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The Second Trimester: A Personal Experience

Here we are on the edge of entering into the third trimester of our first pregnancy. A good time to take a moment and reflect on the past few months and document the personal experiences along the way.

 

Overall pregnancy for me has been a positive and gradual change. Honestly there hasn’t been any major dramas or changes that were overwhelming to deal with. Changes are slow and steady, just what we need when our bodies are changing shape, hormones are being produced, extra blood created and a little human growing inside.

 

Before getting pregnant I had a completely different perception of what pregnancy would feel like. Uncomfortable, large, sweaty, swollen, tired & different. These are some of the words I would have used to describe how I would predict I would feel during this experience. The reality is none of these apply…..yet! Right now, I am really enjoying the whole experience and living each day as it comes. Sure, towards the end, all of the above may apply but I want to remember that that was just the end, a small percentage of the time. I think sometimes we can remember the not so great parts of an experience better than the regular everyday “how it really was” parts. This is one of the major reasons I wanted to document my experience so I can pass on my experience to other new moms and my daughter in the future. We need to document how pregnancy really is so we can create an accurate picture of the whole experience instead of just the later not so great part, a tiny portion of the journey.

 

The following is a memoir of my second trimester, the highs and lows and how we (myself & George) dealt with everything that came our way.

 

The first major exciting event for us in the second trimester was seeing our baby for the second time. The ultrasound this time round was far more detailed and we got to see our baby’s heartbeat, legs, arms, feet, hands, spine, head and all the facial features. At first our baby was shy and was facing towards my spine so all we could see was the back of the body and a side profile. The technician asked us to go for a walk so that the baby would turn around as she needed to take photos of the baby facing away from the spine. After our walk the baby moved and we could see it from a different angle which was really nice. The baby was super active and was moving and kicking the whole time. It was really funny & emotional seeing the little legs on the screen back kicking my belly and feeling it at the same time……surreal.

 

We were both so happy to hear that our baby looked healthy and had a strong heartbeat. We had decided we wanted to find out the sex but were disappointed that day as the technician could not tell us. She would pass the scans along to our midwife and they would tell us. That meant we had to wait another week. Disappointing but not the end of the world. Just relieved our baby was so healthy looking.

 

After the scan George and myself went for a cup of tea and a sweet in an afternoon tea café called “The Secret Garden” and we were both beaming looking at the baby pictures from the scan. We both had to go back to work after so it was nice to have that time together before going back to real life.

The weeks leading up to the scan were a little bit stressful as we got a positive result back from our genetic screening test that meant I needed to get additional tests to confirm if our baby had down syndrome or not. Apparently 80% of women who take a 1st genetic screening test get a positive result but only about 10% or less of those babies would have a genetic defect.

 

At first, I was not worried because the odds were so low but as time went on it was the only thing I could think about. The worry if our child did have down syndrome, what would we do? We would have to research a lot about raising a child with down syndrome and connect with other families who had down syndrome children, find professionals to explain how having a child with downs would be different and how we would have to adapt. It took 2 weeks to get the results back from the second screening and those 2 weeks I have to say were emotionally hard. Of course, everyone wants their baby to be born healthy and free from any genetic defects. However, the reality of life is we have no control. It was completely out of our hands and for those 2 weeks myself & George really did have to come to terms with the fact that we may be having a baby with down syndrome.

 

First of all, we both had made the decision very early in the pregnancy that no matter what kind of baby we have we would be keeping our child & abortion or termination would never be an option for us. This is a totally personal choice and not associated with religious or spiritual believes, it was just our choice. We confirmed this decision when we got our genetic results back. Georges reaction to the news was so comforting, it wasn’t even an option for him that we would ever give up our baby. Nothing changed in those 2 weeks about how we felt about our child. We both loved the little human so much already that we couldn’t imagine losing it. The connection was there and no matter what, we wanted to parent this child, even if the road might be a little different or more difficult than what we had first imagined.

 

We finally got the call from our midwife at 7:30pm on a Thursday to confirm that our baby did not have down syndrome and that we no longer needed to worry about it. Honestly, I was so relieved. I cried. Going through this experience was a huge eye opener for both of us. Right away it puts life into perspective. The little worries you may have on a daily basis fade away and all that matters is your child and your family. How can we provide the best for our child and how we as parents can cope with unexpected news. It was definitely a growing experience for us and one that personally I won’t forget.

Life can turn all your expectations upside down in minutes, it’s how we deal with this unexpected change is what’s important. This is something I want to keep close to my heart for the rest of our lives as our child for sure will test us in ways we will never even imagine. This experience has thought me to be open, to not be cemented into my own expectations of what my child will be, we as parents really hope that we will let our child be whoever it wants to be without placing our ideals & expectations of what our child should be onto it.

Even though those 2 weeks were emotionally though, I wouldn’t change a thing as what we gained from that experience was invaluable. When I told my parents that there may be a chance, we may have a child with down syndrome my mother automatically responded saying that down syndrome children are wonderful. That’s who I want to be for my child.

 

The next big memorial moment from the second trimester was when we found out about the sex of our baby. We really didn’t care wether our baby was a boy or a girl. We wanted to find out so we could refer to it by he or she and not by it! We are those people who could not wait until the birth to find out the sex. We needed to know. We were told after our second scan that our midwife would call us in a week or so to let us know about the sex. However, we didn’t get a call and I followed up with our midwife to see why and they had made an error on the ultrasound forms and forgot to tick the box that we wanted to know the sex of the baby.

 

However, because we had done the 2nd screening for the genetic testing they can tell by those blood samples whether our baby was male or female. It took a few extra days but we got the call from our midwife around 11:00am midweek to let us know we were having a little baby girl. That moment I was on my break from work on my regular 30min walk. I was so happy! It felt like a real surprise as everyone was convinced, I was having a boy, even my dentist! Lol! George was certain we were having a boy, apparently, he could feel it in his bones! So funny! He is from a family of boys so the idea of a girl was alien to him.

 

Straight away I couldn’t wait to tell him…..he was in a work retreat that day and I could not get through to him until the end of day. When I told him, it was a girl he was so surprised! It was so great to hear him thinking out loud of how he was going to be a father to a little girl. “I don’t know how to deal with little girls” was his reply, I was laughing so hard and told him he would have to learn. He was so happy! Again, our expectations were turned on their heads. We only had boys’ names picked and had no idea of girl’s names. Our little girl is testing us so much and she isn’t even born yet! It was the best surprise yet. Now we could call our baby our little girl.

Over the 3 months in this semester I felt great. I had lots of energy and was trying to get in my 10,000 steps a day, going to a prenatal yoga class at the weekends and snow shoeing here and there when I could. I love moving and walking was my preferred choice of exercise throughout my whole pregnancy so far. Being outside and moving makes me feel so good and I really think our baby likes it. Before my 11am and 2pm break in work baby begins to move and kick as if she is telling me it’s time to go for your walk, get up and go! I have the same routing in work, I go for walks on my breaks just to get energy following and get outside in the fresh air.

 

Don’t get me wrong I would not be up for going on major hikes like what we would normally do but walking along the beach and up moderate hills feels good. Elevation is where I really feel the difference in my breath while being pregnant. I’m much slower going up the tougher hills than I used to be but I am pregnant so I just take it slow;-)

 

Emotionally I would say I have been stable throughout so far. I believe George will agree! Lol! The one thing that I really have to work on is getting my iron levels up, a common problem in pregnant women, except my Iron levels are extremely low and I may need transfusions closer to the end if I cannot get the levels up. Right now, I am on 300mg of iron a day and take it in the evenings as it is supposed to absorb better at night. Fingers crossed the levels rise. Even though the iron levels are really low, I am feeling great, I don’t feel tired and forget I am pregnant sometimes, until I go tie my shoes or move too fast to turn in bed and my belly muscles start telling me to slow it down.

 

Food wise we have been eating really well and haven’t been craving anything weird. We are eating lots of whole foods. I love to cook and really love cooking healthy, hearty meals that are tasty. I believe this is probably helping with how I feel too. Food is so important to help nourish mommy, daddy & baby. Both of us haven’t been sick at all during the pregnancy either so we are doing well.

 

Meditation is something we do every day in the mornings but since becoming pregnant I have been drawn to it even more. Yoga Nidra is something I had never tried before pregnancy and now it is a class I look forward to every week. My friend Aisling provided a 6-week course of Yoga Nidra sessions for 1 hour on a Sunday at 6pm. I looked forward to Sunday evenings just to get that hour to fully relax and meditate. Her new class series begins again this week and I cannot wait.

 

The below are some other little highlights of the second trimester:

 

  • Feeling our baby kick for the first time and every day after (around 20-21 weeks)
  • Choosing our babies name which we love so much but wont’ reveal to anyone until she is born
  • George reading our babies first book to her every night. I swear she stops moving when she hears her Daddy read. The first book we bought her was of course on Irish Mythology
  • Sourcing the stroller, bassinet, car seat and chair from Facebook market place (a blog coming soon on what we bought and why)
  • Starting to read some books on how to plan for the 3 months after the baby arrives (will give the list of all books I read in the third trimester blog)
  • Asked my Mum to come over to help with baby once George goes back to work after taking 2 weeks off…. super excited as my parents have not been in Vancouver for about 6 years…. we go home every year

 

 

Overall the second trimester was a hugely positive experience and we learned so much about being a parent already. We are looking forward to the next phase and what it may bring. We are enjoying each day as it comes and trying to savour our time together as a couple before our world is changed forever. A duo becomes a trio, a family.

 

Thank you so much for reading.

 

If you would like to share anything please do.

 

Have a great week.

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xx

Who Do You Believe Is In Control Of Your Destiny?

What is your dream and how will you get there?

Do you dream big or do you settle for what you have?

You may already have everything you want but that doesn’t mean you don’t stop reaching. It doesn’t mean you stop searching.

If you have every step of your path laid out before you, then you know which direction to turn in your search when you are lost. Maybe you feel that you have already arrived at your destination. Ask yourself – have you? The journey doesn’t end so therefore the search doesn’t end.

Who do you believe is in charge of you and your destiny?

Is it the system?

Is it the beurocrats, the politicians, the government, your boss, your wages, your talents? No. These are all just aspects of your life.

I feel that the key word here is believe. Who do you BELIEVE is in charge or your destiny? It’s not society, it’s not the people who wronged you, forget them.

YOU ARE IN CHARGE, whether you believe that or not.

There’s that word again. That belief is what is important. That belief is what makes or breaks you. That belief defines you and shapes you into the person you will become.

If you don’t believe, then you will not change. Stand up, raise your chin, pull your shoulders back and declare to all in a strong voice “I am in charge of my own destiny.” Grab the bull the horns and get out there into the storm of a world we have to weather and take what is yours.

Take your destiny.

I speak metaphorically here, but the power is there, all you have to do is take charge. You have the power to get out of bed and go for a run before work. You have the power to spend one hour less watching Netflix and read a book from the library. You have the power to chose a salad or a pizza.

You are in charge of your destiny and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Who do you think was in charge of Christopher Reeves destiny? Or Stephen Hawking? Or Viktor Frankl? Was it the horse that threw superman to the ground and broke his back? Motor neurone disease which slowed the world renowned physicist down to a physical stop but did it take charge of his life? The Nazis took everythign from Frankl but they did not best him.

Paralyzing injuries, debilitating sickness and an army of evil could not overpower these people.

They had the drive to keep going, to push through the hardest, life ending moments, to crawl through a river of shit and come out clean on the other side just like Andy Defresne in The Shawshank Redemption.

Forget about the privelaged folk who have everything, forget about the people you think you need to compare yourself to – they are not in charge of your destiny.

They do not care about your destiny. It is in your hands and you are in charge.

Take a pause and look around. Where are you? What are you going to do next? What did you eat today? Did you exercise? What did you learn? If you dont like the answer to any of these questions, remember that the rest of your life starts now and you are in control.

You have the power to change and shape your destiny as you chose. Not as someone else choses but as you chose.

Get up, look up, get out there and do what it is that makes you feel strong and powerful and keep on doing it. Keep on looking up.

You have the power to do what you want.

Peace,

George

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The Yamas – There Is More To Yoga Than Postures

There comes a point in everyones life when our brains are so full of thoughts, decisions and emotions that we come to a stop. Our joints dry up like the tin man in The Wizard of Oz and we slow down and stall.

I read a parable about two monks who were about to cross a river when they saw a woman who needed help to cross. One monk carried her and the other monk berated him after, “We are forbidden to touch women,” he said. “How could you do this?”

“I put the woman down on the other side of the river,” replied the other monk, “but you are still carrying her.”

I have carried thoughts and worries with me for a long time. I carried them like a great weight, my shoulders and back were constantly tense and I did not realize I could put it all to one side.

We pick up our problems and hold onto them for dear life like they are our precious possessions. So important are these problems that we carry them everywhere. We do not put them down.

After a time, I realized that three simple things would allow me to put down my burdens:

  1. Exercise
  2. Fresh air
  3. Meditation

For me, yoga is a door way to these paths, it is also a catalyst for consistency. Yoga is not just postures, it is not just meditation, these are important aspects of yoga but each is only one of eight parts.

The Eight Limb path of Yoga is laid out as follows:

  1. Yamas – Moral restraints
  2. Niyamas – Observances
  3. Asana – Postures
  4. Pranayama – Mindful Breathing
  5. Pratyahara – Turning Inward
  6. Dharana – Concentration
  7. Dhyana – Meditation
  8. Samadhi – Union with the object of meditation

I instruct yoga once a week at the Rob Lee YMCA on Burrard Street, guiding people through the asana (postures). I do my best to emphasize the importance of breath, though I find it difficult to get that across but in light of the above, I teach only a small part of yoga in my classes.

Over the next week I plan to explore one of the eight limbs of yoga in more detail – The Yamas.

The Yamas, to me, are a moral guide to how we should make our way through life. They are just as much a part of yoga as the postures we practise in class. The yamas are as follows:

  1. Ahimsa – Non-harming
  2. Satya – Truthfulness
  3. Asteya – Nonstealing
  4. Brahmacarya – Moderation
  5. Aparigraha – Nonhoarding

We can all practise an aspect of yoga without ever stepping on a mat.

Ahimsa

We can inflict violence on ourselves and others in many different ways. Physical violence plagues our planet, sometimes it may be hidden behind closed doors other times it is out in the open rearing its ugly head for all to see.

There is the violence of rage, which can be silent and contemplative, seething like a sickness, or loud and boisterous like an angry thunderstorm.

The violence of thoughts, when the anger rises in our minds and we think of lashing out.

It can be as simple as an unkind word or thoughts which, when we allow them will light a spark that can burn into an anger that sits with us, hidden in the background.

I have said before that a successful day starts the night before. My Sunday night consisted of staying up late working on the iPad. I found it hard to sleep after the screen time, the blue light firing my braincells up like a Christmas tree, my thoughts going back and forth like Forest Gump whacking a ping pong ball.

The result was that I stayed in bed later the next morning. It’s funny how much of a knock on effect that has. Instead of my regular 20 minute meditation session I gave it 5 minutes.

I set out with the intention of nonviolence but was not set up to carry that through.

I often talk about finding our true selves. I also wonder if we can lose our true selves. As I drove to work I met a lady who hesitated at a fourway stop. She looked at me like I was an idiot and I reacted in anger. That is where we lose our true selves, it is not the real me. Just like the monks at the river, I put that person down a long time ago, but he comes back sometimes. If we were face to face neither of us would have reacted like that.

Two more times I got frustrated on the way to work. A strong person would have noticed the impulse to react, felt it and let it settle and become still like a ripple in water. The person who meditated for twenty minutes that morning would have let it go also.

Meditation (Dharana), just like the Yamas is another part of yoga. They are all interdependent. One leads into the other. Yoga is a way of life, not just a physical practise. That was obvious to me on my first day to examine the Yamas.

Satya

Tuesday brought me to Satya (truthfulness). It is a difficult one to put into action. It can be interpreted in different ways. This evening I was coming to the end of a difficult yoga practice when bridge or wheel pose was offered by the teacher.

Sometimes I will attempt wheel for two or three breaths when my body is warmed up and I decided for my third round I would go for it. The offer from the teacher was either pose.

It was then I realized that I was doing this pose for my ego rather than because it was what my body needed. This was the truth of my yoga practise. I came to the matt open to honesty and ready to practise truthfully.

Satya refers to truth both in thought and action. It can be found in many places in our lives, we just need to open our eyes to it.

There are many forms of dishonesty but dishonesty with ones self is the most difficult to escape. It is invisible and sneaks into our lives like a dark ghost in the night. Only with constant practise and mindfulness of Satya can we ward off this spectre.

Asteya

Asteya (non stealing) can take many forms aside from the obvious, for example, when we do not give our full effort to those who have paid for our services, we retain some of the attention and effort which has been promised to others.

This is human nature, I take out my phone in work and see a notification which is more interesting than what I am working on and my fish mind takes the bait. We fly to the shiny object like a moth to a candle.

How many times through out the day is our time or attention stolen by those who it is not intended for. My attention is intended for those who have put their hard earned cash into paying for it, or for those who I love and who deserve my attention and those who are kind and have earned my respect through friendship or courtesy.

The mindless attention leaches on social media and plastered over unsightly billboards do not deserve our attention, yet they latch onto us and drag us down into the depths of cat videos or online shopping and literally steal hours a week from us.

Non stealing can be looked at either directly or indirectly but either way the most precious things we have, our time and attention can be stolen from us or else not directed towards those who deserve it. Our most precious gifts should be held tight to our chests and given to those who matter most or those to whom we owe a debt.

Brahmacarya

This means moderation. I am vegetarian but I am also a realist. The world will never turn vegetarian or vegan though, this change would have a huge impact on climate change and eliminate unethical treatment of animals.

Eating meat is natural in the animal kingdom but over consumption is not. We eat so much beef that cows farts are literally choking the planet to death.

Whether vegetarian or carnivorous, we all have a responsibility to the home we will pass onto our children. Eating ethically sourced meat mindfully, in moderation will have an impact on this planet of a magnitude many of us do not realize.

Brahmacarya can save us, for we have nowhere else to go.

Brahmacarya can also apply on the mat in relation to the extent of the physical practise. We are always encouraged to push our selves. According to David Goggins, when we think we are spent, we have only reached the 40% mark.

This is true, but we must keep in mind humility and moderation. Taking your body straight to handstand without the experience and practise is not pushing yourself to your limits, it is pushing yourself to certain injury. It will serve your ego rather than your development.

Aparigraha

Non-hoarding. We often, by our nature, accumulate items. We fill our lives with stuff which takes up space both in our homes and in our minds. There is nothing more freeing than letting go of items we don’t need.

A cluttered space is a cluttered mind. The things you own start to own you. More space and more things require more time and maintenance. In my opinion we should only spend our time on those things we really love. If we free ourselves from those things that do not add to our lives we liberate our minds.

Just like the monks who crossed the river, we are guilty of mental hoarding. We hold onto emotions even when the moment has long past and they do not serve us. Often times I find my mind wander back to some perceived wrong which I still carry like the monks at the river. I hoard it.

In conclusion I encourage you, if you are a yoga practitioner, to go deeper and explore how we can take the entire practise, not just the the postures and breath work, off the matt into our everyday lives. Practise yoga every day, not necessarily twisted like a pretzel or meditating on a mountain top, but by being aware of the eight limbs of yoga and putting them into practise as much as possible.

There is much to offer, dig deep and you will find it.

If you liked the blog you would pay me a huge compliment by sharing it.

Thanks for reading,

Peace.

George