2016 Recap… A Year in Review

Another year down…. 2016 has left a really big mark in my life. It has been the year with the most significant ups and downs and it will likely be one of the most momentous years of my entire life. This was the year we became parents, after all!

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Our 2016 began with the announcement of my pregnancy! We were elated to share the news with our friends and family.

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{First ultrasound at 8 weeks!}

{First ultrasound at 8 weeks!}

Shortly after we announced the pregnancy I started to feel mostly human again, after having spent my first trimester nauseous and averse to foods. It was so exciting for me once I was finally showing – it’s so strange being pregnant. You’re going through this massive life event and yet it’s no big deal for anyone else.

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{17 weeks today!}

Early in January we took a spontaneous trip to Leavenworth, an adorable town in the mountains, and stayed at the Sleeping Lady for a weekend away together. We tried cross country skiing, drank lots of hot chocolate and relaxed.

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We took a ski trip in February with Alex’s parents to Deer Valley, Utah. It’s always nice picking up and meeting somewhere fun with Alex’s parents, and we’re particularly fond of Utah, plus there are some posh perks of going to Deer Valley!

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Being able to spend time in the mountains is something that is extremely important to Alex and me, and it was really special to still be able to do that last winter. I loved skiing while I was pregnant. I was extra cautious, but it was something that made me feel normal.

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One of the many highlights from my 2016 was when my dad came out to visit – we drove up to Whistler for our own little ski trip, just the two of us.

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While my dad and I were in Whistler, Alex and our friend Patrick were on the other side of British Columbia on a cat ski trip. They had an incredible time together!

Day two - tired legs but big smiles.

This is the cat - a magic box that takes you into great terrain.

In our spare time last winter and spring we were busy preparing for the arrival of our baby. We did a lot of home projects, mainly organizing and rearranging, and a ton of online shopping and researching. We wanted to have the nursery mostly put together by the end of April when several family members were planning on coming out for my baby shower.

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Initially we debated whether or not we’d find out the gender of our baby in advance of his/her arrival. Eventually Alex convinced me to find out and we were very surprised, but thrilled, to learn via ultrasound that we were having a boy! Seemingly everyone expected we were having a girl.

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{We weren't trying to get a picture with Jackson in it - he just showed up when Alex pulled out the camera, but that meant you can't really see the size of my belly that well because I wasn't quite prepared!}

My BFF Sarah came out for a weekend visit in March. We both found out that we were pregnant on the same day and ended up having due dates a day apart! During her trip we went to a prenatal yoga class, did some shopping and chatted a ton about baby stuff, naturally.

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I celebrated my 30th birthday at the end of March, followed by our 5th wedding anniversary in mid-April. Somewhere in there Alex and I splurged on an overnight in Woodinville at Willows Lodge with dinner at the famous Herbfarm. The meal was divine and we had such a lovely time together.

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April was really busy for us. Alex high-tailed it off to southern Mexico to visit our friends Justin and Tania, who lived in San Cristobal, a large city in the mountainous state of Chiapas. It was a trip with highs and lows – Alex loved the beauty of the region but came to appreciate some of the modern amenities he is used to in the US.

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While Alex was in Mexico I flew east to Minnesota to visit family and friends. Two of my best girl friends from Minnesota were pregnant and due within weeks (or days!) of me. It was so fun seeing them!

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My aunt hosted a baby shower for me out here in Seattle. We had several family members come in from the Midwest to attend it. The shower was very beautiful, tasteful and I really enjoyed introducing some of my friends from out here to my Midwest family.

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Since so many people were visiting we planned a bunch of outings that weekend. It was fun showing off our beautiful city!

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The following weekend my friend, Cate, hosted another baby shower for me. The shower was a mountain theme, which was perfect, and we had a lovely time!

{My mountain-themed shower!}

The week in between my baby showers I found out, via a routine prenatal appointment and later confirmed by ultrasound, that I had IUGR {Intrauterine Growth Restriction} and something was causing my baby to not grow properly. The weeks that followed are now a blur, but that was the start of the roller coaster ride.

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Ultimately, I spent the next month in and out of doctor’s appointments and then the hospital, finally being hospitalized for 3 weeks until I delivered. The time in the hospital was both really difficult, but also I look back with some fond memories.

{33 weeks pregnant here... 2 days before I met Ben!}

{33 weeks pregnant here… 2 days before I met Ben!}

Our son Benjamin Ames Allen was born at 11:21 a.m. on Tuesday May 31st, weighing in at 3 pounds 3 ounces. He arrived nearly 7 weeks early but we were ready to meet our kiddo!

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The first month of Ben’s life was spent in the NICU, while he learned how to eat from a bottle, as well as put on some weight. That month was unbelievably trying, but was filled with memories of kangaroo care and getting to know our son.

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He’s a little trooper and after 26 days he was able to come home!

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Our summer at home was filled with walks around the neighborhood, brunch at Vendemmia, a random trip to Yakima wine country, visits from family and lots of time together. Alex was able to have 10 weeks of paternity leave, so once Ben came home through Labor Day, we were together as a family.

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One of our first “projects” over the summer was Ben’s newborn photo session. He was SO tiny!!

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We wrapped up our summer with an extended visit by Alex’s parents, and both of our siblings.

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Ben’s first “getaway” was mid-August when we went to Lake Chelan for a few days with Alex’s parents. It was really fun getting out of Seattle and taking Ben to a new place. We learned quickly just how much gear goes along with a baby!

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September arrived and so did the reality of both of us going back to work. We hired a terrific nanny who made the transition so much easier, and by the end of the month we were in a new groove. It took much longer than I expected to get used to life as a working mom.

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At the end of September we took our annual Leavenworth Octoberfest trip with our friends the Buffingtons and the Millers and their kids. There were four babies under one!

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{Me with Roslyn}

Throughout the fall we spent our Wednesday nights at our PEPS {Program for Early Parent Support} group. This is our group of parents with very similar age babies. It is facilitated by a volunteer parent who has a little more experience than we do, but it fosters connection among parents in the area and provides some learning opportunities, as well. I really enjoyed meeting the other parents and hope to continue some of our relationships.

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Most of the fall was spent getting into a groove and adjusting to our new life as working parents. A few weeks in we got into a pretty good routine, but it is certainly a flexible one, as our day-to-day changes pretty regularly.

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We spent Thanksgiving in Illinois, visiting Alex’s extended family. This meant Ben took his first airplane ride!

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The holidays came and went. We hosted our third annual holiday party and celebrated Ben’s first Christmas at home by going up to the mountains and playing in the snow, as well as hanging out at home by the fire.

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This kid and our life keep getting more and more fun by the day. It is so cool to look back on 2016 with such fondness, even though we had some significant challenges. Amidst the ups and downs, we’re grateful for so much in this life.

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Happy New Year from our family to yours!