The Heart Can’t Handle It

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I love The Awkward Yeti‘s silly but insightful cartoons. Being human is a little bit weird but these comics connect us is a very simple but valuable way. There’s always this moment of “Yes, that’s so true!” that we all have experienced. Here are a few of my favourites.

127_GroceryShopping 1239492_512470915495255_1028162026_n Screen-shot-2014-03-20-at-9.36.57-PM

June 21, 2014 Funny No Comments

Yep I’m Still Pregnant

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40-Week Bump

Well here we are at 40 weeks and no baby yet. Which isn’t unusual of course, as most first pregnancies are over their due date. This due date thing, any how, is slightly annoying. It’s nothing more than a guidepost. Less than five percent of women give birth on their due dates. But everyone seems so focussed on that date. People seem to think it’s freak-out time if the baby hasn’t arrived yet. I lost count of how many strangers have said to me, “When’s the big day?” To which I reply, “I don’t know—I don’t have a crystal ball.” And they look at me like I’m insane. Oh, the “big day” is the “due date”? And here I thought the “big day” was the day I give birth to a human being.

I know, I’m being cynical. But I’m so ready to get this baby out and thoughtless questions from people I hardly know isn’t really what I need right now. Nor are statements that point out the very obvious. “You’re still pregnant!” they say emphatically when they see me. Yes, I am all too aware of the fact that I AM STILL PREGNANT. I guess it’s news to them.

I still can’t feel most of my fingers and my hands hurt. It’s more annoying and painful than I care to write about and I’m sure you care to read about. I’ve had a few minor meltdowns but generally I am doing quite well considering. I attribute that to the fact that I am sleeping most of the night. If I wasn’t sleeping, I’d be totally hysterical. Wearing hand splints at night has helped a lot, but really I’m sleeping at night because I upped the dosage of my sleeping meds. Good rest is the most important thing for me right now. But, getting cracked at chiro, eating hydrating foods, drinking plenty of fluids, and not doing much with my hands that will aggravate the symptoms also helps with the carpal tunnel. (I almost cried after making banana bread last week.) I ice my hands 4-5 times a day to keep the swelling down too.

Not too much going on physically to indicate that Little Nixon is ready to enter the world. He definitely dropped some more yesterday. I hardly have to bend forward at all to feel my tummy on my thighs. And I can feel much more pressure from his head on my cervix. He’s dancing around upside down quite a bit at this very moment. It’s not painful; but it feels pretty strange. I’ve had a few nights lately of this.

This afternoon I had laser acupuncture from my lovely friend and laser therapist to get the “blood moving” and hopefully encourage baby too. She put a very small needle in each ear to calm my mind, which I’m finding very effective. The needles will stay in my ears for a few days, and she’ll be adding more in the coming days. Got some tuina and a foot massage too, which always relaxes me. (Tuina massage is utter heaven in my humble opinion. Highly recommended by yours truly.)

I’m hoping for a weekend birth…as this would be ideal for the ladies on my birth team, who both have busy weeks with work commitments. If y’all want to send your good birth vibes on Saturday I would be most grateful! Over the next few days I plan to work on naturally inducing labour with pretty benign stuff like walking, eating a spicy meal or tropical fruits, acupressure, and maybe even a little dancing! Normally I would be the type to just wait it out, but this mama needs to get the feeling back in her hands and fingers STAT. Cuz it’s the kind of thing that can drive a pregnant woman bat-shit crazy. And we don’t need any of that around here.

April 23, 2014 Pregnancy No Comments

Taking it One Day at a Time Here

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39 Week Bump

One more week until Little Nixon is due. An eviction notice WILL BE PROMPTLY POSTED if he hasn’t arrived by then! I didn’t post an update for 38 weeks because all I really had to write about was how I am battling carpal tunnel caused by edema, as well as a pinched nerve in my back. It’s awful and not very much fun for anyone. I’m just trying to take one day at a time because it’s too overwhelming to think about all the days I could have to go through before this little baby is born. I wish I could just put my feet up and relax, but it’s better for me to keep moving and take short rests.

My days are filled with tending to my swollen hands, going for walks, keeping the house tidy, drinking corn silk and red raspberry leaf tea, eating hydrating foods, running errands, seeing caregivers, wandering around the house rather aimlessly and bored, visiting the loo, folding and unfolding baby clothes (this is surprisingly fun for me)… I can’t do any one thing for very long. Lying down and sitting for extended periods compresses the nerves even more. I’m a wee bit stir-crazy…but in good spirits despite the pain. If only the feeling would come back to my fingers, it would all be so much more bearable! They are numb, but hurt at the same time. It’s sort of like that feeling your hands get when you come inside to the warmth after making snowballs outside in the cold. That burning tightness.

Well according to the midwife, baby has “dipped” a bit in the past few days. I’m still breathless at times, but my tummy suddenly seems like it’s in my lap when I sit. He has a bit more to go, but I think he is getting ready. My bet is that he’ll be here in 7 to 10 days. But who knows! It’s all a guess. We are so close, that’s for certain.

Still feeling a wee bit scared about the whole “giving birth” thing but I’m trying not to let the “what ifs” take over my thoughts. Just seeing what they are about, and then letting them go. Focussing on an easy, gentle and comfortable birthing time, and holding that sweet little baby in my arms.

Those “OMG I’m having a baby” moments are becoming more frequent again too. Sometimes I just can’t believe this is happening to me. I’m trying to wrap my brain around how my life is going to change but it’s so bizarre to imagine having a baby. Bizarre, but kinda thrilling too. *glee* I can hardly wait to meet the little human being I’ve been growing for the past 9 months. What a wondrous moment that will be.

April 16, 2014 Pregnancy 2

Misery Needs Company

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37 Week Bump

I must admit, it has been a difficult week. Sleeping well is now an impossibility. Beware, this is where I get to whine a bit. Okay, maybe a lot. But I gotta tell the story!

I have edema in my hands, wrists, feet and ankles. Yes, I’m that swollen pregnant woman now! Ick. The heels of my feet are hard and achy and it’s exhaustingly painful to stand in place for even just a few minutes. No waiting in line at the grocery store for me. My hands are tight and I have little sausage fingers! (Gross.) I may have a bit of carpal tunnel too as they are sore constantly.

It wouldn’t be so troublesome but for the fact that my arms and hands become numb and tingly when I lie down in nearly any position, so I can’t sleep or rest comfortably. Thankfully, after many sleepless nights, I was able to sleep in three blocks of about three hours each last night, although only on my back, neck straight up and arms spread out—about the most uncomfortable sleeping position for me. I must have been just too tired to NOT sleep. Still, when I woke up, my left arm and hand was all numb and tingly, and it took about 45 minutes of icing and stretching before the sensation went away.

Frankly, I’m totally miserable. I can’t believe I might have to do this for a few more weeks. Omg.

I’m at my wit’s end with every day being such a struggle. I’m drinking tons of lemon water, a homemade “sports drink” (water, maple syrup, orange juice and salt), and store-bought chocolate milk (seems to be most helpful actually) to fight off the edema. All those fluids aren’t making it better, but I think they are keeping the pain from getting worse.

And here I thought I would have the last few weeks to take care of a few final things. Ha. I wish someone had told me a long time ago to have EVERY SINGLE THING ready by week 34. Then I’d have weeks to just put my feet up and get cozy with Netflix. Ahh…that would be so nice right now. Instead I’m trying to get my to-do list finished. Which is proving to be rather gruelling seeing that I can’t do any one thing for very long. But the essentials are taken care of. We have diapers, clothes, a car seat and a place to Little Nixon to sleep. And a new slow cooker. We’d be okay if he decided to make his entrance into the world this very day. (Knock, knock. Hey baby, you’re welcome to make your appearance if you’re ready! No, really, it’s super awesome out here. I promise!)

I am super thankful for Bob’s formula for women iron supplement. Since I’ve been taking it, the incredible fatigue I was suffering from has dissipated. We also hired a house cleaner, both for a deep clean of some areas, like the kitchen (OMG how did it get so dirty??) and for regular cleaning, for at least a couple of months while we find a routine with the little one. We hired a gardener for this coming week too, to clean up the garden because it’s impossible for me to do any time soon. And of course I’m thankful that I’m on the home stretch. Just a little longer…

I also made a mommy friend. She is super nice and thoughtful, lives right in Maple Bay and has a four-month-old who is totally precious. So she doesn’t mind talking about pregnancy and babies all the time. And she likes to shop online so I’m sure we’ll be fast friends in no time. Honestly though, it’s really nice to have a friendly ear when all you want to do is whine and sigh about how much being nine months pregnant kind of sucks. Misery indeed loves company. And a cup of warm nettle tea.

Thanks for listening, my friends.

April 6, 2014 Pregnancy No Comments

Don’t Squish the Butterfly

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36 Week Bump

“I know that when a woman births on her own power, and finds her rhythm, and her postures, and her sounds, and her moment of ecstasy with birth, that she is a changed woman, and she is a fierce mother.” ~Ina May Gaskin

I’m 36 weeks + 4 days pregnant, which means baby is just days away from being full-term. After this Wednesday, I will exhale a massive sigh of relief because Little Nixon can come any time. And he’ll be welcome sooner rather than later! Because all those women who said the last month is the worst were absolutely correct. Most of the time I feel pretty awful and enormously uncomfortable. I am awkward and restless. Everything is difficult to do. Finding a relaxed position to sleep in can take hours not only because of my belly, but also my hands and arms become numb. The swelling in my hands and feet is painful. And I’ve been having quite a bit of fibromyalgia pain in my arms and legs this past week.

Omg I am SO done with being pregnant. It was actually kind of fun up until a couple of weeks ago!

But I do hope Little Nixon stays in for a few more weeks. I still have some mind training to do. One of the primary pain relief methods I am working on is hypnosis, through the program called Hypnobabies. Hypnobabies retrains your brain to think of childbirth as easy and comfortable, and uses hypnosis and deep relaxation to reduce or eliminate labour pain (create a natural anaesthesia). One aspect of the program is the replacement of certain words and phrases with ones that are positive in order to reframe the experience. For example, contractions are “pressure waves” (this falls in line with Ina May Gaskin’s substitute—“rushes”), labour is “birthing time”, transition is “transformation”, and pain is “intensity” or simply “pressure”. But it goes farther than just changing the language used—the program attempts to replace the fear and expectation of pain with confidence in the body’s ability to birth comfortably, safely,  gently and—of course—painlessly.

“Hypnosis advocates give several explanations of how the process works. One theory holds that when a woman feels fear during childbirth, her body releases stress hormones that trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response. This causes muscles to tighten and interferes with the birthing process. By training the subconscious mind to expect a safe, gentle birth, they say, women can avoid going into the fight-or-flight state, allowing for a smoother birth.” ~BabyCenter

There are 12 half-hour hypnosis sessions to listen to over the course of six weeks or longer. Each has its own intention and instruction, such as breaking down old beliefs, relaxing in your own sacred place, releasing fear, learning how to put yourself into a state of hypnosis, creating anaesthesia, and pushing the baby out. I could be a tad behind if Little Nixon arrives early—I’m in week three—but it’s actually working. I’ve been using the finger drop technique to put myself into a deep relaxation when I’m feeling pain or am very uncomfortable in bed at night, and the pain honestly decreases. I do have trouble, however, maintaining the reduced pain for very long, as I tend to lose focus.

(During the past year, I’ve noticed that when I’m in a lot of pain but my body is in a state of tension and my mind is upset, the pain intensifies. If I go for a walk or meditate, the pain is reduced. I just haven’t been disciplined enough to keep the pain away completely or regularly through entirely natural means. That would require a lot of work that I haven’t had the time for. I don’t even know if I could—chronic pain is a devil beast to tame. It’s easier to take medication to dull the pain. Although I am sure there would be great benefit to using hypnosis during especially nasty flares.)

Other relaxation methods during my birth time might include breathing (4 count in through the nose, 8 count out through the mouth is working well for me), visualizations, affirmations, keeping my mouth relaxed by making noise (groaning, mooing like a cow, or blowing “raspberries”), trusting that my body knows what to do, walking, resting, using my personal mantra, releasing endorphins, and humour (apparently a good belly laugh is an effective form of anaesthesia). I’m open and willing to do whatever helps create a “pain-less” birth.

I really think I can do this. My mind is very powerful, and with the right tools, it can accomplish great tasks—mentally, physically and spiritually. I am a strong and fearless woman about to become a mother. I am going to BREATHE this baby out and it will be the most empowering experience of my life.

And then there’s the “but”. That part of me that questions. The part who has suffered through considerable physical pain since January of 2013 and who is terribly scared of not only being in pain I can’t handle, but of feeling like I FAILED at the challenge I have given myself if indeed it does become too much for me. I’m scared that it will hurt MORE for me because I have fibromyalgia. I’m afraid of having complications and being transferred to the hospital. What if I just totally fall apart?

One of my midwives said something a few weeks ago that resonated with me. “Hold your intention here,” she said, her hand outstretched, palm up. “But don’t squish the butterfly.”

Que sera sera.

March 30, 2014 Pregnancy No Comments

35-Week Baby Bump

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35 Week Bump

35 Week Bump

Just a short update. I’m too weary and bone-tired to write much. My brain is functioning at CAPACITY LOW. In fact, I feel absolutely awful.

But just look at that belly! It’s so smooth and soft. Not even a hint of a stretch mark. (I attribute this to both my genetics and my pregnancy diet.) Incredible. I am so lucky. Although, it ain’t over yet!

Cole’s notes update over the past week:

  • I’m actually starting to gain a little bit more weight.
  • My belly is often quite tight and I have small, short contractions more often.
  • Small amount of swelling in my feet and hands. So I’m drinking water constantly.
  • Combine more water with a crushed bladder and the bathroom and I are quickly becoming intimately acquainted.
  • I’m too tired to do any yoga and that makes me sad.
  • I don’t even know what happened to last week it went so fast.
  • I found a dresser for the nursery. It’s painted YELLOW and I love it.
  • Lots of fetal movement.
  • I still have an innie!
  • We can’t decide on a name.
  • I’m trying Bob’s Formula for Women iron supplement. Only been a few days so nothing to report yet.
  • One of our midwives is coming for a home visit next Thursday. Shit is gettin’ REAL.

I wish there was something to help me feel better!

OMG baby’s due in one month tomorrow.

March 22, 2014 Pregnancy 3

I’m Doodling

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For years, one of the things I’ve been wanting to do more of is draw (and paint). I promised myself I would take the time to do so SERIOUSLY once I was on mat leave. I really didn’t know where to start because there are so many different ways I’d love to (re)learn how to draw, and not knowing where to start immobilizes me in nearly everything I do. A few weeks ago, Creativebug offered a line drawing class with the wonderful Lisa Congdon. Doodling? Sounds like an easy place to start! I’m excited to see where this all leads.

Here are a few of my drawings from the class. The first one is my own drawing of the Franklinia flower; the rest are practice doodles from the class.

I know, not amazing artwork here, but I hope to show a progression over time!

franklinia_julienixon

flower_julienixon

flowers_julienixon

triangles_julienixon

I also ordered a few activity books from Amazon to give me some more inspiration. 20 Ways to Draw a Tree and 44 Other Nifty Things from Nature: A Sketchbook for Artists, Designers, and Doodlers and Craft-a-Doodle: 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists came just this week so I haven’t had a chance to really dig in, but both are great. I’m super excited to spend more time with my sketchbook.

girls_julienixon

owl_julienixon

Have you head of Skillshare? It’s pretty awesome. There are many different video classes you can sign up for. One of the classes I’m taking is The First Steps of Hand Lettering: Concept to Sketch. (If you enroll in this class through my link, you’ll save $10 and I’ll receive $10 towards another class!) I’ve just barely started the first session, but I’m excited to be working on a piece. I will post more when I have something to show!

March 18, 2014 Art No Comments