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Becoming a Father: Seven Weeks In

Seven weeks ago today a purple-grey blob which vaguely resembled a micro human was plopped onto Theresa’s belly as I watched in wonder.

I’ve come to the realization that I’m the sort of person who can only shed a tear for life changing events, this was one of those. I laughed at the ridiculousness of this squawking creature and cried from the pride, triumph and exhaustion of what Theresa had just gone through.

I can honestly say the night and morning of Naoise’s (pronounced Nee-sha) birth was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. Women may laugh at that and the contrast to what they go through, and I agree, I can not imagine how it felt, physically and mentally, but the fact remains that, yes it was the hardest thing I have ever gone trough. It was even a relatively straight forward birth.

We are lucky, we have been told by the mid-wife, we have it easier than a lot of new parents and I tend to agree, though I don’t have a frame of reference. Our baby is generally happy and easy to deal with. Everything has gone relatively straight forward. I am almost steeling my self for when the time comes when all hell breaks loose.

I also believe in mindset. I have been meditating consistently for the last four years, since the other most difficult moment in my life, the departure of my mother. She did not have the chance to meet either of her grand daughters, though she knew that my niece was on the way before she checked out.

I believe that constant meditation prepares one for any difficult moment in life, it helped me keep calm through the whole process and helps me remain calm now when my little girl accidentally projectile shits all over me. It is all part of the process I suppose.

Theresa, too is a constant meditator and I believe that the calmness and peace of mind generated was passed down. She meditates every day and meditated every day while pregnant. A stressed mind or a calm mind will have an effect on the development of a baby. Bearing in mind I am no expert in this but emotions, stress, calmness are contagious. You will see this all the time in the work place and the home.

It s funny how my own stress physically manifested itself throughout the pregnancy as I dealt with sometimes unbearable tension in my jaw. Meditation offered temporary relief but nothing else really worked. I did not feel very stressed out at the time, but now with the arrival of the micro human it has significantly lessened in intensity.

As parents, though I am new to the club, I think we make our own rules. Advise is largely useless as all situations and families are different so I don’t have much to offer, apart from the meditation. Make time for it. Encourage your partner to make time for it, even if it is only five minutes, it should be as automatic as brushing our teeth because it is just as important.

I will wrap up by saying that the last seven weeks have been the happiest of my life. I wish my family could be here to meet her, we were lucky enough to have Theresa’s mother here to help for two weeks. We must not take family for granted, it is the times you are apart that you realize how important they are. Nine years now, Theresa and I have been apart from ours and as we start our own little Canadian family we must endeavour to stick close to our roots and keep our baby close to her cousins, aunts, uncles and grand parents.

Many of my friends have recently become or are about to become parents. Good luck and enjoy.

Peace,

George

My Third Trimester Journey: A Personal Experience

Currently I am 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Our baby is overdue by 10 days & it doesn’t feel like she is making any movement to arrive any time soon. Surprisingly I am ok with this. Of course, I cannot wait to meet our little girl but I also want her to be fully ready before she arrives. If she needs the extra time, I am ok with it. The midwife is happy with how baby & myself are doing so there is no need to worry or panic about the baby being late. The biggest challenge is having the patience and trusting that my body will go into action mode when it needs to.

So far being overdue has been a pleasant experience, I am feeling really good. Throughout the pregnancy I have slept really well which I truly believe is a major part of feeling great. I have used this time to keep myself busy with personal projects I wanted to work on (blogs, videos, reading, cooking, organizing) and taking time to rest & relax. I have never had a staycation before, it’s awesome. Breaking away from the routine of working full time to being at home is a huge transition. Looking back, I am glad I left work 3 weeks before my due date. Personally, I needed that time to get my head out of work mode and more into the mindset that I am having a baby & I need to prepare for that. It is 1 month since I began maternity leave & I can honestly say I am ready to have the baby & truly focus on the baby and be ok with that.

The first 2 weeks of my maternity leave I signed up to a Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training with Semperviva. This was an excellent way for me to transition from work to home. The routine of getting up early, making lunch and having somewhere to go really helped ease my way into maternity leave. After those 2 weeks I had nothing planned which was great because I needed time to rest after the course. I’m so happy I had the course as a distraction when I was no longer working, it was very social and meeting new people was really great. I believe if I was at home for 1 month by myself, I would be very lonely. This is something I will try and avoid when the baby comes. I love my alone time & I can seclude myself and then feel isolated, on the other hand I am very social too……I just need to find a balance that works. I know myself that I can be a bit hesitant to meeting new people and putting myself out there, I believe maternity leave will challenge me to be more social & open up more to others.

Looking back on my third trimester it has been eventful but overall a positive experience. During the second trimester we were tested more emotionally, the third trimester I was tested more physically. The physical sensations of being pregnant started for me at week 30. What I thought was sciatica on my left-hand side of my leg turned out to be SI joint pain which lasted about 1 week. It was unpleasant as walking was unbearable. At first, I thought I pulled a muscle as George & myself had gone on a bike ride the day before. I had an RMT massage booked for that Monday so I was hoping that would help relieve the discomfort. It turned out it didn’t. I told a friend of mine that I had this pain and she recommended I go to a body worker Tracy Dixon to get checked out. I booked 2 appointments that week and after the second appointment the SI pain had gone.

Apparently, SI pain can arise because of where the baby is positioned causing a slight misalignment of something in the pelvis area. Whatever Tracy did it worked. By the following week I was back to my old self. Many women suffer from SI pain in pregnancy, please know that we don’t have to live with it, we can get it fixed which makes life so much more bearable when you can walk without any discomfort. Body workers, pelvic floor physios, massage, acupuncture…. these are all recommended therapies for SI joint pain. You may have to try out a few before finding the one that works but it is so worth it. This is where I am glad to spend money, and grateful we didn’t go crazy buying new expensive items for baby as all these therapies are expensive and even with extended health coverage, they were not 100% covered for us. Body Therapy is not listed under extended health care so that was fully our expense.

Around the same time, I also noticed the effect of all the extra blood & fluid in my body. My feet and ankles started to swell by the end of the working day. It didn’t help that I work at a desk either, I tried elevating my legs each evening to help my body circulate the fluid better. Veins started appearing closer to the top of my skin in my legs, not varicose but very prominent. My whole lower pelvic area was swelling with all the extra blood flow going there too……week 30 for me was like what the hell is going on! Everything seemed to happen in that week…. I was like, “here we go”, “this is the start of it” …. turns out all of the above happened and then faded away and became normal. I still had all the fluid but the swelling reduced & was no longer a problem. The veins were still noticeable but didn’t get worse, hoping they will disappear after and the swelling in the lower pelvic region will also disappear. At this stage no stretch marks had appeared on the belly region.

In addition to the above I got my blood tests back for diabetes testing. I was tested because there is a history of type 1 diabetes in our family. It turns out my blood test came back positive for gestational diabetes. I was informed later that my blood sugar levels were not too far off normal but because of my family history the diabetes clinic wanted to monitor my blood sugar levels. This meant I have several additional appointments to the diabetes clinic to show me how to test my blood and explain how diet can help control diabetes. I was asked to track my blood sugar levels for 1 week before & after each meal using the blood glucose machine they provided. Before & after each meal I pricked my finger and got the glucose machine to read the sugar levels. I recorded the results on a tracking sheet which the clinic provided.

After that week I returned to the clinic and the nurses & doctors reviewed my results and said that my diabetes would be diet controlled and I would not need any insulin or further treatment. For 3 more weeks I monitored my sugar levels every second day. I recorded all my results and returned to the clinic to show them. This time I was informed that my diet was all good and to keep doing what I was doing, which was eating healthy & exercising every day. I no longer had to track or record my bloods. However, my sugar levels will be monitored during and after birth & so will the babies. We both will have to revisit the clinic 6 months after the child is born for a follow up visit to ensure the gestational diabetes is gone. For me being told that I may have gestational diabetes was not a big deal as we have 2 type 1 diabetics in our family so it wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard about. For others it can be really disappointing. These kinds of things happen during pregnancy, there are so many hormonal changes in our bodies and gestational diabetes occurs. With eating healthy and exercising every day for most people this is all you have to do and again with the majority of cases the gestational diabetes disappears after the baby is born. Crazy how our bodies work & how well they can recover.

From week 32/33 to week 36 all was going really well, during that time George and myself had gone away to Victoria for a long weekend which was lovely, we did lots of walking and enjoyed it so much. We went camping to Nairn falls and did a mild hike and had a very peaceful & relaxing time in the woods. After the Nairn falls trip, week 36 the SI pain flared up again but his time on my right side of my body. Thinking it may have been the hiking I did at Nairn that brought it on.

Once I felt the pain, I booked myself in with Tracy Dixon for my body work, hoping she could help fix it after 2 sessions alike the last time. Unfortunately, the body work did not help with this side. In addition, this side was way more painful and was lasting longer than the previous side. After my last session with Tracy she recommended to see a pelvic floor physio & maybe do some acupuncture. I got an appointment for acupuncture that weekend but it didn’t help. I booked an appointment with the pelvic floor physio for the following week. The Physio gave me 2 exercises to work on butterfly and bridge pose and this worked! After the physio I felt a little bit better but after 3 days doing the exercises the SI discomfort was gone completely which was awesome. The SI pain was gone just in time as I had just finished work & was beginning my yoga training that Monday.

The above were the major physical discomforts for me during the 3rd trimester. Overall there was only 3 weeks in total that were uncomfortable. I reckon that’s not too bad, I really believe the whole 3rd trimester would be a slog. So delighted it wasn’t.

The highlights for me during this time were:

  • To hear from the midwifes that the baby’s heartbeat was still strong & she was growing well
  • Our trips to Victoria & Narin falls’
  • How good I felt & that my body was coping well with all the changes
  • Seeing Georges excitement growing as we got closer to the due date
  • Georges constant encouragement & care throughout the whole experience but especially in the 3rd trimester…. he loves my big belly & said he will be sad to see it go…. that makes me love it too
  • My belly button sticking out! I was always freaked out by the thought of my belly button sticking out but when it did it was funny, for the longest time only half had popped out so it looked like a nose…George would draw a face around it….hilarious….it finally did pop fully and It’s something we both love and press like a button! Lol!
  • Completing my Prenatal Yoga course. This course was amazing and I learned so much about pregnancy which was so great, so looking forward to teach and share all my new found knowledge.

I would love to hear about your experience during your 3rd trimester. Everyone is so different & all our experiences are so unique. We come from so many different backgrounds and have different outlooks on pregnancy that everyone’s experience should be heard. The good, the bad & the ugly. If you feel like sharing please leave a comment. Sharing our stories can help others who feel like they are going through changes by themselves but when they read others are going through similar changes it is comforting to know we are not alone.

Thanks for reading,

Feel free to share with a friend and leave a comment.

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

Vinyasa 40 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Semperviva

As I have mentioned many times in my blogs, it was stress and anger issues that brought me to Yoga in the first place, then it was through Vinyasa Yoga at Semperviva that I started to really enjoy it and started to believe that it was something I would be practising for the rest of my life, so when I took my 200 hr yoga teacher training last year I always had the intention of taking some vinyasa training.

I love practising Vinyasa and I love visiting Semperviva’s studio (Kits beach studio is a 4-minute walk away from my home) and I am striving towards 500 hr certification, so I signed up.

Turns out I had to walk another 8 minutes all the way to the City Studio but such is life.

I hadn’t met or practised with Clara Roberts Oss before. I had intended to but the baby yogi in our home kind of meant I had a busy schedule.

From the get go Clara lived up to her reputation, people had told me I would work hard in her training and true enough, 2 hours in, there was so much sweat on my mat, I could have drowned.

To begin each day we came to our mats which were arranged in a circle around a beautiful alter. We were later given the chance to add something to it if we wished. We chanted together for between 20-40 minutes. No pressure to chant if it is not your thing and then we got stuck into a physical practise.

The physical practises were tough, especially 7 days in a row (I skipped one) but we had the option to skip it so long as we observed and noted the poses all the way through.

Lucky, after the second day, I remembered to bring a spare T-Shirt and Towel as we were certainly putting in the work and banging through content also. “Momma aint got time for that,” Clara would likely say.

Some of the physical practises contained little or no vinyasas (flow from downward dog to plank to half plank, up dog or cobra and back to down dog) and sometimes we held the poses for quite a while. This surprised me as I thought flowing through vinyasas and quick transition through the poses were trademarks of Vinyasa.

How much I have to learn.

From a practical standpoint Clara made sure she knew what each individual wanted to learn or take away from the course and she seemed to have memorized everybody’s name after about 22 seconds

Not everybody in the group were teachers. It’s inspiring to see people take their own practise seriously enough to invest time and money into it.

I was disappointed to find I was the only male, we need to see more men in yoga and I think that Vinyasa is exactly the type of practice which can attract more men. Men who are not yogis.

We need to bring the gift of yoga to the bricklayer on the building site, the gym addict who only lifts weights, the bloke who is intimidated to go into a female dominated environment, we need all of these fellows practising yoga because we, as men need it both for our state of mind and for our attitude.

We discussed class sequencing and Clara introduced the concept of Wave Theory. (No, not the theory of the wave motion of light with molecular vibrations of the radiant body, but waves and troughs, peaks and valleys in a yoga class). Planning a Vinyasa yoga class is a whole lot more complicated than I imagined.

This lead into the exploration of different poses, for example handstand and wheel, and a multitude of different ways to assist people. It really brought home the importance of being able to read your class. There is no point in teaching handstand or wheel if it is not something the majority of your class will be willing or able to attempt.

We then went on to dissect peak poses like CSI experts, pulling them apart in so many different ways that allowed us to construct a class from the bits and pieces we found and put them back together like the tin man into a class that consisted of everything we needed to prepare for a peak pose.

We also explored where we have come from as teachers by looking at the lineage of our teachers, that is, who I consider to be my teachers and who they consider to be their teachers?

I always think that from an ancestral point of view that knowing where you come from tells you a lot about yourself. I think the same applies to our teaching, knowing who has thought us and who influences us and in turn their influences. It is something I should make a point to find out more about.

The final day, after another tough practise we had a discussion on the Bhagavat Gita. I enjoyed this book. Stephen Mitchells translation is an easy read and it has lots to offer in the line of living well and it is a topic that one could discuss endlessly.

One of the main things I took away from this course is how much I don’t know and how much more I have to learn. I suppose that partly comes with experience but I would recommend this course to anybody who is either interested in deepening their practise or improving as a teacher, even if you have no intention of ever teaching vinyasa, the knowledge that was available to us through Clara was immense.

Peace,

George

 

 

 

 

Life with No Television: Our Reasons Why & What has Changed

Over the past couple of years, the amount of time we spend each evening watching TV has reduced. We both love watching TV, George loves a good TV series & movie, I love any reality TV show that exposes talent like American Idol, Britain’s got Talent, Dancing with the Stars & The Voice. TV can be a great distraction after a stressful day, it can fill in time when you are bored & can be used to switch off the mind and just veg out. However, watching it every day and using it as a form of procrastination and avoidance is where it turns into a health issue.

There were days we would both come home from work, eat dinner and put on a good show and watch about 3 episodes and go to bed. Our evenings were spent watching TV. We were both with each other but not really connecting. There was very little conversation and we were falling into a routine of our evenings been taken over by the TV screen.

When I look back now, I cannot believe we were like that because we are the total opposite now. How did this change come about? I don’t believe it was one incident but many different things happening over a period of about 2-3 years.

A couple of years ago we watched a really cool documentary called “No Impact Man” about a couple in New York who made major live changes for 1 year to drastically reduce the amount of waste they produced & energy they consumed. This show had such a huge effect on us & is definitely one of the major reasons we decided to reduce our waste.

They recommended that we all should have at least 1 night a week with no electricity which would have a drastic effect on the amount of energy we would waste, they called it Eco night. We adopted Eco night and every Wednesday we do not use any power for the evening. We light candles, read books, play boardgames, have long baths and go to bed super early (Winter). We love them. As a result, no TV watching can happen on this night and this routine of not watching TV gradually extended over time.

Eco night in action

The above couple were very inspiring but we needed to figure out why we wanted to reduce the amount of TV we were watching. We had a conversation regarding where we wanted our lives to go over the next 5-10 years and it was pretty obvious; we needed all the time we could get to work on the areas that needed work.

I decided to go back to school & complete a project management course with UBC part-time in the evenings and weekends for 3 months, George wanted to write a book. Studying and writing need a lot of time & both of us had full time jobs. We got up earlier in the mornings to work on our projects but we also needed all the time we had in the evenings too. This was the first real eye opener for us as to how much time we were wasting in the evenings watching TV. We got so much accomplished with our projects because we had no time for television. We wanted to carry this insight forward and apply it to other personal projects that we always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time to do them.

For example, I started a cooking blog and challenged myself for 1 year to see if I could keep it up, could I commit to something for that long and would I be consistent. The blog itself was very basic and I had 2 followers (my sisters), I don’t even think I made it public it was a personal challenge to see if I could do it. Anyone who writes or blogs knows that a lot of time and effort needs to go into keeping a blog going. This is what I started doing in the evenings instead of watching TV. Of course, there were times I was not in the mood at all for any of my projects and I watched TV but I always felt bad after it.

We both started reading more books on productivity, both for work & personal use. Basically, all of these books advised against watching TV and outlined how much time is wasted watching TV when you could be using your time much more wisely to achieve something you always wanted to achieve.  We started listing the important daily activities that made us feel good. Examples we listed were; exercise, getting outdoors, cooking, reading, writing & self-care. We incorporated these feel good activities into our days and gradually overtime the TV melted into the background.

We basically banned watching TV from Monday to Thursday. Eventually we really didn’t see the point to having a 36” flat screen smart TV in our small apartment. It was the focal point of our living area but it no longer was the focal point of our lives. We set a date for when we would put the TV up for sale, after the last episode of Game of Thrones in June 2019. We posted the sale that evening on Facebook and the TV was picked up the next day.

What our dresser looks like now without the TV

I have to say I panicked a little bit when I came back up to the apartment and there was a huge empty gap on the TV stand. Doubts went through my head if we had made the right decision. We have a baby on the way, would we not need a TV to relax after a hard day or will the child miss out with not having a TV? By the next day I was over my fears and was determined more than ever that this was the best decision for our family. In truth we don’t want to go back to our old ways of mindlessly watching TV…. especially when we have a child. We don’t want to be watching TV when we should be in bed resting and catching up on lost sleep. If we want to see a movie, we will go to the theatre to see it. If we want to see a TV really badly, we have a Netflix account that we can use on our laptop. We don’t need a HUGE TV taking up space and tempting us to turn it on.

We have no TV for almost 2 months now, it’s been great. The best thing for me is that the huge black screen is not facing me when I sit on our couch, instead it has been replaced with plants which are so much nicer. I feel the atmosphere has changed in our living space, it seems brighter and more spacious.

In addition, when we watch a TV show (Ozark) or movie at the weekend it’s a treat & we really enjoy it. We don’t feel bad or guilty about it because we have worked on all our other projects during the week and this is like a reward for getting our shit done.

We would not be able to write blogs, write books, read, cook, exercise, draw, paint, connect with friends if we still were the TV watchers we once were. We are so much happier without the TV. I believe the root to why we got rid of the TV was the fact we decided we wanted more with our lives. We wanted to achieve more in our personal time, we wanted to work on dreams & goals of our own. With the advice & guidance from productivity books it was clear if we wanted to achieve our goals while working in full time jobs, we needed our free time after work & the weekends.

Sit and think about what you want to achieve in your life, how can you break that down into daily tasks. How many hours would you need to spend on those tasks? Where in your life can you make up that time? Look at your TV and ask yourself how much time I spend watching it…….is it time to make the change?

Thanks for reading everyone,

I hope you found this helpful.

As always, we would love to hear any comments or suggestions you may have.

Have a great week,

Theresa xxx