Taking it Easy

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31 Week Bump

31 weeks on Wednesday. So I’m in the 32nd week now.

It’s been snowing all day and I’m in a peaceful heaven. I could watch snow fall for hours; it’s just the prettiest darn weather. On snow days as a kid, I would lie down on the floor of my mom’s house with my head at the sliding glass window, so I could be warm and cozy inside but watch plump snowflakes come tumbling down over me. The gentleness and tempo soothes me. It’s a meditation. 

60 days to go until my due date. When I look at in terms of days, it’s not very far away. And my days seem to go so quickly—consumed by research, reading, education, thinking about baby, rubbing my belly, walking, yoga, eating, household chores, watching “Midwives” and “One Every Minute” on YouTube, journalling, and some art projects. Despite feeling rather crappy most of the time, I’m so appreciating that I am off work now. I needed some rest time desperately.

The past week has been difficult. I’ve been very tired and fatigued. Breathless. I think my low iron is starting to show its effects. Trying to get the iron from my diet but I think I may need to add a supplement to boost the stores. Baby is taking all of it and likely depleting me even more. I’m dead tired sometimes. Walking up the stairs can obliterate all of my energy. Ah so *this* is what it’s like to be pregnant! Finally I have a common symptom…

Every week I quickly check the pregnancy websites for updates on how baby is growing, and they all have a section on “common symptoms” during this time, like pregnancy is some kind of disease. And it’s always the negative: headaches, difficulty sleeping, varicose veins, stretch marks, baby brain, etc. What about the good things? Like the connecting and bonding time, the reactive movements, the growing anticipation, your beautiful round belly to show off, all the wonderful attention you receive from strangers, the fun of coming up with baby names with your partner, SHOPPING. Sure of course there are the unfavourable and likely unwelcome symptoms, but these websites don’t look at all the good things too.

I’ve been taking Brené Brown’s e-course “The Gifts of Imperfection” for the past six weeks and the journal I’m working on is magnificent! So this week I started a little gratitude journal and have been writing down five things I am grateful for each day. That is where I am storing all those “good things” that are happening during this incredible time. The best part lately has been the playing. He kicks, I push back, he replies with more movement. And I’ve been singing to him a lot more, and he often responds. Very cool.

I finally got a decent video of baby’s movement in my tummy. Watch closely—I tried not to breath with my belly—that’s all baby moving. It’s becoming less like little kicks and more like elbows and knees and feet and hands stretching out and across my belly. It’s a rolling, not a kick or bump. It’s just so awesome. I know, I say that every time I post an update, but I just can’t get over how amazing it feels.

Next week: the birth plan.

February 22, 2014 Pregnancy 2

Something Remarkable

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Here I am now at 30 weeks—10 weeks to go (April 23 is the due date). I have books to read, a nursery to furnish, supplies to buy, a birth plan to put together, dogs to train and prepare, my labour and birth “tool box” to establish, a yoga pose guide to put together…omg it all feels just a tad daunting.

30 week belly

AND! Of course I keep having these moments of HOLY CRAP I’M HAVING A BABY. Moms reading this will understand. It’s like it doesn’t really sink in, even though I think about the life growing inside of me nearly every waking moment these days. I imagine him from head to toe: his smooth white hair, tiny feathery eyelashes, wide inquisitive eyes, that squishy newborn mouth, his little fingers curling out and then into a fist, that little elfin bum, those scrumptious little baby feet that I will nibble on and inspect with the curiosity and intensity of every first-time mother. But it won’t be REAL until I am clutching him to my chest, all wet and warm. I honestly can’t believe sometimes that this is happening to me. For most of my life I didn’t expect I would do this.

Lots of people over the years told me I would change my mind. Those people usually explained that at a certain age women just naturally develop an insatiable “urge” to procreate. I didn’t have that. What changed me was more of an uneasiness with my life, a feeling that something was missing. From reading the stories of mothers, I came to realize that a child can be a woman’s most influential teacher. And I want that for myself. I want a teacher. Heck, I NEED a teacher. My life is becoming less and less adventurous as I grow older, and my spirit is calling out for something truly remarkable in my life. (Climbing a mountain or travelling the world aren’t things I crave to do. I’m quiet. And I like being at home.)

Then I read this article on how *not* having children was defeatist. The article’s general argument was that couples who decide to be childless because of the frightening political state of the world, because of the exceptional expense, because of the drain on our valuable natural resources in a time when they are becoming so depleted…these couples are admitting defeat. They are defeated by the cynicism, the pessimistic future, the unfavourable conditions likely to plague planet earth in the coming decades. And that’s when it really hit me. Those reasons shouldn’t be WHY a person decides to have children or not, and those reasons had definitely shaped my decision (and my husband’s) to not have children. Pair that with my rapidly approaching mid-life digits (the “ticking clock” if you will) and many discussions, and the choice was made to expand our family, to create a human being to join us on our life journey.

For all the shite in this world, there is much more awesomeness, and much more wonder and beauty to behold, to hold dear, to nurture and cultivate, to create, and to be a part of. That’s what I am most excited about: creating and nourishing an awesome life for our child. I want him to say one day, “My mama and papa made my life awesome and they made the world a better place for creating me.” I want him to know that he was created from love—to love wholeheartedly and to be loved wholeheartedly.

——

Remember my comments on the lack of consensus around the gestational diabetes test? My midwife called on Tuesday afternoon to let me know that the guideline numbers for gestational diabetes had JUST changed (yet again) and I don’t need to have nutritional counselling (unless I want to). My 1-hour test was 10.3, which now falls under the new number of 10.6. Still close enough that I should be a tad careful, but nothing to be all insane about, so BRING ON THE VANILLA LATTES and CHOCOLATE BROWNIES and BEN AND JERRY’S ICE CREAM. Yes, all is good.

The past week has been busy…I honestly don’t know where my time goes. I’ve been walking almost every day at the estuary, even though I’m actually feeling quite fatigued and a little breathless at times. The exercise is good for me, and I cherish my walks with the pups. It’s a moving meditation. My hunger has picked up noticeably, and the baby’s activity has increased dramatically. I literally felt him change positions over the course of a few hours earlier in the week, from the left side to the right. It was incredible.

We’re taking a childbirth class this weekend. Day one was this morning. I’ve read enough books and watched enough movies to not be learning all that much actually, but I think it’s quite helpful for Tyler. Myself, I was anticipating more hands-on learning.

Yesterday was kind of a crummy day. I did not feel all that well when I woke up, and after trying to accomplish a few things on the computer, I went to bed and stayed there all day. I felt depressed, my arms were throbbing and aching, and I just had a general feeling of malaise, and I cried on and off. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t concentrate on a book, so I cuddled with the dogs and my belly. Even though it was a painful day, Baby Nixon and I communicated through touch for hours on end. He would poke me with an elbow or foot, I would poke back in that spot, and then he would respond with a gentle nudge. Back and forth we would play. Sometimes I would tap once, and he would answer with one kick back. I would tap twice, and he would react with two kicks. This book I’m reading, Nurturing the Unborn Child, said to try this in the third trimester and I was amazed that it actually works! Not all the time, but enough to show that my baby can feel what is going on outside the womb and that we can communicate with one another. This is mind-blowing stuff. So my awful day was also a wonderful day of connecting with Baby Nixon. Maybe I needed to feel rotten in order to stay in bed all day and rest. I keep pushing myself every day and I have to slow down, but it’s hard when there is so much to be done.

Like having that sweet, succulent, heavenly latte. With whip on top. Oh mama.

February 15, 2014 Motherhood 1

Stunning Desk Calendar by Japanese Artist

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I came across this desk calendar featuring the work of Japanese illustration and painter Jun Sasaki and immediately fell in love.

Jun Sasaki Desk Calendar 1

The illustrations feel so full of life and love. They are simple paintings, yet illuminated with a warmth and realism.

Jun Sasaki Desk Calendar 2

Jun Sasaki Desk Calendar 3

Jun Sasaki Desk Calendar 4

It says in the shop that it can be shipped internationally, but after adding it to the cart, there are only options to ship within Japan. Bummer. I would love to order this.

See more of Jun Sasaki’s beautiful art here.

February 14, 2014 Art No Comments

What Happens When You Waste Your Gifts

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Squandering our gifts brings distress to our lives. As it turns out, it’s not merely benign or ‘too bad’ if we don’t use the gifts that we’ve been given; we pay for it with our emotional and physical well-being. When we don’t use our talents to cultivate meaningful work, we struggle. We feel disconnected and weighed down by feelings of emptiness, frustration, resentment, shame, disappointment, fear, and even grief…

~Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

February 11, 2014 Quotes No Comments

Keep on Keepin’ On

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29 Week Belly

29 weeks! This past week has been rather busy, despite the fact that I am off work now. Lots of niggly items to check off the list as I settle into a pattern of self-care and preparing for baby. Actually, my list of everything is about as long as me head to toe—I’m feeling rather overwhelmed to be honest, and I have to let go a little bit.

I have been practicing yoga nearly every day. I had stopped yoga for nearly two months because my arms were so achy that I felt a lot of hesitation about holding poses. However, I just need to remind myself that modification is okay, and moving my body is most important. I have been doing Twee Merrigan’s sessions on My Yoga Online, which are very gentle and focus on body movement that is open and natural. There are also some great sessions on YOME that I am enjoying. My plan is to practice yoga everyday and to put together my own program that will help with labour when it’s time.

This week I visited one of my two midwifes. I’ll be going every two weeks now until the end of March, and then it’s once a week. I’ve been trying to deduce which way baby is situated but it’s difficult. I asked my midwife as she was poking my tummy. “Well I know where his head is,” she says. “Want to feel?” Ahh, YES I DO. Amazing! I felt a body part! It’s hard. His head is down already and hopefully it stays there for the next 11 weeks. He seems posterior and facing to the left, as the most movement happens on my left side. He’s super active and I seriously can’t get enough of it. There are no words—it’s just such a wondrous feeling to have a growing, spirited, human being alive inside. Being pregnant is really extraordinary.

I have to visit the diabetes clinic for nutrition counselling due to my slightly elevated 1-hour GD test. My midwife said not to worry too much about the numbers, but I am watching my sugar and carbs a bit more closely. However, this article cites a recent study that showed a low-carb diet didn’t affect pregnancy outcomes or change the need for insulin for women with gestational diabetes. I’m really questioning all of the GD information out there—there just isn’t any consensus on a variety of levels, from the testing itself to what to eat. Common sense tells me to continue eating the way I have been: I eat frequently, consume as many whole foods as possible, and ensure my body is receiving the minerals and vitamins it needs to grow a healthy baby. However, I have quite the sugar cravings, and I usually quell them with a sweet decaf coffee drink or fruit (or ice cream!), or I snack on whatever is near me to satisfy my appetite (usually nuts, seedy crackers, cheese…). So I’ve put the brakes on high sugar foods. My cravings aren’t insane so it doesn’t bother me much.

My iron levels were 117 in November. I was the Valedictorian of Iron Stores! I eat lots of meat, as well as other healthy sources of iron. There’s also iron in my multivitamin. My iron levels a week ago? 23! Which means I’m almost anemic now. However, I do not feel overly fatigued or tired, nor do I have any other symptoms of iron-deficiency. My midwife suggested that I continue to eat the same and to start drinking nettle tea. I had no idea nettle tea was high in iron, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, C, D and K, calcium, potassium, and more. I found this informative article on safe teas to drink during pregnancy. I started drinking red raspberry leaf tea this week as well, which also has many beneficial vitamins and minerals, and helps tone the uterus. There is also evidence that it can help lower blood sugar. ALL GOOD THINGS. (Pregnant women should talk to their doctor or midwife before drinking any herbal tea.) Adding 3-6 cups of tea a day to my diet has helped me to get more water in too. I seem to be drinking less water now that I’m not working. Need to put a system in place at home for drinking plenty of water… My scale says I’m down almost 4% water in the past few weeks.

My fibromyalgia pain has been at about a constant 4 (with 10 being the worst pain) or higher and it’s always my arms that ache the most. I’ve been able to manage it mostly by modifying my daily activities, and walking and yoga helps. I worry about how I will manage after baby arrives. Sometimes I can’t hold my arms up for more than a few seconds. But I’m sure we will find a way to manage.

This was a pretty factual update. Next week I’ll try for something more emotive!

February 8, 2014 Pregnancy 5

For me, the meaning of life has always been about connections: with humans, with nature, with animals, with spirit, with myself. Those connections are all about love: loving and being loved. What else is there at the core of this incredible gift we have called life? When you mindfully love and are loved, everything else can happen naturally and easefully: gratitude, happiness, being your authentic self, making money by doing something you are passionate about, contributing to a healthier world…all the wonderful things that make up “the good life”.

The Good Life

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February 5, 2014 Video No Comments

Let’s Do This

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28 Week Belly

Friday was my last day of work.

I went to my doctor on Wednesday for a letter to reactivate my sick leave claim that began when I took two weeks off in August. I see my GP at least once a month, and so we’ve been talking about how work has been impacting my physical and emotional health for the better part of 2013, even before I became pregnant.

“I’m here for a letter to go on sick leave,” I said to her.

She smiled kindly at me with her genuinely tender and compassionate manner. “You’re ready this time?”

My eyes welled with tears. She’s been on my side since the first day I met her. She is a constant support. I nodded my head and sighed heavily with relief. “Everything’s in place.” I said.

“Okay, let’s do this.”

~

On Friday I was duped into thinking we were heading to lunch with our team. At the bottom of the stairs I realized something was amiss…sure enough, my team and the rest of the office staff was in the lunch room for a surprise party. I’m not one for being the centre of attention, but it was a lovely little send-off. On my cake, the words “We’ll miss you Julie”. Gorgeous flowers. A very nice bottle of red from a co-worker who probably loves wine more than I do. Hugs all around. I was touched. It has been a wonderful place to work—everyone is always gentle and kind, ever supportive, and easily lends an ear when I need to talk. I will miss them, too.

So I’m sort of in shock and I think it will take a few days for it to really sink in. For now it’s just a weekend. I pushed myself too hard today and will need to assess how much I can do in a day. Tomorrow will be better. Yoga in the morning. Rest. Walk the dogs. Superbowl at a friend’s house. Rest. Sleep. Monday is open. As is Tuesday…

~

I took my gestational diabetes glucose tolerance test on Thursday morning. 12-hour fast. Blood drawn for a baseline. Sugary orange drink down the hatch. More blood drawn at one hour, and then again at two hours. I booked the quiet “room” at the back of the lab that has a recliner to rest in. It wasn’t so bad. My one-hour test was just slightly out of range but I am uncertain as to what this means exactly. I check my results on My eHealth, and see my midwife on Tuesday for more information. Seems as though there isn’t a standardized number for gestational diabetes so my Internet research indicates both GD and not GD. More on those results next week.

28 weeks and now in my third trimester. How did I get here so fast?? Slow down! But I am savouring every moment with my belly. Now it really feels like there’s a baby in there, and it’s magical. His movements are becoming more fluid, less like kicking and more like he’s stretching his arms and pushing his legs to see if he can make that space just a little bit roomier. Sometimes it’s a rolling all across my tummy, like he’s on the move to find a more comfortable spot. It’s totally surreal. I’ve been trying to capture a video today but no luck. Will try more this coming week.

With MUCH more free time in my life, I’ll be updating the blog more often, although the weekly pregnancy updates will continue. I’m really glad you’re here.

February 1, 2014 Pregnancy 1