According to the great and crazy-making* pregnancy books. You’re supposed to be able to feel things around 16-20 weeks. The first time I’m pretty sure I noticed something** was two Sundays ago on October 30th. It was great since I got to interrupt M soliloquizing about whether or not he was going to buy a woodworking router. That would have been at 16.5 weeks, so, a bit precocious for a first timer, but pretty much on schedule.

Anyway, the first couple times I’m pretty sure what I felt was it flipping over, hence the ‘whump’. More recently, I’ve noticed more subtle things like what felt like feet on my left side last night. I don’t feel something every day, but my best chances are right as I’m going to bed, reclining while M reads to me, and right when I get to work if my stomach ends up pushed against my desk a little bit.

In some ways it’s nice to be able to feel things, but it also makes me panic a bit that it isn’t moving All The Time, which of course, it won’t be. But if I haven’t felt anything in a while I start having crazy thoughts, like ‘my pants were too tight yesterday, it must have killed the baby’ or ‘I woke up hot and sweaty last night because I had too many blankets on, it must have killed the baby’ or ‘I sneezed and pulled a muscle in my stomach, it must have killed the baby’. I don’t like being crazy. It’s even weirder that I can be simultaneously worried about accidentally killing the baby by sneezing and about whether we were crazy to decide to have kids now in the first place. I hate-hate-hate things that you can’t go back on, particularly when there’s a waiting period for them to take effect, specially designed for second-guessing and worry making. Once things start happening, I deal with them and stop worrying, but anticipating having to deal with things in the future is bad-bad-bad.

Our 20 week*** ultrasound is tomorrow. I’m hoping for boy bits. I think that’s unusual and most women want girls? It’s particularly unusual since I don’t think I’ve ever really known a boy baby or young child. All my 8 cousins+siblings are girls. If it is a boy, there will be no hand-me-downs to be had, but I want one anyway.

Broke down this weekend and bought fat pants. Not maternity pants, as while I have heard rumors of early maternity pants that go under the belly and are only slightly stretchy instead of giant swaths of knit elastic, I have yet to see them offered for sale. I’m definitely not big enough for the full-on up to your bra pants yet, so I just bought regular pants several sizes too big. My mom thinks they fit better than the pants I normally wear. They keep sliding down though, so I think I’m going to try to sew in some elastic. I’m way more amused at the elastic than I should be. Our marching band uniforms had elastic ‘seat belts’ as we called them, and it cracks me up to think of adding that to regular pants, but it seems like it would work.

*Favorite paraphrase: ‘don’t use electric blankets, because electric fields haven’t been proven to be harmless to fetuses’ errr, neither has the color green I imagine. Also, they seem very insistent that I break off my crack habit. How many people with crack habits are reading pregnancy books?

**Have you ever really paid attention to sensations coming from your gut? You can feel a lot of things moving around down there, most of which aren’t really discussable in polite company.

***actually only 19 weeks…I’m still unconvinced at the scheduling at my OBs – I seem to be a week early for everything, but they assure me it’s fine

This post would be a lot better with a photo, but odds of that are low…maybe someday

This is a recipe I made up about a year ago, becoming relevant now as other than a slight sweet tooth* the one thing I’ve been craving this pregnancy is greens. So, this has been getting a lot of play.

Anyway, many greens recipes use bacon, but I find the smoked flavor awkward with vegetables, so this goes a bit of a different route with sausage instead. The name comes because superficially it resembles chinese food with a pile of grain covered in veggies and a little meat. The cooking technique is pretty similar to stir-fry as well, but the flavors are distinctly different. It isn’t authentic or anything like that, I just used polish since I’m using polish sausage.

It is really, really fast to make, with most of your time spent cleaning the kale and slicing the sausages. Once the pan starts going you do need to be there and watching it the whole time, but it cooks in well under 15 minutes.

Serves two as a (smallish) complete meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch greens (preferably Kale, see variations)
  • 1/2 bottle of light colored beer. (like a pilsner)**
  • 2 kielbasa or similar sausages (the small, bratwurst sized ones, not the big rings)
  • grain of your choice. (barley or faro recommended)
  • One large, flat pan. Do not use a non-stick pan. The pan will need to fit all the kale. If your frying pan isn’t big enough you can use a dutch oven or other large pot instead, but a large bottom helps the liquid cook off quickly. If you’re really tight on pans, you can add the kale in batches, as it does cook down some. A lid is helpful, but not 100% necessary.

Directions:

  • Depending on the cook time of your chosen grain, start that first. Follow the package directions. If doing barley or something else where the liquid absorbs use broth or add a teaspoon of bullion to the cooking liquid. (Also, toast the barley in the pan before adding liquid. That always makes it better. You just have to be careful to stir a lot so it doesn’t burn)
  • Cut the thick midribs off the kale and tear the leaves into large-ish pieces. Wash and set aside.
  • Chop the sausages into thin slices
  • Heat a large flat pan to high / medium high. Unless you’re using some strange fat-free sausages, you won’t need extra oil, everything you need will be released from the sausage as it cooks.
  • When water flicked on the pan sizzles, add the sausage and fry until browned – about five minutes. You want to stir them enough that they don’t burn, but if you stir them constantly they won’t develop the tasty crust. Don’t worry if you  get a dark brown crust on the bottom of the pan. That will be taken care of in the next step.
  • Turn the heat in the pan down to medium, and deglaze*** with some of the beer. You don’t want to add the entire half bottle at this point, just enough to get the stuff off the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the washed kale to the pan. Stir around a bit to get the flavors from the sausage and the beer on the kale, then cover for a few minutes, or until you see the kale starting to turn bright green. If you don’t have a cover for your pan, you can compensate by stiring more and adding extra beer to keep things from drying out and sticking to the bottom.
  • Take the lid off and stir some more, again trying to get the bottom stuff up top. Add more beer to taste and to increase the amount of steam cooking the kale on the top. When the kale is tender (another two or three minutes or so), turn off the heat
  • If you have a lot of extra liquid in the bottom of the pan at this point, leave the heat on until it dissipates – don’t worry, kale is relatively hard to overcook. Also, keep in mind everything is still steaming hot, so a little extra liquid will cook off on its own while you’re serving, you just don’t want it swimming
  • Serve in a bowl over the grain

Variations:

Almost all the ingredients can be substituted depending on your mood, adventurousness, grocery availability, and how many times you want to trick your husband into eating this in a week. Some guidelines:

Kale is the most suitable green, as it doesn’t cook down too much, but isn’t bitter tasting. We’ve used turnip greens too, and while they don’t disappear quite as much as spinach, you still don’t end up with a heck of a lot of greens once they cook. If you use those, go for a whole bunch for person (I know, you will see the gigantic bunches your supermarket has and think I’m crazy, and that they must sell it in tiny single leaf packs where I live, but trust me) Cabbage has a different flavor so wouldn’t work well. Spinach and beet greens are just too wimpy for this dish, save then for something else. I haven’t tried chard or collards, but they might work too. Honestly, Broccoli Rabe might have potential too.

If your local store stocks fancy sausages, you can substitute those too. I would recommend you *start* with kielbasa or polish sausage or something similar to get the idea, but depending on your preferences, anything with a relatively assertive flavor should work. Also, I list one sausage per person because my husband is a meat fan, but you could really use one for both people instead. I find myself picking around the sausages a bit with this much meat. Don’t omit them entirely, or you’ll really mess up the flavors, though I see no reason why vegetarian sausage substitutes wouldn’t work.

Finally, grain. We normally make this with barley. Spelt or Faro would probably be even better, but the pack we bought came with little rocks in it and I never want to bother with picking them out first. You can also use noodles, though I would recommend whole wheat or something else a bit heartier than your basic spaghetti or egg noodles. If you don’t flavor the cooking broth (i.e. with noodles), add the cooked pasta to the pan with the finished kale and sausage and stir in a bit more beer to give it some more flavor.

*It’s not so much that I’m eating ice cream for dinner now as I really didn’t eat barely any sweet things before. I used to much prefer hummus, or cheese and crackers or plain yogurt or other savory snacks to vanilla yogurt or cookies or jam on apples with peanut butter, but I’m finding myself swinging more towards what I assume is normal for this country. I still think sweet potatoes and beets are disgustingly sugary, and jam is a terrible thing to do to toast.

**You’re going for the bite and acidity, so much as I like dark beers, they aren’t as suitable. Pilsner is our favorite, and we’ve used a particularly strong hefeweisen with good success. It would probably work well with a pale ale, but I’ll never know as I like to drink the second half of the bottle while I’m cooking, and neither I nor husband likes to drink IPAs. American beers are nasty, but if that’s all you have in the house, you must not mind drinking it, so maybe you won’t mind it here. If you are a beer snob like us, and bought a fancy beer in a large bottle that didn’t get finished the night before and is now flat, that will work too, though you miss out on the drinking while cooking. If you’re anti-alcohol, you can use some lemon juice or mild vinegar (rice vinegar?) as well, though be aware the extra acidity will turn the kale an olive green ‘overcooked’ color. If doing this, use plain water or stock or something to deglaze the pan, as the lemon juice is much stronger and you will want to use much less.

***If you don’t know what deglaze means, you can probably find videos and better descriptions online. The basic idea is you add a little liquid to the places in the pan that have stuff stuck to them, and rub with your spatula. The liquid will sizzle and boil rapidly, loosening the tasty stuff stuck to the pan, which dissolves into the liquid when you rub it. It’s great because it cleans your pan and makes a flavorful sauce at the same time. The pan has to be hot when you do this. If the liquid doesn’t sizzle when you pour it in, turn up the heat and try again. For the same reason, only add a few tablespoons worth (a small to medium slosh) at a time or you will cool down the pan too much.

****I make a lot of references to drinking the beer here, but I promise I’m not actually doing that while I’m pregnant. (trial though it is). I don’t think the quarter bottle of cooked beer than ends up in a serving is harmful.

So, right on schedule (I guess) for the start of my second trimeter a bump showed up on the 3rd. Now, you pretty much have to both be looking at me naked, and be intimately familiar with what I looked like naked before to detect it, but hey, guess who fits both those criteria every morning in the bathroom? I do. I say I have graduated from ‘I gained ten pounds of muffin top’ to ‘baby bump’. And pretty much no one will argue with me*

I’m surprisingly pleased by it. I’d never thought I was particularly vain, but I am naturally very slim, and well, I’d sort of gotten used to things in the dozen years since I stopped getting taller. The idea of having my body be a different shape for the rest of my life really upset me more than I was expecting. But, now that it’s here, rather than in the mysterious and worrisome future, it’s OK. I like it.

That said, it’s hardly dramatic. There are exactly two items of clothes that are starting to not fit. My yard work jeans (pretty much the only pants I own that fit at my waist rather than super-duper low rise), and this one sweater that has a tie around the waist. The sweater really looks rather stupid now. It’s pretty funny. I plan on wearing it over to my mom’s in an attempt to convince her.

Oh, yeah, and the boobs (wow, this blog is taking a turn for the tmi). They’ve gone from pleasantly filling out my ridiculously tiny bras for the pre-pubescent** for the first time ever at the beginning of pregnancy, to now finding all my usuals unpleasantly tight. I’m finally an A cup! Unfortunately unless I make it all the way up to a B, there don’t seem to be any nursing bras available in my size, so I’m hanging with the two that sort-of fit*** for now in the hope that we will continue this trajectory.

I’m thinking I should order some extra-long t-shirts to tide me over until I need maternity clothes, as I should be able to wear them at my normal size too (I’ve thought they would fit better anyway, but always been put off by having to have them shipped, the regular sizes are close enough). I anticipate having trouble with maternity clothes as ‘size 0’ + ‘5 foot 7’ plus ‘chronically cold’**** is hard enough to shop for without adding ‘pregnant’ to the mix. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the extra length will be more standard in maternity sizes. Anybody know where pregnant teenagers shop?*****

*Except my mom. I showed it to my mom, and her response was ‘I don’t think my stomach’s ever been that flat in my life’. She refused to be convinced.

**The downside to a naturally thin figure I guess. Did you know size 34AA existed? Oh yeah, you might remember it from the training bra section.

***While I had no shortage of bras that were too large, very few of them seem to be too large in the correct ways. Instead of being generically too big, they now just generically don’t fit.

****I’ve found some fashion blogs with maternity sections, and while a lot of the things are super cute, a lot of them also involve short sleeves and skirts (in winter!) which I pretty much would freeze to death in. I know you’re supposed to get warmer while pregnant, but I can’t imagine getting that much warmer.

*****I gotta clarify, I’m not at all a teenager, I just currently find most of my clothes in the juniors section. I also refuse to shop at forever 21 despite the fact that they are a teenager store with an alleged maternity section, because the name always conjures haggard cougars or trophy wives in midriffs and pigtails to me. I may have to sacrifice my principles.

My husband asked me last night what made me so in favor of this whole ‘natural birth’ thing. I don’t think whatever answer I gave at the time was very good, but I think I’ve narrowed it down since then.

I don’t have a history of reacting well to medication. Whether it’s preferring the pain of newly extracted wisdom teeth to the blurry feeling of the pain medication, or the birth control pills that made me depressed,* sudafed and ibuprofen are about the only medications I can remember using that were better than the symptoms**.

There are a lot of elaborations and tangents*** I could go into here, but what I think it really comes down to is based on my history I’m more afraid of what a doctor might do to me than what my body might. Maybe that’s really, really dumb naive thinking****, but that’s where I am now.

 

* Thank you trojans for six years successfully free of both babies and crazies

** Well, and antibiotics and such. Duh, but those are a lot less comparable to an epidural.

*** Such as: I really don’t like being told what to do.

**** Which is part of the whole ‘not in my living room’ stance – if I find out it was a dumb idea, I’d like to be able to change my mind.

I’m getting a little cranky searching for delivery options in my area. It seems the only two options are fully managed hospital settings, or full-on crunchy granola push it out in your living room. I kinda wish there was something in between, but apparently birth centers aren’t a ‘thing’ in my area, despite the prevalence of crunchy granola living room options. Not that I have anything against giving birth in living rooms…just not my living room. Maybe that’s back to the denial of the previous post, but it just seems so weird. I can’t picture it. I don’t particularly want a medical professional coming to my mish-mash half remodeled house.

Also, I’m not a very crunchy person. I like a lot of the crunchy ideas, but not so much the personality. I’m not spiritual. I’m introverted. I don’t like strangers touching me. These things all seem somewhat in opposition to the crunchy community.

(not that there aren’t crunchy people out there I’d get along with – there are devoutly religious people I get along with, so I’m sure there are hippies I’d get along with, since I probably agree with them on more stuff, but it feels like it puts me in a minority and makes it harder to approach the community)

So, this is a house/garden blog, which is a pretty domestic thing, so I guess that means adding babies to it wouldn’t be too weird, would it?

Because that seems to be what’s happening. It’s all very surreal. Apart from a nominally late period, notable lack of preventative measures in the previous month, and that ‘+’ in the title, I wouldn’t guess that I was pregnant. But I guess I am. The only symptom I can even imagine myself into having is I’ve been a little crampy/gassy, but we’ve been eating out a lot with our kitchen being remodeled, so that’s hardly definitive.

It’s funny, at this point, I can’t make it real. My biggest thoughts are about how an april(ish)? date will really mess up my spring planting next year, and that this means we probably shouldn’t get a second dog, and I shouldn’t start knitting a sweater when I don’t know if I’m ever going to have these measurements again. Shouldn’t I want to be knitting baby things instead? It feels like I’m faking it.

 

There was a post over at Greensparrow Gardens recently with a picture of iris reticulata and the like in a vase. I’ve had a bit of a conflicted relationship with my own early iris, so I’m inspired by the idea of using them as cutting flowers.

It may just be a siting issue, but I find dwarf  iris a bit underwhelming in the garden. Small, subtle, and apt to blend in with the mulch. As cutting flowers, that would be solved, plus I would get a chance to experience their reputed fragrance.

Now that my initial batch has survived their first year, I plan to get more to try in different spots as well, as they do have some very nice qualities, assuming I could see them better. They are up with the earliest crocus, but unlike crocus, the iris remain open even on cold cloudy days, which at that time of year, tends to be most days. Of course, that means they are vulnerable to rain and don’t last as long as the crocus, but the total open days probably end up about the same.

There was a post over at Growing with Plants a few days ago mentioning blackberry lilies that got me thinking about our local flora. I, too, lusted after the strangely exotic lilies for some time before acquiring seeds and planting some of my own. When they finally bloomed late in their second year, I realized there was a grove of them by a rural mailbox which I passed (at 60 mph) every day on my commute. So much for rarity.

Matt mentions:

In 1910, you would have found this plant common in gardens, but when was the last time you ever saw it in a garden?

Apparently, for me, last summer.

The area I live isn’t far from civilization, but it is still distinctly rural, lots of farms and farm families that still live on their grand parents’ land and remnants of little towns centered around now defunct schools and post offices that had mail delivered every other day from the train depot in the ‘city’ that is now less than a 10 minute drive away. There are a few houses like ours that sold their adjoining frontage to developers along they way, but for the most part, the area has the same population density it did100 years ago – it’s just a much more mobile population now.  And, it has some unique plants.

We, for instance, have a gigantic white lilac. Now, that really isn’t that rare of a plant, but generally, lilacs are purple. Except, not here. On my little drive into work in the spring, the white lilacs out number the purple ones. There are a lot of very similar daffodils as well. Of course, how much variation is there in daffodils? But there seem to be two predominant types here, a white small cup style that looks like a poeticus, but blooms much earlier, and another with a white outside and slightly flattened pale yellow cup. There are very few standard yellow daffodils, and the ‘local’ ones tend to be in enormous clumps in the middle of someone’s lawn rather than strategically placed in a bed. I get the impression they’ve been there a while.

I find this fascinating. One day, someone buys a lilac, or a few bulbs – something frivolous (and apparently her favorite color was white). And shares it with her neighbors five miles down the road. And it spreads. And people forget about it, but it’s still there. And it lives. And you get this strange, incidental, inherited continuity across the township. Somehow this is much more charming to me than all the McMansion developers planting the same junipers, sedum and maple tree in every yard.

There’s also rather a lot of trumpet creeper growing up the utility poles here to just be chance. I know our several other of our shrubs – like the forsythia and the mock orange – are old as well, but I haven’t seen them around other houses as much. Plus, forsythia isn’t a terribly distinctive thing, and it’s still popular and readily available – it’s harder to tell whether any given bush is a vintage pass-along, or a new acquisition from wal-mart.

I wonder how long those blackberry lilies have been growing by that mailbox. I wonder if the gardener even knows what they are, or just calls them ‘aunt sally flowers’ or a silly invented name.

One of these days I need to get up the nerve to knock on someone’s door and ask them for a division of those daffodils.

Strangely, more on the north east side of the door than the north west, but they are indeed returning.

I *almost* ordered a bunch more hyacinths this fall, but held off with the thought that they might not actually hang on through the whole year to bloom a second time.

But it looks like they mostly have, and that there will be flowers as well as leaves, and that some of them are even multiplying, which I consider a phenomenal success for something other than a daffodil planted in clay-muck soil on the north side of the house.

Next year, there will be many more. Hyacinths are such silly looking flowers. They make me giggly and happy in a nonsensical way. I plan on making my front yard look like an easter basket with them. It will be fabulous.

I’m also thinking white crocus would look good between them.

Spring.

Magnolia sieboldii

Magnolia sieboldii - image by Sten Porse at wikimedia commons

Stupid zone 6 plants I can’t have.

I’m thinking I will plant some other magnolias this spring anyway. Probably Magnolia virginiana, and try my luck with one of the hardier grandifloras. Oh, and Magnolia x brooklynensis ‘Woodsman’ is pretty fancy looking too. Ah, I dream.