*Trigger warning if you have experienced loss and/or are currently navigating fertility* Should you choose to read this post, know that I am extremely thankful for a healthy pregnancy. I do not take it for granted, and my candid answers do not negate my gratitude in any way. Also, I’d love to add you to my 10am daily prayer list so please reach out if that’s something you could benefit from.

I cannot believe I’m in my third trimester already. Some days pregnancy felt like it would never end, yet now that I’m nearing the finish line I feel like it flew by! I wanted to document my answers to 30 questions y’all asked because this is a special time, and also so that if I ever say to E, “I think we should try for another biological baby!” I can come read this before making that decision. 😉

  1. You didn’t want to pursue biological children for as long as I’ve known you. What changed your mind? A combination of therapy, Jesus, and many conversations with my husband. I needed to heal from the belief that it would be selfish to have a biological child when there are so many children who need families. Jesus also softened my heart to it over time (we’re talking years!). Lastly, E wanted to have biological children and continue fostering to reunify, and I wanted a child who I didn’t have to say goodbye to, so we recognized that we didn’t need to choose – we could pursue all of those things.
  1. Did you use anything to help get pregnant and how long did it take? We were extremely fortunate to get pregnant in the very first month we stopped preventing it. Here goes my filter! Our method of prevention for the last five years was “pull and pray.” I have not been on any contraceptives during our marriage and we have never once used a condom. When we decided to stop preventing, we did not use anything, but I know many couples who have success by tracking their ovulation.
  1. How far along are you? Currently I’m 29 weeks and my estimated due date is March 4, 2021. There was a discrepancy around my EED in the beginning. My OB also reminded me that most babies don’t come on their actual due date, so I’m holding it loosely. If this kid is anything like me or his daddy, he’s stubborn and will come on HIS time, most likely long after I’m ready, ha!
  1. How did you find out? We found out I was pregnant when I was just over 4 weeks because I didn’t get my period and told E I just *felt* like I was pregnant. I took a test alone in a Mejier bathroom (couldn’t wait till I got home) and sure enough: it was positive! I nearly had a panic attack, purely from shock. I hurried home to E, handed him the positive test and cried while saying, “Babe. You’re a dad FOR LIFE now!” It was a precious moment just between the two of us. I’ll never forget how many times he said, “Seriously?! Are you sure?! Can you take another test before I get my hopes up!?” (I ended up taking over 20 tests between that day and my first ultrasound at 8 weeks, no joke.)
  1. How did you tell people? I told E first, then our big boys – both were undocumented, intimate moments. We then told my parents (my mom was in complete disbelief), E’s parents (his mom screamed SO loud), and siblings (everyone was thrilled for us). After hearing his heartbeat at the 8 week ultrasound, we told more of our friends and extended family. Someone I bumped into asked me if I was pregnant because I popped SO early (clearly didn’t do the best job hiding it with my outfits), so when I was nearly done with the first trimester, we shared publicly with this sweet video my sister in law made for us. 
  1. What’s the baby’s sex? BOY! & I cried in secret after finding out because I was convinced that I was having a girl and I had started dreaming about her and I being close in the same way my mom and I are. Months later, I’m genuinely SO stoked to be having a boy.
  1. Do you have a name for him? Sure do! It’s unique, but not trendy and has beautiful meaning. E discovered it and we both loved it. We’ve told our family and a few close friends, but we’re waiting to share his name with the world till he’s earthside.
  1. Recap of the 1st trimester? My bump arrived super early, which my OB attributed to my high levels of progesterone. I never got tender boobs or felt abnormally tired. My only symptoms were crying, nausea, and food aversions. I am not a big crier, so when there were moments I could not stop crying for absolutely no reason at all, E got it on video and now it’s hilarious. I went from being an Oreo addict to dry-heaving at the thought of one. I lived on Costco’s pizza-by-the-slice, toast with butter or peanut butter, and any other carb. I could not stomach a fruit or vegetable. I didn’t really have many cravings, except for milk. I managed to take prenatal vitamins, but also suspected they weren’t helping my nausea so I tried a number of brands. I gained more weight than you’re supposed to, likely due to my horrible eating and very little exercise during those initial months. E promised to get a vasectomy anytime I was over the toilet because he felt so bad for me. I cannot emphasize enough how much of a toll this trimester took on my physical and mental health. I was MISERABLE and struggled more than I ever have before.
  1. Recap of the 2nd trimester? It took until week 16 for my all-day-sickness and nausea to subside, but once it did I finally felt hopeful and happy again. I never got the increased sex drive many woman experience in this stage. I began to make healthier food choices, exercise like I had prior to being pregnant, and felt motivated to work. Slowly, I felt like me again. I felt our baby kick at 19 weeks and E felt it with his hand just a few days later! Kicks became the most magical thing and I started to actually enjoy pregnancy. We created my registry, went on a babymoon trip to Los Angeles, and picked out furniture for his nursery.
  1. How is the 3rd trimester so far? Overall, really great. However, baby boy’s kicks are quite intense and borderline painful at times. He’s super low, which makes running much less comfortable. I’m doing more stair-stepper workouts, which I love. My boobs are definitely growing now, which I thought would happen sooner. I have really bad heartburn and insomnia, but I’ll take those over nausea and sickness anyday!
  1. How much weight have you gained? So far, I’m up 23lbs. My weight gain was rapid in the beginning and tapered off significantly. My OB says I’m in a very healthy place now.
  1. Did you buy any maternity clothes? A few pieces, but luckily friends gifted me their hand-me-downs. I mostly wear E’s baggy sweatshirts and sweatpants, which is a major perk of being pregnant during a pandemic; I rarely ever have to get dressed in real clothes.
  1. Do you have any stretch marks? Not yet! I hear they are hereditary and my mom got them with me, so there’s a good chance I will, but so far none. I am using this oil daily.
  1. Has your belly button popped? Yes, it is officially out all of the way and is the strangest sight to me! E thinks it’s cute, ha.
  1. Can you still wear your wedding rings or are you swollen? Still wearing my rings and have no swelling anywhere (except my gigantic belly if that counts) at this time. 
  1. How has pregnancy impacted your mood? Happy in general, but that can change really quickly. I’ve found my daily workout and time with Jesus to be a huge help in regulating my emotions. Relevant side note: I stopped taking my antidepressant when I found out I was pregnant (per my family doctors advice, not my OBGYN who later told me I would’ve been just fine to stay on it) and have not started it back up again, but plan to at 36 weeks so that it’s in my system by the time baby arrives. It should help prevent postpartum depression since I’m at a higher risk for that.
  1. How has pregnancy impacted your sleep? Other than waking up to pee two or three times in the middle of the night, my sleep was unaffected until week 27 when I began to experience insomnia. Most nights, I wake up around 4am and can’t fall back asleep till 6am. It’s annoying, but again I’ll take it over nausea and sickness!
  1. How has pregnancy impacted your sex life? Hardly had sex in the first trimester because I was so sick. (Like twice maybe? Ha!) Even when I started feeling better at 16 weeks, I never got my sex drive back. E and I have always agreed that while sex in our marriage is important, there’s nothing fun or healthy about forced intimacy. We’re doing our best to prioritize it and keep open communication about our physical desires and emotional needs.
  1. How has pregnancy impacted your workouts? I am more restricted by my ever-growing bump than anything else. I feel extremely fortunate to have the clearance from my doctor to keep at my high-intensity workouts!
  1. What do you miss pre-pregnancy? Not being restricted by my belly and simply feeling in control of my body (although I suppose I’ve never actually had as much control as I thought).
  1. What’s surprised you most? How horrible the first trimester was. I have to confess I thought pregnant women who complained about sickness were just being wimpy. Now, I have all of the sympathy in the world because I experienced it.
  1. What did you not expect about being pregnant? To be so enamored by my baby kicking as much as I am – I love it so much and I feel so bonded with him already! On the other hand, I didn’t expect to struggle with weight gain. I’ve never been a self-conscious person, but I’ve experienced new insecurities around my body changing, which is entirely new to me.
  1. What have you been craving? In the beginning, any carb (pizza, toast, waffles). Now, my favorite Starbucks drink (iced mocha with oat milk and caramel drizzle) and bowls of cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams, or Reeses Puffs) before bed. So basically the same things (minus Oreos) I loved to eat pre-pregnancy, ha!
  1. How did you manage nausea? I took a combination of Unisom and vitamin B6. That didn’t work for me, so I finally accepted a prescription of Zofran from my OB. Also, I started seeing a chiropractor, which helped a lot. I still go to him once a month because I really enjoy how I feel after being adjusted!
  1. Any signs of labor? Not to my knowledge, but I do think I recently experienced my first Braxton Hicks contraction!
  1. What are you most looking forward to? Him being in my arms. Not being restricted by a big belly. Breastfeeding. Seeing what he looks like. Discovering his personality. EVERYTHING! I love motherhood so much with our current and past kiddos, so I’m especially excited to raise a child from the very beginning of his life and to have the role of being his mom all to myself.
  1. What’s your birth plan? To have him at Prentice Northwestern here in Chicago, with an epidural and a vaginal delivery… I’m very aware that all of my plans could go out the window in a heartbeat so I’m holding them loosely.
  1. What have you learned about yourself? A lot! More than anything else, I’ve been learning how to surrender and accept that God is truly in control. Pregnancy is an absolute miracle and watching my body change and grow this human has been NONE of my own doing. It’s so extraordinary and humbling!
  1. What’s one thing you and E have decided on when it comes to raising Baby Carpenter? We want to consciously parent him to be self-aware. We don’t ever want him to think that because he’s a white male in an upper-middle class family that he is exempt from treating people – ALL PEOPLE – with respect and dignity. We want him to know how deeply we love him, and we want to ensure we don’t make him feel superior to others. Our desire and prayer is for him to be confident, yet humble and wise, yet teachable.
  1. Would you want to be pregnant again? I am going to remain open minded, but we’ll see how labor and delivery go first. Because I know that having a child biologically does not make you any more of a mother, I am less interested in going through this again and would rather continue fostering and potentially adopt one day.

Bonus Q: Will you and E continue fostering after Baby Carpenter is born? Yes, we view foster care as part of our lifestyle for the long haul, but there will be seasons – like when Baby Carp initially arrives – where we pause accepting any new placements, for example. Also, we’re super passionate about staying closely in touch with former kids we’ve had in our care and their families, so our primary focus will be to prioritize them before saying yes to any new calls that come.

There you have it! My experience has been full of surprises, more challenging than I anticipated, and super sweet. I am so in love with this little guy and cannot wait to meet him in approximately 11 weeks! But if you’re listening, Baby Carpenter, you can arrive 8 weeks from now and make your mama extra happy 🙂

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Manda's weekly letters on faith, marriage, motherhood, soul care, social justice - and occasionally the collision of it all. 

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