Pregnancy

Pregnancy… Such a wonderful word. It truly is a miracle for two people to be able to create one tiny human. We all know that the pregnant woman’s belly gets big,  then bigger, and then otherworldly enormous. We know that the baby starts as a dot on a screen and then grows into a Jackfruit (whatever that is). Babies in utero are compared to food, animals and household objects. You can literally change what you want yours to be compared to on different pregnancy apps. There are many things people know about pregnancy, but there are also many, many things people don’t know.

What people don’t tell you about could be written in a 500 page book. But I’ll just write the top 9  things that I can remember (which may not be much because of pregnancy brain). But I’ll get to that later on. 

  1. Gas. Hole e crap. Did I eat a horse that had been rotting on the side of the road for a month or what? During the 9.5 months of my pregnancy I think I had more flatulance than the entire 24 years of my life. The stench, frequency and power of those pregnancy farts, for lack of a better term, were one for the books. One time, I was walking down the stairs at work, during my first trimester, and let one go. Not long after my boss walked up the stairs. I thought for sure he would faint or die… But nah. Sorry Matt!
  2. Frequent urination. Okay, we’ve all heard that pregnant women pee a lot. What they don’t tell you is that a lot means possibly up to 10 times in 30 minutes. I am not exaggerating. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I would go pee, go sit on the couch and stand right back up to pee again. No lie. I needed a freakin’ catheter. I peed when I puked. I peed when I sneezed. I peed when I coughed and I peed when I laughed. Oh wait, I still do!
  3. Appetite. Better ask for a pay raise or sell a kidney to afford the food you want and/or need to eat. I gained an insane 60lbs during my pregnancy. Most likely due to my multiple times a week trips to Zaxby’s. Or the fact that McDonald’s was the one thing I could eat and not puke. Naturally, I ate the 10 piece nugget meal AND a hamburger (no pickle) with sweet n sour sauce on everything. I would eat my meal at a restaurant and then finish my husbands. How did my baby NOT come out a full grown 150lb man? He was 6lb10oz. Guess who gets to lose the remaining weight? Ha. 
  4. The boobs. The first thing I noticed was off in the beginning of my pregnancy was my boobs. They HURT. The boob soreness was ridiculous. It felt like someone had used them as punching bags instead of fun bags over and over and over again. I couldn’t even gently touch them without wincing. Then, after the sore period, they got heavy. Pretty sure they each totaled 20lbs. I’d lift one up then let it fall and almost topple over with it. No, not really, because they still hurt. My boobs have always been big, but good lord those things were huge towards the end. “Hey Pamela, I mean Olivia, it’s me your old bras. Sorry you’ll never wear me again.”
  5. Physical inabilities. Right around month 6 (?) I became incapable of seeing anything past my belly button. People always laugh about not being able to see their feet, but in reality you can’t see anything down there. Your legs, vajayjay… Feet. Goodbye clean-shaven legs! It was nice knowing you! My razors felt neglected, besides my arms and arm pits (and of course my “happy trail” bc lord know you get lots of hair in unusual places!) My poor husband mistook me for Chewbaca on more than one occasion. And I’m pretty sure Thatcher, my weenie dog, got caught in the leg hair a few times. Anyways, when you really start to get rotund, the pretty stuff goes out the window. It’s a task to do your hair and makeup, and eventually find cute clothes that fit. You start to feel like a walking Boulder with arms and legs. 
  6. Morning sickness. Now, with all things pregnancy related, morning sickness is different for everyone. For me, it was Hell. I started puking anything and everything around 6 weeks. People’s advice came as regularly as your feelings of nausea. “Eat this, try that”. Well, sorry but if I see another cracker I’m going to blow a gasket. After 2 ER visits, I was diagnosed with HG, hyperimisis gravardium or something to that nature. I was prescribed the morning sickness medication that Kim Kardashian instagrammed and made cool, Diclegis. It. Was. A. Lifesaver. 
  7. Swelling. Before I got preggo, I was pretty tiny. Though, I am a female and thought I was fat, looking back I realize I was the opposite. During my pregnancy, my husband and I went to the mall. I wore a pair of Gap sandals that I loved and had worn before. While walking around, I began to get super uncomfortable. Looking at my feet I realized that they were about twice their normal size and the straps were digging into my skin and making my pinky toes bleed. Uhh ok? The worse part of the swelling hit me at 37 weeks. My face was the size of a bale of hay (it mirrored my huge belly!) and my ankles were cankles! Pretty sure my thigh just ran straight down to my enormous feet. I looked like an extremely pale version of Veronica blown up like a blueberry in Willy Wonka. 
  8. Clumsiness. I have about a 2.5 inch scar on my left ankle from shaving back when I could actually see my calves. It looks like a surgery scar. I tripped over my dog on numerous occasions. One time, I was walking across the driveway to get into Zack’s car and I stepped off and cut open the side of my foot on the edge of the driveway. Pregnancy clumsiness is real. And it’s a real pain in the ass. 
  9. Pregnancy brain. Probably towards the end of my second trimester I began forgetting things. Everything. I was once at breakfast (imagine that) and asked what kind of toast I wanted. I could not remember the name of it so I said “it’s white toast but it isn’t called white toast.” Oh… sourdough. Like, really? I have never been scatterbrained, have always been on top of things, but this was a whole new world. I started a note in my phone of things I needed to remember because I would literally forget 5 minutes after the initial thought. Did I put deodorant on this morning? How many weeks am I? What is my wedding anniversary? The questions were never ending and I was a pregnant idiot! Oh, and I hate to spoil it for you, but it DOESN’T GO AWAY!

I know 9 is kind of a random number of things to write but I just kept thinking of more. I could go on, but I’ll leave you with these. Pregnancy really is an absolutely beautiful thing. Going through all the bad stuff only leads you to the best part, your baby! All the farts, memory loss, hairy legs/vajay and money spent on food is worth it. Now, I will leave you with a beginning of pregnancy photo and an end photo. Enjoy. 

   
 

      Hudson Neal Cecil

      Today I am 23 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I can no longer fit into any of my pre-pregnancy clothes and my stomach seems to be getting bigger by the day! We found out at 18 weeks that the baby is a boy, so since then I’ve been obsessing over his nursery, clothes and well-being. His name is Hudson Neal. 

      I started feeling him moving around 19 weeks, and since then it has increased to where he moves ALL the time, and now I can see it!! I can’t even begin to describe the feeling both physical or emotional, of this stage of pregnancy. Being able to witness his little arms and legs pushing on my stomach is insane and makes me love him even more. 

      It’s crazy to think that in only 4 months we will be meeting our son. The time has absolutely flown since I found out that I was pregnant and has been filled with a mixture of emotions both excitement, fear, nausea and love. My main focus is my son and his place in our family. I hope to give him a safe, happy home full of love and laughter. 

      I’m back!

      I am now 19w4d pregnant with my sweet baby! It’s been a long time since my last post, I guess between obsessing over baby, getting the nursery together and working out finances and such, I’ve just been too busy to write! In the time that I’ve been MIA, here’s what’s happened:

      I found out that my insurance doesn’t cover me while I’m pregnant… It was a super stressful day when I found out, but I did everything I needed to do and have been trying to focus on staying positive and trust that it will all work out how it is supposed to!

      On July 1, at 18w preggo, we found out that we are having a BOY! Hudson Neal Cecil has been moving around like crazy in my belly at all times of day, but especially at night. When we went for the anatomy scan he looked amazing and perfect in every way. I can’t wait to meet him in 4.5 months!

      As far as Hud’s nursery goes, I’ve finally settled on a rustic theme. His crib is a grey wood that we ordered off of Wayfair for $99 and it converts into a bed when the babe gets older! We painted a changing table ($25 at Once Upon a Child) and an end table/small dresser ($20 at a yard sale) a bright blue color and I bought a distressed looking cube storage system from Wally World for his books/toys. We have three light grey walls and one dark blue accent wall. Above his crib will be a wooden plank with his initials in metallic silver, above the changing table/bookcase will be a small gallery wall and on the wall with the window we will have two shelves on either side that we plan on making ourselves. His crib skirt will be a plaid flannel that my MIL is making for him, and he’s going to have a super cute quilt with woodland animals on it, I picked out the fabrics last night at JoAnn’s. I love decorating and it’s been so fun to see it all coming together. 

      As far as body changes go, my stomach has definitely popped within the last couple of weeks, giving Hudson lots of room to move around (and he’s taking full advantage of that). I’ve noticed much less nausea and fatigue, I still get sick occasionally but nowhere near as bad as it was. Wednesday marks 20 weeks so halfway to meeting our son! 

      Life has been pretty insane this past month, between doctor appointments, planning baby things and just loving my son in my belly. There have been lots of ups and lots of downs. I’ve been trying to just stay happy for my health and the health of Hud. I’ll try to post more frequently!

      Mini Cecil

      It has been a long time since I’ve last posted a blog post, I’ve been busy! Busy running between my bed and the bathroom to puke, busy taking trips to the ER and busy trying not to stress about baby!

      To say morning sickness sucks, would be putting it lightly. It hasn’t just been “morning” sickness. It’s been morning, afternoon, evening, night… Every second of the day sickness. Starting at around our 6 week mark, I began throwing up anything and everything I ate. Nothing sounded good, meat was a huge no-no and I couldn’t even think about eating sugar! I am now 11w4d and have had two ER trips and am on two different types of medication. The main one is called Diclegis, which is specifically for morning sickness. I take the max dosage of 4 pills a day and have noticed a huge change! 

      Being so close to entering the second trimester has me wanting to cartwheel around Charlotte. Knowing my baby has a healthy heartbeat and is growing healthily is such a great feeling. On my 24th birthday, May 24th, baby and I will be entering our 13th week! When we hit 18 weeks we get to find out the gender of our sweet baby. 

      The names we have settled on are Eloise Kate for a little girl and Hudson Neal for a boy. Zack’s whole family wants it to be a boy since both Melissa’s are having girls this year. I couldn’t care less what the gender is, just that it’s healthy and happy!

      My little apple seed

      A baby is growing inside of me. When I look down at my belly, I cry. I have never felt more blessed, excited or happy for anything in my life.

      I’ve really been struggling with my fears these past few days since I found out that I was pregnant. What if something I did before I knew I was pregnant hurt the baby? What if I have a miscarriage? I know it’s common for a lot of first pregnancies. But then I remember that God is in control. He gave me this baby for a reason. He answered my prayers and blessed me with this little angel because he knew I was ready for it. Gods plan is so much bigger than I can even comprehend. If he believes that I am strong enough to grow a tiny human inside of me, then I know that I am. I cannot live my life in fear and I know the importance of being happy and excited for what is to come.

      I have had nothing but pregnancy on the mind since I found out. I’ve focused on the baby inside of me every time I go to eat something, every time I feel like I’m about to throw up, and every time I smile. In 9 months, I will be holding my baby in my arms smiling at their little face and wondering how I got to be so lucky. As far as symptoms go, I haven’t really felt too much. Nausea, gas, bloating a fatigue mainly. I slept for ten hours last night, then came to work and have slept another five hours or so, on and off.

      Thinking back on these last five weeks or so, I laugh at how God planned this pregnancy. I had been to Florida 3 times total. Once for a wedding, and twice because of my Neene passing away. Little did I know that I was pregnant every time I went. I felt bloated, ugly and gross each time I was there, but just blamed it on the heat of Florida and my love for food. I’d been peeing SO OFTEN but just figured I’d grown a weaker bladder. I have had NO energy, one day I slept until 4:30 pm just because I had nothing to do and I was so tired. Just this past Monday I had run some errands with my mother in law and told her how bloated I was feeling.

      My period was ten days late but I figured it was the stress of work and of my Neene dying, little did I know, there was a little babe inside of me. My sister in law urged me to take a test, so I went to the store on Wednesday and purchased two boxes of two different tests and two different brands. I took the first one when I got back to work, expecting it to be negative because it was the middle of the day and I had already consumed a ton of water and sweet tea. I walked out of the bathroom and left the test on the counter, did some chores around the house and then went back. I did about thirty takes of the test.

      “Is that really a positive sign?” “Am I blind or what?” No, my eyes were not deceiving me. I WAS PREGNANT!!! I called my MIL immediately, shaking uncontrollably and bawling my eyes out with happiness. I then called my mom, grandma and husband and shared the news. Everyone was thrilled! Zack was in shock at first but is now excited too. I then called my doctor and made an appointment, and to my surprise they scheduled me for an ultrasound on April 9th!

      I have all four tests saved at home, and I look at them every day to relive how excited I was when I first found out. Only knowing for a few days and being this happy and excited only has me wondering what the rest of the pregnancy will be like. No amount of sickness could keep me away from being happy and excited to welcome this baby into such a beautiful family. I am already so in love with my little *five week* apple seed, and I cannot wait to see it on the monitor in a little less than two weeks! No fear.

      Baby

      Yesterday I found out that I am pregnant. Pregnant. Pregnant. Still waiting for it to really sink in. I have never been more thrilled and excited for something. Becoming a mother is one of the greatest honors and I cannot wait to see my little blessing. 

      In two weeks I have my first ultrasound and doctor appointment, I believe I’m around 5.5 weeks right now so at that point I will be closer to 8. So far, little baby is the size of an Appleseed. I’m not making it public knowledge until I go to the Dr. and see my little angel for the first time, I don’t know how I’m going to wait two weeks! 

      Life 

      I have really been struggling lately. My job is beyond stressful, my bank account is suffering greatly, I’ve been feeling super self conscious and I’m lonely. 

      Going to Ocala three times in 5 weeks had its pros and cons. I loved being able to see Neene before she went to heaven, telling her I loved her and sharing stories with family members about our memories of her. Being with my family and seeing a select few friends really helped me in my time of mourning. 

      Yet, I did miss four days of work which is about $600 that I did not make. Money isn’t everything and it doesn’t make you happy, I know that. But when I get my paycheck and realize I’ll have $200 left over for two weeks, I lose my mind a little. 

      I’m having a hard time being positive and happy. On my days off, I’m lonely. When I’m working, I’m stressed. I know things will get better but right now I’m in a dark space and trying hard to see the light. 

      Family First

      We have all heard that God places people in your life for a reason. One of my favorite quotes is actually, “people come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime”. I’ve really been reflecting on the people in my life lately. From birth, I have been insanely blessed with the people I’ve been surrounded by. Grandparents and great-grandparents, mom, dad, step-parents, sisters, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles ETC. I have a huge, AMAZING family. 

      I had never really put too much thought into the family I would marry into. I seemed to be the permanently single friend, third wheel extraordinaire and the “she’s super weird but cool but do I really want to date her?” I lucked out when I moved to Charlotte and met a handsome 24 year old who was sweeter than Hummingbird Cake on May 24 (my birthday). 

      On our first date we talked a lot about our families. We both come from a large family whom treasure time together, which immediately thrilled me. After a few dates I got to meet his parents briefly and then started going over there more and more. In October of 2012 he came to Florida with me to meet mine. The first thing my Grandmomny said after she met him was “Olivia, he is perfect.” Duh. Neene called him “Jack” but was thrilled that I was so happy. 

      It didn’t take long for his family and I to connect. As Vickie (his mom) said once in a card to me, I just fit right in to their crazy, fun family. And I do! I love them like they’re my own. I have never felt more comfortable around such a large group of people whom I’ve only known for a few years. 

      Vickie is truly a gift. She takes mother in law to a whole new height. She is sweet, selfless and funny. I can tell her anything, honestly, and she will not only cast no judgement, but will provide a solution. She is quick to love and give, whether it’s a pair of socks because my feet are cold or a personalized notepad because she knows I constantly write notes to myself. Wedding planning was SO fun with her as my sidekick. She knew what I wanted and stopped at absolutely nothing to make my dreams a reality. 

      Billy (FIL) is one weird man. And I love it. He and I are sarcastic, funny and stupid together. We make fun of each other and don’t get upset because we have such a bond that I am so thankful for. His country accent and big bear hugs are the best. For being in a state where I have no immediate family, I’m thankful to have the best second family imaginable. 

      As far as siblings go, besides having my own badass sibs, the Cecil/Baldwin/Whitleys are too awesome. Micah and I share a common interest in tattoos and music and I consider her one of my best friends. Melanie and I bonded from the start when she offered to kick someone’s ass because they were harassing me. Melissa is beyond fun to go out with and have serious conversations with. I enjoy time with each of them in different ways and I’m so glad they’re my new sisters! William, the only other boy besides Z is a mini Billy who can sometimes be a pain but I love nonetheless. Our banter and laughs are one of a kind and I’m thankful for our relationship. 

      When it comes to family, I believe I have been thoroughly blessed with mine. From my real parents to my in-laws, I have had and will continue to have an amazing support system. Yay, family!

      These hands 

      Where do I begin? We all know death is inevitable. Whether you’re expecting someone to die or it comes out of the blue, it is going to happen to each person regardless. It is also well known that everyone handles death differently. Some people hold all their emotions inside while others cry and babble Til the cows come home. I am a little bit of both, mainly the latter. 

      To the world, Ella Kate Willingham is a 102 year old woman. She was born in 1913 and raised four of her own children, followed by numerous grand children and great grand children. Can you imagine? Living one hundred and two years. All the things she has seen and experienced? It completely blows my mind. 

      To me, Ella Kate Willingham is my Neene, my great grandma. She helped raise me, took me to church, drove me to school and cooked for me. She is the strongest, most beautiful woman in the world, to me. 

      I remember staying at her house on Lake Weir Avenue eating tuna sandwiches and watching Madeline. I remember one time when she drove Jordan and I to Osceola Middle School and totally ignored our yells that a speed bump was coming up so she proceeded to catch some air in her champagne colored Corolla. 

      When my friend Morgan and I would hag out at her house, she would let us use whatever sewing supplies we wanted so we could make our own “fashion” pieces. She always had Reese’s cups in the fridge for snacks and oatmeal on the stove for breakfast.

      Because of her, I have a high standard of food. Her recipes are out of this world. Whether it be her gooey butter cake, pound cake with fudge frosting or her crescent cookies, I could literally lick the plate clean. Her fried chicken, candied carrots and peas were phenomenal too. Oh, and we always mixed bacon into our oatmeal at her house, too.

      What I admire most about Neene, is her selflessness. She lived to make others happy. She would always ask me what I wanted to eat, if I needed any money, what I wanted to do. She always put me first. There was a point in my life when I lived with her for a while and that woman never missed cooking a meal for me and making sure I was up and ready for school. She has always only wanted the best for me. 

      Neene is my favorite person in this world. If you didn’t know that, then you don’t know me that well. I plan to name our first daughter after her: Kennedy Ella. When I look down at my wedding band, I am always brought back to a flood of memories of Neene because it was her wedding band originally. 

      I’m crying as I type this because of how hard today has been. My mom texted me this morning and let me know that Neene wasn’t doing well. She was unresponsive and mom said it’d be best if I came home. I wasted no time packing my bags (not sure what clothes I brought with me… It was all a blur), loading the car and grabbing a dog to bring with me. I rushed through goodbye with my husband and hit the road. Through the 8 hour drive I was just a mix of emotions. One minute I’d be singing along with the radio and the next I would be bawling my eyes out. 

      Every mile a memory.  

      Seeing my Neene laying in that bed was absolutely heartbreaking. The strongest woman I have ever known, someone who’s lived 102 years, is lying in a bed with her eyes closed on the brink of going home to be with the Lord. My heart aches, my eyes are sore and my head is throbbing. I want what’s best for her, but I can’t help but be selfish. She’s my Neene, My great grandma and my hero. Why can’t she be that for my kids, too? Why does she have to leave me? Every time I come home she is the first person I visit. Even though the past few times she hasn’t been all there, she has always known who I am and asked me how I liked the Carolinas. 

      Death is inevitable but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Being here in the same city as my Neene is definitely better than being in Charlotte, 8 hours away. I just hope my memories of her will help me through this difficult time. 

      

      Oh, baby baby!

      This past Christmas I found out I am going to be an aunt to two little babies this Summer. My brother in law, Will, is having a baby with his girlfriend, Melissa, and my sister in law, Melissa, is having a baby too! Ironic, I know. Last week, Will and Mel C called me to share that they’re having a baby girl in July. I am beyond excited! Marrying into the family, I became an aunt to three kids whom I love dearly, but they are older and I don’t think we will ever have a bond like I had with my aunts, which is why I am so thrilled to be an aunt aunt!

      Growing up, I had two aunts on my mom’s side and six on my dads side. I only have fond memories of the aunts I was close to. My Aunt Sherry was the adventurous one. She took us to swim with manatees, she kept a portable potty in her trunk for when she went on road trips, she listened to Ricky Martin and had us put on fashion shows in her clothes from High School just for fun. She would always plan the best, most creative birthday parties for us and even bought us chicks one Easter. As I got older, she would take me thrifting and talk to me about adult things that I appreciate now but maybe thought were a little awkward back then.

      My Aunt Becky is my moms younger sister. She is the clean-freak, perfectionist and a shopaholic which is probably where I get all of those traits from. Her birthday is a couple days after Christmas so more than once I have been on shopping sprees with her and had a great time. I have always felt like she is more of a friend or sister to me than an aunt. She is fun, zany, beautiful and sassy.

      Growing up in Florida, it was always exciting when our dad would take us to South Carolina to spend a week with our Aunt Kathy and Uncle Kent on Lake Murray. Jet skiing and wake boarding, convincing them to buy a puppy and playing with our cousins in the “cupboard under the stairs” are some of my fondest memories. Aunt Kathy is the funniest person I know… (besides myself…duh!) She is the equivalent to Melissa McCarthy and always has everyone laughing.

      Aunt Lisa lives in St. Augustine and our mom would take us to stay with her for week long periods during our summer breaks. It was there that I cracked my head open on a coquina rock from swinging too hard on a hammock, Jordan, Nick (our cousin) and I would play Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego, Oregon Trail and N64 religiously and would have dress up tea parties just because. Lisa is spunky, funny and worldly. Her home is filled with old art from the antique shop where she works and the last time I was there, she had a faux palm tree in her living room.

      The last aunt I am going to mention is my Aunt Dennie who lives in Gainesville now, but lived in West Palm Beach when I was growing up. Dennis and Dave always invited Jordan and I to stay with them for about a week in the summer, too. Thinking of them brings back memories of Shirley Temples, French toast and the play “Oklahoma”. My cousin Abbey has always been into musicals and my cousin Elliot and I have always enjoyed food. We watched “Grind” about 50 times one weekend and would swim for hours then Jordan would make me burp the alphabet and everyone’s name just because I can.

      Putting these memories into writing brings back so many emotions. My reason for this post is because my aim for this new baby girl is to be the best aunt I can be. I will love her unconditionally, introduce her to new, fun things, and be the person she can rely on when she just doesn’t feel like talking to mom and dad about it. I want to be the “fun” aunt. The one she’s excited to introduce her friends to and the one she wants to take shopping for prom dresses.

      I want to be to this baby girl, what each of my aunts has been to me.

      Family is the most important thing to me. Money, clothes, cars… none of that matters. What matters is the people you surround yourself with, the ones you go to when everything seems to be going wrong. The ones who can lift you up when you’ve fallen and don’t care if you get makeup on their shirt from crying on their shoulder. Family is the best, and I cannot wait for this little angel to come into our lives. She is already so loved by her Auntie Liv.