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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,
God bless you! Can’t wait to see that new little guy. I had to be put under for my daughter’s birth (emergency c-section), but when she gave birth to my granddaughter I was there. God always has that wonderful way of giving us just what we need. Take care of yourself and we will see you soon.
Congratulations to you and Barclay. I am so very happy for the both of you. <3
Felizidades! Praying that everything that happens brings joy and good health. Get ready for an adventure and more love than you ever dreamed possible. I’ll be saying a prayer with each of your recipes that I prepare (and that’s quite often! XO
Ali, my daughter was recommended the Yoyo Babyzen it’s a lightweight pram, folds very easily and you can take it on the airplane…I gather once Covid is over you’ll be flying somewhere! There’s also Cozigo which is for putting over the airplane bassinet. I and my daughter from Australia wish you well in this very exciting time in your life. Look forward to hearing of a safe birth and also the name you choose for your little man.
My goodness, that is the most beautiful garden I have ever seen! What this has done form these ladies is beyond words. God bless it!
And you! How adorable you look…so tiny and fragile, yet so determined. It looks as though baby is ready any second…he will make an appearance when he is “done” and thus begins your purpose in life…and the end of sleep for a,couple of years! Such joy for you and hubby is on its way.
Will miss your blog, but will think of what you say is bringing to you every morning. God be with you, bless you, and congratulations!
Enjoy every moment of your last days just the 2 of you and becoming a family of 3!
Prayers for the delivery, no shame in a caesarean and don’t let anyone ever say otherwise or make you feel any lesser a mom. I had 2, 1st one unplanned and I was awake, 2nd time due to 2 pregnancies close together – I wouldn’t change it for anything, and not as bad as people make it out to be, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. And I love your philosophy on breastfeeding, I too felt the same “fed is best”, whether that’s breastfed, formula or both, I rather feed my baby. As a first time mom I too had a “plan” but sometimes things don’t always go to plan, be present, be flexible, be strong, especially with a caesarean, or other circumstances and interventions that may arise.
I always appreciate your honesty in these posts. Pregnancy was full of ups and downs for us after infertility too, which felt hard to admit when we felt the pressure to only talk about being grateful. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with back pain this trimester and hope it will alleviate some after the birth. I will be praying for all to go well and can’t wait for you to finally hold your little one soon. ?
Thought you might appreciate this comment from this post…
“Breastfeeding is amazing! And so is not breastfeeding! For any parent who is struggling with being unable to breastfeed or chooses not to, take comfort in knowing that your baby will still look at you doe-eyed when you come to them with a bottle of their beloved formula or pumped breast milk. They will still stare deep into your eyes as they take their bottle, as you memorize one another’s faces. Your breasts/chest will still provide the safest and most comfortable place in the world where they will curl up and fall asleep to the sound of your heart beat. They’ll never remember how they were fed, but they’ll know deep inside them that they were loved beyond measure and that their tummies were always full.”
God bless you!! I cant wait to see the “bebe” and you again. Your blog has changed my eating life and I am so very happy to have discovered you! Rest well, you will need all your energy. ? Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. I know what it is to be “10,000” miles away from family at a time like this…I had my children in Germany with my family in Arizona. We will b praying for you.
So happy for you. It’s a love you’ve never felt before. Enjoy!
I look forward to meet “the little guy “ and welcome him into this world. Lost of luck to you .
I will probably be in Barcelona in May for my granddaughters graduation and like your parents hoping that by then
US citizens can visit .
Starting a family is a great joy and you’ll be blessed .
Congratulations! I love your site, but I have to admit I never looked at anything but recipes until today! As someone who struggled with infertility in the past myself, it thrilled me to see sometime get pregnant who’s tried for long enough to go through ivf. Praying for a safe and healthy baby and easy delivery for you. God is good.
All of this makes me SO happy! Thanks for the update on the Wash Project – so encouraging! And it just thrills me that you and your husband will meet your baby so soon! Congrats and best wishes!
P.S. We formula-fed our daughter, and she did super well and is a healthy girl! Just wanted to offer a non-nursing perspective that we don’t often hear. :) Regardless of what you choose, I know your baby will be well-fed and well loved!!! :)
Take good care and the best of everything to you and your growing family. Can’t wait for your next update.
SO excited for you, Ali!!! What a lucky little bebe that is <3. Sorry the third trimester has been so rough, prayers that you will soon be out of your pain. I will miss the sunshine that you bring these next few months!!! Best, best wishes to your sweet little family <3 So, so happy for you.
All the very best Ali with your delivery. Can’t wait to see photos of your little boy. I too have suffered back issues my whole life and you just work around it. You learn to sit with your baby instead of always standing, etc. You and your husband will do great, you can just tell. We will all miss you for a few months, but you so deserve this special time altogether.
All the best,
Maureen (from BC Canada)
Best wishes to you, Barclay and the new wee little one! This new adventure, as you become a family of 3, is beyond anything you’ve ever experienced in the very best of ways. Savor every second.
You are adorable! Your life will never be the same, but in a wonderful way!
So happy for you guys! What an exciting time. Sending you prayers and good thoughts for an easy delivery and recovery.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. So excited for you both!! Sending you love, hugs, good vibes, and prayers for the next phase of your lives!! xoxo Ivy
Best wishes! We will be watching for announcements!!!!
What a hopeful and exciting time! Best wishes to the three of you.?
May God Bless and keep you all as you approach delivery and a wonderful new life!
Congratulations!! I stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago and have LOVE every single recipe I’ve made. I had no idea you were pregnant. Praying for a safe and joyous delivery & a health baby!! :)
Congratulations on the newest family member coming soon! I love your site (esp. your clear and pretty pics).
I am so very happy and excited for you all! Best wishes and blessings to all THREE of you!! Can’t wait to see your pictures and “meet” your son! All the best to you! Enjoy your family time. ?
Beyond excited for you two! I’ve followed along with your whole infertility journey on Instagram and just wanted to wish you all the best this week as you deliver and meet your little boy. ? We’re cheering you on!!
Many blessings to you and Barclay, can’t wait to see your precious new bundle of joy!
I just saw your Instagram post and wanted to say a huge congratulations to you and Barclay on the arrival of your beautiful baby boy! He’s precious, Ali <3 Such a blessing from the Lord! Wishing you and your sweet little family plenty of joy as you start this new adventure together :)
Congratulations on the birth of your baby! Very happy for both of you! :)
Thank you very much for being honest with your readers, all of us women understand perfectly well that pregnancy in public people is just a beautiful picture and we look at it and think how it works out for them. But in fact, it is difficult for everyone and these difficulties should not be afraid to show. You have a very busy and interesting life and it is very pleasant to watch you. Pregnancy is cool, albeit very difficult! Enjoy every moment of this happiness and let everything be cool with you!
Just found this site looking for a mayo free potato salad and after reading just reading two post about you personally and one about the gardening mission your posting about. I have tears of pure Joy In my eyes and heart. What a beautiful person you are! I feel Blessed to have read this and want to thank you for adding to my life. I have a strong sense of believing in the human race and I have faith knowing there are such women in this world that can change our hearts in the power of the simple living of their lives in truth and honesty. You are a remarkable woman God Bless from Texas!!
PS can’t wait to try the potato salad it sounds amazing. B