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

The Birth Plan

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34 Week Belly

Check out 28 weeks in the same shirt. Does my belly seem that much bigger now?

Had my blood tested again and even though I’ve been taking an iron supplement for the past three weeks, my iron has dropped from 23 to 13 ug/L. So I’m now iron deficient, although my hemoglobin isn’t under 110 g/L, so according to BC Guidelines, I’m not quite anemic. That mid-afternoon fatigue is still crushing me, and I’m pretty sure now that it has to do with my iron being so low. Steak and spinach salad on the menu tonight…?

The baby countdown is ON. Six weeks to the due date? Hold a sec, I’m going to blink now and have a baby in my arms. Oh yes look here he is and he’s adorable!

Depending on what I’m considering, six weeks is either not enough time or feels like an eternity. EVERYTHING is more difficult. And not just little things. Walking, showering, moving, BREATHING. This belly is heavy and awkward. It’s like having a 10-pound bag of sugar strapped to your mid-section. Squiggly alien sugar. Gawd this kid moves a lot. I’m grabbing feet and elbows and tapping on his bum. Being pregnant is awesome…and really kind of annoying sometimes, like when he decides to flail about at 4 in the morning. Sometimes I’m like, jeez how am I going to do this late April? Get him out! Sometimes I’m all, omg no I’m so not ready for this! Can someone put the brakes on the time for me please? Too many things still to do. Most of them are just not going to get done. In all honesty though, I’m not really freaking out about it. It’s more the “tiny living breathing fragile human being” I’ll be responsible for that’s freaky.

So. Birth plan. We are planning for a home birth. Which means a few obvious things: I can wear whatever I want, walk when I want, shower when I want, eat and drink when I want. I can move into any position I feel comfortable in at any time. I can do yoga. I can listen to music. I can dance this baby out. Having a home birth means you get to do a lot of things YOUR way. And that is absolutely the WAY for ME.

There are also a few things that can’t and won’t happen because we are having a home birth, and that’s because I don’t want them even available to me unless I need them. These of course include pain and induction medication, constant fetal monitoring, IV, and other medical services/assistance that aren’t necessary until the situation calls for them. The values of the midwifery standard of care are smack in line with my own and thank the heavens I live in a place where these values are upheld and defended by my primary caregivers. We are so blessed.

I need to be comfortable for this to be the experience I want it to be. Hospitals are not comfortable. Hospitals are for people who are sick or injured. It seems a bit weird to me that it’s normal to go to a hospital for an event that is totally natural. Birthing centres within hospitals seems like a great idea—many of the comforts of home with the safety of a doctor and medical services immediately available if needed. But even though I’m 40, I’m healthy and baby is too, so my pregnancy is considered low-risk and I’m okay to give it a go at home. If we end up transferring to the hospital, it’ll be because I NEED medical intervention that is beyond the scope of the midwives, and that’s just fine with me. Otherwise, I see no need to be there.

I’m contemplating a water birth but not feeling a strong pull for it, so I’m not sure yet. Here are some of my birth preferences/requirements.

OMG I might even try placenta encapsulation after the birth. (Here’s a good read, with PICTURES.) Yep, that means EATING my placenta. *shudder* I had no plans to do this, but after all the research I’ve done, I think the benefits are incredibly valuable, and there are no risks, so why not? Because it sounds gross? Don’t be silly.

What is plan B? Well there really can’t be a plan B. Plan B is if something goes awry and we go to the hospital, in which case some decisions will be made at the time and my midwife will make sure that nothing happens that I do not want or need. But I’ve set the intention for a quick, pain-less, home birth. Yes, I said pain-less. No snickering, ladies! Next week I’ll write about how I intend to birth with as little pain as possible.

March 15, 2014 Pregnancy No Comments

Float into the sky
Along the tops of the trees
Our shadows dance on the seas
Remember to breathe
She’s really something to me

“Roam” by William Mimnaugh

Live Full, Live With Love

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March 10, 2014 Video No Comments

I Peed at Least Eight Times While Writing This

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33 Week Belly

33 weeks! I missed my 32-week update so this post incorporates the past two weeks. It’s definitely getting more difficult living with this belly. Sleep is a challenge some nights as there is really only once position I can sleep in now and it requires adjusting a myriad of pillows all around me. And even though I go to the bathroom before getting into bed, of course 10 minutes later I have to pee so bad I think I might not even make it five feet to the bathroom. I’ve been battling some kind of fatigue that just cripples me. I don’t know if it’s pregnancy or FMS but it’s more likely a bit of both, but it’s kinda of like running straight into a concrete wall after someone’s being throwing you the punches from head to toe. Oh, and you haven’t slept or eaten for two days. But I also have blips of feeling pretty good and having lots of energy. I started taking Pranin curry iron about two weeks ago but I don’t really feel much of a difference. Having my iron tested on Monday to see where I’m at.

Oh, and leg cramps. I had the worst charley horse last night that my calf is still sore.

What’s AWESOME is that the button hook (tearing muscle) in my belly is finally gone. It’s an enormous relief. Gawd that was awful. That’s an understatement. It was actually a little torturous.

Last Thursday I went to the mainland to visit my mama. We went into Coquitlam and Richmond and had a baby shopping extravaganza (well we went to two stores but spent A LOT of time in each). A huge thank you to my mom for helping me pick out some awesome baby stuff. We settled on the Peg Perego infant car seat, which we think was a great choice, and it’s super stylish. Happily, the crib I wanted was $150 off the regular price, and I ended up getting $100 off the Phil and Ted’s Navigator stroller I had my heart set on too because they had two floor models. Major score. We had a wonderful experience at West Coast Kids—the sales lady was super friendly and helpful, and they even stayed open after closing so we could finish up our shopping. Gosh it feels good to have the big stuff taken care of. I was feeling some anxiety around that in the past few weeks.

On Saturday my brother took my mama and me for breakfast at a diner in Deroche, then we visited my nephew, his wife and their two little ones. They just had their second baby Monday from last! It was a super strange feeling to hold a five-day-old baby in my arms, while my own almost-here baby kicked in my belly. It was like he could sense being so close to this new young soul and was saying hello. Incredible that my baby is so close in age to my grand nephew. Incredible that my mom became a great-grandmother for the fifth time last week, and in two months or so will become a grandmother for the fifth time—the last time being over 20 years ago.

Baby Nixon's Crib

Spent this week getting more things ready around the house: Buying diapers (OMG I’M HAVING A BABY), washing sheets and baby clothes (k, I swear they all shrunk even though I tumbled dry low; am I going to suck at this?), searching for a dresser, spending way to much time on etsy searching for handmade baby stuff. Tomorrow I SWEAR I’m starting Hypnobabies. If Baby Nixon arrives early I won’t be finished the program. If I cross my legs real tight will he stay in until I’m a master at birthing hypnosis?

K, I promised a post on the birth plan but that’ll be next week now. It’s time for a little rest now…

March 7, 2014 Pregnancy No Comments