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Bon dia from the home stretch of our third trimester here in Barcelona!
I can hardly believe it, but we’re now less than two weeks away from getting to meet our baby boy, which has us feeling all the feels right about now. Timehop actually just reminded me that it was exactly a year ago today that Barclay and I began our first round of IVF, diving into the dizzying new world of injections and procedures and test results galore, in hopes that this science might be the key to helping us finally get pregnant. It’s remarkable to think back over everything that has happened in our little family and in the world in the time since.
What a year this has been. ♡
Well with our little one potentially arriving any day now, I’m getting ready to officially sign off from the blog to begin my maternity leave here shortly. (More on my plans for that below.) But before I do, I’ve realized that I’m long overdue for some behind the scenes updates on here — especially with the community garden project that you all have generously been helping to support in Mali, what life has been like during our third trimester, our plans for giving birth as expats here in Barcelona, plus what’s ahead for Gimme Some Oven during my maternity leave and beyond.
Lots happening lately to share from our little corner of the world lately. So here is the latest!
Mali Community Garden Update
Okay, there is actually so much news to share with you about the women’s community garden that you all have been supporting in Mali that I have decided to devote a full post to their story here soon, once the gardeners complete their first major harvest. (For those of you who are new here, you can read more about the garden project launch in partnership with Gimme Some Oven here, as well as our last blog update here, plus photos/videos on Instagram here.)
But as for a brief update today, I’m thrilled to report that the new community garden is THRIVING. ♡♡♡
After successfully drilling the well to serve the garden, constructing the water tower to store the clean water from the well, and installing 36 solar-powered (vs. manually-powered) water taps all around the garden to provide easy access to the clean water for the gardeners, the community quickly moved ahead with the next steps of the project which include…
- constructing the permanent shelters for the gardeners (see photo above): These shelters are now officially completed and the gardeners have been so thankful for them! With temperatures hovering in the three-digits in Mali for most of the year, the garden ladies expressed to us how important it was to have some sort of permanent structures where they could take shaded breaks during their workday and have a safe place to recharge. Now that they are up, these shelters have become their gathering places to gather and socialize and hold classes and support one another as they grow their gardens and small businesses.
- constructing toilets: Restroom facilities have also now been installed in the community gardens, which the women especially appreciate because it saves them valuable time during their workdays. (Previously, any women who gardened in the area had to take considerable time off from gardening to walk all the way home if they needed to use the restroom.)
- constructing fencing and gates: An enormous fence has also how been installed around the entire perimeter of each of the three gardens that make up this project. And secure gates have been installed that allow the gardeners to enter each day, and importantly, keep the local animals out. (Previously, women who gardened in the area had to spend each night sleeping on the grounds of the garden — away from their families — to fend off the animals who came in trying to eat their crops overnight. Now they can return to their families and get the rest they need at night, knowing that their crops are protected.)
- providing the gardeners with agricultural and financial training: A local professional has also now trained all of the gardeners in best agricultural practices for gardening, including lessons on how to grow new crops that were previously impossible because of the limited growing season. (Now that the garden has water year-round, the gardeners are able to grow a much wider variety of crops – which is very exciting for the community!) Plus, the gardeners are continuing to receive education and support for managing their own small businesses, saving and re-investing their profits, and launching and supporting their own regional market. This is also very exciting, especially since many of these women are now experiencing financial independence for the first time in their lives.
- distributing the garden plots: The enormous stretch of land has also now been officially divided into individual plots and assigned to the 400 gardeners, who immediately got to work planting the first round of high-quality seeds that they were provided with the initial launch. And as you can see from the before and after photos above, my how their gardens are already growing!
All that said, probably the most exciting news of all is that the 400+ Benkadi gardeners recently realized that they now collectively have enough crops to support their own local market closer to the location of their garden. So they have been working on a business plan over the past few months to create a brand new market in their part of town…and it just recently launched and is off to a great start!
More on the market and the gardeners’ first big harvests in my next update to come, plus I’m excited to introduce you to some of these individual gardeners so that you can hear from them firsthand about how this project is impacting their lives and the wellbeing of this community. We have so much to learn from them, so stay tuned…this story just keeps getting better and better.
Many thanks for your continued support of this project. ♡
Third Trimester Q&A:
A few weeks ago on my personal Insta, I did a Q&A on stories about how things have been going during our third trimester. So today I thought I would re-share some of my responses here for any of you who missed it, plus answer a few extra questions that I didn’t get to on Instagram… ♡
When is your due date: So soon now! Our due date is officially March 20, but we are tentatively scheduled to have our c-section on March 16, provided our little guy decides to stay in there that long. So the countdown is officially on…just 11 days left (tops)!
How is the bebé? Quite big…and quite active. We’ve been told at each appointment that he is measuring “muy grande” for his age and that he’s in the 90th percentile for Spanish growth charts. He is also still extremely active and loves stretching and kicking my ribs and practicing his aerobics in there all day (and night, lol) long. So I think we may have a very energetic little baby on our hands soon. ;)
How are you feeling? Heart-wise, more than anything, I’m just so excited to meet our little guy soon! It’s wild to think that I’m carrying around a nearly fully-grown baby who could decide to come out and meet us basically anytime now. Barclay and I are endlessly curious to finally see what he looks like, what his little personality will be like, and what that rush of love is going to feel like once we finally get to hold him in our arms. We can’t wait and are so excited to begin this new chapter as a family of three.
Body-wise, though, third trimester life has honestly been pretty rough — partly due to a combo of insomnia and major acid reflux at nights (I’ve hardly slept these past two months), but mostly due to my chronic back pain that has intensified as the baby has grown and shifted. We knew going into pregnancy that significant back pain was going to be a matter of “when” not “if” for me due to all of my preexisting back issues, in addition to the stress that pregnancy typically puts on most women’s backs anyway. But whew, it just kind of skyrocketed during this third trimester, which forced me to significantly scale back my daily physical activity quite a bit sooner than I had expected. (Not easy for this Enneagram 3, but I figure good practice for what’s ahead.) That said, I feel incredibly lucky and thankful to have been able to carry our babe this far along, especially considering that we began this pregnancy being told we could carry for (at best) at 34 weeks. So each continued day that he continues to stay snuggled in there still feels very precious.
What is your birth plan? So yep, as I mentioned above, we are scheduled for a “cesária,” as it’s called in Spanish. We’ve actually known for years that we would be looking at a c-section delivery if we were ever able to get pregnant, mainly because of my back issues. But the question that remains up in the air now is whether or not I’ll be able to be awake for the birth. Long story short, the compromised vertebrae in my back (due to complications from scoliosis surgery years ago) just so happen to be the usual spinal tap and epidural vertebrae. And at this point, our anesthesiologist cannot conclusively tell whether or not they will cooperate. So…our Plan A will be to give an epidural a try the day of delivery, in which case I could be awake and Barclay could be beside me for our little guy’s birth. But if that doesn’t work, our Plan B will be to immediately proceed with general anesthesia, in which case I’ll be put to asleep and (sadly) Barclay would have to leave the OR too for the birth. I feel pretty emotional about the idea of missing our little guy’s entrance into the world and am wholeheartedly hoping that Plan A may succeed. But Barclay and I have known for awhile now that either delivery scenario would be a possibility, so we continue to remind ourselves that the biggest priority here is to have a safe and healthy baby and a safe and healthy mama. So we’re up for whatever the doctors recommend and can’t wait to meet this baby whenever and however is best.
Will everything at the hospital be in English or Spanish? Probably Spanish. All of our appointments up until now have been in Spanish, so that will likely be our experience around giving birth too. Or as it’s referred to in Spanish, “dar a luz”, which means “bringing to light”. ♡
Will your parents be able to be come and visit right away? Unfortunately, no. Americans visitors are still not allowed to enter the EU during the pandemic. But our parents have all now received their first doses of the vaccine, so we’ve got our fingers crossed that they will be allowed in the country sometime soon. In the meantime, our wonderful friend who is a postpartum doula is going to help us out a bit once we get home from the hospital. So we’re super thankful and comforted to know that we’ll have her here with us.
Do you guys have a car? How will you get to/from the hospital? Nope, we don’t have a car here, so this babe will come home with us via taxi! We have a cute little European carseat for him all packed and ready to go. :)
Do you have a name picked out yet? We doooo…not, lol. We had about a million little girl names on our list, but for some reason we have been strugglin’ with boy names. (Naming a human feels like a lot of pressure!) In Spain, you traditionally have 10 days to name a baby after he or she is born though. So we may just wait to meet our little bebecito and then pick the one that fits him best.
Will the baby automatically be a Spanish citizen? Nope, turns out that the United States is one of the few countries around the world that gives automatic citizenship to anyone born there. So we will be applying immediately for our baby to have Spanish residency and American citizenship, just like us.
Are you planning to breastfeed? I would really love to, but I honestly hold everything about that pretty loosely. After watching so many friends’ experiences over the years with feeding their babies in so many different ways, I firmly believe that “fed is best” — whatever that may look like. So I’m down for whatever works best for my body and this baby. We’ll see!
What is your plan for maternity leave? Both Barclay and I are self-employed and are fortunate to be able to set our own schedules, so we are tentatively planning to take around 3 months off for maternity/paternity leave together. Then from there, we will re-evaluate and see what next steps feel best. I have prepared some yummy new recipes in advance that will be shared here on Gimme Some Oven while I’m away. But I’m hoping to resist the temptation to “keep tabs on things” and legit disconnect so that we can enjoy these first few months together with our family of three. I look forward to getting back in the blogging groove come summertime, though!
Were you able to have a baby shower during the pandemic? We were actually really lucky and had three! ♡ Barclay and I had just kind of assumed we’d have to take a pass on that tradition during the pandemic. But our friends and family got creative and organized some gatherings via Zoom, and they ended up being so fun and hilarious and sweet and special.
Will you share pics of your nursery? Any nursery/baby products you recommend? Sure, will do soon! It’s almost ready to go. (Which I have to say feels very “American” of us. One little cultural difference we’ve noticed here is that most of our Spanish friends don’t really work on or complete a nursery for months after the baby’s birth.) As for product recommendations, I’ll definitely report back if there are some specific things we end up loving. But at this point, I feel like we can’t speak from experience about anything we’ve purchased or been given, so I’ll wait to share any actual recommendations until we’ve actually tested everything out for awhile. :)
What’s the first thing you can’t wait to eat or drink post-pregnancy? Haha, excellent question. I have to admit that the food restrictions around pregnancy haven’t been as challenging as I had expected. But I am very much looking forward to my first mezcal marg in 9+ months. Also can’t wait to have some really good jamón serrano again.
¡Nos vemos pronto, xoxo!
Bueno! As of this weekend, I’m officially transitioning into maternity leave. But I look forward to popping back in briefly at some point soon to introduce you to our little guy. And as always, you’re welcome to follow along with my personal Instagram (@gimmesomeali) if you’re interested in more life-behind-the-blog updates too. ♡
I look forward to being back here with you come summertime. And in the meantime, thank you so much for continuing to cook from the recipes here on Gimme Some Oven while I am away. Your clicks on these recipes directly help to fund my maternity leave a blogger, so I truly appreciate your support here. And I sincerely hope that you enjoy the yummy recipes that I’ve prepared to share with you (above are a few previews!) while I’m away!
Again, all of my gratitude for the many ways you have supported, loved, and encouraged us over this past year. I hope that you are doing well wherever you may be in the world right now, and this baby and I are sending you all un abrazo muy fuerte (a very big hug) from Barcelona!
Lots of love,