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new mom

Finding Space to Think & Hear My Thoughts

I sit writing this blog perched on my bed with a cushion under my laptop & me sitting upright in a crossed-legged position in front of the cushion. Its 8:43 am and we have finished breakfast and baba is ready to have her morning playtime. Usually, it would be mama who plays with baba while dada goes to work. However, its Saturday and dada is home. I have decided to take 30-40 minutes of alone time in the bedroom to write. Just as I write the first 3 words of this blog I hear the excited breathing of my 9-month-old crawling towards the open bedroom door. A little scratch on the door to push it open and she appears with the biggest brightest smile. She found mama. It’s so hard to resist such a cutie, the love I feel for her is so strong it’s hard not to pick her up & go play with her. However, I have learned over the past 10 months that I must carve out a little time or space for me to think, read or write every day. This time however it failed as baba wanted her mama.

Our little girl is almost 10 months old; she is still very much attached to me. I am still nursing her and will continue until she is 12 months. Until then she will still be very attached to me. As a new mom, I have found the lack of personal time the hardest thing. The interrupted sleep I can deal with, it’s not having the opportunity to turn off or reset when I want to is the hardest. I run by baby schedule, which changes all the time & keeps me on my toes. The only thing I can do is accept this and know that I will get my quiet time back someday and to comprise a little until then.

Quiet time for me can be just 5 minutes being left alone. That can be 5 minutes in the bath, drinking my tea really slow, reading, sitting and doing nothing, staring into space & having the capacity to let thoughts pop up. These are the moments that I miss, however, I have been trying to intentionally fit small snippets into my day so I can breathe, take note of where I am, what I am doing, how I am feeling and basically being aware of that moment of time.

One thing that is guaranteed in my day is my daily walk. My walk is a ritual that I prefer to save for myself & my sleeping baba. I prefer to savour this time for me. I prefer not to meet people for a chat on my walk as I use it as a time to think, clear my head and just be aware of my mood, my body & my surroundings. It may seem unsocial & it is but I need it. Others may crave the opposite they need human connection & to chat to feel better, I’m not like that, quite the opposite, I like to be alone and think things through myself. It makes me come across as a little bit unsocial at times. To be clear I am a very social person but there is a time and a place for me. Being social with people I need to be in the right headspace, to get there I need space to decompress before meeting others.

Once evening comes and baba is in bed, I am wrecked physically & mentally. My ritual is to make a pot of camomile tea and have a treat. I savour this simple moment before moving forward with the evening. I like to sit in silence for at least 10minutes before chatting George. I usually have 2 hours in the evening before bed to unwind. My favourite ways to unwind are to read, play a board game or watch a funny tv show. For now, my evenings are spent inside as baba takes a while to really settle down to sleep, I’m the only person who can settle her right now.

Our baby is still very much dependent on me and because of that the freedom of doing what I want when I need it is not available. Lately, I have been dreaming about going to a yoga/mediation retreat in some warm place to rest & relax. Perhaps the reason for this is because I watched “Eat Pray Love” recently or its because I really need rest. I know this period of my baby’s development is short and she will sleep through the night and will need her father more in the very near future. For now, small snippets of peace & silence will do & I will try fit them in as many places as possible. Dreaming of future silent retreats in sunny destinations will also help. My aim moving forward is to keep my daily habits of walking by myself & meditating 15 minutes a day, to this I will add as many minutes as possible of quiet alone time to do nothing. Wish me Luck;-)

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Our Decision to Breastfeed Our Baby: Why & How Are We Preparing for It?

Firstly, George & myself have tried to keep an open mind about all our decisions throughout this pregnancy. We understand that what we have planned may not work out. This applies to breastfeeding also. Coming from Ireland at a young age our exposure to breast feeding has been limited. At the beginning of our pregnancy I said to George that I would like to give breastfeeding a go but if for some reason it doesn’t work out then we will bottle feed our baby. I believe if the process is causing too much stress and disappointment then mother & baby are both suffering. We would like to avoid this situation at all cost.

 

Generally, when we make a decision, we do our research and prepare ourselves as much as possible to succeed, then if it doesn’t work out, we have the comfort of knowing we did all we could. We applied the same attitude to breast feeding. With limited exposure to breastfeeding other than feedback from friends in Canada (not all feedback was great) I decided I needed to learn more. Friends advise is great but everyone’s experience with breastfeeding is so unique, I wanted to speak to a specialist so they could explain why, how and the method of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding for me did not seem like a natural thing. The idea of producing milk & feeding my child from my own body honestly was completely alien to me. I needed help and guidance to change my mindset so I could see this process as a natural & special connection with our baby.

 

The first step to expanding my knowledge was to download a book called “Guide to Breastfeeding” by Ina May. I would recommend every woman who is planning on breastfeeding to read this book. Ina May is a huge advocate for breastfeeding and gave solutions to all problems & issues that may arise during the process. She is convinced that all women can and should breastfeed. After reading this book it built up my confidence that if I am having trouble at any stage of feeding there is always a solution, for me that is very comforting.

 

During my pregnancy I have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes & my haemoglobin levels are way below average but I am non symptomatic. Having low iron levels & diabetes could make breastfeeding a little more complicated at the beginning. If myself or the baby are not so great after the birth, it may occur that I am unable to breastfeed right away. Also, if there are complications during the birth it may create a situation that breast feeding right away may not happen.

 

For the above reasons I wanted to meet with a lactation consultant so she could answer my questions which were very specific to my pregnancy and to help paint a picture of when breastfeeding begins, how to breast feed and how we could prepare for any situation after birth.

I searched online for a lactation consultant and found Mommy’s Milk (www.mommysmilk.ca). I booked a private at home consultation with Shannon Joyce at about week 28.

 

In addition to learning how to breastfeed and how we can prepare for complications I really wanted to know how to use a breast pump and when I could pump. A friend of mine gave me her pump and said it was so useful. George really wants to be involved in feeding the baby and I am all for it;-) Its just that I don’t know how to do it and when he can start feeding!

 

Shannon arrived in the afternoon on a Saturday, George left us so we could have the space to ourselves. Shannon asked what my expectations were from our meeting and I told her what I wanted to know. She was such a pleasant person & put me at ease straight away. She listened to all my concerns and passed no judgement just offered her knowledge and wisdom.

 

Shannon went through her presentation on her laptop with me which covered the topics below:

 

  • Benefits of breast feeding for mom & baby
  • How breastmilk changes
  • How milk production works
  • What we should expect in the first 24 hours
  • How to hand express
  • What is colostrum
  • Best time for breastfeeding
  • How often to breastfeed
  • What are babies hunger cues?
  • How to establish a good milk supply
  • Steps to a good latch
  • How to tell if your baby is getting enough milk
  • Frequency and duration of feeds
  • Pumping and storing breastmilk
  • Partner involvement in breastfeeding
  • Breast related concerns
  • When to seek help

To say I learned a lot is an understatement. The majority of the topics above I didn’t even think of before our session. For me the most relevant topic to my situation was that you can self-express from 37 weeks and store your colostrum in vials or syringes in the freezer. Therefore, if anything happens after the birth that I cannot feed my baby I will have a supply of colostrum ready for George to feed the baby until I have my energy back up. It may not come to that but I would like to prepare for it. This is the first time I ever heard of this and I’m sure I am not the only one.

 

After the presentation Shannon demonstrated how to set up, use & clean my pump. During the presentation she used puppets and props to give me excellent visuals of how you know your baby is latched on well and where the baby’s head, chin & nose should be positioned to get a great latch.

 

She insisted breastfeeding should not be a painful process, it may be uncomfortable for the first few moments but then it gets to feel more natural. She insisted that no one should have sore nipples or suffer when feeding. Her advice is to stop feeding and reposition the baby until it does not hurt even if the baby starts crying.

To say I gained knowledge and confidence from this experience is an understatement. Knowledge truly is power. I highly recommend spending the money on seeing a lactation consultant before your baby arrives. This is where your money is well spent, forget about fancy cribs & strollers…. spend the money on services like the above which will make your life and the baby’s life a lot easier from day 1.

 

I now have the confidence that I can breastfeed even if complications occur & I am looking forward to it which I never thought I would. I’m hoping it will be a time for myself & my little girl to bond and be happy. After 6 weeks George can then have this experience with feeding the breastmilk from a bottle and doing skin on skin with the little person.

 

We are excited about the idea of breastfeeding and will definitely give it our best shot! Hoping all works out but you just never know. I will write a follow-up blog to this on how it all went.

 

Thanks so much for reading,

 

Have a great week,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa

The First Trimester: A Personal Experience

For the past couple of years, I have been tracking my period on a monthly basis. Logging in my bullet journal the date my period started and the date it ended. The reason why I started doing this was to understand my body and my emotions better. The week before my period I would crave sweets, be moody as hell and generally not be myself. By logging my period, I prepared myself for the changes and understood why I was craving certain foods and feeling a bit sad. It was so better knowing it was my hormones and not me who was the crazy one.

To make a long story short my cycle was exactly 26 days each month. It’s crazy how like clockwork my period would arrive. When myself & George were in Cuba on holidays and my period did not show I knew there was something up. We wanted to get pregnant but just couldn’t believe that it happened so soon! Believe me I am not complaining and I know how lucky I am, still I felt a little un prepared.

Before leaving for our month trip to Cuba and Argentina I went to see our Doctor to explain to him that we were planning on having children in the near future. I was looking for his advice on how should I prepare my mind & body before getting pregnant. He mentioned 2 things, to take folic acid and to avoid getting pregnant in Cuba (something about catching the Ezekiel Virus there).  I purchased the folic acid and was actually pregnant already so I didn’t really break any of his rules. Lol!

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Taking a snooze in the middle of the day in Mendoza, this was one of those emotional, I want to go home days…So unlike me!

After the first week in Cuba we knew I was pregnant, no period and my boobs were sore and swollen. We decided not to take a pregnancy test until we got back to Vancouver a few weeks later, as we wanted to confirm the news in our own home.

During the first month on holidays I experience a few moments of slight queasiness particularly after eating eggs. I stopped eating eggs and the queasiness occurred less. To say I have a sweet tooth is an understatement, at any other time in my life Buenos Aires would have been a dream come true, cakes and sweets on every corner. My body obviously was not having any of it as cake made me queasy. (let’s hope it continues after pregnancy…best diet ever!)

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In my PJ’s at 6:00pm reading a great book, fell asleep sitting up! So funny how I had no control over how tired I felt in the evenings. Out like a light. George always ready to take snaps of his sleeping wife!

Foods I craved in the first Trimester were hummus, beans, lentils (We are vegetarian), any plant-based protein really and lots of vegetables. Honestly my diet improved in the first trimester. My appetite increased and I was gaining weight. In the first trimester I gained 7 lbs.

Emotionally I definitely was not myself. On holidays I occasionally felt anxious to get back to Canada and would have little moments of panic to go back home to Ireland or Vancouver. This is extremely strange for me as I am not one to panic, I couldn’t really explain it. My personality was off, George would ask “are you a bit out of sorts?” I couldn’t explain it better myself, I would have moments or periods of feeling a bit out of sorts, not sad, mad, happy or anything in specific just a bit bland. Again, not like me.

My energy levels changed too. I was tired so early in the evenings. I would want to go to bed at 7:00pm. However, in the morning & during the day I had my normal high energy levels. I really don’t have much to complain about as I didn’t have morning sickness and I could go to work as normal after returning from a month holiday. I really did feel good.

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Normally I would do my exercise in the evenings, usually a Vinyasa or kundalini yoga class where I could build strength and sweat, this changed and has remained so since I got pregnant. In the first trimester I was so tired in the evening that I couldn’t think of exercise. The only exercise I got in was my 1 hours walk on my lunch break every day. It’s something.

Usually I would take photos for my Instagram account, work on my blog during free time in the evenings and at weekends but I lost all drive to work on these areas of my life. Its only now in my second trimester that I want to go back working on my blog and Instagram. Honestly, I just lost all interest in those projects I cannot explain why but I did.

The above are all the changes I personally went through and cannot be compared to any other experience as we are all so different. With the above changes there were some really cool moments in the first trimester too.

Highlights of the first trimester:

  • Deciding to call our baby Pebble until its born
  • Seeing the positive result on the pregnancy test
  • Seeing our baby for the first time at our first scan at 11 weeks
  • Hearing the babies heart beat at 11 weeks
  • Telling our parents, the happy news
  • Telling our brothers & sisters the happy news
  • Telling our friends, neighbours and relatives the happy news
  • Receiving so much love and well wishes from everyone who we told
  • Meeting my midwife for the first time (I was on a waiting list so I was relived & happy to meet Clare)
  • Hearing our babies heart beat at 13 weeks
  • Thankful I could still fit into most of my clothes at the end of the trimester (delaying buying maternity clothes for as long as I can)
  • Both of us deciding we want to find out the sex at the next scan
  • Seeing how excited George is throughout the whole process & how much he loves Pebble already

 

We would love to hear about your experience or any great advise you would have for new parents!

 

Have a great week,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xx