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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,
So thrilled for you! I will continue to pray and send good thoughts across the ocean surrounding your delivery and first several weeks with babygimme!
Fellow Kansas girl here! And Lizzie Kate fan! So excited for you! I too had scoliosis surgery, and opted for natural childbirth with my babies. I didn’t even want to think about an epidural. I’m pulling for you that all goes well.
Wishing you a safe and healthy delivery! My husband and I welcomed our baby boy in December after 6 years of fertility struggles and IVF. It is an amazing miracle to hold your little one for the first time. Enjoy every moment and take all the time you need to find what works best for you and your family!
All the very best. I can’t wait to see pictures. Sending love and happy and safe thoughts from Canada.
P.s. made your peanut butter cookies last night . . . Amazing!!!!
Many, many, many congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing your journey (to date) with all of us. You are my favorite food blogger (and recipe site), so you will be missed, but for a VERY good reason! I wish you all the very best and look forward to seeing you with the new bebe!
Here’s hoping for an uncomplicated delivery.. Babies are more tiring than you expect so be kind to yourselves and don’t rush back to work. Just post lots of pics of baby and the dogs!!!
Good luck and congratulations in advance! Can’t wait to see your next update.
I made your fish tacos last night for dinner and wondered why I don’t cook more of your recipes more often, everything always turns out amazing! I’m making it a goal to cook your recipes and visit your blog more frequently.
Excited for your new adventure!
Good attitude about breast feeding.
Less pressure is the best route.
Blessings! Such a joyful time. Enjoy every moment. Thoughts and prayers of safe and easy delivery.
Congratulations and enjoy your time off with your little one!
Thank you for all your posts! Best of luck with your new family!
I actually teared up AGAIN (this happens frequently with you 2 ☺️) reading about your so soon to be MOMENT of incredible first love. These photos – of you and you and Barclay – the love glows! Praying for your last days for comfort and for a perfect dar a luz ?
Wishing you an easy delivery and hope that you will be able to be awake to welcome your little boy into the world. Sending lots of love to you and Barclay! ♥♥♥
Very best wishes to you all! Such an exciting time, I hope you and Barclay enjoy every minute. Best advice – rest when the baby is sleeping, until you don’t feel exhausted any more. Everything else can wait. Hugs to you all!!
Felicidades y buena suerte con todo.
I am so excited for you both! And I can’t wait to “meet” your new family member.
I just love hearing about your life in Barcelona, and all the cool things going on in Mali. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us. It’s so uplifting and inspiring. I’m so happy that your pregnancy has progressed so well. I’m so sorry about your back pain. Sleep is such a necessity at this time in your life. Hope you’re able to get back to a good sleep routine once your baby gets a good sleep schedule too. :)
Best of luck to all three of you, on a safe and happy delivery! I will continue to cook with your recipes, which I hope sends good vibes your way!
All the best,
My daughter just had a baby via CSection two weeks ago in Overland Park. She and baby Miles are doing great. I am going to miss your posts, but are so thrilled about your baby. I have an entire folder of your recipes I will be making while you are gone.
Sending prayers your way.
So happy for Both of You !! And of course, that New Little Boy !!
Love your recipes. Best of luck. What a lucky little guy to have you and Barclay for parents.
Best wishes to the three of you, Ali! Enjoy the time as a new family – it will be a blur!
So many feelings reading all of this!!! The work you’re doing to help these women in Mali is so heartwarming. I’ve really enjoyed following this story and am so glad the gardens are thriving (but of course they are, these women are incredible!!). Also thanks for sharing your pregnancy story, I’m thrilled for you guys and will be sending prayers for comfort for you and for plan A but most importantly a happy/healthy mom and baby. (Also I’m dead at how they call onesies “bodies” in Spain, precious!) You and your husband exude so much goodness, so thankful to have found the ray of sunshine that is your blog. Enjoy this time and may God bless your sweet family!
Congratulations to you both on your journey to have a baby. I will miss your blog but I have many Gimme Some Oven recipes saved to try and favorites on repeat. I have unsuccessfully tried to find the recipe for the first photo above of the pasta with broccoli and peanuts. Please help. It looks like a version of your Sweet Potato Chickpea Coconut Curry. The dish looks amazing! Thank you.
Congratulations, Ali! So excited for you guys, and truly hope you enjoy your time as a family of three on your leaves.
The pic at the top of the post is absolutely beautiful! Hope you are able to have the plan A birth so you and Barclay can meet your little guy immediately. Enjoy your maternity leave, it will go fast! Best wishes to all three of you!
Thank you for the updates…wishing you a safe delivery and much joy and happiness as you welcome your little guy to this world. You are my favorite food blogger and I have followed your postings for years. I always appreciate your delicious recipes, travel blogs, and your insights, acceptance and wisdom. Sending positive thoughts your way….?
I’ve been very excited to follow along with you and Barclay on your pregnancy journey. Thank you for sharing this journey with us! Your positive attitude is such an inspiration! Enjoy every moment of your maternity leave with your bebecito and Barclay! We look forward to pictures when the time is right. Congrats and best wishes! I very much enjoy your blog and recipes, and look forward to hearing from you after your much deserved maternity leave!
So happy for you and Barclay that this adventure has been a blessed one. Your little family will be filled with love.
Thank You for sharing your lives with us. These exciting times will produce the most wonderful adventures.
Virtual hugs!! My thoughts are with you!!
I hope you are able to have the birth plan that allows both you and hubs to be in the room together to meet your baby. It is such an amazing experience! March 16th is an awesome day, it’s our 25th anniversary! Hope you have a smooth delivery and enjoy your little guy…before you know it he’ll be grown! Makes me sad how fast the time flies by! Can’t wait to see photos and learn his name. We had the same issue when we were expecting. Only we knew exactly what his name would be. He was a she however, and we struggled to come up with a name. We waited until we met her and made the decision. Also hope the Grands are able to get over to meet him. I imagine pregnancy during a pandemic has been super hard since you are in another country. Wishing you happiness and luck! Also CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
Ali, I wish you and Barclay all the best as you prepare to welcome this precious little bebé into your life! (And I hope that your family is able to visit soon.)
I pray that you’re able to get some good rest ASAP, and that you are able to recover quickly from the additional back pain. (I hope that you’re able to receive some additional treatment to correct the underlying back issues.)
Get ready for more love and joy in your life!
I wish you all the best for the birth of your little baby. But please try breastfeeding! It is such a great experience and gives much love and relationship. Please try it! and breastfeeding helps your own body after birth. and it is so practical ….
Gabi from Germany
Wish you a safe delivery of a very healthy boy. God bless you and the family of three now!
I’m beyond excited for you. Prayers for a healthy baby and mommy. Can’t wait to hear all about it! Much love sent to all 3 of you.
Best wishes to you and Barclay for a safe delivery and a healthy baby!! Don’t forget to post some pics when you have time, that is!
Big smile when I opened this email and saw your picture! Beautiful! Praying for a good delivery and I am looking forward to meeting your bambino.
Fingers crossed for you that your birth plan A works out, but whatever happens, you’ll forget all about it as soon as you lay eyes on your little one! Take all the time off that you possibly can (3 months will FLY by) and we’ll be here when you’re ready to come back :)
I am so over the moon happy for you guys!! Congratulations!! You are going to be amazing parents!! You have a beautiful blessing arriving soon!! It doesn’t get any better than that!! Enjoy?
You 2 are soooo cute together including that cute little doggie. Love, love, live, AND would love to have one. Blessings to you and your family
You are seriously the most beautiful, happiest, and beaming expectant mother that I have ever seen!! Congratulations and best wishes!
May god be with you.from a mom 3 kids later. The old nurse said walk as long as you can gravity will speed things up. It did . Not one shot or needle.
Wonderful! Best wishes to you three!!
Best wishes and prayers for a smooth and healthy delivery. We welcomed our first grandchild, a boy, 3 weeks ago so know how excited all your parents much be, too!!
I have followed you since way before Barclays, and am so excited for both of you. Enjoy every moment with the three of you. Soak it in. The time flies and you won’t pass this way again. I pray for a safe delivery for you and God’s greatest blessing that you are carrying within you.
Congratulations to you and Barclay early ! Enjoy your time away from your blog with your newborn. I’m sending good thoughts for an easy Plan A birth for you ! Truly !
P.S. I have always liked the name Christopher for a boy. … just sayin’
Wishing you a safe delivery and looking forward to read more news thereafter. In the meantime, take good care of yourself and after delivery, enjoy every moment with the baby!
All the best for this exciting moment! Hope all goes well and look forward to reading about it when you’re back up and running.
Ali, you’re a beautiful pregnant mama. I’m so happy that you & Barclay will finally be parents after your struggles. Can’t wait to see pix of your beautiful baby boy. Hope your parents get to come visit soon. Many hugs from Kansas!
My first daughter was a general anesthesia delivery. I went to sleep, woke up warm and cozy in my room, and our girl was placed in my arms. It wasn’t what we planned, but it wasn’t too bad, either. :-) Sending encouragement and prayers.
Best wishes and God be with you “3” ! May everything go perfectly and I will miss you and your writings but anxiously await all of the news this summer! Thanks for all you share…especially yummy recipes and smiles ✋???
So happy for you all! God bless your little family of three. I’m praying you will be pain free but awake for his birth, but however he enters the world he is blessed to have parents loving him so much already!
Cannot wait to see your new baby! Hope that “Plan A” is a go, and you are both able to experience bringing the baby to light! (Love that!) Many blessings for all of you!!