The Journee to Parenthood.

Now that I am almost 9 months pregnant I figured it would be a good time to document some of my thoughts on Tom and I becoming parents in just a short amount of time!

If I had to sum up pregnancy in two words my words would be: weird and surreal. Weird because I know that there is a human in there, but my brain can not picture what this baby looks like, it’s tiny little personality, or how it’s getting out. Surreal, because even though I am at the end of my pregnancy the baby clothes are washed and my hospital bag is half packed… it still does not really feel that real.

I wanted to document some questions we have gotten along the way. I always loved reading stories about pregnancy and marriage so I thought I would share a bit about our very own story.

Did you know you were ready?

Not really. HAHA. Tom and I both knew that we always wanted kiddos and that was something we talked about long before marriage (almost 5 years ago now WHAT!?!?)

Elicia always wanted a big family- the louder the better. I really do thrive in chaos and noise. Tom says 2-4 kids ūüėČ We also always knew we wanted to wait to build a strong foundation in marriage and grow in our faith together. We also had so many places to see and discover first. We spent the first four and a half years of our marriage navigating being newlyweds, then marriage and life abroad in Korea– and next¬†Morocco. Endless adventures together and countless countries explored. Tom even hit his newly formed goal of 30 countries before 30 years old!! It was important for us to wait to grow our family even when our peers and friends were having kids years before us. & I have to say– that was the best decision for us. I feel that with each passing year we grew stronger as a team and each year has truly gotten better, together.

How did it all begin?

Nothing, absolutely nothing can prepare you for seeing the positive results that you are pregnant. No matter how planned or unplanned the baby might be. Even when my stomach started to grow, we saw the heartbeat and the baby move on the ultrasound, then I began feeling the baby move, then Tom felt him or her move- it just all felt and continues to feel so surreal. This is a story for another time, but Tom was shocked and very anxious and needed time to process it all- which I think is probably normal for most men! I have to say though after the initial shock wore off it has been a total joy observing him take it all in. I also think it’s important to add here that babies can take TIME! Do not be discouraged if it’s taken you a few months. A couple (with no fertility issues) only has a 15% chance of conceiving each cycle. So many couples told us that they got pregnant on the very first try. That is NOT NORMAL! At all. I wish someone had told me that. Be patient. Good things take time and it can be months ūüėČ

How’s pregnancy been?¬†

It’s not as scary as people make it. Now, I know I have had a great pregnancy. Some women¬†just struggle so much with sickness throughout pregnancy¬†and I truly feel for them. My mom was pregnant with my littlest sisters when I was high school and she was sick the entire pregnancy. It was awful. Overall, my pregnancy has been great. I have continued working out 4-5 times a week, eating pretty healthy, and I was even able to run up to 33 weeks. The last two weeks I’ve been doing lots¬†of low impact workouts and mixing in some- prenatal workouts here and there. (Thanks to the awesome blog Nourish Move Love!)

That isn’t to say pregnancy hasn’t had it’s challenges. Sleep is a debacle each night and I am sleeping in 3-4 hour increments these days. I definitely had nausea the first four months and smells OH THE SMELLS. I didn’t want to eat anything except for fruit the first 20 weeks or so. I am out of breathe A LOT. Working out consistently has¬†kept and fueled a healthy pregnancy- that I am sure of. It helps combat lots of those pregnancy symptoms, helped a ton with heartburn, achey butt/leg muscles, and the breathlessness I feel (ironically!) It hasn’t always been easy- but I don’t think pregnancy should be really. You’re growing a human. Lots of people have asked how much weight I have gained. We don’t actually own a scale and so I never really know and that has been the best thing for me. In the beginning of pregnancy I knew that my body would change. I knew that if I ate healthy and kept working out that baby would gain exactly what baby needs and I accepted whatever that was going to be. I have gained 23 pounds as of 2 weeks ago at the doctors office. So I’m calling it 25 and I still have six weeks to go so it’ll be more and I am okay with it. I want a strong and healthy babe!

What’s your birth plan?¬†

Keep me healthy. Get baby out healthy.That is it. BOOM. I am not opposed to meds. It’s 2017, I am so thankful for medical advancements, ¬†and I have nothing to prove to anyone. I have always been in awe and cheer f0r women who decide to do no meds- but I know myself and¬†my pain tolerance so we are going in with an open mind. Because let’s be real- I have never felt that pain and never given birth and it is totally out of our control the circumstances for that day. I trust our doctor and that God has gone before us.

Final thoughts on being abroad and being pregnant:

Of course it’s been hard to be away from our family during the entire pregnancy and there have been moments of sadness or loneliness because there aren’t birth classes or the support like back in the states readily available, I can’t communicate with the hospital staff, and we don’t have family around to gather together and celebrate the most exciting time in our life. (Just to name a few)

On the upside, Tom also pointed out that being abroad has simplified a lot of things. We have less distractions around and less commitments to attend to as we mentally prepare for parenthood. We have less people to consult for advice, but the people we surround ourselves with are really great parents and have a life similar to what ours will look like as an expat living abroad with kiddos. We value that information and even though we have less to consult for advice the advice we get is very solid. Lastly, we have a lot LESS baby stuff than we would back in the states. Everything I have came in a suitcase (okay maybe two) from the states when my sister in law came to visit us and from friends that went back home at Christmas break and loaded up for us!  We have no baby nursery and just the bare minimums. Which kept things pretty easy for us- especially since we have another big move on the horizon.

Lastly, I am doing a mama devotional which I have LOVED & I am sharing that along with some pregnancy must haves below, ¬†but this stuck with me and I’ll end on this note because pregnant or not I feel that this applies to my entire life.

“God’s gift of pregnancy wasn’t because I deserve this incredible blessing, but rather God’s way of showing his love and perfect timing.”

My mama must haves for pregnancy. I feel like there isn’t a ton you need, but I really had to prepare in advance because all of this (except the Argan oil) is from the USA and we can’t get mail in Morocco! So at 12 weeks pregnant I begun to make a list of what I wanted from the states which is when my friend Jenni went home to the states and loaded up & later my sister in law. I also did not get anything for these recommendations…but when I love a product I have to share.

Starting from the top left:

1.//DRESSES. I have lived in dresses (and leggings) my entire pregnancy. Seriously. Especially since I needed to look put together for work. Old Navy maternity was a huge hit especially since they have petite and the price point was right for me. I stocked up on about six dresses and basically that has been all I have worn. The top blue dress is for our baby shower next weekend and that is from Pink Blush.

2.// ¬†Tubby Todd. 100% natural belly balm- citrus avocado. It smells SO GOOD. I discovered this company on instagram probably over a year ago and couldn’t wait to try their products. I am in love. The best part is that they are toxin, gluten, paraben, sulfate, artificial fragrance/color, BPA, and animal cruelty FREE. I also bought their baby travel kit for when babe arrives and I love all their products. Find them—> here!

3.// Argan Oil. SOOOO many things I could say here. Argan oil is crazy cheap and made in Morocco so it has been apart of my daily routine at least twice a day. I love and rant about the miracle properties of how wonderful Argan oil has been for me– and no stretch marks yet. I know nothing can prevent stretch marks, but I do think it’s helped a ton. The moroccan ladies swear by it and I now know why.

4.// Hospital & new mama robe. From Pink Blush. 

5.//Good reads. First Time dad (the stuff you really need to know) ¬†by John Fuller. Quick and easy read. Lots of practical info for Tom. He really liked it and read it in a weekend! & for mamas: Waiting in Wonder- Growing in Faith While You’re Expecting by Catherine Claire Larson. I have really loved doing this devotional each day!

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6. and 7.//¬†Blanqi¬†leggings and Belly band. Okay this has to be my BEST pregnancy investment. I wore one or the other of these every single day. Not only are they well made, but they provide support. I wore them working out, with the dresses, or with a long shirt over the top. ALL THE TIME. I have not gone a day without one of these. The band allowed me to wear all my normal work pants/jeans the first 6 months of pregnancy. Both of them seamless and providing support, a company started by two best friends, I am ALL ABOUT THESE and every pregnant women needs them. I would have also purchased their maternity support tank top, but it was on back order before my sister in law came to Morocco so it wasn’t available! I also found this company on instagram! Find their awesome stuff:¬†here!

8.// Baby Boy Bakery My First Year Baby Journal by Jacqui Saldana. I have followed this mama for a few years and she has her own biz! Her story of strength, resilience , and faith amazes and inspires me. The journal she created is perfect. A baby journal that has it all but keeps it clean, classic, and simple. I love spending time writing in this about our soon to be baby and can’t wait to document his or her first year. She also creates adorable cooking kits for kids/mamas and toddler journals too. The size is perfect too for traveling/living abroad. ¬†Check out her products: here!

9.// Athletic wear. I still fit into all my workout shorts/capris but I purchased a couple essential workout tops from Old Navy Maternity. A tank and a long sleeve lightweight top. If you follow me on snapchat you know that I wear the same top again and again…haha! I had to add the workout piece¬†and give a huge shoutout to Lindsey at Nourish Move Love for her incredible workouts! She also just released prenatal workouts over here that I am going to be doing my last month of pregnancy! Workouts for all and they are CHALLENGING- can’t rave enough about them.

10.//Not pictured but should be included// Online breastfeeding classes done by Lindsey Shipley, an RN, Childbirth Educator, and IBCLC-certified Lactation Coach… this is especially helpful if you’re abroad because it can be done anywhere on your own time! https://lactationlink.com/¬†

Korea’s East Coast Road Trip Highlights.

There’s this large map of Korea that sits in our living room with little yellow stickers dotting the places we have visited in Korea. Each weekend, with a new adventure planned (and making it easy since we have a car!) our map slowly begun to be sprinkled with yellow dots around the country as each weekend continued to pass before our eyes. It wasn’t long before we noticed that our stickers were concentrated on much of the southern portion of Korea. Easier to reach since we’ve spent the last 16 months living on Korea’s southern peninsula. ¬†Tom and I begun to plot what we would do on a big road trip up along the eastern coast of Korea since we hadn’t ever been there, but our map¬†certainly needed some attention in that area. Using our Korean guidebooks (mostly Lonely Planet this time) we set our sights on a road trip together for a long weekend this past June. Our main purpose of this trip was to hike/camp as much as possible…Where Tom wrote about that here and here. We also had a few places we were interested in seeing along the way. So, here’s a few highlights of a long weekend in June filled with camping, hiking, sightseeing, and of course lots of adventures along the way!

We had our sights set on Seoraksan National Park & it surely didn’t disapoint. A must see in KOREA!

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Gangneung- The largest city in Gangwon-do that is home to lovely Gyeongpo Lake & beautiful Gyeongpo Beach which is the largest beach on the east coast of Korea at 1.8 km long! A place to relax, rent bikes, and lounge on the beach.

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Jeongdongjin- Fun place to check out! Highlights for us were: Unification Park, Beach with the train station on it, as well as checking out the cruise ship resort on a cliff.

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Odaesan National Park has some pretty unique temples and gorgeous hiking!

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Snapping photos at  random spots along highway 7! Such a scenic road that winds along the coast.

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Stopping to eat & explore Pohang along the coast.

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*We wish we would have brought our passports as you can drive your car and do a self guided tour along the Civilian Control Zone that spans 20km from the ¬†North Korean border. You can visit places like : the Second Tunnel, Cheorwon Peace Observatory that lies just 1km from the DMZ, Woljeong-ri Station, and finally the former Labor Party’s headquarters. Tom & I learned this after we had already begun the road trip so we didn’t have our passports along!¬†Also, we didn’t have time for the caves Hwaseongul/ Daegeumgul, but would have loved to check them out if¬†time had allowed.

 

I never knew Korea would be so beautiful! Do you love road trips? What are some of your favorite memories from road tripping?!

Sabah, Malaysia- What You Can’t Miss!

Almost a year ago already Tom & I were getting ready for our first vacation since arriving in Korea just a few months earlier. We really had no idea what to expect… we had only been in Korea just about four months & it blew my mind we were getting 10 days of vacation already! Just a year earlier I had no idea that I’d ever have the opportunity to visit Malaysia & to this day our trip to Sabah, Malaysia is still my favorite trip that we’ve taken since living on this side of the world. Let’s chat for a second about where Malaysia is & which part we went to. Did you know Malaysia is broken into two land masses? ¬†I admittedly, could not have pointed out Malaysia on a map if you would have asked me just two years ago.

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Malaysia is both of the white parts on this map. We spent our time in Sabah¬†which is pictured here furthest right….can you tell I’m not a map person?!

1. Start in Kota Kinabalu– We flew from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Kota Kinabalu. I did a more detailed post about our time in Kota Kinabalu here. The highlights for us included the Gaya Street Market, Kota Kinabalu’s night market, island hopping, and incredible scuba diving in Tunku Abul Rahman Marine National Park.

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2. Hiking Mt. Kinabalu. ¬†We decided to hike it in a day BUT if you aren’t up for¬†hiking¬†it in a day or you just want to walk around and explore the park there is plenty to do here to keep you busy! There is also the nearby Poring Hot Springs¬†that had some nice walking/trekking trails & a fun canopy walk high up in the trees of the rainforest. Tom wrote a detailed blog post on getting here, staying here, and¬†hiking Mt. Kinabalu.

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3.Sepilok- We loved staying in Sepilok! After hiking Mt. Kinabalu we headed here for a few days to relax & recover from the big hike. We spent our days lounging around reading, relaxing, recovering. A day spent at Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary  was incredible & seeing the Orangutans was fascinating.

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4.Kinabatangan Discovery River Safari- From Sepilok we booked a river safari with the coolest local guy who lived on the Kinabatangan River. He picked us up in his van from Sepilok & drove us to the river where the safari would be. We ended up doing a total of three river safari trips since we loved it so much. We took a river safari during the day, an evening safari that was after dark, and a sunrise safari. We saw SO much wildlife it was absolutely incredible.

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Can you spot the crocodile?

Can you spot the crocodile?

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Sabah, Malaysia is where it’s at. We can’t wait to get BACK!

Do you have a trip that stands out in your mind? Would you ever go to Sabah, Malaysia?