about it, but after seeing other options in person, i.e. the UPPABABY VISTA, I was then convinced that I wasn't the right person to be researching strollers. So I then gave the honour of picking a stroller and carseat to Mitchell who was more suited for that kind of research and objective decision than I was.
FEBRUARY (MONTH 6)
Alright, now we're in February. Although February is the shortest month of the year, this February felt like it dragged on forevaaaa. First we had to drive to Calgary to write our NPPE exam and I swear, I felt like a huge boulder was taken off of my chest the moment I walked out of that exam room. It felt so sooooo good to be done with APEGA lol.
Two days after the exam, we were on our way to Tokyo for our babymoon amidst the news of the Coronavirus spreading to Japan. Mitchell started hearing about this virus on his site visit in early January, and since then we've followed it on the news since the place where it all started (Wuhan, China) is pretty close to Japan. We thought about cancelling our Tokyo babymoon and possibly going some place else since little was known about the virus and how it could affect me or the baby at that time, but after much consideration (and a whole lot of mask and hand sanitizer searching), we decided to still go to Tokyo.
The photo on the right side above was taken at the Vancouver airport before we boarded the plane. I'd say about 30% of people were wearing masks at this point, and Mitchell and I kept our masks on to ensure we weren't touching our faces. Anyways, Japan was a blast as it was when we went in 2017 for our honeymoon! Back then, we made it our goal to visit as many places in Japan, so we did. We even flew all the way to the island of Hokkaido (where Sapporo is), where a lot of tourists don't go. Anyhow, this time around we wanted to just stay in Tokyo and explore the city a little deeper. Of course I enjoyed eating all the Japanese food I can eat without feeling guilty of the calories!
I did end up flying home 4 days early because of a pregnancy-related health condition. I've journaled about it already, I just don't know if I'll ever share to the public. IDK, maybe one of these days I will. Anyways, the rest of February was a little more cheerful post-Japan. My parents gifted us with the crib (GOD BLESS THEIR GENEROUS HEARTS) and we were able to take it home after Japan and actually start turning the nursery into a nursery. I also took my gestational diabetes test this month, where I had to sit at DynaLife for an hour after drinking this mini bottle of over concentrated sugar (it looked like Fanta). I wasn't expecting to get a phone call from my OB about gestational diabetes since I haven't really craved sweets since getting preggers. And I didn't get a phone call so that's good news. After coming back from our Tokyo vacay, I also requested to start working 30 hours a week. At this point, the residual symptoms from the condition I developed from our Tokyo trip plus my carpal tunnel that seemed to be getting worse by the day just wasn't letting me function the same way, so I thought it was fair to start asking for reduced hours.
Aaaaaanyways, that's it for my second trimester recap! Not gonna lie, I started this blog post on March 8th at 10:29 PM and I'm ending this on April 1st at 9:14 PM lol. Talk about hella delay! I blame it on the carpal tunnel and the world crisis that's going on right now which I'll most likely blog about after this!