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

My Life is About to Begin

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26 Week Bump

My belly at 26 weeks. While it might look a tad large, it’s not out of the ordinary and I’ve gained just 10 pounds. Everything is NORMAL, which doesn’t make for very exciting updates. Oh, except for the agonizing pain beside my belly button this little turd is causing me. But if I talk about it too much, it seems like I’m complaining. Jeez, I can handle the PGP and the FMS pain any day; this muscle spasm/tearing in my tummy is nearly unbearable. My movement is drastically restricted. The weekends have been *okay*, but work is really tough. I’m training my replacement (she’s so lovely and smart), so I’m soldiering out two more weeks if I can and then I’m out.

I have this idea floating around in my head that my life is about to begin. That sounds weird, obviously, and it’s sort of a blanket statement, since I’ve been living for 39 years and it’s been just fine. What I mean is, the LIFE I’ve been pining and aching for over the past few years. Hold on. That doesn’t mean being a mother. For about 98% of my life I had no intentions or thoughts of having babies. I think it’s that with all of this change, I am going to be much more conscious than ever about my decisions, about how I’m shaping my life, about what I am creating for myself and my family.

Like, I’m going to dance a lot more. In fact, I’m going to dance right now while my second cup of coffee is warming up in the microwave.

Do-da-da-do-doooo-da-doooo… Yeah that feels good.

I’m looking forward to all of the wonderful learning experiences coming my way. Something I see a lot of with new parents is letting go. Letting go of the worry about things that don’t really matter. Letting go of that mental chatter. What’s important comes into a much sharper focus. For me, that’ll be baby, family, and creating a career that is suits my lifestyle. And just simply creating a lot more, even if the finished product kind of sucks.

Knit Headwarmer

Over the holidays I knitted a head warmer. With my own two hands. It ain’t fancy and it’s only a basic knit stitch, but I did it and it feels freaking awesome. Damn, if I can make a human, I can knit. If I practice (knitting, not making humans), I’ll be able to knit well. Bring it on.

Back to the belly to end this post. He’s a feisty one—still bootin’ and bashin’ me and I’m loving all of it. See, someone I know, not very well, but a woman I admire and respect a lot, had a horrifying end to her pregnancy this week. I can’t imagine how much emotional pain she has been going through and will continue to suffer before the healing can begin. So for all the pain, for every sleepless night, for all the sacrifices, I am at heart utterly grateful I have a healthy baby inside and that my pregnancy has been fairly easy so far.

We are extremely blessed in so many ways. Many many many thanks to the universe.

January 19, 2014 Personal No Comments

I Hurt

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On October 15, 2013, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).

I am writing this as part of my healing process. I have not talked much about the pain or my diagnosis to my family and friends; and most people I know are not aware of what my body and mind has been through in the past 12 months. I became withdrawn. I put on a mask to disguise what was happening to me. I had to; otherwise I would have fallen apart. But hiding is not who I am. The essence of me is emotional, engaging, honest, unveiled. I want to be vulnerable again. I *need* to be. It has taken me nearly a year to realize this.

I think people are afraid to ask me what it’s like to have chronic pain. Or maybe they just don’t want to know. People don’t know what to say, or how to offer support. So they often don’t say anything at all. Like many diseases, fibromyalgia is a vast and endless sea of loneliness for the sufferer.

My hope and intention is that by writing and sharing about my life and FMS, I will repair the emotional damage. I think that I know why I have FMS, and I will explore these reasons in future posts. First I have to tell some the story of the past year.

The pain started in early December of 2012 with a stinging sensation in my left ankle that radiated up the side of my leg. I didn’t think much of it of course, and in a few weeks it dissipated. On Christmas Eve my right arm was sore and heavy for no apparent reason. Little things like that started happening. By mid-January, I was having electrical shocks in my arms, hands and legs, muscle twitching and an overall feeling of malaise. My GP ordered blood tests and everything was normal. No signs of an autoimmune disease, arthritis, inflammation, vitamin deficiency. Nothing.

The sequence of events in late winter and in early spring and summer are hazy. The short version is that my body was in agonizing pain, work was busy and stressful, I didn’t know what was wrong with me, and something happened that was emotionally traumatic. Looking back, I just want to cry. It was a really difficult time. All of *my self* was in distress and I felt quite alone in my pain and despair. I have no idea how I endured.

The pain is cyclical. By late spring I had noted a pattern of three to four weeks of pain, which started mildly and grew in intensity, then would taper off and then I would feel okay for a few weeks. Every time the pain disappeared, I would think, hey maybe this is just stress and it’s in my head. But it kept coming back, and every time there would be different and new symptoms.

In the beginning my hands and arms swelled a lot and would tingle with numbness. I would wake up in the middle of the night with pins and needles in my arms and legs. My legs would ache and throb and spasm. Pin pricks, razor blades, bee stings, knife stabs. I felt really, really sore all the time. My arms were pinched and tight. Quality sleep became non-existent. I would awake all throughout the night and in the morning it felt as though I had slept on rocks. For a few weeks I had excruciating nerve pain in my lower back that radiated to the front of my thigh. I thought something must be wrong in my spine. Pinched nerve? Bone spurs? Spondylosis? Spine cancer?

In late spring my neck and upper back began to feel tight and sore. After my third chiropractic appointment, the pain was devastating me — it was the worst pain I have ever experienced. That neck pain has been persistent for months on end. It’s agonizing. I can’t even describe it.

Then there is the “voodoo pain”, which feels like sharp metal objects being stabbed into various spots all over my body. I have the sensation of my skin being burnt. Many days it feels like I’m coming down with the flu and every muscle is sore. It hurts to stretch. It hurts to do yoga. It hurts to sit. It hurts to hold my arms up. It hurts to sleep. I’m often fatigued and my sleep is not refreshing. Pain, noise…everything is amplified and irritating. I cry a lot because my body hurts so much. Simple tasks are sometimes impossible.

Fatigue is prevalent. I tire easily when walking up stairs, and when the fibro-flare is peaking, I can barely get out of bed. Showering, dressing, and drying my hair can be a monumental undertaking that is more like a medieval crusade and less like the everyday routine it is.

I have tried acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy, physio, a multitude of meds and vitamins, epsom salt baths. Nothing ever helps for more than 24 hours at the most.

I had an MRI scan of my brain and cat scan of my lumbar. Both came back normal. I saw a neurologist, who said my symptoms were not related to any kind of nerve disease or disorder. I had more blood tests. All normal. A physiatrist found nothing immediately wrong with my neck and back and said that even though she did not deal with musculoskeletal conditions, she seemed certain that I had FMS. It was only at that point that I began to consider this as a real possibility. I had sort of ruled it after all of my research.

I don’t have many of the common symptoms of FMS. I don’t suffer from digestive disturbances or TMJ or “fibro fog”. I’m not depressed. I’ve been able to soldier through it and continue working full-time. And nothing unordinary triggered the onset of the condition, which is often the case.

My GP had referred me to a rheumatologist. I waited five months for an appointment that lasted 20 minutes. By the time of my appointment, I was certain what he would say. FMS was making more and more sense. He confirmed what my GP had suspected all along.

Having someone tell you that your pain is real and it has a name is the weirdest feeling. It’s devastating…and it’s relieving at the same time. The part that is hard to come to terms with is that FMS is diagnosed by the elimination of any other diseases and by having pain in 11 of the 18 “tender points”. So the natural response is, could this really be what is wrong with me? But, I will take it because it really doesn’t seem like it could be anything else. And with a diagnosis comes the ability to manage it and maybe the chance to cure it.

From all that I have read online, it seems that the most common symptom for sufferers of fibromyalgia syndrome is basically widespread body pain — and each person describes it a little differently. I think this is because the pain doesn’t always feel exactly like something else others can relate to. It’s not always “sore” or “stabbing” or “burning”. It moves around the body and it changes in intensity from day to day. The pain mutates, travels and shifts with no apparent schedule. You can’t know where it will go next, or when it will recede. There are patterns, but they are learned with time; I am only beginning to understand my own.

This pain sucks away my motivation and it paralyzes my intentions and it is rapidly transforming my life.

And now it’s up to me — because I am the only one who can determine HOW this pain will change my life. I can take but one road.

If you would like to read more about FMS, this article on the University of Maryland Medical Centre is quite thorough but succinct.

December 12, 2013 Fibromyalgia No Comments