You make me feel. Mighty Real.

35 Weeks Today

Maybe I don’t need to go off work for physical strains, but the mental strains are getting pretty significant. Today I had a whole hour (and then some) of crying. Got up, after I thought I was done, then went back to bed to cry some more. Yesterday was better than today. I saw my host sister, from my high school exchange to Brazil, whom I haven’t seen in twenty years.  But today, I’m feeling pretty much the opposite of yesterday’s high.

Sometimes I feel guilty for just wishing I could have a break, even just a two hour break, from feeling totally consumed, full, uncomfortable and like I’m missing pretty major things that used to be so taken-for-granted. I want to lie on my stomach. I want to sleep through the night. I want a glass of wine. I want to not feel shame for whining about things like this when so many people have trouble conceiving, period.

MORE WANTS

I want to dance. Tie my shoes without huffing and puffing. Feel strong and capable. Do my own heavy lifting. Not feel like I have to bow out of things I want to do, because I don’t think I’ll be able to follow through. I want to not have an anxious thought every day because the same symptoms that make me feel like I’m having the pre-anxiety that can sometimes lead to a panic attack… are the same ones I feel pretty much all the time now. I want to not throw up in my mouth a few times a day due to acid reflux and heartburn.

I want not to feel stressed out when I swallow a feather that escaped my duvet during my sleep because if the worst case scenario turns out to be true, and I do get aspiration pneumonia, I won’t have to worry that it could hurt the baby.

All of this is to say “I’m getting about ready for this little guy to be OUT of me.” I read that this might happen. That true last month is all about wanting it to be over. I am feeling big. I still have great days and great moments of days, but TOday was tough. Worse than usual. I feel like I get nothing done.

CHOICES

I’m relieved that I was able to make the choice and get support in taking two extra weeks off from work (so that I’ll leave at 38 weeks rather than working right until my due date. I hear lots of women lamenting this choice – asking, when should I go? For some it’s a financial decision; I wish for me that it was not. I’d love to be off work now, to take care of myself (and take many mental health days). But I do love going to work; I’m good at my job. It brings me joy and keeps my mind off things.

TAKING THE EXTRA TWO WEEKS

As a teacher, it was pretty straightforward – moreso than I would have imagined. I’m due Oct. 21. I work in a school with no AC, on my feet for most of the 8 hours, with blistering classroom temperatures, full boob-sweat and swampy feelings are a daily reality. I was scheduled to work right until my due date, but I got a great tip from a coworker. If you only take ’10 business days’ (your sick day equivalent) you don’t need to get all the extensive medical paper work required to document a Long or Short Term disability leave.

I was able to count backwards from the due date and get my doctor to write a note that simply says “X will not be returning to work after X day” due to her pregnancy. Signed by your doctor. My board said, “thanks for letting us know,” and I got in touch with the people who are pre-arranged to take my mat leave and they’ll simply be taking over early. That gives me an extra two weeks prior to my due date to get things in order and gives a bit of relief, given that I’m feeling massive, tired and sore. Though I LOVE my job, the stress of leaving at a moment’s notice makes me even more worried, both for me and for the kids (I want them to have continuity and a smooth transition). If you are considering taking a leave prior to your official mat leave, talk to your union and coworkers who have taken mat leave to see what your work’s policy is!

Yesterday I would have said, “Five more weeks? Bring it?” Today… I’m making friends with the couch and considering whether a second banana muffin is in order. (At least I was still able to make a batch of muffins, so really, who can complain??)

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Not Sleeping

I sit up in bed and stare into darkness…I probably look like a zombie…..after an hour or so I get sleepy and attempt to lay back down…good times.
My word, I love this description. I just really don’t love the reality of it.

I’m sleeping awfully, too. I am up 7 or 8 times a night. I flip and flop. I go to our guest room for a change of temperature and mattress. I eat cereal. I read. Listen to podcasts. Have baths.

The one thing that I try to remember is not to get frustrated. It just IS how it is right now.
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This Godward painting might be what I thought it would feel like to spend a languid afternoon ‘resting,’ but not so.

And I’m trying to take advantage of any time I have now to sleep. I just had a three hour Saturday afternoon nap. It won’t be like this forever. But… apparently, this may also be the body’s way of helping to prep you for the sleep deprivation of being a new parent. Oh, joy.

Any hot tips for good sleep are welcome!

Can I Ever Stop Worrying?

So far, so good. I’ve been so lucky this whole time to have a pregnancy that has gone smoothly. Any of the ailments and warning signs have been accompanied with a heap of ‘wait and see’ or ‘we are just monitoring,’ and more often than not ‘this is a very normal symptom.’

Baby was measuring big at 29 weeks. It could just have been position, the fullness of my bladder, the different measurements of the two midwives, etc. But I did the 32 week ultrasound to check. He looked marvellous. But.

We got a call, which we missed, yesterday to tell us that although things are still technically within the normal range, they want to set up another ultrasound during week 33 (this week) because they are concerned about the amount of amniotic fluid. I Googled.

Could it be – a birth defect, inability of the fetus to swallow, gestational or maternal diabetes, … a bunch of other things? Could it lead to – premature birth, digestive issues for baby once born, overly large baby, prolapsed umbilical cord?

I head back to work this week. I’m not complaining. It was luxurious to have the summer off, busy as I was. But this coming month will be a race to the finish line. I know they have already hired my mat leave replacements (yes, several, since my subjects require specifically qualified teachers), but that also makes it hard to leave if I need to book off last minute with a supply to cover those classes.

Sleeping is hard as it is. I’m up 6-8 times to pee, to roll over, requiring all the shifting of pillows that my 6 pillow system involves. Add to that the worry that in the final 5-7 weeks, maybe there is something wrong. Maybe it’s nothing. But I should definitely check. And checking means an ultrasound in the very first week of school, making supply plans and leaving brand new classes in the hands of supply teachers, to attend an appointment that will be scheduled whenever it’s scheduled (no say from you about what is convenient).

Obviously, I want to do everything possible to make sure we have the info to make good decisions. But the last ultrasound was optional – ‘do you want to get it, just to be on the safe side?’ Of course, I said. What if I had opted not to? How many of these things are only discovered, only become worries, due to such close monitoring? What if it’s nothing? Would it be better not to know, if it turns out to be nothing? The level of care that we are receiving is tremendous, but it also means that I have a hyper awareness of every detail; whereas some women only have 2-3 ultrasounds, I’ve had 7 or 8. I love seeing his face, but it makes it so much harder just to trust that all is well, now that I know his face, have seen his little body so many times.

Crossing my fingers. Trying not to worry.

Saving Money as a New or Expecting Parent

I’m a big fan of shopping, but I’m an even bigger fan of recycling and reducing. Especially when there’s a great deal to be found! So, as an expecting mom, how do I save money while preparing for our little one, and making sure we have all the essentials?

I’m anticipating the strain on our budget when I move from a full salary to EI; I’m sure that I’ll find more great ways to save, but for now, here are my top tips:

Reuse! I googled the maternity and baby stores in my area that buy and sell gently used items, and found that right around the corner for me was a great place: Once Upon A Child. I sold five or six items and they paid me cash. In turn, I browsed the racks and racks of adorable baby items, everything from clothes arranged by size and type, to mobiles and baby gates. For less than $30 I got:

Three sleep sacks, swaddles for $3-$5 each

Then, mixing and matching sizes, I grabbed 5 items for ten bucks from the ‘sleep’ section and ten for $10 clearance items; supplementing the wonderful gifts from our shower with these great finds will have our little babe well outfitted. Definitely see what is happening in your local area.

Next, check out Facebook Marketplace and online ‘Mommy Groups’. I got a lead on our stroller AND car seat, which my parents ended up offering to get us as our shower gift, still in the box, never used and with all the warranties and manufacture boxes checked for a cool $200, retailing online for $450. I’ve also been able to locate items from our registry at great prices, so if you happen to have your eye on a particular item, like I do on the Halo bassinet, scouring the Internet and checking reviews on the seller might lend you the item you’re looking for at way less than store price.

Amazon Prime. Save tons of money on your shipping, search for and save items to your wish list and get notifications when the prices go down, and when you create a registry you can get a 15% off completion discount if you decide to purchase items from your registry.

BUNZ it. What is BUNZ, you ask? It started as a local swap site in Toronto, but has expanded to many other major cities and suburbs. The motto is no cash, all trades. Sounds suspect? I have traded lamps I no longer wanted for laundry soap; pants that no longer fit for handbags; a cactus and succulent for picture frames. Now I have my sights set on trading items that of been cluttering up my basement for things like baby wipes. One person’s trash, as they say. Now BUNZ even has an app.

Sign up for store email lists, you can Always unsubscribe later! By registering at Thyme Maternity And Snugglebugz I received a whole bag full of samples:

Use gift cards, trade gift cards, enter raffles. If you have a gift certificate for The Keg, but you’re a vegetarian, why not trade it for one to Babies R Us?

Borrow from friends and accept hand-me-downs! This is especially great if you have parents or in-laws who might need to have items that they use in frequently, like car seats and play pens. Some very generous friends have given us items to keep at my moms house so that when we travel we won’t half to take an extra car seat for Nana to cart our little dude around.

One neat thing about our shower is that people know us really well, and knowing how much we love supporting local, we were gifted a store credit to use at an Etsy store where the owners make handmade baby accessories. So, I picked out three reversible bibs and a teething toy that is also a soother clip. Perfect! Shout out to Urban Rustic Baby Co.

Last but not least, see if your place of employ has a buy and sell for its members. As a teacher we have our own version of Kijiji. Here, from someone I assume it’s not a total creep as they work in the teaching profession, I was able to get a crib mattress, mattress cover and she threw in two sets of sheets … for $125. No kidding. She still had all the assembly instructions and because I picked it up at her house, I was able to see the immaculate place where the crib used to live and feel confident that it had a nice life prior to coming home with me.

That’s my two cents about saving a ton of money. If you have tips please post them in the comments. I am eager to learn!

Baby Shower

Showered indeed! Al and I are so lucky to have a warm, wild and fiercely loving group of family and friends-who-are-like-family (#famely) to help celebrate and guide us as we get ready to be mamas. This was shower number one of two and we already feel so spoiled… all smiles, all day. #thankyou!!! #lesbianmoms #babyshower #rainbowfamily

A backyard bbq, swimming pool and games for the kiddos was a hoot. The weather was cooperative and the decor was handmade by yours truly and my friend Lindsay.

My friends and family are a colourful bunch. My mom, in yellow, is over the moon about the upcoming arrival.

This will be the new normal.

Nesting

At the prenatal class they said that nesting is a sign that baby is coming (but what if you are already a compulsive organizer-nester?) and I should also anticipate a decline in my energy. I am defiantly filling the rest of August with things to look forward to.

I have gained 27 lbs and continue to feel pretty good, though tired. I am loving he distraction of summer plans with friends, like yesterday’s lunch at Queen Mother, dinner at Tabule and I have continued eating intuitively to keep both me and baby happy. He is a kicker and always lets me know when he is awake.

To Do List

  • Get a hospital go bag ready
  • Set up our cloth diaper service first delivery so nappies are ready and waiting
  • Prep to go back to work… and be ready to leave again when baby comes
  • Finish prenatal classes
  • Celebrate baby at our baby shower
  • Get all the little things organized (like today I put labels onto all the drawers and baskets in his room so it stays tidy)
  • Get rid of our sharp cornered coffee table (because I won’t want to do that when baby has already arrived)
  • Knock some more items off my to do list

Feed Me

Eating in pregnancy has been a challenge at times. I am turned off by foods I used to love (sorry, Hummus). I plan a meal and sometimes have no desire for it by the time I am ready to make it. I also have to eat small meals, frequently. This was tough on my work schedule, but now that summer is here I’m finding it a pleasure to shop locally and get fresh items as they pop into my head. Here’s what’s on the pregnancy menu:

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Clockwise from top left: Pumpkin and ricotta pasta with parmesan. Homemade gazpacho with avocado and tortilla chips on the side. Pork chop on the grill with roasted pears, apples, green beans and potatoes. Breakfast egg, asparagus and grapefruit.

I make batches of foods like frittata and gazpacho (I toss in whatever fresh ingredients I have and hide all the nutrients I can in the mix). I am loving the Oh, She Glows cookbook’s Gazpacho recipe and the local tomatoes and red peppers are making this a fave to drink straight from a mason jar.

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Clockwise from top left: Baby arugula salad with goat cheese, toasted pecans and strawberry with apple cider vinegar dressing. Shaved carrot, tofu, asparagus, goat cheddar on crostini. Homemade rhubarb and custard pie (thanks, Aunt Jan!). Strawberry salad with mustard dressing and fresh cracked pepper. Steamed broccoli, grated carrot, sesame tofu and snap peas in a peanut sauce with basmati rice. Mouflata (baguette with goat cheese, garlic, olive tapenade, basil and roasted red peppers).
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Clockwise from top left: Banana bundt cake with chocolate icing! Chocolate pudding with local strawberries. Pumpkin ravioli with sage and pine nuts, cranberries and spinach. Chicken spaghetti Alfredo. Fried chicken and waffles!

I am following an intuitive eating plan – I look up what I’m not allowed to eat, strike that from the record – and eat whatever my body is craving. Grapefruit. Steak. Broccoli. Asparagus. Cereal. Papaya. Peaches. Cashew butter on English muffins. Strawberries and cherries.

Baby is getting lots of good stuff. Plus I’ve found (thanks to my sister-in-law) a great sub for my daily icecream cravings: PC makes a fantastic Skyr frozen yogurt bar in three flavours (berry, mango and caramel) – they are high in protein and delicious. There are also great Motts fruit freezies in a variety of apple and berry blends.

I’m not saying no to foods. This has been a huge blessing. I am enjoying the full palate available and really giving myself permission to eat what I want, when I want it. What a nice, guiltless approach. Sometimes it’s not so healthy: “Babe, I need you to go get me Chinese food and a Dairy Queen Blizzard.” But more often, I’m eating fresh, whole foods and feeling pretty great.

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Clockwise from top: Banana flax bread. Zucchini noodles with avocado, pine nuts, tofu, tomatoes, nuts and dressing. Mushroom pizza and steamed broccoli. Butternut squash soup with croutons and veggie burger with cheddar and bbq sauce. Fresh bowl… again.

What are your cravings? What are your thoughts on how to eat well for yourself and/or for baby?