Category: pregnancy

It Turns Out I’m Crunchy

Our prenatal class started this week, and I am so excited! We got a list of classes in our area from the midwives, and I scoped them out only to find that on a two-sided page of options there was one class that I hoped would be a good fit (financially, philosophically, and geographically). After attending the first class, I think I was right, and I am really looking forward to the next 5 weeks 🙂

The woman leading our class, Shannon, is a doula (a professional birth attendant), and let me tell you this woman is passionate about birth! I think we were all pretty amazed as she described (with the help of a doll and a pink knit uterus lol) the stages of labour, what is happening in the body and how babies are active participants in the birth process. For example, were you aware that during a contraction the top of the uterus (fundus) tightens and pushes down on the baby, and the baby reflexively straightens its legs to push itself down against the cervix/down the birth canal. Apparently there have been cases of pregnant women in comas who have delivered babies without waking up – the body and the baby work together to make birth happen. Mind blown.

The class is not too big – 6 couples – and our due dates range from late November to early February. I like that the class is structured in a way that includes moms and partners throughout, and I loved that Shannon asked all of us what we hope for from our birth. As we went around the circle to introduce ourselves, it was neat to see all these different people and know that we had so much in common (we are all married and expecting our first) but also that there were so many differences in how we’d arrived on this common ground and where we’d be heading after birth.

I, for one, was surprised that we are the only couple planning a home birth. A few of the women said they would rather not have an epidural unless they really need it, but I think we’re all too afraid to say “I will reject any medically unnecessary interventions” because everyone knows that we don’t have a sweet clue of what to expect, and maybe the pain that comes with a natural labour and delivery will be too much to bear, and it would be just so awkward to be that pregnant lady who told everyone how well she was going to handle it and then didn’t.

After introductions, Shannon spent an hour or so giving us 5 minute summaries on a big stack of books about pregnancy and birth – all resources that we’re welcome to borrow if we want to. Over the last few months, I have decided that pregnancy books are not for me – I had borrowed one from a friend, but I found that each chapter (for each week of pregnancy) was packed with so much more information than I wanted or needed. The thing is, week to week is not always long enough to have a whole chapter of new information about the baby’s development, so the authors have to fill the pages with stats on deformities and diseases and warnings of everything that can go wrong. The last straw for me was in the chapter on week 16 when the book basically said,

“hopefully you’ve been sleeping on your side the last few weeks because it’s better for you and the baby than sleeping on your back. Starting this week DO NOT SLEEP ON YOUR BACK EVER OR YOUR BABY WILL DIE. This week is the cutoff and even if your baby manages to survive any back-sleeping you do, you are a crap parent for not being able to manage this simple and critical task.”

Oh, and then in week 22 the authors decided to give me one paragraph on baby’s development and 3 pages on Tay Sachs Disease. If I wanted to read about Tay Sachs Disease (which is really serious, but I don’t have the time or emotional energy to learn about it for no reason. It makes for really sucky filler material) I would google it. And then it hit me – the weekly emails I get about how the Truck is growing tell me enough. If I’m thinking ahead or want more info on a certain topic, I’ll search it up on the internet.

All this to say that as Shannon went through the books, I paid attention but knew that I wasn’t interested in signing any out. However, I was interested to see a few books in the pile that I had read from the library, and even one that I had on hold waiting to be picked up! Little did I know Shannon was saving the two books I’d read and the one I had on hold for the end of her presentation. “These last few are a little crunchy,” she said, and in fact each book was crunchier than the last. What makes them “crunchy” is that instead of summarizing weekly fetal development or the mechanics of labour and delivery, they are more focused on the experience of pregnancy, emotional health, and the personal journey that every woman goes through in every pregnancy. Medically, most births are more or less the same, but emotionally and spiritually it is a different story, so I’ve really enjoyed soaking up these books that are filled with other women’s birth stories and with reflections on how to make the most of this short time.

It’s true that along with focusing on the emotional side of pregnancy, there is also a general perspective in what I’ve been choosing to read that birth is a natural process that usually works as it was designed, especially when it is embraced and supported by the mother and her attendants. Obviously emergencies do come up, and it is a blessing to live in an age with so many means of saving mothers and babies who would not survive natural deliveries for whatever reason. But there is a very widespread perspective in the medical system and in the media (and therefore the culture at large) that birth is always an emergency or at least the brink of an emergency, and it needs to be closely monitored, inspected, measured, charted, analyzed and often rescued.

I do not want to be sidelined for the birth of my own child. A whole other post I need to write is why Matt and I are choosing to birth at home, but it really boils down to keeping our family at the center of this monumental event. Lest I get totally sidetracked from this already huge post, I will just say that I have been totally encouraged and blessed by all the crunch that I have absorbed over the past year (because it definitely started before getting pregnant), not just related to pregnancy but in life in general – washing my face with oil and using baking soda instead of deodorant and shampoo,  washing my clothes with soap nuts, and probably more. Oh! We’re gonna give cloth diapers a shot 🙂 Oh, and I literally do make my own granola. Ehem.

Matt and I were talking about it after class, and it’s so funny because only a few weeks ago I had explained to him what crunchy meant in terms of lifestyle – I think I had used it to describe a bunch of the blogs I read and he was like, what on earth does that mean. Little did we imagine that not only would I be totally validated in our prenatal class but that this label we had been talking about actually applies to us.

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Baby Update

Life has been busy, but not in a very bloggable way. I keep getting more pregnant though, which is always bloggable, right? So here’s a quick update as I near the end of my fifth (!!!) month of pregnancy.

Here is the bump at 17 weeks, about to go out to dinner with Matt! My book said the baby would double its weight between weeks 17 and 20…But my belly definitely started to pop before then. This is 19 weeks, rocking my maternity jeans!

And here’s 20 weeks – half way to full term!

This month we had a fetal anatomy ultrasound done to make sure the Truck has all its parts and to establish where the placenta is located. I had a great tech who was very friendly and often turned the screen to show me anything cute/interesting. I got to see nose and lips, feet, and a little belly! She also chased the Truck back and forth to get the perfect picture of its hand (no extra digits there, but we can’t really tell if the thumbs are straight or not… suspense!)

Meet the Truck!

I asked the tech if she knew the gender, and she did! But I used all of my inner strength to stand by mine and Matt’s decision to wait until the Truck is born to look at its private parts 😉 So feel free to speculate, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of being right, and we can’t accidentally give it away because we don’t know either! It is certainly fun to guess, and I know that whatever the gender is, it will just be a mind-blowing blessing when we finally meet this baby who is swimming mad laps in my belly.

It’s my Birthday!

I guess I should post something so the end of my NFP mini-series doesn’t sit there for weeks scaring off any strangers who wander by. I’m 24 years old today! It’s pretty good, especially since I spent the last few weeks (months?) feeling like/thinking I was 24 already. It’s embarrassing, as an adult, to have to correct yourself on the rare occasion someone asks your age.

It has been a laid-back birthday – I have the day off work and have been alternately taking it easy and catching up on chores after our two-night camping trip that ended yesterday (with a rain storm. Adventures!). Currently I am starving and about to get dinner started so we can hopefully clean up in time for some friends to come over for cake this evening. I am EXTREMELY hungry, which hits about 40 seconds after normal hungry, but I am resisting the urge to collapse and weep on the floor until Matt gets home because this weekend my doctor started me on a higher dose for my thyroid and it. is. magical. I cannot share a list of all the wonderful changes this new dose has wrought in my life, for many of them are very personal and this IS the internet. But the very most wonderful change is feeling like a human being and not a sock that someone played shoeless soccer in before it got run over by a bicycle. It turns out that pregnant ladies are supposed to feel slightly less fatigued in the second trimester, which I missed out on because I have no thyroid.

But I’m feeling better now! So much better! And even if I wasn’t, I have started to feel tiny baby kicks, which makes everything a million times worth it 😀 Apparently (source: the internet) in addition to drinking and breathing amniotic fluid, practising kung fu, and generally growing bigger and stronger, the Truck can hear my heartbeat and occasionally outside noises if they are loud enough. I have been blasting Backstreet Boys just in case 😉

NFP is NOT the Rhythm Method (Part 3)

[Part III – Making a Baby]
Don’t worry – there aren’t too many details in this one! 😉

If you’ve been following along, you’ve read about my terrible experience on the Pill when I first got married and about the delight of discovering FAM. Let me emphasize how very great FAM was for us as a couple – we were not longer terrified of my horrific and senseless emotional crises, and we were communicating tons about whatever magic estrogen and progesterone were working in my body.

Side note: Matt knows so much stuff about lady cycles now! He had coffee with a youth whose girlfriend was trying to rope him into chancing sex with her because she was “very in tune with her body,” and it was hilarious. Matt had a lot of questions to ask with a lot of words this kid didn’t know, and thus he convinced him that knowing how many days had passed since your period started wasn’t actually that “in tune” with anything. While I’m on this little diversion about women being sensitive about their fertility, I have to say that unless you’re using this sense to try for a baby, don’t use that sense to make baby-making decisions. Also, don’t use a fertility app or online chart-your-bidness feature. READ THIS BOOK. ON PAPER. I mention this in honour of my dear friend who got married, knew that Matt and I do NFP, read some stuff on the internet, followed her gut and now has a 10 month old son. He’s the handsomest baby I’ve ever seen in my life, and he’s the happiest surprise I think she and her husband ever had. It is WONDERFUL, but it makes me feel the need to emphasize that this is something to learn and practice, not to jump into one day because you don’t “feel” fertile.)

It took a few months of charting before Matt and I were brave enough to take the leap and trust the chart and the rules and… you know. Over time though, it got less scary, and as I continued to learn about charting and we kept not getting pregnant, it became really second nature to chart and communicate and make FAM work for us. We also realized (because we hadn’t had anything to compare it to before) that the Pill had been causing sexual as well as emotional side effects, and not having THOSE in the mix was… great! It was also really nice never to wonder if I was a couple days “late”. Menstrual cycles can be divided into two phases with ovulation in the middle, and an irregular cycle length is almost always due to variation in the length of the first phase. Charting allowed me to identify when I ovulated and therefore to predict when my cycle would end, regardless if it was 26 days long or 55 (seriously, both of those numbers happened). Although my cycle length varied, my period never started later than 14 days after I ovulated.

Until this Summer. And this is the other reason I love NFP. According to my average cycle length (which had been pretty consistent over the past two years; wild exceptions were usually attributable to stress like travel or illness or an anovulatory cycle the previous month), I needn’t have expected my period for 3-5 more days, BUT I knew that I had ovulated earlier than usual (meaning the first phase of my cycle was short), and I did NOT want Aunt Flo to surprise me at work, so I packed my purse and prepared for the worst. Thursday passed, and I made it home from work, went to my Zumba class, and hung out with a friend. I started feeling really sick and crampy and figured things would get started soon, but then Friday I woke up to my highest temperature in the history of me charting. Normally my waking temperature drops due to the hormonal changes that trigger a period, so I knew something was up.

I don’t think the possibility that I was pregnant really sunk in until later that morning at work, and I spent the whole day wrestling with thinking about it but also paying attention to what I was doing and not making mistakes! When I got home I texted my friend Jo that I MIGHT be a little bit pregnant but didn’t want to waste money on a test if I wasn’t. The more I thought about it though, and the more I looked back on all my charts from the past year, the more I realized that something was definitely not normal. So I went on a walk in the rain to buy a test for peace of mind, said a little prayer to share my heart with God, and then… found out I was pregnant for reals.

Other than asking if we’re planning to find out the gender (the answer is not before the baby’s born), the most common question people asked when we told them about our pregnancy was if we’d been trying. Remember how I said I ovulated really early? The thing is, we weren’t trying to get pregnant, but we knew we were breaking the rules of FAM, that if I had a short cycle there could theoretically be a baby at the end of it. Was I surprised to see the second blue line? Totally. But not surprised like, “Hey your birthday’s not for 8 more months, but here’s concert tickets for a present!” surprised like “Hey it’s your birthday, want to come hang out for a quiet get together SURPRISE it’s a party!!” Especially if in hindsight you realize there were 30 pairs of shoes in the entryway and cars parked all down the street.

It took me way too long to come up with those examples.

The moral of the story is that FAM has been totally worth the learning curve and slight sense of danger. It has been reliable as a method of preventing pregnancy, and it has been empowering for me as a woman with a menstrual cycle. I’m enjoying the break while I’m pregnant but will definitely be picking it back up after the Truck arrives (yeah we call our baby the Truck so we can say fun things like “let’s get the Truck out of here”). If you are at all interested in FAM/NFP, check out that book and send me an email! alyssa at movingwithGod dot com. It’s good for more than just achieving/preventing pregnancy because it never hurts to understand your body.

Three Things Thursday [Vol. 12]

I am reading a great book right now that is very positive about pregnancy and birth as a natural process and empowering rite of passage (rah rah) and it emphasizes the importance of attitude and mindset in having a good experience – you know, embrace the process as you not only grow a new life in your womb, but as you change and adapt as a person in order to be a better parent. Group hug. Inspired by this attitude, I have decided to share my personal interpretation of how three common pregnancy symptoms pave the way for becoming a parent.

  1. Fatigue – this trains you to prioritize naps over cleaning, socializing, and even basic grooming in preparation for when the baby arrives. At that point the baby will become the top priority and bump everything down one level, but by that point you won’t even miss brushing your teeth. Well-meaning people like to tell pregnant ladies “sleep while you can before the baby gets here!” forgetting that pregnant ladies need to pee all the time and wake up at least every 3 hours to do so. If you ever see a pregnant lady at the mall or in the grocery store, and it looks like her hair hasn’t been combed for weeks, chances are that she IS sleeping while she can, and offering up your place in line is better help than offering unsolicited advice. If she gets home early, maybe there will be time for a nap!
  2. Clumsiness – this is partly due to increased weight and partly due to the shifting centre of gravity that accompanies it. Plus you have to account for general distraction, fatigue, caring less and less, and it’s allllll part of the system! The purpose of this symptom is two-fold: to slow you down so that if you drop your future baby it will not be at high speeds, and also to get you used to constantly wiping up spills. This gradual desensitization to mess leads up to the point in parenthood when babies begin feeding themselves, which many mistake as a developmental milestone for children; it is more significantly a parenting milestone, for what says acceptance of mess and living in the moment more clearly than, “Baby, here’s a bowl of pasta and sauce for you to eat with your hands”!?
  3. Forgetfulness – also known as “mommy brain,” this delightful symptom eases the transition to parenthood by helping you to not remember that life was ever any other way. This in turn helps you “go with the flow” because instead of stressing out what on earth you walked all the way to the kitchen for, you can simply let it go, accept that you are there, and look for something to eat. Before you head back to the couch for a nap.