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  • Archive for February, 2014

    Whew, well, it finally happened last week. I recorded a short segment on the Trail Show about the Florida Trail with the crew on The Trail Show! I was very nervous about it but thankfully my nerves were eased by a: it was a phone Skype call and not video and b: the ease in which they had their questions lined up. They are excellent interviewers!

    I actually haven’t listened to the episode yet, mostly because I’m not interested in listening to myself. However, Chris listened to it and said it was great. I’m not sure where exactly my part comes in at. You can either scroll through and listen for me or I suggest just listening to the whole episode anyway. And then go back and listen to all of their other podcasts for trail insight and humor—with some beer talk. I couldn’t help them out on any local Florida brews, but Suwannee Refugee pointed me in the direction of a map of local breweries.

    Anyway, I know I didn’t cover some questions that some hiker friends asked me on Facebook so I thought I’d cover them here for everyone else to read too.

    Joan/Rambling Hemlock: I did cover some of her questions but I’ll write them here anyway:
    + What season to hike it? You’ll want to hike the Florida Trail during the winter/dry season. Most people start sometime in early to mid-January but some start in December and I’ve seen folks start it in February. Starting too early in December might get you with more water down in Big Cypress if it hasn’t had a chance to dry up yet. February risks you running into April which starts getting warmer, buggier, and drier—which can be a problem finding water in some areas.

    + Any really great sections that can be done in a week-long trip? On the show I mentioned the Suwannee River section and Ocala National Forest, but really there are more sections than that I could recommend. I think stringing together the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Apalachicola National Wildlife Refuge would be a really excellent week long to 10 days section.

    + Trail community? Kind of. Yes, there are definitely some strong, local FTA chapters. But it isn’t necessarily like the AT or even the PCT in regards to a trail community in regards to thru-hikers. It’s a small group of FT thru-hikers! There are some trail angels and big time FT volunteers that are around during thru-hiker season, but not all FT chapters are as involved in thru-hiker season as you might see on the AT. It’s there, you just gotta find it.

    Matt: Length, difficulty, flora, fauna, water special spots, and history.
    I think I covered the majority of the questions Matt asked, but I think maybe the only thing I didn’t was the difficulty. In comparison to mountainous trails, it is flat and easy walking. But, the road and levee walking can beat your feet up pretty badly. It isn’t easy—it is long distance hiking, but it isn’t up and down climbs every day.

    Chel: How do you even get started?
    + This could have two meanings…getting to the trail head and any special permits/information. First, go to the FTA’s long distance hiker resource page and read through the links there and be sure to get the permits for the sections that require it (Seminole reservation, Eglin AFB). The other part, how to get to the trail head…well, if you start in Big Cypress it is 70+ miles west of Miami. In the middle of nowhere. You’ll likely want to talk to the FTA and get their trail angel list (only given to you once you fill out the paperwork for the Florida Trail), or find connections on White Blaze to get you to the trail head. It would work the same way if you wanted to start up north in Pensacola at Fort Pickens on Gulf Islands National Seashore. We lucked out in that we knew people in south Florida since we’d lived there for 8 years and then Chris’ dad and step-mom picked us up at the end.

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    +Trail conditions.. How much wading through water, how much road walking, how much shade, sun and rain? In a normal year there isn’t all that much wading in water. Yes, there is some in Big Cypress and the other big section would be Bradwell Bay in Apalachicola National Forest, but here and there you’ll run into areas of water that are relatively short to get through. It depends on recent rainfall usually. There are annoying areas on some forest logging roads, some wetlands you’ll skirt, but it really won’t affect your daily mileage, those parts. Big Cypress and Bradwell Bay will. Think of them as The Whites or Mahoosuc Notch…you just plan to be slower on those areas. As for roadwalking, it is estimated to be less than 300 miles. They are scattered about with the majority of them being in the Panhandle. Shade: In forested areas yes. Scrubby areas can be more open. Sun: Definitely more sun on the roadwalks and levees, but it will be winter so the sun isn’t so unbearable. Rain: During an average year there shouldn’t be too much rain. We ran into some rain in north Florida with only one really miserable day, but for the most part it is sunny and wonderful. This year is not a good year to be watching—those hikers have had a wet winter!

    + How many scary creatures are there!? I’d say your scariest creatures will be snakes. Yes, Florida has alligators but generally they are going to be in canals, streams and deeper waterbodies. You *could* run into them in some deeper swamp areas, but generally not. A good plant to keep an eye our for in swampy areas would be Alligator flag…because it will be in the deepest section of the ponded area. Stay out of that area if possible. Otherwise you can run into bears, primarily in Ocala or Osceola National Forests, and even more rare would be a Florida panther down in Big Cypress. You could keep in mind on the panthers that there has never been a documented case of a panther attacking a human in Florida…so I’d still be more cautious of snakes.

    +How often are you forced to stay in town because camping isn’t possible? I think the only time this might be a problem is walking through Orlando. We did see a couple of places one could stealth camp, but really, just get a hotel in Lake Mary, it will be worth it.

    +Any special gear required? Not really. Just have some camp shoes that double as water shoes. Something that will stay on your heel if the water is low and the terrain is more muddy in Big Cypress.

    +Where do I get maps or how otherwise do you follow the trail? You can get maps from the FTA and there is a thru-hiker packet. Definitely get it! However, there is also a new guidebook out from Sandra Friend. Definitely get it too.

    +Planning your resupply points. Any weird resupply logistics? Using the guidebook will help you plan your resupplies but you really don’t need too many mail drops. We had three: the 88 store in Ocala NF, White Springs, and Ebro. White Springs and Ebro don’t have grocery stores but White Springs did have gas stations and a Dollar General. Ebro only had a gas station. Check with the guidebook for updates. The weird logistics that we had to deal with was between Okeechobee and Christmas. There’s a very big stretch where towns are not anywhere near the trail. There are road crossings but no easy resupply. The only potential option is River Ranch, which has a ‘general store’ with not really backpacker friendly items. It is an option, though. River Ranch does have a post office, so a maildrop there might be an option. We had a friend meet us to deliver a box just after the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area. He also met us back at the Seminole Reservation, which is another tricky area. The trail has been rerouted there since we hiked and now passes a gas station, which would probably get you the two to three days to Clewiston and a grocery store. Other than that I don’t think there were any other particularly tricky areas. Hitching or Trail Angels will be your best bet for the tricky areas.

    Major Chafage:
    +Will I get a free patch like for the AT or LT when I’m done? Yes, and a bandana! At least, we got that in 2011.

    +Will I run into many annoying day hikers? Only in a few popular areas. You’re more likely to run into fishermen or hunters. Don’t worry, they are usually friendly!

    +Will they fawn over me and give me food? Hah! No. What, you think this is, the AT? You might get some questions but they generally have no clue what thru-hiking entails.

    +What makes this trial unique amongst all the other trails out there? It’s flat! And there’s sub-tropical landscapes in the mix, including a lot of unique ecosystems that are in danger of extinction due to encroaching development. You won’t see many habitats in Florida anywhere else in the U.S.

    +How bad are the bugs/lizards, really? Not bad. Don’t hike in July unless you want the mosquitoes to carry you away.

    That wraps up the questions…if you have more, feel free to ask them! Listen to the podcast, too!

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    Now, go hike the trail next winter!

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    Sweet, sweet Little Callie. She lets us pet her, sometimes we can pick her up briefly. Unfortunately she and Fred are both picked on by Tom and Mr. Stripey, and apparently by Ruby on occassion. Sometimes I wish I could bring her inside and she could be a girlfriend for Samson or Leo.

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    Fred, sweet and shy boy. We thought we were going to lose Fred last week. Two weeks ago Ruby was sick for a few days, lingering off by herself and not eating. She appeared miserable but after three or four days she began eating. Sometime in the middle of her sickness Isis disappeared. She has not returned. And then a few days later Fred got sick and his illness lasted over a week. He lingered off in various places near the garden, not drinking or eating. We’d take food over to him, even giving him some tuna once. Finally we saw him drinking water from a puddle that formed on the plastic covering our pile of garden dirt for projects. I took him some clean water but I’m not sure he ever drank from there. He then started walking a little more and finally one morning he decided to eat. Really, we think it was very close to dying.

    But sweet Isis is likely gone.

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    So, now we’re down to five feral cats around here. Mr. Stripey dreamed up a reason to play with this piece of cardboard—nothing was under it but he really thought there was.

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    It was enough to make Ruby curious!

    It’ll be a sad day when there aren’t any feral cats to follow us around the yard.

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    I wish that these blossoms would last longer than I know they will. The magnolia might be ‘Ann’, but we’re not sure. The tag disappeared off of the tree, however it might be lingering somewhere in our piles of garden tags and information….somewhere. The two ‘Yellow Bird’ magnolias have not bloomed yet. Even so, only one will. The second one was rammed down by a buck and we left it to determine if would sprout back in the spring. I’m still tempted to rip it out and put a bigger one back in its place. We have a ‘Jane’ magnolia as well but it hasn’t bloomed yet either. Down the street there’s a glorious white-pink magnolia that is probably 12 feet tall that is blooming its head off and I’m incredibly envious. I want mine to look like that now, not wanting to wait 10 years for it to get that size.

    The other flowers featured as peach blossoms. They show the promise of the juicy fruits the trees will bear in June. Some day we’ll have baskets of peaches to harvest, eat, or put away for eating later in the season. Until then we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with whatever meager yields we’ll get this year.

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    With spring weather appearing Chris and I have been outside in the yard working furiously on various projects. Our current project is what will hopefully be a quick perimeter flower bed around the man-cave. This area had previously been landscaped as per evidence we’ve found in the bed: soaker hoses, old stumps, telephone poles acting as a border, pieces of green plant tape, and other miscellaneous items garden related.

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    We still had plenty of stone left from the other flower gardens that needed to be put to use and they have worked out perfectly for this section.

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    Standing back further in the driveway, the new bed really does tie together the man-cave into the rest of the house and garden. We’re thinking of putting in rosemary and maybe Texas sage on the front. As for the side where the air conditioner is, that area is more shady so we will lean on more shade tolerant plants such as ferns and perhaps azaleas. Not quite sure, yet!

    The next garden project will be digging a line to the vegetable garden to install a watering system out there and then to put in the perimeter herb beds. That’ll be a later in March project!

    Come drop by Sprout Dispatch and see what’s going on all of our gardens there.

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    The first thing we cooked on our new grill was pizza. I had seen several people blogging about pizza on the grill and had been intrigued for awhile.

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    We use a dough recipe from a Pampered Chef book that is usually made on a pizza stone, but it worked well on the grill.

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    Bubbling up nice!

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    A little olive oil on the top side…

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    And then flip it over!

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    The process is incredibly fast, so you really need to be on top of your game and have all ingredients ready and on hand.

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    Pizza!

    I’ve now had grilled pizza three times in the span of two weeks and I am throughly sick of it. I know Chris isn’t, but the smell of pizza has gotten to me and the whole thing grosses me out at the moment. Such are the whims of pregnancy cravings and aversions.

    Over the weekend Chris and I were in Nacogdoches and spent some time around Stephen F. Austin State University and their outdoor botanical parks. The first one we stopped at was the Pineywoods Native Plant Center on the north side of the campus. The directions to get there were a little sketchy for our Garmin to figure out, but eventually we found it. There was a family event going on with kids running to different stations to learn about nature—at one station I saw something called the ‘Bird Olympics’. I wonder what that was about?

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    After walking around the front part of the center we found out there were trails out beyond so we grabbed a map and headed down those. The trails were pretty busy with bikers, hikers, and joggers.

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    The tree ate this bench.

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    Spring is trying to come out, but it was still bare on many of the trees and shrubs in the area.

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    I was captivated by this little scene at a creek crossing with this palmetto in the corner. The palmettos here in this part of Texas are Sabal minor, and thankfully don’t have that wonderful sharp blade that Serenoa repens, saw palmetto, has.

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    I think Chris and I were discussing that this tree might be shagbark hickory, but if anyone else is good at identifying trees by bark and this isn’t right, let us know!

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    An iris that I spotted and soon we found several in a small wet area.

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    A little plant nerd humor! Afterall, SFA is known for its forestry degrees!

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    The walk around the area was lovely and they have an extensive native plant collection as well. I took some photos of some of the more interesting native plants but I will showcase them in another post later on. We also walked around the Gayla Mize garden and the main arboretum which will also be showcased in another post. An excellent place to wander around if you are ever in deep east Texas!

    Now that I’m officially in my 12th week I am starting to feel better. Though, Sunday I was hit with a wretched headache. I had attributed it to not sleeping very well in the hotel the night before but apparently after reading online when morning sickness leaves, headaches enter. Cooooool. I actually hadn’t had a headache in quite awhile, something I had thought had to do with my being off coffee. Sometimes I’ll end up with a caffeine headache on weekends but that hadn’t been a problem since quitting coffee in early January.

    As I said last week I was going to wrap up my thoughts on the first trimester with favorite items, blogs, books, etc. I’m going to attempt to break it down into something meaningful with, I’m sure, some ramblings.

    +(Growing) Body Issues: Last week I mentioned buying new bras twice within the span of a few weeks. I think I nipped that in the bud just a bit by getting a size I could grow into. It was definitely a size I have never worn in my life. And they were nursing bras…which are interesting by the way. The ones I found were the Gilligan & O’Malley brand from Target and an affordable $16.99, or something like that. Some of my shirts are getting a bit more snug around the belly, not really too bad, but definitely showing some of the widening middle. I’m not ‘showing’ per se, it is that stage of people wondering if a person is just chubby or if they are pregnant. I’m afraid this stage is going to last awhile from what I’ve read. I have one pair of jeans that sits higher on the waist than my others and I can’t button them comfortably anymore. While at Target I bought a BeBand so I could wear those jeans without buttoning them as they fit just fine otherwise. So far I really love the band and I may end up getting another one in black (I have white) for later use. As for maternity clothes, I haven’t bought any yet. I tried on a shirt at Target but was immediately frustrated and felt like a whale, so I have a feeling I’ll be attempting to find the loosest clothing possible. It’s too bad sweats won’t be in season in July.

    +Other Products: When I went off the pill I knew that I was supposed to take a prenatal vitamin. Now, I hate vitamins. They have always made me sick and I generally don’t ‘believe’ in vitamins. If one is eating a well-rounded diet you should get the nutrients you need just fine. But, you know, everyone loves to scare a pregnant/soon-to-be pregnant woman into doing the very best for the baby and since I was vegetarian I did want to make sure I was getting enough B12 and folate for the baby. I read up on a couple of whole food vitamins and Chris researched for me as well. We reached the conclusion that New Chapter Perfect Prenatals were the best. I could take them on an empty stomach and wouldn’t have any issues—-which has turned out to be true. Other than they are horse pilled sized, they’ve been great! I also knew that I wanted a vitamin that had folate not synthetic folic acid and this brand had it. Other than vitamins I’ve using good ol’ Palmer’s cocoa butter for preventing stretch marks. Who knows if it will work or not, but why not try and smell tropical at the same time?

    +Movies & YouTube: One of the first movies I watched was The Business of Being Born. This is a must watch if you ever think about getting pregnant or are with someone who is/might be getting pregnant. And family/friends. My ideas on birth had evolved over the years (when I was a kid I wanted a c-section, mostly because that’s what my mom had and that’s all I knew) but it really changed after watching the movie and researching the information even further. Anyway, this movie got me into researching natural childbirth even more and after more reading I realized just how many interventions are involved in the typical American birth these days. Basically the general trend is pitocin—>worse contractions than normal—>epidural—>laboring ‘too long’—->c-section. And then with c-section good luck ever having that VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarian) because most doctors won’t allow it. There’s actually a lot more to that, but I’ll let further links later explain that.

    Over on YouTube I started watching various birth and TTC vlogs. Some of them are even their own channels, with daily or weekly updates. It’s tv on the internet…some of my favorites:

    Mama Natural: Sometimes she’s a bit fringy for me, but I really loved watching her two natural birth videos. She updates often and has a ton of information on natural birth and ‘crunchy’ kid raising.

    Tweedle Tee: I started off by finding her weekly videos for her first pregnancy that detailed the changes in her pregnancy. Eventually I ended up watching her videos summarizing the birth of her son which ended up being quite traumatic, including an emergency c-section and an abrasive, perhaps even verbally/mentally abusive, anesthesiologist. She’s currently pregnant with her second and is has been seeking out someone who will allow her to have a VBAC. She’s in Canada.

    Ellie and Jared: I love this couple! They are hilarious! They had fertility problems but finally they were able to conceive (I think it was IUI) they had their son back in January. She had a scheduled induction and delivery and it was relatively quick, I think 8 hours.

    A Tale of Two Bumps on The Mom’s View: I found this sub-channel from seeing someone else liking it in their feed. Light, frivolous and fun.

    The Kandu Family: I haven’t watched a lot of their videos, I mostly followed her natural birth videos, such as this one.

    Delayed Cord Clamping from AcademicObGyn. I’ve only made it through the first video and need to continue watching, but it delves into a topic that natural birth folks are very interested in. By clamping the umbilical cord too early the thought is that some of blood that has been circulating from the placenta to the baby isn’t being returned to the baby, effectively starving the baby of its own blood. By delaying cord clamping either just a few more minutes or until the cord stops pulsating, the baby thereby gets all of its blood and redcing iron deficincies and other issues.

    Reducing the Fear of Birth in U.S. Culture with celebrated midwife Ina May Gaskin. A TEDx talk.

    Pain versus Suffering in Labor

    Willow’s Birth using the Bradley Method.

    I think that’s the main links for now. I know I’ve watched a ton of YouTube videos!

    +Books: The first book I bought back in August was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I’m still reading through it. The first section is comprised of personal stories of women who gave birth naturally on The Farm.

    I also read Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity. This one was published in 2008 I believe, so it is already a smidge dated, but it was captivating and very interesting. I highly recommend reading this book if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. Eye opening is one way to put the book.

    The latest book I bought is Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way, which is kind of a companion to the Husband Coached Childbirth by Dr. Bradley. I had read about the Bradley Method and had considered it for natural childbirth classes but I wasn’t sure about it until our midwife recommended it to me. (Yes, I have a midwife. She’s a certified nurse midwife and practices in the same office as her husband who is an ObGyn.) I’d heard about Hypnobirth and HypnoBabies but I hadn’t been sold on either of those. Bradley sounded the best. I’m reading through this book and so far it is good, though a bit dated. Latest revision was in the mid 90s.

    As for other books, I checked out a handful of the typical birth books at the library but all of them were drab, boring, and most of the information can be found on the internet.

    There are two other books I want to read, one is relatively new (last summer), the other is from the 40s. The first is Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong—and What You Really Need to Know, and the other is Childbirth Without Fear.

    If you’ve got a book to recommend, feel free to share it!

    +Other Links:
    Evidence Based Birth: I found this site early on in the trimester and really loved it. She addresses and analyzes many topics surrounding birth, focusing on the fact that many times current practices aren’t really employed based on any current, valid evidence. She has several videos as well. More information.

    The Bradley Method of birth.

    Pregnant Chicken: this is just a light hearted blog for the most part. I particularly like her ‘Is It Safe’ section where she debunks some common myths surrounding do’s and don’ts during pregnancy….and holy cow there’s a lot. Boy, you really do get opinions on what is ok and not. The biggest one out there right now is caffeine. Again, back to the evidence.

    Alright, well that’s it for this little link round up.

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    Over the weekend Chris and I were in Nacogdoches to attend a short bat seminar. Before we arrived there on Friday we detoured to the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site about 30 miles west of Nacogdoches. I’d seen the park on Google Earth and thought it would be interesting to check out. We arrived right as they were getting ready to close but were allowed in anyway. Unfortunately they’d already closed their register for the day, ($2 per person), so we dropped back by on our way out of town later in the weekend to pay. The man in charge was friendly and let us use their golf cart to make a quick go ’round of the park.

    Before we arrived at a one of the signs I was wondering what kind of mounds they were, and if there had been any others in the area. We later found out that the mounds were a mixture of burial and ceremonial mounds. After our quick tour outside we spent 10 or 15 minutes inside the park office talking to the man who was left for the day. These particular mounds from this period of Caddo tribe development are the furthest south and west from this time period. It is suspected that the mound building itself began in the midwest with another tribe and through communication and maybe ‘trends’, other tribes picked up the idea to build mounds. At least that’s what we were told. If you go inside the visitors center there are several dioramas and interesting diagrams showing the history of the tribe in the area as well as a really cool magnetometer map showing the footprints of buildings that were on the site 1,000+ years ago.

    If you’re ever driving out in that part of the state, it is well worth the couple of bucks to take a tour of the site. They are working on a new museum that will hopefully be open soon.

    More information on the site.

    It sure seems that way with our forecast for the next 10 days being in the 60s and 70s.

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    Even if spring isn’t around the corner, I think some plants in the yard believe it is. The crocus we planted last year are sprouting and blooming out in the right-of-way.

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    In the edible garden a lot of our greens are bolting. There’s a plethora of yellow blooms out there, so much so that they are attracting our bees!

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    One of the side by-products of the first trimester has been an aversion to vegetables. Therefore a lot of our greens have gone uneaten and I feel really guilty about that. I might be coming around a bit, maybe I can trick myself into eating some before I need to pull them and compost them.

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    I think we’re going to pull the spinach-mustard and plant some potatoes in this space. We’ve had the potatoes for a week now but it hasn’t been warm enough to get out and plant them.

    Spring can’t come fast enough.

    The Backstory:
    Chris and I aren’t ‘old’ but we’re not spring chickens either. We finally decided that we should leap into this parenthood adventure after many years of putting it off. We’ve been married almost 12 years (coming this June), I’m 33 and he’s 34. Not that I couldn’t have gone on with life with just two of us and the ability to adventure into places without a child in tow, but we thought it was worth the time to go ahead and see where this trail led us.

    Without going into too many details, it was on the fourth month of heading down this path that I got the positive pregnancy test. I wasn’t expecting it either. During the Fall I began reading all sorts of trying-to-conceive (TTC for short) blogs and You Tube videos. At first I was very laissez-faire about it all but then after reading and realizing you get a very short window of time to conceive when you ovulate that I began to think harder about this process, especially since we were on the older side. I bought a thermometer to start charting my temperature in the morning before I got up and looked into opk tests to see if I could figure it out my ovulation schedule. I did buy some of those tests and after using them reliably one month I gave up on them as it was very difficult to see or get a result. With those test two lines appear but the line you want to develop, the one that identifies the luteinizing hormone must be darker than the control band. So, sometimes I’d stare at it and wonder if it was the same strength as the control band, darker or lighter, and then get frustrated.

    After a one month trying to figure those out I pretty much say ‘eff it’ and decided I wasn’t going to worry about figuring out my ovulation for a few more months and would let December and January be months for me to bust my ass and lose some weight. I was about 15 lbs over my ‘I feel good about myself’ weight and 25 lbs over my ‘I’m a badass thru-hiker’ weight. I figured if I could try to lose 7-10 lbs and that would be great, so in December when the day length and temperature outside turned against me, I went to You Tube and found some great videos to workout to. I was doing great for most of December, working out 3-4 times a week, most weeks.

    It wasn’t until the weekend before Christmas that I began to think about Flo coming to visit and so I got prepared as I really didn’t think I was going to be pregnant. Since getting off the Pill she hadn’t arrived at a steady date but was always within a day or two of a ‘regular’ cycle date so when she didn’t show up at first I wasn’t all that worried. Then Christmas Eve came and by the end of the night I was really thinking something was up, but I gave it another day to get worked up. Christmas Day came and Chris and I drove from my parent’s house over to his mom and step-dad’s house and along the way I looked for drugstores that might be open but chickened out telling Chris I was late. Most of this was because I didn’t know if I wanted to take a test and then tell everyone at Christmas (my parents came over to help my mother-in-law cook Christmas dinner as she was recovering from having surgery for breast cancer that was detected very, very early—thank goodness!). Plus, what if I was just later than normal?

    At this same time I was pretty tired and my bladder seemed to need to be emptied often, which both of those stuck out to me. And in the effort of leaning towards that I was pregnant I refrained from having wine at Christmas, which made me a little sad. Of course I thought back to a week or so earlier and our work Christmas party when I had a really good wine-buzz going on (I Googled later to make sure I hadn’t really screwed up, but it seems lots of people drink and don’t know they are pregnant and there’s typically not a problem as long as one stops immediately upon finding out. *phew*).

    So the day after Christmas came and Chris and I went over to his dad and step-mom’s house for our celebrations with them and I kept trying to come up with ways to figure out how to tell Chris because I was still chicken. It ended up working out that he was going to this golf game thing with his step-dad, his step-dad’s son-in-law and grandson. Since that gave me about three hours of free time I opted to see if my friend Stephanie, who is pregnant with her second, was available to drop by and see. On the way I detoured to Target and bought the fancy pregnancy test that blatantly told you ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not Pregnant’ and then gave you the weeks estimator. I wasn’t going to play around! I debated taking the test at my friend’s house but her dad was visiting and then it was hectic so I opted to hit up a Starbucks on the way back to my mother-in-law’s house.

    I headed for the bathroom first up, peed on the stick, put the cap back on, and then went to order a coffee. While I was waiting for the barista to call my name I peeked inside my purse and it said ‘Pregnant 1-2 weeks’!! I smiled and got really giddy! Holy crap, it was real! After I got my coffee I went back to the truck and debated how I was going to tell Chris. There was no way I was going to be able to wait until we got home the following day so I opted to go to Michael’s and buy an empty bracelet box and put the test in there. I’d give it to him when we went to bed that night.

    So I went back to the house and spent the next several hours with the secret all to myself. It was surreal. When we were finally in bed that night I told Chris I had another present for him and handed him the box. He was excited and later told me that he thought I’d gotten something really nice that I hadn’t wanted to give it to him in front of everyone else. Really nice, indeed! I think the look on his face at first was a mixture of confusion and disbelief which morphed into stunned and then probably excitement mixed with panic. I’m not sure what he thought, but since I hadn’t given him any clues that I was late he really was taken by surprise.

    Anyway, I told him that I’d decided I didn’t want to tell anyone yet and then later we decided not to tell anyone until I was closer towards the end of the first trimester. I didn’t want to tell people and then miscarry and have to say ‘oh, just kidding’. And since we live four hours from family it would be relatively easy to keep under wraps unless people came to visit. We finally told all of our family when I was at the end of 9 weeks as I went back to DFW to attend a baby shower for my friend Stephanie. I told her and my friend Michelle at the same time, swearing everyone including family to secrecy for at least another week until we could get to our first doctor’s appointment, and for the fact we hadn’t told anyone at work yet.

    So, I guess that’s ‘The Story’ of how this adventure began!

    First Trimester Side Effects
    I was feeling pretty decent up until some right after our trip to Austin in early January. I was still drinking coffee but limiting it to the two cups that are recommended as the limit but eventually it was just one cup and finally I stopped as it started making me feel worse mid-morning. And then the nausea set in. I’d be sitting at my desk and it would become unbearable, a horrible mixture of hunger and nausea, which caused me to make a run to the Dollar General a block or two down from our office. I ended up making another trip to Dollar General on another day before realizing I had to bring more food and some Ginger Ale to work to take the nausea edge off.

    I have to admit that I know I did not/do not have all-day sickness (because that’s really what it is) nearly as bad as some women. I rarely hurled, and if I did it was mostly in the very early morning before we’d left the house and some smell or gag reflex would get to me. It still does, I’m not over that yet, but it is easing up some. I found that I could control the nausea to some extent if I nibbled on something continuously, such as eating peanut butter crackers slowly (1 every 15 minutes or something like that), or just making sure I ate a snack every two hours.

    And then the feeling of starvation came. Like, feed me now or I’m going to eat my hand! That’s when I decided that I couldn’t continue being vegetarian. I really wanted to, I attempted it for as long as I could, but I began craving meat and since many vegetables were becoming unappetizing to me I knew I had to have more. So, I told Chris I wanted to start eating meat but we had to buy the good stuff—we’re still working on finding the best stuff out. Chicken is just about impossible, even the ‘free range’ stuff isn’t actually free range. We still haven’t made it to the farmers market to check out what is available there, but hopefully soon we can. But, we did buy some buffalo meat and some grass-fed beef as well as some sausages made locally over in Chappell Hill near Brenham. Also, at this same time eggs, which had been my morning breakfast staple for a long time now, were unappealing to me. I was losing protein sources other than dairy and beans, I just didn’t feel I could keep up with being vegetarian daily. Does that mean we eat meat every day now? No. I’m just more flexible with it now.

    One of the first outward signs that helped me really ‘get’ that I was pregnant was the changes in my chest. It was like one day I was fine and the next day I’d bend over and suddenly my bra couldn’t contain the girls any longer. I bought four new bras. And then a month later I bought two more bras in a bigger size than the four I’d just bought. And from what I hear this is only the beginning.

    Acne was another odd change. I don’t usually break out and after giving up foundation and powder in highschool, I really stopped breaking out much. Makeup was the culprit for me and even hiking on the AT and FT didn’t lead to much of an acne problem. But over the last month or so I’ve had more zits than normal on my face and chest. I hear this is a fun side effect of pregnancy.

    Staying up until 10pm became impossible and I’d be ready for bed at 8 or 8:30, sometimes a little later, other times earlier. Naps were a must, especially on weekends. Sometimes I’d come home from work and take a short snooze before dinner, other times I’d try to rest for 20 minutes during my lunch break at home, always wishing I could curl up for longer. I do have to say that I’m glad this tired/feeling like crap period has happened during winter when I feel less guilty about being a giant bum and not outside enjoying my yard. It has given me the ability to just relax and watch tv, surf the internet reading pregnancy stuff, or read a few books.

    Wow, this is getting longer than I thought….

    I was going to talk about blogs, You Tube, movies, and books that I’ve been finding of interest, talk about birthing this kid, and then some of the products I’ve found helpful so far, but really at 2,000 words and counting this post is getting too long. So, I’ll have to write that post later on this week.

    There will also be some nature/outdoor posts in the near future as Chris and I have plans for some exploring this weekend.

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