A Gift from Ali and Oli (& 9 weeks!!!)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

We're in the single digits of weeks, people! 40 weeks seemed so long in January, and now that we're less than nine away (maybe? Who really knows), it feels like no time at all. Mooshi got a gift in the mail from friends at Ali and Oli, and I wanted to share them here because they're so cute. I joked on Instagram Stories that I want to use the fork and spoon myself, but I'm not really joking ;) This little babe is already so spoiled, and while I'm terribly anxious about the weeks ahead and then actually having a baby to raise, I'm also overwhelmingly excited. Nothing else seems to matter these days, I just want to meet our babe <3

Here's what we got: utensils, pacifier clip, teether toy, bibs. Thanks again, Ali and Oli!


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Yesterday was probably my last ride before baby comes. My balance is still OK, but increasingly it feels like there is a hippopotamus on the back of the bike with me...until I remember that the hippopotamus is me! Oh well, at least my dad and B will be relieved if I'm not riding anymore. 

Denver, Colorado!

We've been trying to squeeze in as much as we can into our weekends lately, especially since I won't be able to fly and see far-away friends soon. So, last weekend we went to Denver to visit our dearest friends, Harsh and Monika. Neither of us had ever been to Colorado, and seeing them, breathing in the fresh mountain air and taking in stunning views was a perfect decision for one last flight.

We always joke that our friend Harsh orders way too much food whenever we go out, and this is a great example... a light lunch after our morning hike ;)

I didn't take a lot of photos over the weekend, but I'm glad I snapped some during our accidental trip to Pike's Peak. We set out to walk around Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, but by the time we got there, it was a terrible thunderstorm. We figured we'd keep driving since getting out of the car wasn't an option, and somehow we ended up at the Pike's Peak summit. The roads were so windy, and it was a blizzard. I was terrified (why are there no railings on the road?!?!), but the views and laughs were worth it.

Before heading home we hit up Little Man Ice Cream, apparently a Denver must. My always-existent sweet tooth is in overdrive these days, and I can confirm that it's worth the hype.

I'm cherishing these weekends with our sweet friends who are spoiling us. Monika and Harsh had decorated their guest room with balloons and a congratulations banner, and bought the sweetest little gifts for our babe. We're so lucky to be surrounded by so much love, and I can't wait to introduce our little one to its amazing aunties and uncles <3

Hello, Third Trimester!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Oh, you guys. I spent hours writing a post on all things pregnancy last weekend. Poured my heart and soul into what these past 28 weeks have meant to me, how I've felt, what I've learned. I was so happy to have it all written down — my rawest emotions to look back on one day as I'm holding our little babe. And, suddenly, delete. One Ctrl+Z in Blogger too many, and the Internet has confirmed — it's not coming back. Where it went, I'll never know, but here we are. Woof.

There were so many words on that page, and suddenly I'm remembering none of them. But I do remember it started with a story.

I'm guessing seven or so years ago, I was at the Lincoln Park Conservatory with my friend Jen on a chilly Sunday in January. She told me she was going to finally say something more than "half a pound of oven-roasted turkey, please" to the deli guy at our corner grocery store she had been crushing on for months (sometimes she'd get turkey even if she didn't need or want it — other times she'd walk past the deli counter if he wasn't there, figuring she'd come back another day for her sandwich fixings). Her new year's resolution was to overcome her fear of rejection and put herself out there more often. I was inspired! "I want to overcome my fears, too!" I remember telling her. She laughed and said that wasn't an easy task — "You have so many." It's true: rats, needles, public elevators (sometimes escalators, usually moving walkways), tight spaces, open spaces, a stranger robbing us and murdering me while I'm in the shower, death, wind (ha, jk), the list is long. I came home and told Brian about our conversation, and he agreed, a lot of things make my hands sweaty and my heart beat fast. "OK, but what am I scared of most?" I asked. "Pregnancy," he said. It was true. If there was one thing I was confident I didn't want to do, it was to be in the position I am today. Less than 12 weeks from having a child.

Sitting here (very uncomfortably, mind you), writing this, I'm terrified of labor and delivery. Every bit of it. But, in that moment, seven years ago, it wasn't even about that, it was about everything else. Never one to have maternal desires, I was fairly certain having children wouldn't be a priority for me, and the permanency of the relationship terrified me. Fast-forward a few years, and I started to soften up. A few more, and I was pining for a child. It seems strange, but my body was suddenly trying to tell me something. I had such a strong desire to hold my own.

And, now, here we are. I've been extremely lucky with an easy journey so far, and I've really enjoyed being pregnant. In many ways, Chicago feels like a scene from Sesame Street these days. A free baklava with my pita wrap, a stranger on his bike enthusiastically yelling "It's a boy! I know it!" as Brian and I walk down the street to dinner. I'm surprisingly here for it every day, and no one is more shocked than me. I've been told I'll change my mind in weeks to come, but right now, I don't want this moment to end. There will hopefully be another pregnancy in the future, but this one, this first one, for two parents who don't have a clue what they're doing, is so special.

Since this blog is one big trip down memory lane, let's talk about this journey so far with some lessons learned.

Everything you're feeling, doing and thinking is OK. Better than OK: As I mentioned, I've been very lucky to have an easy pregnancy. But my first trimester, I wanted nothing more than to feel something. I begged the universe for nausea, tiredness, anything, and I regret it. Instead of enjoying that early time, I ruminated in my worries.

I fluctuated between feeling guilty for being pregnant when we have close friends and family who are struggling, fear that my nerves were going to damage the babe inside of me and sadness for feeling so many negative emotions when I am so blessed to be on this journey. On top of that, as soon as word got out that I was pregnant, I was bombarded with advice — Sleep! Eat this! Not that! Keep working out! Stop working out! Take maternity photos! Don't be one of those people that takes maternity photos! Buy maternity clothes ASAP! Don't spend money on maternity clothes! This is what you need on your registry... My head was spinning.

I had heard it countless times, but I forgot it when in the thick of it. You know what's right for you and your body. So, you do you. This is a wild ride, and whatever feels right to you, is right (even if it's a deli sandwich during a lunch meeting on week nine... stop beating yourself up).

I also can't recommend assembling your own little tribe enough. I read over and over again when I first got pregnant that having mom friends is important, and I panicked. My best friend has a baby, but other than that, I don't know many moms. But as I thought about it, I realized there are a handful of young moms I know and admire so much. I've hit them up countless times the past six months for advice, and they've all been so, so kind and generous. Maybe you only know one person, or maybe you have to seek someone out. Either way, find that sounding board because it has been a lifesaver to me in many ways already.

The night we found out I was pregnant. For a long time, I'd planned exactly how I'd tell Brian and had bought the materials in advance for when the time would come. But when the moment arrived, I was too emotional and just blurted it out. Once we finally got ourselves together, we realized we were starving and B made egg sandwiches. 

I say I had no symptoms, but this picture was taken at 2:32am, when I had to get out of bed to eat an English muffin with about half a stick of butter. There wasn't enough food in this city to keep me full during the first trimester, and I was constantly hungry. I went from intermittent fasting every day for a year to eating everything in sight all hours of the day. 

Also, likely more symptoms...!

Give yourself a break: Because I didn't have severe symptoms during the first trimester, I assumed I didn't have any symptoms. But, I was wrong. For weeks, my hormones were completely wacky... I cried, hard, every single time I showered. Brian joked that I had to start using Axe body spray, that this wasn't sustainable. TMI, but my chest was also growing at a rapid rate and hurt so bad, making it hard to sleep and thus making me even more anxious and grouchy. As soon as I acknowledged these changes and did something about them, I felt so much better. I assumed that because I wasn't experiencing morning sickness, I wasn't experiencing anything at all. And because I was lucky to be in the position I was in, I deserved to punish myself. Both thoughts seem so silly now, and looking back, I would have spent the $100 on bras at Motherhood Maternity so much sooner.

I also would have done more to make myself feel good in my changing body. When we went to Arizona, I squeezed myself into a J.Crew one piece I had bought for our trip to Australia last year but never wore. It was terribly unflattering this April, and I wish I had something like this Hermoza swimsuit and cover up for the trip. Hermoza gifted it to me a few weeks ago, and I'll be wearing nothing else for the rest of my pregnancy and after. I love the modest cut and high-quality, stretchy material. I've decided this is my "cool mom" print, but there are so many more to love (LOVE this color block one).

The aversions you develop are legitimate: Almost instantly, the sight of chicken or asparagus started to repulse me (two things we used to eat weekly). A few weeks ago, at a family party, I assumed that was behind me and grabbed a drumstick. As soon as I sat down to eat, I wanted nothing to do with it and had to put it on Brian's plate. I assume I'll get over these things eventually, but I still find it surprising that these aversions are so acute.

A few weekends ago we went out for pizza and discussed our anxieties, of which there are many. I'm so curious as to what this time next year will look like (DID WE GET INTO ANY OF THE DAY CARES WE'RE ON THE WAIT LIST FOR?), though I'm sure it'll be nothing like we think it will be. 

Changes are gradual: I assumed that changes to my body would happen suddenly, to the point where it would be difficult to shave my legs or get out of bed. While both of those tasks have become increasingly challenging, the changes were much more gradual than I imagined.

I was 10 weeks pregnant here and convinced I was showing, which I now realize is absolutely ridiculous. 


I'm glad I've taken the occasional snap of my growing belly because it's wild to see the progress. Some days I feel like it's incredibly heavy and ginormous and other days I tell Brian it's like it's not even there (and he's like "girl....";)

Weird new pains: There are times I've lost all feeling in my hands and feet, my legs have seized up and my lower stomach has felt so cramped that I am convinced something is seriously wrong. Nope. Just fun little parts of pregnancy I wasn't aware could happen.

Dinner after our 8-week doctor's appointment. We were so relieved to finally talk to someone about the news!

And three things I want in writing so I don't forget them:

How we told our families: A few years ago Brian's cousin gave us a bunch of pregnancy books she was throwing away, so we already had the book What to Expect When You're Expecting. To tell our parents we're expecting, we borrowed a stroller from our friends, taped our first ultrasound to the book, put the book in the stroller and ding-dong-ditched them at their houses, with the stroller right outside their front doors. We parked far away so they wouldn't see our car, and we got them all so good. We have it all on camera, and I'm so glad we do. They were in total shock, and those two moments will forever be two of the best of my life.

We surprised each of our siblings in variations of the same way, with personalized items that caught them off guard. For example, for Brian's sisters, we sneakily asked the waitress at the restaurant to bring their wine in wine glasses we provided — they said "Auntie Lauren" and "Auntie Kelly." They ordered their drinks as usual but were shocked when they showed up in wine glasses that said that :)

Names: We found out I was pregnant early, and we brainstormed a few names shortly thereafter. We instantly liked a boy name and a girl name, and we've stuck to them since. It seems strange that we spent very little time on the process, but they came to us naturally and our hearts soar when we say them out loud. Maybe we'll change our minds once we're holding the baby in our arms, but for now, we feel we've checked that box (and are keeping both names a secret ;)

In the meantime, we've been calling the babe Mooshi. As I mentioned, I'm terrified of rats, and years ago Brian started calling me Mooshi, which means little mouse in Farsi. He said it was a term of endearment, and I disagreed, but it turns out it is. He's called me variations of it over the years, on top of a slew of other original nicknames. The night I found out I was pregnant, I was downloading every app in the App Store to find out what was going on — when is this thing coming?!?! Each app requires you to "name" the baby (something like Baby Hayes). I turned to Brian and frantically asked, "WHAT DO I CALL THIS THING?!" to which he said "Mooshi." And it has stuck. Hard. I love that our friends and family have committed to it, and I especially love hearing Brian's cousins and my coworkers say it, I think it's so funny.

On not finding out the sex: B and I are both one of three kids, and our parents didn't find out the sex for any of us. We decided to follow suit — with so much up in the air, what's one more bit? Besides, B thinks the idea of finding out in the delivery room is so exhilarating, I was on board. But now, with less than a dozen weeks left, I want to know so badly. It's driving me nuts! Of course it doesn't matter either way, but what's in there?!?!?!?! I'm going to hold strong, but I can see myself demanding to know as soon as we get to the hospital.

Practicing :) Sidenote, have Chicago hospitals changed their blankets? I was so excited to wrap the baby in a stripe one, such a classic! But it looks like they've changed them. Of all things labor and delivery to consider, this one seems silly, but I'm bummed! 

12 weeks! Or more! Or less! Who knows. I really want to enjoy the last leg of this journey because it's my favorite time of year, because who knows what kind of chaos the future will hold and because I'm just really lucky to be able to <3 And while I do, I'd love any advice. Don't be shy :)

P.S. My dress in the photo above is a Hermoza swimsuit coverup (because that's where we're at these days — also a coverup), and it'll be in heavy rotation the next few weeks. Oprah gushed about Hermoza recently, so trust that I'm right on this one :)

Year Three

Friday, June 14, 2019

Three years.

I loved this day three years ago. I loved every single person in the room, I loved what it all stood for, I loved the man I was marrying more than I thought I ever would another person. But one thing Brian and I often disagree on is whether it was the best day of our lives. More and more, I love the in-between moments, and the rush of emotions I get witnessing them make my heart soar.

Late nights when Brian sings Moon River into my stomach, to our babe. Breezy spring bike rides where he doesn’t think I realize he rides 90% of the ride with his head turned back towards me making sure I’m OK. When, at our first ultrasound appointment, Brian was overcome with emotion and asked the doctor to affirm that what he was seeing was so cute (and, when, as I laid on the cold table, terrified of the future, he kept the conversation going with the doctor to keep me distracted and calm). Chopping up vegetables for dinner as fast as we can while arguing about how great of a band Cake is because we’re starving, tired and a little bit cranky. Finding the best mussels on vacation and swearing nothing has ever tasted that good. How hard we laugh chatting in bed. The coffee B makes on Saturday mornings. The spreadsheets he makes that make our life so much easier. His hand on my back. Evenings and slow Sundays where we’re both quietly chipping away at chores, when I stop and realize this all works so well.

Maybe this is just what marriage is, and I’m just still surprised, but this life with Brian is such a good one, and I am reminded of that every single day.

To celebrate our anniversary, just like last year and the year before, we each answered some questions separately and then shared them with each other <3

1. What's the other's greatest weakness and greatest strength?

L: His greatest weakness to me is something I struggle with a lot myself. It often feels like he says yes to everything personally and professionally (because he wants to and always wants to give everyone and everything 110%, but I’m worried he’s burning himself out). It leads to a typical 12 hours for him being a “quick drink” with friends after work, building a crib with me late in the evening because he had promised to and feels he must stick to his commitments, only to wake up with the sun the next morning to run a race with his mom in the suburbs — all after a 13-hour work day. It's hard to narrow down his greatest strength, but if I were to choose, it would be the kind of husband he is to me and the kind of father I already know he will be to our child.

B: This is probably a repeat of something I've answered before, but her commitment and passion are unbelievable. If something needs to be done, I don’t think I could come up with a person I'd trust more to make it happen than Ladan. No matter how hard or unlikely, or how many people she needs to ask for help to achieve it, it feels like she can really make anything happen. If she can't do it, she'll definitely round up someone who can. She's got hustle.

One thing I chide her for occasionally is downplaying how hard she works. I think she used to give people the impression that she was sitting at her desk watching Bravo for 20 hours a week, and then sleeping the rest of the week. In reality, she has been consistently recognized with internal and external awards or accolades at every job she has held, on top of being an ace freelancer in her "spare" time. I never hear her telling stories of the nights and weekends spent working or freelancing. In a world of frequent self-promotion I truly don't mind her sense of modesty, but I will get on her case when she acts like she doesn't work her butt off at work as much as she does.

2. What do you hope to accomplish together in the coming year?

L: We keep joking that our motto for this year is to just survive, we don’t have to thrive. With all the big, new, unknown changes that are to come with a baby in the mix, it’s comforting to just focus on getting through it. We’ve been sitting on a gifted bottle of Dom PĂ©rignon for a few years, unsure of what warrants it being popped open. We’ve decided the baby’s first birthday is exactly what we’ve been waiting for :)

B: This one is easy: survive. I think we will naturally be learning a lot in the coming year about how to (and how not to) parent. I'm imagining the year will be full of emotion beyond what we've experienced before, both good and bad. So, my hope is that we are able to continue to enjoy all the ups, work through the downs, and come out the other side still standing. I expect year four of marriage to be the wildest one yet. I'm all for setting the bar low this year.

3. What was your first impression of the other’s personality and is it true today?

L: That B was funny, kind and sharp. And yes, more so than ever.

B: Beautiful! Oh wait, personality... I remember thinking of her as funny and self-assured, which I think are both still accurate. Also as a bit of an exaggerator, which, ya know...

4. What is the other most passionate about?

L: Our family.

B: Making the most ;) She has many things she is passionate about (traveling, family, friends, the best foods, quizzing me in Farsi) — but in a broader sense she has passion for getting the most out of our time and our experiences. She isn't afraid to dream big, and she is always down for squeezing in a fun trip or activity even if we are tight on time.

5. Are there any things you don't see eye to eye on (big or small)?

L: Many, but given recent travel, this one stands out: how and when we pack luggage. B practically color-coordinates his suitcase the night before, rolling up each piece perfectly, whereas I prefer to haphazardly toss all of my belongings into one messy heap hours before the flight.

B: Of course! Rarely a month goes by where we don't end up having a drawn out debate over multiple days. The topics tend to vary in severity. One month it might be what is an acceptable flavor of candy and the next it might the reason for some geopolitical crisis. We certainly don't see eye to eye on everything. However, the things that personally impact our day to day lives usually don't require much debate and rarely result in conflict. Which is good because it leaves more time to explain why cherry Starbursts will save the world.

6. You’ve been together for nearly nine years. What still manages to surprise you?

L: How good he is at most everything. Any hobby Brian picks up, he seems to master with ease. He’s also one of those people who knows the answer, no matter the topic (be it ‘80s trivia or directions to a place we went once, years ago).

B: Hmm. There are loads of things that surprise me in a "I can't believe I'm so lucky" sort of way, but less in the "I did not expect this" sort of way.

I think the initial stages of this pregnancy experience surprised both of us, in that initially she was calmer than expected and it threw me for more of a loop than I think either of us expected. We're both pretty used to each other's roles in certain situations, but when we have instances that one of us is playing a different role than usual it catches me off guard still.

7. Is this what you expected marriage to be like? What surprises you the most?

L: For someone who sweats all the small stuff, it’s wild to me that I didn’t think much about marriage before doing it. When it came to getting engaged to B, it was all so fluid, it didn’t feel like something to dwell on (and, yet, whether or not I’m going to get attacked in our shower by a stranger every time I step in is something that crosses my mind…). We didn’t talk much about getting engaged, never discussed or shopped for rings or talked wedding planning before we had to. It just felt right and happened naturally — and nothing in my life has ever worked that way (except other major life decisions with B, like deciding to buy an apartment and that we're ready to grow our family…).

Since getting married, it has been so much more than what I expected. I often tell B I wish we had done this sooner, I want more years. I have two wonderful role models in my parents who are still very much in love after 30+ years. And our relationship mirrors theirs in many ways, from how we entertain to the way we prioritize each other. What truly surprises me is that we're able to spend so much time together and not kill each other. I think we're remarkably compatible.

B: I'm not really sure what I expected marriage to be. I guess the natural feeling it has surprises me. Sometimes it really feels like we've been part of each other's lives forever. I don't think I expected or understood that you could meet someone and they could eventually feel like they are a part of yourself. The depth with which I can personally feel happiness or distress because of something that is happening to her, that may have nothing at all to do with me, surprises me about our relationship (married or otherwise).

Then again, there are other times when she doesn't know about some random pop culture thing from my childhood. Then she feels like a perfect stranger.

8. Any memories stick out from any previous years that you remember thinking, “I love this person”?

L: There’s a memory so vivid in my mind, I don’t think I’ll ever not remember it perfectly. Brian was driving to his apartment from work (he worked in the suburbs at the time), and he was on Lakeshore Drive. I was at my apartment, chatting with him on the phone about my day from my bed. Suddenly, I didn’t feel well, and in a matter of seconds, I was terribly dizzy. My roommate was home, but I was unsure of what was going on and embarrassed to tell her (I was also scared to get up). Brian heard the shakiness in my voice and asked what was wrong, I told him I wasn’t feeling well and getting nervous about it, and he said to hang tight, that he was parking by his apartment and he’d be over before I knew it. About five minutes later, he was inside my apartment, a mile away from his, truly like a knight in shining armor. I didn’t know he could run that fast or that I could be cared for so deeply. He walked in, so sweaty but so casually, and reassured me I was fine, and I remember bursting into tears, from love and gratitude.

B: Many. A lot of times related to when I needed to be picked up when in a vulnerable moment. When she has been there for me in a moment of need, those are times that I remember feeling true gratitude for her and her love for me.

But, more fun memories too. Walking around on a hike in Antibes on our honeymoon. The day she came back from running 10 miles for the first time. The many times one of us is laughing too hard to talk. Biking in Wisconsin. Many, many memories.   

9. What has three years of marriage taught you?

L: The importance of always supporting each other. During my pregnancy, Brian has gone out of his way to ensure that I feel as good as possible. He tells me how pretty I am (even though I don’t believe him most of the time), is constantly offering massages and patiently listens while I tell him all of the things I am most nervous about. It has made me realize that as strong as I am on my own, I'm the best version of myself when I have his support.

B: How good the decision we made to get married has been for me. My end of the deal landed me a stunning, sharp, hardworking and endlessly loving partner, who knows she makes me laugh every day even though I'd never admit it. I couldn't be more blessed to have her as a wife. She keeps me sane, makes me better, and gives me so much love and happiness. So — the main lesson I'm taking is to be thankful for all of that.

10. What’s something you’ve learned about yourself?

L: Over the years, there have been many things I’ve sworn I’d never do, or say, or be. And then, at some point in the future, I’ve done or said or been them. There were many well-laid plans that have, for one reason or another, gone in an entirely different direction. Everywhere I look, there is evidence of unexpected turns — career changes, random opportunities, chance meetings. This is all likely obvious to you, but it has come to me slowly. It turns out no one is immune to that crazy thing called life. No amount of planning can protect you. It’s terrifying in a lot of ways, but I am making myself more open to it. All of it.

B: Of all the questions, this is the hardest one for me to come up with an answer for. I've got no idea what I've learned about myself. Over the years I've certainly changed in some ways, but I don't feel all that different. I probably give my opinions a little more freely, ask for or do what I want a little more often. I've become more willing to take things on myself or try to lead a little bit more. Age, experience, and having someone backing always backing me up all contribute to that. But still have much to learn and many ways to grow. 

11. Closing thoughts — what’s something you want to tell the other person?

L: I see you, I accept you, and I will do whatever I can to make your life better, because I so, so value your presence in mine.

(Also, I think you’re really cute :)

B: You are going to be the best mother. You've handled the ups, downs and uncertainties of pregnancy with a general calmness I don’t think either of us expected, and you've already shown so much love for our future moosh. I couldn't be prouder of you or more excited for all that's coming soon. Thanks for everything you do — you truly are the best and I love you so much!