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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 feels surreal and wonderful and basically 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, cautiously getting our worn-out hopes up that it might be the key to helping us finally get pregnant. So wow, it’s remarkable to think back over everything that has happened since (on so many levels).

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. (More on my plans for that below.) But before I do, I’ve realized that I’m long overdue for a behind the scenes update on here, especially with some very exciting developments with the community garden project that you all have been helping to support in Mali. Plus, you all have also been so thoughtful with checking in on how our third trimester has been going. So for anyone interested, I thought I’d also do a final pregnancy Q&A about how our third trimester has evolved, our plans for giving birth as expats here in Spain, as well as my own plans for maternity leave and returning to work here on Gimme Some Oven moving forward.

Lots to share, so here’s the latest!

The Wash Project Benkadi Garden in Mali

The thriving new Benkadi community gardens in Oulessebougou, Mali. (This view is actually just a small glimpse of the 400 gardening plots!)

The Wash Project Benkadi Community Garden in Mali

A glimpse of what the land looked like the day that the gardening plots were assigned. This was after the land had been cleared, before seeds had been planted.

The Wash Project Community Garden Harvest

One of the Benkadi gardener’s first harvests. Look at those beautiful greens!

The Wash Project Community Gardeners In Their New Permanent Shelter

One of the new permanent shelters constructed in the Benkadi gardens, where the women can take breaks from their work and rest, gather, and enjoy time together in the shade.

The Wash Project Community Garden

Check out that beautiful cabbage! One of the Benkadi gardeners shows off her amazing first harvest.

Mali Community Garden Update

Actually, there is so much news to share with you about the women’s community garden that you — the Gimme Some Oven community — have been supporting in Mali that I’m actually going to devote a full post to this 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 project launch 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…

  • constructing the permanent shelters for the gardeners (see photo above): These are officially finished now and the gardeners have been so thankful for their shelters! With temperatures hovering in the three-digits in Mali for most of the year, the ladies expressed how important it was to have some sort of permanent structures where they could take shaded breaks during their workday. And 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. ♡

Folding baby clothes

Our local friends have been so generous with passing down lots of clothes and essentials for our little guy. Can’t get over how tiny and adorable these onesies are! (Or as they’re called in Spanish, “bodies.”) 🙂

Ali and Barclay Martin | Babymoon at Seventy Hotel in Barcelona

We slipped away for a babymoon weekend at a local hotel this past month and it was soooo wonderful. Soaking up these final few weeks as “just the two of us.”

Family baby shower over Zoom

During our family baby shower, everyone went around and read a few highlights of the books that they picked out for our little guy. So sweet.

Baby bump and dog snuggles

They weren’t kidding when they called this phase of pregnancy the “home stretch.” 😉 Definitely feel ready to pop right about now!

Barclay and Ali Martin | Labyrinth Park in Barcelona

Soaking up some sunshine at the Labyrinth Park in Barcelona. (Photo: By Mish)

Third Trimester Q&A:

A few weeks ago on my personal Instagram, 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 our 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…11 more days (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, I’m just feeling more and more 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 any day now. Barclay and I are endlessly curious to see what he looks like, what his little personality will be like, and what that love is going to feel like once we finally get to hold him in our arms. After all this time, we just can’t wait to meet him and begin this new chapter together as a family of three.

Body-wise, though, third trimester life has honestly been pretty rough — partly due to an exhausting 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 majorly intensified as the baby has grown and shifted.  We knew going into pregnancy that back complications were 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 became pretty non-stop a few months ago, 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.)  Still though, 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.

That said, at this point, I’m definitely feeling ready and excited for him to come out soon!

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 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 epidural vertebrae, and our anesthesiologist cannot 100% tell at this point whether or not they will cooperate. So. Our Plan A is to give an epidural a try the day of delivery, in which case I could be awake and Barclay could be with me for our little guy’s birth. But if that doesn’t work, Plan B will be to move immediately to 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. However and whenever we get to meet him will be amazing.

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 they say here in Spain — “dar a luz.”  Instead of saying that mothers “give birth”, it is said that they “bring to light,” which I just love. ♡

Will your parents be able to be come and visit right away? Unfortunately, no. Americans visitors currently are still not allowed to enter the EU. 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 I’m super thankful and comforted to know that we’ll have her here.

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 our first little carseat for him all packed and ready to go. 🙂

Do you have a name picked out yet? We do…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, though, you traditionally have 10 days to name a baby after he or she is born.  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, be we will be applying immediately for him to have Spanish residency (like us) and he will be an American citizen.

Are you planning to breastfeed? I would really love to, but I hold everything about that pretty loosely. After watching so many friends’ experiences with feeding their babies over the years in so many different ways, I believe that “fed is best” — whatever that looks like. So I’m down for whatever works best for my body and this baby.

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 after the birth. Then from there, we will re-evaluate and see what next steps feel good.  There will still be some new recipes and content popping up here on Gimme Some Oven while I’m away — and I’ll probably be posting some on my personal Insta — but otherwise, I’m hoping to resist the temptation to “keep an eye on things” and legit disconnect and enjoy these first few months together with our family of three. Look forward to getting back in the blogging groove come summertime, though. And in the meantime, there are 2000+ delicious recipes here for you to cook from!

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 tae 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! I’ll snap a few pics to share once the nursery is done. (It’s almost finished right now, 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.) And as for product recommendations, I’ll definitely report back if there are some specific things we end up loving! 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, being in Spain, some really good jamón serrano.

Thai Curry Peanut NoodlesSalted Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Birria Tacos (Quesatacos) Recipe

Best Broccoli Salad Recipe

Easy Chicken Tinga Recipe

¡Nos vemos pronto, xoxo!

Alright, with that, I’ll officially be signing off here shortly for 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 behind the scenes updates too. ♡

I look forward to being back here with you come summertime. And in the meantime, I hope that you enjoy some of the yummy recipes that I’ve prepared to share with you while I’m away. (The photos above include a few of my upcoming faves, so stay tuned!)

Again, all of my gratitude for the many ways you have supported, loved, and encouraged me over this past year. I appreciate you all so much and can’t wait for this next chapter ahead. Un abrazo fuerte (big hug)!

Love,
Ali

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