My Maternity Must-Haves

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27 weeks of pregnancy down, 13 weeks to go. So basically an eternity. I really don't like being pregnant. Please don't misinterpret that statement. I'm wildly excited about this baby, I just wish someone would knock me out for 9 months and then I would wake up with a baby in my arms. But I guess that approach to pregnancy wouldn't really work for the rest of my family. So while there is no avoiding 9 months of sickness, fatigue, pain, heartburn, and crazy hormones, at least there are some things that can help make those 9 months more tolerable. Here of some of my favorite maternity items this time around.

1. This Black Pencil Skirt is super comfortable and looks super put together. Now that we've finally made it to warmer weather you can bet I will be wearing it nearly every day with a t-shirt.

2. Epsom Salts. I love these all the time, and I especially love them while pregnant. This pregnancy I've had some restless leg syndrome, which, if you've never had it, is So Annoying!! It's like the top half of my body wants to sleep and the bottom half of my body wants to run laps around the house. An epsom salts bath at the end of the day paired with a magnesium supplement has worked wonders for my sleep.

3. Maternity/Nursing shirt that covers my tush. Maternity jeans are so not my jam this time around. It's leggings (which I will get to in a moment) all day every day, and so long shirts are essential.

4. Pregnancy Pillow. Alex got me this pillow while I was pregnant with Trixie.  It' takes up half of the bed, but it makes sleeping with a giant tum so much more comfortable. I highly recommend it.

5. Maternity Spanx. For underneath dresses and skirts, because everyone can use a little help, right?

6. The best lip balm ever. I get intensely dry lips while during winter and while pregnant, so being  pregnant during the winter basically means I have two strips of sandpaper on my face. I first got this lip balm in an Ipsy bag. I love it so much I've restocked on Amazon twice so far.

7. Special Occasion Dress. Because there's usually at least one special occasion during a pregnancy. I wore this dress to a wedding we went to in New York this winter. It was so flattering, I loved wearing it. Just don't forget the maternity Spanx!



8. Belly Oil. I am so past the point of preventing stretch marks, which is the reason many people use belly oil. For me, it's all about comfort. Oil works so much better than lotion when it comes to soothing dry, itchy skin. And if I can prevent a few new stretch marks from popping up, that's ok too!

9. Good Maternity Leggings. Like I already mention, I just can't with the maternity jeans. So until it's warm enough to wear dresses everyday, you will find me in leggings. I've been on the hunt for a good pair of leggings that are thick, not see through at all, go over the belly, and look somewhat presentable. These are by far the best I've found. I've worn them almost everyday since January. I am wearing them as I type this blog post.

That's all for now friends! I hope this helps any fellow preggos out there. Tune in next time for my top pregnancy food cravings!

Just kidding.

I think.....

the hospital tour

You never realize how deep the desire to be known and understood is until your find yourself with a group of people who know and understand absolutely nothing about about you.

A 2 year-old Johnny walking by the entrance to the NICU where he spent his first of life.

That was me this past weekend as I went to tour the hospital where baby number 3 will most likely be born this summer. For a variety of different reasons it won't work out for me to deliver at either of the hospitals where my other two children were born. So, I spent my Saturday afternoon with a group a strangers walking through hospital wings and peering into delivery rooms.  

As we waited for the tour to start I felt on edge, not because I'm uneasy about delivering this third baby, but because I didn't want the people around me to think that this is my first baby. "No, no" I wanted to say, "I've done this before. I have two kids already, they're at home with my husband. I'm married. See my ring? It's nap time so they all stayed home. But since this is my third it's not super important for my husband to come along. We know what we're doing."

The tour began, and each step along the way brought up memories and experiences that reminded me of all the profound ways becoming a mother has changed me. And it bothered me that no one else knew these things about me. At each turn I felt compelled to blurt out something personal about myself.

We entered a spacious room with a giant free standing tub. Water birth. My daughter was born in the water and it was a wonderful experience. My main objective in attending the hospital tour was to scope out the water birth accommodations. As I listened attentively to everything the tour guide was saying about water births, I noticed some other members of our group eyeing the tub suspiciously, others glazing over as the information was being presented to them. I wanted to shout out to them, "it's not weird, this is not a joke. I did this and it was amazing!"


The tour guide talked about what kinds of things you might do if your labor goes on a while and you're at the hospital for more than just a day or two. 

"That was me with my first" I wanted to say. "I was in labor with him for 50 hours. And yes, it was terrible." 

Next she covered the infant screening that takes place in the hospital. She spent several minutes explaining the hearing test, telling us not to worry if our baby fails the hearing test. "Many babies fail that first test because they still have amniotic fluid in their ears. It can take several days to drain out. You'll just repeat the test with your pediatrician and everything will be fine."

"Unless your baby is one of the less than 1% of kids born with hearing loss in the US, like my son. Then he or she will have to have more comprehensive testing done and be fitting with hearings aids as soon as possible. And then you'll have regular audiology appointments to monitor their hearing, and you'll want to find a good speech therapist, and you may want to consider learning sign language too....."

The tour ended with a walk by the entrance to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which shares a floor with Labor and Delivery, and which is the very same NICU my son was transferred to when he was one day old. 

It's been almost 5 years since my baby was taken to the NICU, but of all the sorrows in my life that one feels freshest and stings the hardest. 

The tour guide talked calmly about the close proximity of  Labor and Delivery to the NICU, and if in the unlikely event that your baby will need to go there, it is very easy to come visit him or her. 

"But you have no idea what it's like to hobble down these hallways with fresh stitches in your body and legs still unsteady from the trauma of delivery"

She explained the layout of the private NICU rooms and mentioned the fold out couch available to parents who want to stay with their babies after they themselves have been discharged.

"Sure, it's a private room. But nothing feels more public than carrying your pads and peri-bottle to the unit's shared bathrooms every time you need to need to relieve yourself."

Hopefully you never need to go inside the NICU, she said, but it's nice to know it's there if you do.

"But if you do, it's ok to be upset, it's ok to cry and to feel like your world as falling apart, because it's really really hard. It might be the worst thing you ever go through. And you might not ever get over it. And that's ok too." 


But I didn't say any of those things. I just blinked quickly at the floor. Then we headed back to the lobby where the tour began, without anyone ever knowing all those things I had gone through, with them probably assuming I was a first time parent, just like everyone else.

And that's when I realized I was doing the very thing I didn't want done to me - making assumptions.

Since the start of the hospital tour I had been making assumptions about every other person in the group - first time parent, inexperienced, naive, uninformed, too natural, not natural enough - even though I knew nothing about them, or their experiences. 

And how could I?  We can't see experiences, we can only learn about them through increased intimacy over time. 

It's ok that I didn't share my life's story with my hospital tour group. And it was probably best for my ego that I didn't. But the experience was a good reminder to me that you can't possibly begin to scratch the surface of a person at first glance. I could no more know what scars and memories those other people brought with them to the hospital that day than they could know mine. We are, each of us, incredibly complex, that is a part of the beauty of humanity. Each person I encounter deserves not my judgement, but the dignity of my compassion and understanding. Who knows what I would find out about them if I could take the time to scratch the surface.

Life and Death. Lent and Easter.

Alex's dad died on November 10th of last year.

On November 11th I took a pregnancy test.

It was positive.

Walking into our bedroom while it was still dark, flicking on the lamp, and showing Alex that positive pregnancy test - the day after his dad died - was a little less than God parting the clouds and bending down to look us straight in the eyes and say, "yes there is death, but it's not the end. I also bring life."

We were not "trying" for this baby. Not like with the other two, where we tried for months in one case and years in the other. But we are open to life, and that means you accept it when it comes, whether it's a good time or not. By worldly standards this was not a great time to be having another baby. We already have two young kids who still have all the needs of young kids, plus the unique needs of a kid with hearing loss and other chronic health problems. Alex was still in school, about to graduate with the student dept he had amassed over the last couple of years, and as of that time no job lined up to pay it off.

But in one very important way it was the perfect time for a new baby.

I believe it is no coincidence that while we were grieving the first big family loss that either of us had experienced, we got our first surprise baby. It was as though I were hearing it for the first time - God alone is the author of life and death. Sometimes we're able to trick ourselves into thinking we're in control, but really, none of this is up to us. And when it seems like we are surrounded by death, He gives signs of life, a small foretaste of the Everlasting Life that He offers us.


It's now four months later. We are in the middle of Lent. I normally love the season of Lent, but not this year. I've had enough of sorrows. It's cold, it's dark, my body is in varying but constant levels of pain from carrying this child. Extreme exhaustion, the unrelenting demands of parenting and work, and a winter that never seems to end leave me feeling a little bit dead inside. I look out my window and see the decay of last year's garden poking out from under the snow in my backyard. I long for signs of life.

Then I feel the kick against my ribs. I see a patch of grass where the snow is slowly receding. I look at my calendar and see that Easter is only two weeks away.

Signs of life. Reminders that He is as faithful as the changing of seasons.

Spring after winter. Easter after Lent. Life after death.

Winter Offerings

Hygge. Pretty sure I'm pronouncing it wrong but doing it right. The snow it falling thickly outside. I'm wrapped up in a wool sweater and cozy blanket, sipping some hot tea, and when I'm done on the computer I will be turning to my book and knitting basket.


I admire people who get outside for real winter activities, you know, ice skating, sledding, broom ball, but this is about as active as my winter gets. It's cozy, my feet stay dry, why mess with something that works? 

I have a few winter offerings for you my gentle readers. The first two are for everyone, and the second two are just for local ladies I'm afraid. 

First, a playlist to aid and inspire the spirit of Hygge. During the roughest weeks of my morning sickness I was so out of it I wasn't even listening to music. A couple of weeks ago I started putting some playlists on again while I was hanging out with the kids or working in the kitchen. I was so pleasantly surprised by how having good music on in the background lifted the mood! Just because it's dark and dreary outside doesn't mean it has to be inside!



Second, did you know that Lent starts in less than 5 weeks? I know, it doesn't seem possible. We literally just took our Christmas tree down. But it's coming up, and I have found that when I plan ahead for my liturgical seasons, even a little bit, I enjoy them so much more. For Advent this was as simple as knowing where my Advent wreath and candles were before the first Sunday of Advent, and having my BIS Advent journal in my possession and ready to go. For lent I plan to have a couple charitable organizations picked out to practice some alms giving, and of course, I will have my Blessed is She Lenten She Who Believed Journal to be my daily companion.


I am thrilled that Laura Kelly Fanucci is back writing the Lenten journal. During this Lent we will be looking at different women in scripture and what they can teach us about prayer. I am excited to learn some new things, especially about some of the lesser known characters. Be sure to get yours early before they sell out! Or, grab the whole 2018 Lent Bundle


There are all sorts of other new products available in the Blessed is She Shop, I'm not going to mention them all, but I will mention The Catholic Journaling Bible. It's been a long time coming and has been wildly popular. I have one and it is beautiful. I know it is something I will use for the rest of my life. For everything else just go take a look. And if you kindly use any of the links in this post I will get a small kick back as an affiliate. Thanks! 



Also, have you heard that there is going to be a Blessed is Retreat in the Twin Cities? Are you jumping up and down with excitement? The Wild Retreat is coming to St. Paul on August 11. Tickets are on sale now! I have never been to a Blessed is She retreat, so I am really looking forward to finally experiencing one for myself. 

Finally, for those who are local to the Twin Cities, I will be teaching a knitting class on February 24th through a very cool project that my friend Cara is spearheading. It's called The Dorothy Exchange, and it's a women's skillshare. This is the third class that she has organized. The first two were great successes and I'm so excited to be able to be involved in this one and pass on my love for knitting. For details on where and how to register you can check out Cara's post on the class. Spaces are limited, so register soon if you'd like a spot! I hope to see you there!

2017 in 12 Photos


J A N U A R Y 


Looking back through the blog it seems that we were sick a lot in January, and that I was doing hygge before it was an Instagram sensation. I'm so proud of myself. Also, I can't believe Trixie was ever that small. She still stands on that stool between the sinks, only now her head towers way above that shelf and she can easily reach all of the faucets. 


F E B R U A R Y 


February is when winter seems most endless and we begin to drive each other crazy. Being cooped up with babies all winter is rough. I wrote this very sweet post reminding myself how great it can be with those babies.  P.s. I made those, the babies, and the sweaters. 

M A R C H


Johnny had spring break. I think it snowed every day that week. So we made our way to the conservatory to pretend that it was spring. I also helped put on the CWBN Midwest Conference. It was a lot of work, and a lot of fun. 

A P R I L


I finished a sweater that I had been working on all winter, Alex and I finally figured out a prayer routine that works for us, Lent, Easter, and the daily grind of motherhood.

M A Y


Johnny turned four,  He finished his first full year at his school for deaf and hard of hearing kids. We were thrilled with the progress he made in his speech during that year. And I closed my piano studio after teaching for ten years.

J U N E


We did a big rearranging of rooms in our house, since I was no longer using one of our main level rooms as a teaching studio. We spent as much time outside as possible, and, not surprisingly, I did some more reflecting on motherhood. 

J U L Y


Lots of family time and outside time. This summer marked the 10 year anniversary of when Alex and I started dating. I marked the occasion by writing about how we met

A U G U S T 


We took our annual trip to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe with friends. I turned 31 and did a lot of gardening. The only blogging I managed was this giant photo update. 

S E P T E M B E R


I made a lot of hats, Alex started his final rotation of PA school, and Johnny started school again, this year going five full days a week. The beginning of a new school year is so chaotic and exhausting, so I was doing some thinking about self-care. 

O C T O B E R 


Trixie turned two! I am realizing now, much to my shame, that I never did a birthday post for her! Nevertheless, she had a wonderful birthday, she got a baby doll who has come with her everywhere everyday since then. Trixie continues to be a our sweet and joyful girl. 

N O V E M B E R


November was hard and joyful month in our home. Alex's dad passed away after battling cancer. There was much sadness and grief, but we also had a lot of special time with Alex's family. We also found out I was pregnant with baby no. 3! I'm so grateful for God's timing with this baby. 

D E C E M B E R


Alex graduated from PA school, passed his boards, accepted a job, and then got the break we have been dreaming about for the last 2.5 years. The timing of this break couldn't have been better, as I was struck down with morning sickness. Alex has been doing everything around the house and for the kids, and taking extra good care of me. My morning sickness started to ease up a few days before Christmas, allowing me to enjoy this beautiful season even more. 

Happy New Year to you all! And thanks to Bobbi for hosting my favorite link up! 

Songs for Chilly Days // A Playlist

I think this has been an exceptional year for fall foliage. When I look out my kitchen window I see several tall trees towering over the houses on the block behind us. Over the last couple of weeks I have the great pleasure of watching them go from green, to yellow, to orange. It makes washing dishes and prepping dinners a lot happier than those tasks might otherwise be. Any reminder that the world is a beautiful place is a good thing.


The trees that line our street couldn't be any prettier than if someone had painted them. They really do look like someone planted them with their fall colors in mind. A red tree, next to a yellow tree, then orange and green, and the pattern repeats itself for blocks. It's been a beautiful autumn and we have been out in it as much as possible.

But not today. Today I can see the snow out my window, not just falling down, but blowing sideways, and I can hear the gusts shake the house and rattle the windows. The tea kettle is on the stove, and I'm feeling more than content to stay inside. Today is a day for hot tea, wool socks, and cozy blankets. And, of course, songs to fit the mood.

I hope you enjoy this cozy playlist, and I hope you are staying snug and warm.

How We Met Pt. 2: Misnomers

If you haven't read part one, you may want to get caught up. 


At the start of each shift at the bakery I would head to the back of the store to stow my purse and don an apron. I'd scan the schedule to see who else I was working with that day, and inevitably my eyes would float to the top of the list where Alex's name was, hoping we might be scheduled at the same time.

It took only a few shifts working together to make me realize that I liked Alex. After that it was only a matter of getting to know him well enough to decide if I actually wanted to date him. I knew he was kind and funny and easy to talk to. I knew we had many shared interests, music, movies, travel. I knew he liked to cook and eat interesting foods. And I also knew that he was a Catholic.

It was this last fact that gave me pause. Unfortunately, in my Evangelical upbringing, Catholics were given a bad rep. "They only pray to Mary, and they don't read the Bible. They don't even know who Jesus is, they just follow a bunch of rules."And as far as I could tell, that was more or less true.

But I wasn't so judgmental as to think that no Catholics could be "actual" Christians too. Alex seemed like a decent guy. He didn't swear or use vulgar language, he was respectful to all our customers and coworkers. I thought there was a good chance he was "for real", but I had to find out. And believing that sometimes it's best to be direct, I asked him point blank.

Me: So you're Catholic right?

Alex: Yeah.

Me: So, what do you think about Jesus?

Alex, after thinking for a moment: Well, He's God, and....I love Him?

I was satisfied. If he asked me, I would go out with him. And I told my sister as much. She worked at the bakery too, and got scheduled with Alex more than I did. "If Alex ever asks you if you think he should ask me out, say yes." Because being a 20 year old who'd never dated, I thought that's how things went.

But that wasn't how it went. We spent half the summer flirting with each other a couple times a week at the bakery before we managed to hang out with a group of coworkers outside of work. On the second of these group hangs, Alex and I were walking to our cars together at the end of the night, and he turned to me and said:

"Amy, would you like to go on a date with me?"

No, that was not a typo.Yes, he called me Amy, which is the name of my little sister, who also worked at the bakery with us. In Alex's defense, I was called Amy by my mother nearly everyday since she was born, and I'm still called Amy by many of my relatives at family gatherings. We're sisters, we look a lot a like, and our names both start with A. It's bound to happen. But it was pretty awkward that he called me Amy in that particular moment. I think I handled it well. I said:

"Yes, but you just called me Amy."

He assured me that he was intending to ask me out and not my sister. And I assured him that it really was not a big deal. We fixed a day and time, and I drove home, probably without seeing any of the road.

Beginnings and Second Beginnings.


Wow. Time does not stand still. Ever.

We are constantly moving and changing, for better or for worse, whether we like it or not, whether we are aware of it or not.

It's something I've been seeing around me a lot these day. In my kids. They are changing every day. They are getting bigger, trying new things, pushing boundaries, surprising me by putting away the Play-Doh without being asked, eating lentils and saying "It's yummy!", and asking me, "Mama, how old are you?"

I see it in Alex. He graduates from PA school in less than two months! It seems like it was last week that he was starting school and trying to navigate class schedules and balancing study time with family time, and now he's applying for jobs. He's been a student the entire time we have been parents, and in just a short while, Lord willing, he will be working as a health care provider.

I see a lot of change in me. And most of it is recent. If you follow me on Instagram you are certainly aware that a couple of weeks ago I got to go on a retreat with my fellow Blessed is She writers. #BISTeamRetreat. I had been looking forward to it for months as a much needed break from my darling children whom I love, but whom I am around all the time. And while being an off duty mom for a couple of days was heavenly, there was so much more that happened. More than I could have possibly imagined.


To put it in one sentence, I got to sit at the feet of Jesus and just *be* with Him in a way I have not done in years. I've never been far from the Lord, but the cares and chaos of parenthood have made it difficult to have quality time with Him. It's like the difference between taking gulps of your drip coffee from a travel mug while flying around doing a million chores and errands, and sitting down with expertly crafted latte in a beautiful mug and just drinking it, and doing nothing else.

I got to just sit, and breath in, and drink deep.

I have gotten way off course from what I originally intended to sit down and write about. The point is, my heart has been renewed and I am so thankful.

The reason I was thinking about newness in the first place is that I wanted to tell you about some new things!




The first is that the 2017 Advent Journal from Blessed is She is available starting today! This year's journal, In The Beginning, is written by Laura Kelly Fanucci, who is one of my very favorite writers, and such a lovely and inspiring woman, and it is designed again by Erica Tighe, who has such a beautiful heart and it is really evident in everything that she makes.

I've already had a chance to look through my copy and not only is it beautiful to behold, but the content is stunning. In the Beginning will be looking at the beginnings of each of the four Gospels. Because, beginnings matter. As Laura puts it,
"The beauty of beginnings is how they invite us to behold with fresh eyes. This is why newborns are a wonder. Why gardeners love spring. Why fans cheer at kickoff. Why falling in love makes your heart flutter. Why you can't sleep the night before a new job. Why the start of each school year sparkles with promise...Anything could happen. "
I am really excited to incorporate this journal into my prayer life this advent. The Advent journals have been wildly popular in the past and they always sell out. So if you want to get one, you better get on it. And if you want to use my affiliate link to shop, I would be so appreciative.

The second new thing I wanted to share with you is not really a new thing. It's an old thing that I have spruced up a bit. And it's my Etsy shop! Middle West Knitting Co.


Oh, you have an Etsy shop? Says almost everyone I talk to about this.  In the past I have not done a good job of getting the word out about my shop, and so it languished, and last winter I shut it down completely. But I love to knit, I am not happy unless I have a project on my needles. And since my own children can only wear so many hats, I thought now was a good time to re-open the shop.


My plan is to keep the shop open leading up to Christmas, and then take a break for a while, and maybe open it up again with some springtime offerings. So, if you're into shopping local/handmade/small business for Christmas gifts, I'd love it if you'd stop by. I also love collaborating with people for custom orders, so if you've got something in mind you'd like to have made for yourself or someone you love, get it touch with me!


Thanks for sticking it out with me here. I hope your autumn is going beautifully.