About Me,  budgeting,  motherhood,  pregnancy

State of the belly (and budget)

Here I am, lumbering over the threshold of the third trimester and feeling every bit of it. It’s funny, because a week or three ago I would have smilingly copped to feeling physically “fine, actually!” for much of this pregnancy, but nature has a way of tapping the brakes coming into the homestretch, or something like that.

Plus, I think with this being my fourth championship round in 5 years, my body be like “oh hellllll no, not doing this again.” And so I find myself feeling suddenly very much like a nap-seeking elderly missile tottering through the afternoons trying to keep bleary eyes peeled wide enough to read the instructions on the Trader Joe’s pizza dough bag.

Know what I think the biggest culprit is?


Oy. I’ve never called myself a sweets person, always preferring the salt and vinegar chip bowl over the cookie platter, but I’m definitely seeing an uptick in my refined crack consumption this pregnancy. Maybe it’s because we’ve discovered Honey Maid graham crackers are dairy free and, therefore, have a seemingly endless supply of them on hand for poor casein-averse Joey, or maybe it’s because I’m gaining weight like a freight train anyway, so yolo, Cherry Garcia, but…enough.

I’ve been toying with the idea of going off sugar during this pregnancy for a while now. I did a 30 day no sugar challenge with Nell right after Christmas and felt so good by the end, but then I just went right back to my jelly-on-toast loving ways. Because here’s the thing, it’s actually much easier for me to be abstinent from something entirely than to exercise moderation, which is both an innate personality trait and a moral flaw that needs refining.

Case in point? (And here’s where the “budget” piece of this comes in): I haven’t set foot inside of Target for 5 solid months. And while I dearly miss my Up and Up brand diapers and my quick emotional pick me up on those difficult mothering days, it has essentially cured my overspending in the “home goods/clothing/blow” category (well, almost) just to stop shopping there.

And hey, if I can quit Big Red, I should be able to walk away from my beloved morning toast with jam. Right? Right.

I’d venture to say that for many women, pregnancy is tough in one way or another. For some moms it’s debilitating morning sickness and months-long nausea. For others it’s gestational diabetes, feelings of extreme anxiety or depression, or just a general experience of aches and pains. Maybe it’s fatigue or heartburn. Or maybe it’s just hard to see those numbers going up on the scale and that waistline expanding ever outward. For moms who were once girls who struggled with eating disorders, it can be a traumatizing jaunt down memory lane, into the land of the scale-as-god, good food vs. bad food, and punishing consequences for making the wrong choices at the table.

I’ve definitely found myself in the latter category, now four times over. And honestly? It hasn’t gotten a whole lot easier. If anything I’m more resigned to the inevitability of the weight gain because I know what happens despite my best intentions and most diligent efforts at the gym, and yeah, also because so far, I’ve been able to regain some measure of bodily equilibrium in between rounds.

But it’s still tough. And it’s really tempting to just admit defeat and eat the (insert cliche pregnancy craving here), because no matter what I put into the tank, that belly is just getting bigger and bigger.

However, with three other little people depending on me to keep my energy up and my mood stable for the whole day, not just until 3 pm, I really have to rethink my technique, especially now heading into (dare I hope?) summer.

So would you do me a favor? Would you pray for me? The spirit is willing, but the maternity-denim clad flesh is weak. Especially around nap time every afternoon.

And let me know if you have any tips or tricks up your sleeves? Got any third trimester best practices to share? Do tell.

2 john pauls
Unrelated photo of baby John Paul and baby John Paul II in honor of the elder’s birthday today.



  • Sonja

    Sugar is a feast or famine deal with me also! When I was pregnant with number 4 I needed a “hit” of something that satisfied like sugar, but didn’t leave my kiddos in a Lord of the Flies situation after lunchtime. I discovered my magic potion during an insomnia-induced Pinterest binge! It was hot lemon water with cinnamon and cayenne! (I loaded up a shaker w a 3:1 ratio. Perfection.) It doesn’t sound like anything special but seriously, it fixed something that I thought nothing outside of petoxin would fix. I drank it around the clock! Worth a try! I will pray you find your special something that pulls you through! Fist bumps for the home stretch!

  • Chrysten Copley

    My most successful third term was with our third child. I went to Madrid for World Youth Day during a sweltering week in August. I went alone and was 7 months pregnant. I may or may not have been crazy.

    At any rate, I drank an unbelievable amount of water and walked for miles and miles everyday. I was very busy, so there wasn’t any eating out of boredom. Ended up losing a few pounds unintentionally.

    Takeaway? Go on a pilgrimage in 110 degree weather. If you can’t work that in, then try drinking tons of water, getting plenty of omega-3s and vitamins (especially D and B varieties), and stay active as much as possible. Take a nap if you need one. Start the day with oatmeal with milk and almonds, no sugar and black tea. If you start off with high carb, high sugar foods in the AM, it sets you up to want sugar the rest of the day.

    Says the woman you looks forward to her almond rocha creamer in her coffee every morning ;).

    • Jenny Uebbing

      That does not sound crazy at all. I spent the first 20 weeks of #3’s pregnancy in Rome, and between the humidity, the miles of walking, and the insane water consumption, I gained 7 lbs … and then we moved home to America and I promptly erased the effects of my Euro pregnancy with Chipotle. Womp. I’ve been inching up to 2 or 2.5 miles of walking a day the last few weeks, because even though it tires me out I do feel so, so much better and sleep like a baby as long as I’m more active. You’re so right about a high protein breakfast, too! And siesta…sigh. I want a siesta every day.

  • Micaela

    I am EXACTLY the same way with abstinence vs. moderation. Grrr. Concupiscence.

    I will pray for you. I’m really struggling with post-baby weight loss. I’d love to lose some weight, but mostly I’d be happy if people stopped asking me when my next baby is due. High standards, I know. I just started a weight loss novena to St. Margaret of Cortona. Something frustrating is that I know I need to stop looking for the next best diet and actually work on my self discipline and self control. But it’s not nearly as easy as finding the next “perfect thing!”

    • Jenny Uebbing

      I know, right? It’s funny but the reader who mentioned the section on moderator vs. abstainer from that Gretchen Rubin book – that’s exactly what I was thinking about when I wrote this last night. It’s really so much “easier” for me to simply outlaw something than to indulge responsibly in moderation, but I feel like a 5 year old because of it. Prayers for your efforts, too, Micaela.

    • Kim Quatela

      Michaela, I’m happy to chat about Arbonne’s clean eating and especially their protein powder which Jenny and I both use and love.

      Let me know if I can help you and make it simple 🙂

  • Chelsea Clarkson

    lovely post! I had this issue in pregnancy as well and it only worsened during the postpartum period. In my case, I think it was a candida imbalance because my sugar cravings were becoming impossible to control. So I did a fancy candida-starving diet a few months postpartum, which is essentially the Whole 30. It was very mood stabilizing and renewing. It sounds like you are doing a great job caring for yourself already, going to the gym and whatnot, so I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself for wanting a sweet reward. Best of luck, I’ll say a prayer for you but you don’t seem to need my help! 😉

    • Jenny Uebbing

      Ohh, that’s a good thought about the candida overgrowth. (Esepically because it literally feels like an alien life-force is controlling my grocery runs sometimes. Gulp.) And I’ll take all the prayers I can get!

  • Kim Quatela

    As someone who has struggled with weight her entire life and tried all of the fad diets growing up, it was until I started car bombs clean eating programto detox myself from sugar then I found that my weight gain krept on because the common allergens of gluten sugar and dairy. Not only did I lose all baby weight from both kiddos eating this way post second baby but more importantly my energy level is up which means this baby mama of two little ones under two doesn’t feel like she needs a nap in the middle of the day. A friend of mine is doing the same program during her pregnancy and has noticed that she has had no heartburn swelling or trouble sleeping this pregnancy as compared with others when she wasn’t eating this way.

    I know that this may not be the route that everyone wants to try but I didn’t believe it until I actually tried it myself.

    All I can speak about is how it worked for this busy mom of little ones who has always had a battle with weight her whole life…and now that I know how good I am supposed to feel I just want to shout it to the world

    • Jenny Uebbing

      But how fun if it *were* car bombs?! haha.

      Your story makes me so happy though. I love Arbonne, and I’ve been thinking about restocking on some protein powder (my bff is an some kind of high up consultant, whichever level Mercedes happens at) so I really have no excuse for being out of everything, but i’m like “oh surely this (whatever sweet crap) here from Trader Joe’s is healthy enough, right? ha. not.

      • Kim Quatela

        Hahaha woooo for a VP friend – that is awesome

        Try the fizz sticks if you need a sugar fix – they are green tea and guarana and give you a slight boost of energy and help with concentration – they come in cute little individual packs like a Crystal Light pack that you add to water

        And yes, yes, yes to that protein – that has helped a ton!

  • Karyn

    People stop to ask me about my 11 month old and I swear their eyes stray to my stomach — I keep thinking, PLEASE don’t ask when the next is due 🙁 Anyway, I’m the same with abstinence being easier and keep trying to start another Whole30. On the other hand, I keep feeling overwhelmed worrying about what to eat and if it has a tiny bit of sugar. So…I’m trying to do the moderation thing, working on “releasing” unhealthy foods one at a time and adding a healthy habit one at a time. The thing that’s helping the most is having a friend to check in with every day. It helps to keep me honest and accountable. Oh, and praying! A lot! I’ll be praying for you and all of us mamas who struggle! Because it really is about being healthy enough to care for our families and to not fall into gluttony 🙁

    • Jenny Uebbing

      Oh gosh, that would be the worst. I think because I’m naturally fairly, ah, round all over? I never have the “is she or isn’t she” thing going on…but I have lots of thin friends whose mommy tummies attract unwanted inquiries, which is just so rude. I don’t think I’d ever ask about a stranger’s pregnancy unless she were like, doubled over and contracting in public. Even then I’d probably assume heart attack first. And YES to the gluttony bit. It’s been helpful (but maybe confusing to my pastor) to keep confessing overindulging. He’s Spanish so he’s like “some chocolate is fine, you are pregnant mother!” and I’m like, yes, but bless me father, I ate 2 whole sleeves of Joe Joes after the kids went to bed.

      • Cami

        I’m laughing so hard I might cry, Jenny! I’m almost 3 mo postpartum and still binging on the Simple Truth version if Jo Jo’s! (I <3 TJ's but it's 30 min from my house these days.) I'm so undisciplined and definitely self medicating because to be honest this is the hardest job of my life and I feel totally inequipped to handle my 3 w/in 3 1/2 yrs! It's a madhouse! I don't know my weight now but I never lost everything from baby #1 and I'm guessing I'm still a good 30 lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight with him. Maybe even 35 or 40. I grew up with just my mom who always did and ate what she wanted and ignored the consequences. So even though I am way more concerned with consequences in general, I still mostly eat what I want. We eat healthy food (because I like it) but I also enjoy many sweets on the side. Hubby likes to have ice cream nearly every night so I tend to jump on the bandwagon. I mean, how could I not? Has anyone been introduced to Turkey Hill's Double Dunker? Oh gosh! Forget you read that! See, now I'm dragging others down with me! Anywho, my bigger issue, like Michaela's is addressing my self- discipline. Ugh. I can't even discipline the little people all around me.

  • Becky

    I find that the thing that kills my good intentions about food and sugar fastest is fatigue. When I’m tired, I will reach for the simplest carbohydrates possible just to get an energy boost. And, of course, you’re tired even more easily with both tinies and pregnancy happening. The thing that helped me the most with weight loss is sleep. When I am sleeping adequately, cravings disappear, when I am not, cravings are irresistible. I’m not sure how you could manage to get enough sleep right now, but it might be something to consider. If you can, nap when the children nap. Pay attention to if you are simply eating to stay awake. I also have good luck with green and white teas. They tend to give you enough kick to get you going again but without the force (and crash) of coffee. See if your husband can work with you to manage to get you into the bed a little earlier and staying in it a little longer. While there is nothing to be done about the crushing fatigue of the last month, you might eek out a couple good weeks, yet.

  • Sarah

    I have been telling my husband for years this exact self discipline issue. I have good self discipline when it comes to saying no. I can turn down pretty much anything actually. The problem is when I tell myself I can say yes and have a cookie/brownie/chocolate, because “a” doesn’t happen. One cookie becomes six.

    When you get the tip for solving this, let me know!

  • Sarah

    Let me start by saying I can’t do moderation either. It’s all or nothing when it comes to sugar for me. I am on day 11 of a Whole 30 diet and I do feel much better. It seems just one cookie doesn’t do it for me, so better to have none than the whole box. All 3 of my pregnancies I struggled with sugar. I give you props for recognizing and wanting to change! I guess my only advice is eliminate it as much as possible to keep your blood sugar from dipping. Good luck, it is hard, but worth it!

  • Leslie

    Oh Jenny. How can I thank you for putting this out there and being vulnerable about something that so many of us mamas struggle with? I became a SAHM five years ago and one thing that I didn’t anticipate is how hard it would be to be in close proximity to my refrigerator ALL DAY!! When I was working full-time, I had to make time to eat, now it was a temptation!

    The first few years I would stock my house with “kid snacks”–the item you mentioned from Trader Joe’s was one of our favorites. Since it was bought from a health food store, it was good, right? Ha! I knew better but I still stocked these items in my house!

    It has been a long journey, and I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you about my experience and what has helped me. There are two pearls of wisdom I want to pass on that I received from moms who have the food situation under control in their house:
    1. Hungry kids WILL eat
    2. If something isn’t nourishing, do not stock it in your home. period.

    I stopped buying starchy snacks of all kinds: goldfish, graham crackers, saltines, cheddar bunnies, animal cookies, etc. I also stopped buying fruit snacks. The only items that come into my house are ingredients for meals and fresh produce. Tons of it! When I first started putting out trays of crudite for my kids to eat, they were incredulous. But when there were no other choices in the fridge or in the pantry, they started eating it. A lot of it! And when I started feeding them meals and they hadn’t snacked for the last few hours beforehand, it was amazing how well mealtimes went since when they sat down to eat, they were hungry! And they try everything! It is awesome how well a hungry kid will eat.

    So about item number 2. There is a huge trend right now with mamas doing diets like the Whole 30 and since I’m not a scientist, I do not necessarily understand the reasoning behind diets like this. But I can tell you that in my own experience, it is not milk or legumes that were causing me to have weight problems. It has always been white flour and refined sugar.

    I gave up white flour and refined sugar about 9 months ago. This entire winter, I have not been sick and my mood has changed dramatically. I also lost 20 pounds without exercising beyond my normal (very active!!) routine of taking care of four little kids. I have continued down this path for a couple of reasons. First, I have zero self control around white flour and sugar. Zero! I cannot eat one cookie and be satisfied! I will eat the whole batch and hide in the bathroom so I don’t have to share with the kids! Secondly, the fact that I feel totally in control of my emotions makes me so much better of a mom and a much happier wife, which my husband loves.

    Lastly, I think that one of the biggest things that helped me is that I come home from the grocery store and chop veggies, assemble interesting salads (send me an email if you want to talk more about this!!) and make trays of fruit. When I open the fridge, I want to have something healthy and appetizing waiting for me. It is so easy to make the right choices when they are right in front of you!

    I just wrote you a book, Jenny, but I really wanted to give you my story about what has helped me. Also, I don’t pretend that my lifestyle is one that every mama needs to embrace. For some reason, I have very little of the virtue of temperance. I know many people who can eat sweets in moderation but I just can’t. So totally giving them up is what has worked for me.

    Sending my love and prayer for a healthy and easy third trimester!

    • Becky

      I want know more about prepping everything when you get home. How long does it keep? Do you do anything special to it?

    • Cami

      I want to know too! And of any recipes that you love cooking for your kids or whole family! I always need new ideas as I get bored with what’s already in rotation.

  • Mira

    If there is one thing that has helped me immensely with my all-or-nothing tendencies, it’s this:

    It finally clicked for me that a) I’m not the only one who finds moderation really – REALLY – hard, and that b) it’s REALLY OK if I just give up some things all together.

    Of course, it’s not possible to do it with everything – and it’s especially hard with food, because we have to eat every day – but I’d dare to say that if it’s easIER for you to give up something all together – why not do it?

    Sugar is not necessary to function properly – more so if it makes you feel lethargic. So why not give it up all together and then, perhaps indulge on Sundays? Without feeling guilty at all? Even if you go overboard?

    I’m working on being more moderate in life in general but I have stopped feeling guilty about having an abstainer mentality and that has helped me being more moderate.

    Anyways, I will pray for you and good luck!!! 🙂

  • Becky

    I have a dead corner cabinet with the yum-yums behind canned goods. That way it is some work to get them out and put them back. However I have still been getting out handfuls instead of one at a time. In the past had a rule that I can have something “bad” if I have something good first or with it- like banana on my ice cream or apple/nuts before peanut butter cup. Keep the good stuff on the counter, in easy reach, taunting you and making you feel guilty as your reach for the bad food. Prayers- its hard when you want something good for yourself after a day being mom. Sugar is temporarily satisfying and achievable unlike alone time, reading a book, hobbies, etc.

  • Rosie

    When I go off sugar I still tend to need something sweet & snacky or I get HANGRY – frozen blueberries & trader Joe’s dried pineapple totally do the trick for me! Good luck – I’ll be praying 🙂

  • Erin

    milk thistle
    vit. D (We need a lot more than the FDA tells us we do.)

    Highly recommend these supplements. Good luck! Can’t wait to find out if your new littleun is a brother or a sister for the gang. (:

  • Anna B

    34 wks with #3 here.
    I so commiserate with the all or nothing approach to certain things, particularly with FOOD. If *it* (Doritos, ice cream, fruit snacks, etc) is in the house then I will eat it. All of it.
    I started Trim Healthy Mama 3 mo pp with #2. Best. Thing. Ever. Energy, weight loss, no counting calories, stabilized blood sugars, healthy nourishing food. Check them out on Facebook (they have a super active fb group).
    THM worked for me because there are a few rules that I didn’t/don’t cross (eliminating higher glycemic carbs & eating protein with either healthy fats OR healthy carbs every 3ish hrs).

  • Anonymous

    Also in 3rd trimester here and I love- pregnant or not- frozen watermelon! It somehow becomes sweeter after its frozen and takes longer to eat than unfrozen. I cut up a whole watermelon into small chunks, freeze on a rimmed cookie sheet and then transfer to a large ziplock bag when pieces are frozen. Then, it’s as easy to grab as candy.. and so nice in the hot summer!

  • Katie

    Is it horrible to say, “I’ll pray for you, pray for me!” I agree with so many of the other commenters. I am 5 months postpartum with #4. I was 4# under my pew pregnancy weight at 3 weeks post partum. Thanks to a 9#+ baby and getting an infection. Now I’m 13# over thanks to an antidepressant (or at least that’s what I tell myself)! I have a wedding in 2 months and feel so uncomfortable in my skin. I will be stopping sugar tomorrow and contemplating doing bikini body mommy to jump start things. Sigh! Why can’t I just use moderation?

    • Kim Quatela

      Katie I would love to help you reach those goals using a clean eating plan and helping you detox off of sugar…you deserve to know what your body feels like when it’s working at its optimum

      I know that is what worked for me post partum

    • Jenny Uebbing

      No, not horrible at all! You got it. (And I’ve had the same case of antidepressant = weight gain. The ones I’ve used and not seen that with are Zoloft and Celexa. Good luck!)

  • Cami

    Forgot to be helpful…
    I drank a lot of hot water loaded with fresh squeezed lemon and honey. Also good for colds but was sweet, yet refreshing and pretty guilt free while pregnant. Comforting too!

  • Kris

    I’m a total abstinence person also. I’m so bad at moderation. Once I let “the thing” (whatever it is) back in, it slowly becomes “Katie bar the door”. I’m just finishing a Whole30 and hope I can keep it up. I’m thinking about banning sugar and grains during the week and allowing myself a treat on the weekends. I think that will be enough abstinence, hopefully. In terms of the the sugar cravings, I find drinking tea helps me. The sipping is soothing and makes the craving go away. I also chew sugar free mint gum.

  • Nell

    Oh sister. I feel you. And as much as I’m fighting the sugar battle, today and many days I think I’ve lost it. You sharing your battle here helps so many of us. Thank you. THaNk you for your honesty!!!!! And you’ve got my prayers big time.

  • Angela

    I have the same target “problem” as you do! Once I started using cloth diapers I also realized I’ll save a lot of money by not being in Target to buy diapers! (Target, so tempting…if only there was more money) 😉
    I’m 2 months post partum and I don’t crave sweets anymore like I did when I was pregnant. But occassionally I’ll feel super tired during the day like I’m going to pass out if I dont get SOME sugar in me. Its so weird. So I usually reach for 1(or 2…ok sometimes 3) Hershey kiss, a couple strawberries if I have them on hand, or I’ll drink dark chocolate almond milk or goats milk & it really does help my craving & gives me a slight boost.

  • Jackie

    I’m on the other side of childbearing (eight between 12 and 30), but I love your blog, and just wanted to pass on what works for me. For each child, I gave up something, so I’m down to 1 cookie or equivalent for dessert for Monday-Thursday. Friday, I give up all desserts for a special intention, and I fast for a meal, usually breakfast (can’t do this when you’re pregnant, though!). Saturday, I let myself have whatever desserts I want, except for chocolate, which I’ve given up for another special intention, and only eat on Sunday. So Sunday, I can eat whatever I want, and I do tend to have chocolate blowouts, especially at 12:01 am! It’s taken a long time to get used to this, years, actually, but by balancing mostly moderation, one day of abstinence, a day of partial indulgence, and a day of total indulgence, I’ve managed to keep my weight healthy. Plus walking or biking with hubby once a day (averaged over a week), usually for 20 minutes.

    God bless you and your family–you and your readers are a real consolation and inspiration to this Mom of many–hang in there, you’re sowing the seeds right now, and you will see a beautiful harvest in the future!

  • Caroline

    I agree with Jackie, I can only do it consistently (give something up, or use moderation on a craving), if I do so as a small sacrifice for Christ, and reparation for sins. If I do it for my waistline, I always fail in the end. But…if I stop myself from taking a sweet after a meal, or an extra cookie or whatever (watching a show), it is usually because of that reminder from my guardian angel to offer it up, such a little sacrifice in the end, really. A good reminder for me is reading the accounts of Fatima and what those three little children (so young!) did as sacrifices. A short JMJ each time I feel the urge doesn’t hurt either!

    P.s. With my fourth pregnancy, I made the mistake of indulging too much AFTER I gave birth… I had it in my mind that I needed that Snickers bar to keep my energy up. I kept hearing the Snickers commercial in my head, and so.. . I gained an extra five pounds instead of losing it postpartum. Snickers are no longer in my purse.

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