Overflowing Heart (and Belly)

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Hi, it’s been a while (*cough*understatement*cough*cough*)…

To be honest, life got pretty hectic and stressful for us this past year. Will finished and defended his thesis whilst watching Liam full-time. I worked full-time whilst pregnant (yes, I’m pregnant and due in early April!) and I struggled with this pregnancy more than the last. So. Tired. To top it all off, some last-minute changes in our visa situation made us switch roles in January. Now I’m the stay-at-home parent and Will is working full-time, first on his thesis corrections, then on job applications. Through all of that I kinda forgot about this blog.

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Well, not really. I thought about the blog a lot, but that was it. Part of me didn’t really feel like sharing what was going on. Honestly, it was not the easiest time for us and I just did not have the extra energy to figure out how to put my feelings into words. It felt like all of my energy was spent on being a good wife and a good mom and a good coworker. Everything else took a back seat.

Before Christmas, both my brother and my mom came to visit us! They gave us such a reprieve from the stress of our lives. For my brother’s trip in October, we took a little road trip out west to Islay, partly for the scenery and partly for the whisky. This also was just in time for Liam’s canines to come in. All of them. At the same time. My poor brother! My mom visited in November for Thanksgiving and for Edinburgh’s wonderful long Christmas season. She was so impressed with Will’s cooking! Yes, Will cooks now. And he’s soooo good (#blessed). Those two visits were medicine for our hearts! Both visits came before Will had his viva, basically his thesis defence, which was such a good break for us. By the way, he totally rocked his viva!

We spent all of our Christmas break in hibernation. We lounged as much as we could with an 18 month old. We ate, took walks, and lounged some more. It was exactly what we needed. Early in the new year, I took an early maternity leave so I could watch Liam full-time. I have been adjusting to the new schedule and adjusting to my ever-growing belly at the same time! Let me tell you, chasing a toddler with a full-term belly is no easy task. I don’t think being pregnant is very easy to begin with, but when your kid pushes you to your physicial/emotional limits all day, it makes it that much harder. Needless to say, I’m very, very ready not to be pregnant anymore.

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I never imagined myself as a stay-at-home mom, so it’s been quite an adjustment. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hanging out with Liam, seeing his little personality grow, and being there for him. I also really enjoy having a little bit of a daily grind, with an office and coworkers and, dare I say it, a boss! A part of me misses that, but I know this is what my family needs right now. So that is what we’re doing.

I will also say that I’m enjoying this phase a lot more than I thought I would! Liam is so much fun! He loves to run and jump, and he responds to us in new ways all the time. He “tells jokes”, he climbs all over us and everything else, and he takes us by the hand to lead us wherever he wants to go. He knows what he wants and what he doesn’t like, and he tells us what he thinks. By the way, I have been working hard on my Spanish the past few years, and I try to speak only in Spanish with him. Between my Spanglish and his toddler-speak, our house is like the Tower of Babel. The struggle is real. Liam knows there’s a baby in my belly and he likes to pat it and give it kisses. He likes both to give and to get tickles. He inhales blueberries, bread, cheese, grapes, and salmon risotto, and he still only likes to drink water. He’s becoming more independent all the time, and I’m learning to be more excited than fearful about it.

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I’m learning so much about myself whilst watching him. Pre-kids, I had all of these pre-conceived notions of what type of parent I would be. Most of them have gone out the window! Hahaha! What has rung true, though, is my love for the toddler phase! I used to work in a nursery and my favourite age was the two-four year olds. They were so much fun to watch and play with. Of course, they’re a lot of work too. I thought I’d be eating my words when I had Liam, but I really am enjoying this phase and I’m still excited for all that comes with it — big emotions and all!

I’ve learned that I struggle with comparison a lot. I compare myself to other moms out there all the time. Their parenting style, their “mom style”, how their kid(s) behave,  etc. Comparison is the thief of joy. I have to work really hard to be more confident in myself, the way that I parent, and what’s best for our family. It helps to have Will around to tame my craziness. It also helps that I’ve made some pretty good mom-friends who have been vulnerable with me and allowed me to be vulnerable with them. Community, man, you need it.

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I have so many thoughts about welcoming a second kid into our life. I remember feeling protective of Will when I was pregnant with Liam. Like, I only have so much love and Liam was going to take some of it away from Will. Obviously, that’s not at all what happens. Your love just grows as a parent. But now I’m feeling myself get protective of Liam. I’m really trying to savour every moment with him because I know I won’t be able to give him as much undivided attention as I can now. It also makes me anxious to change our routine, because I’m really enjoying the one we have now.

With Liam, I had no choice and needed a caesarean because of placenta previa. With this pregnancy though, I have the option of a vaginal delivery, which means I’m feeling all of the typical first-time pregnancy anxieties! When will I go into labour? How will it feel? How long will it be? Will I be able to do it? Will I want an epidural? I don’t know. I’m not one to make too many plans, but I would like my delivery to be as natural as possible. I want to feel my body do it’s thing. Of course, I’m very ready to accept the fact that I will probably eat my words and scream for an epidural the minute I feel my first contraction! Hahaha! Ultimately, it won’t matter if I have a caesarean, VBAC, epidural, birthing pool, etc. What matters is that the baby and I are taken care of and that we both end up ok. That’s my birth plan.

We’ve decided not to find out the sex of the baby again, and we have really enjoyed not knowing! We both have a feeling this might be a girl. This pregnancy has been pretty different; I’ve been more sick, I’m more easily out of breath, and I’m eating waaaaaaaaaaay more sweets. But we know that pregnancies can differ from one time to the next for so many reasons, not just “boy pregnancies” from “girl pregnancies”. We just don’t know. Either way, s/he will have the sweetest older brother, and lots of hand-me-downs.

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Our family is now in this funny phase of limbo/transition between the PhD and the job. We don’t know how long this phase will last, but for now we have to learn to be ok with not having all the answers. All we know is that Will is casting a wide net and we will go wherever the job takes us. But we also have visas to think about, and we can’t stay in Edinburgh forever. This city has solidified its place in our hearts and the time we’ve spent here has meant so much to us. This is our home. Where Will and I have learned to be “us” and where our family went from two to three and soon to be four. The thought of leaving is tough, but we know it will happen. It’s inevitable. We’re just trying to figure out how we can prioritise our time and energy so that we can make the most of our life here.

While the academic/student life can feel limiting, it also comes with so many blessings! Will can be flexible with his time since he works from home, and having him here during the day has me feeling all of the feels! Instead of heading off to an office, he stays here so we get to see him throughout the day. He’ll take five minutes here and there to help me get Liam up the stairs when we come back from our outings, or to make me a cup of tea, or to help with lunch, or to be my relief when I’ve reached my emotional and physical limit. We haven’t had many chances for “date nights”, but we try to make the most of the time we do get to spend together, learning new games, reading, finding a new show to watch, chatting about life and its endless possibilities. Some days I’m sooooooo keen to feel more like an adult, maybe have our own place and a better pay check. But I try to remind myself that a lot of what I love about our life now is because of the current stage we’re in, and it will more than likely go away with that “big boy” job.

Anyway, I just wanted to say hi. We’re still here, figuring out the expat/academic/growing family life and we still want to share it with you. The updates just may be a little bit less frequent than before. Thank you for your patience and for sticking around!

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Note: these pictures are from a tickle-session yesterday afternoon that made my heart explode!