Baby Shower! 35 weeks 6 days

OMG. Tomorrow I will be 36 weeks! One more week until “Full-Term” and 4 more weeks until due date. I can’t believe it’s coming up so quick!

This last weekend my friend and neighbor threw me an adorable baby shower. I felt so much love from my friends and family who helped me celebrate. I really felt spoiled by all the stuff I received.

Here’s a picture with some of my family members who attended the shower:

baby shower

As I get closer I feel less ready for the labor! I am sure all mom’s to be go through this… I thought I was ready – and I AM ready in a lot of ways. But goodness, the thoughts of labor can be overwhelming. I am taking a birthing class, that has been labeled as a Hypnobirthing class, but when I read descriptions of what Hypnobirthing is, I don’t think this class 100% fits the bill. I am under no delusions that I will be able to hypnotize myself into a trance during my labor that will allow me to not feel pain or experience my birth. I have only been to one class so far, but this class was really great. I love the instructor.

A few take aways from that class:

  • She does not like the term “natural” to describe an un-medicated birth. It implies that if medicine is used, it somehow becomes an un-natural birth. So instead she chooses to just call it an un-medicated birth.
  • She rejects the “birthing without fear” methods because she thinks it’s okay to acknowledge our fear and birth through it, not try to deny it is there.
  • Women should follow their birthing instincts and not feel inhibited from using movement, vocalizations, etc… as they labor.

I still can’t help but wonder how I will handle it. You never really know how your labor/birth experience is going to be. I hope I can handle it without the medications, I am trying to have confidence in my abilities…but doubts are creeping in.

Any advice out there from mom’s? However you chose to birth (medicated or un-medicated) I am open to any assuring words you can offer me! 

A Day Without A Woman. 34 Weeks

Last week I participated in Day Without A Woman on International Women’s Day by attending a rally at my state capitol, wearing red, and not making any purchases that day.

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I did not strike. I was lucky enough to be able to work from home, hoping that my physical absence may be felt, but my work would still get done. There are two reason I chose not to strike. One, being that I am pregnant, I will need the time off for maternity leave. My company offers FMLA leave, which allows me to be out for up to 480 work hours without risk of losing my job (roughly three months). But any pay I am to receive during that time comes from my accumulated sick and vacation time, so using it now means I don’t get to use it later. Some may say this is exactly why I should strike – to show that this policy is inadequate to meet the needs of new moms and dads. That we should have better paid leave policies for maternity/paternity. These are things that I agree with and would fight for. But my second reason for not striking is a bit more compelling…

I work with all women. My team is all women, and though we work for a larger organization that has these maternity leave policies, the work I am doing right now affects the long term careers of these other women. They were relying on me to meet a deadline with my piece of the project so they could continue with theirs. Our failure on this project would not affect the overall organization we work for very much, but it would affect the careers of these other women. It simply did not make sense to me to hold these other women back in any way. 

Striking was a good choice for many. In a different circumstance I would have participated in the strike. Not because I think that I suffer injustices at work for being a woman (like I said, working with all women eliminates a lot of the discrimination other women suffer). I feel I am adequately and fairly compensated and am encouraged in my career growth. However, it is not for me that I participated in the rally.

It is for all the other women who could not rally

  • women who do suffer injustices at work
  • women who are paid less than a man for the same work
  • women who cannot take personal leave without the risk of being fired or reprimanded
  • women who are sick of a mostly male government deciding what she can and cannot do with her body
  • women who are accused of “bringing it on themselves” when they have been assaulted or abused
  • women who are told they aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, curvy enough, tall enough, short enough, funny enough, smart enough, nice enough or good enough to meet our impossible standards of women
  • women who are sick of being ignored

I rallied because I wish for a better future for my daughter. As women we have all felt at least some of the things I listed above. There are certainly more things that could be added to this list, these are just the ones that come immediately to mind. I know I cannot shelter my daughter from all of these cultural injustices and she will some day experience some of these. My hope is that it gets better as times wears on. I did feel an energy at the rally that was really encouraging. We need to keep the energy alive and not let it wane.

The saddest part of the Day Without A Woman protests were the attacks from other women. The last thing we need is to tear each other down for standing up for what we believe. Even if it isn’t something that you care about or believe in, we should be proud that we are even allowed to have our own opinions that can be expressed publicly! It’s the women who came before us that have allowed us this expression. How you use it is your choice, but isn’t that a beautiful thing too!

In pregnancy news I am 34 weeks today! Only 6 short weeks to go. I cannot believe we are getting this close!

Did any of you participate in any of the Day Without A Woman activities? How did it go?

Anyone with daughters have advice on raising them to be confident and secure? 

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

 

 

Finding Balance

So I will be 28 weeks along tomorrow! I am officially in my third trimester – home stretch!

third-trimester

It’s becoming clearer to me by the day (by the minute!) that I need to take care of myself first and foremost. Because right now, caring for myself and my baby are one in the same.

But there are so many things happening so quickly in the world around us. It is hard not to want to simultaneously get outraged at ALL of it, and bury my head in the sand and ignore it all. I see friends on both extremes. The ones posting constant Facebook updates of what has is happening and how terrible it all is. It’s all happening so fast that there’s a new article, meme, or breaking news livestream at least every thirty minutes. It’s exhausting.

And then there’s the friends who are are asking when we can all go back to just posting cat videos and pictures of our food. Not wanting to address any of it.

I believe in  balance. I know I cannot get outraged about every issue – there are just too many of them. I am happy to show my support in many ways to many issues, but I cannot show up to every march and every rally.

So here are the things I am doing:

  • Calling or Emailing my Senators
    • it only takes five minutes to let your opinion be known
    • The staffers taking calls are usually polite and they have to pass your views onto the senators (even if it’s just tallying yays and nays on an issue)
    • I feel like I can speak up about a lot more issues if I restrict myself to doing just this one thing for most of the issues I am hearing about.
  • Re-posting information I find helpful and thorough on social media
    • I know this isn’t always helpful, I have said before that I am mostly preaching to the choir. Though I do have some friends with different views so perhaps I am reaching them in a small way
    • I discriminate which things I will share. Only things from trusted sources, nothing click-bait-y or extreme.
  • Commenting with Caution
    • If I feel someone genuinely wants to engage in a discussion, I am willing to oblige.
    • But only on topics I feel knowledgeable about! (this is key, don’t get into something unless you really know what you are talking about!)
    • If it turns petty I tune out. No reason to keep arguing with someone for the sake of arguing. That only drives a further wedge.
  • Get Educated
    • You cannot be an expert on all things, and that’s okay! If you feel strongly about an issue that is happening, learn more about that issue!
      • This goes in hand with the above, if you care about something and want to engage in conversation about it – learn all you can!
    • Focus on one or two issues that really hit home for you and try to learn as much as you can about them and how people are affected.
    • Do not feel guilty that you do not care about the same issues as other people. Do not let other people make you feel guilty for not latching onto their issues, and don’t get mad at others for having their own concerns. 
      • Change can take a really long time. You will burn out, we will all burn out, if we all try to take on every issue that comes across our Facebook feed. Let some of them go. Have faith that good, hard working people will stand up.
  • Marches and Rallies
    • Certain subjects do strike a chord with me more than others. For those issues I truly connect with, I think showing up in numbers does make a great impact. If I tried to go to them all, I would probably be burying my head in the sand already with exhaustion. Pick your battles. There’s going to be a lot, and you’re going to need to rested and prepared!

REMEMBER WE ARE ALL HUMANS. I am seeing friends post things on Facebook like: “Okay friends who supported Trump, is this really what you wanted? How can you keep supporting him after ‘X’ (chose anything he’s done in the last two weeks).” It is tempting to call people out and hold them accountable. The problem is, people who voted for Trump did so for a wide range of reasons. They may not agree with what he has been doing, but cognitive dissonance is a real thing. They may be struggling with their feelings about some of the things that are happening and if we call them out and ask them to defend Trump’s executive orders and tweets and press conferences before they’ve had a chance to REALLY think about it, you can bet that they will justify his actions. They will find some reason why what he is doing is okay, because we are all human, and we all defend the choices we make when we are pushed up against a wall.

I think the best strategy is to approach them with compassion. This is hard. But give them the space and the safety to come to their own conclusions about what is happening. Some will continue to defend everything he is doing, they will refuse to admit that anything he is doing is wrong and they will insist that liberals are overreacting. However, there will be others who say ‘this isn’t what I wanted’ and will slowly come around to understanding the potential damage of the way he is conducting business. But we cannot be tempted to force this view. We must stop ourselves from “I told you so’s!” Shaming and blaming are not how we move forward with progress.

If we get enraged by every issue. If we pick a fight with everyone with a differing view from our own. If we try to re-post every article and meme and purport to be experts on all topics. If we attend every rally and march. We will burn out. We will not be effective catalysts of change.

Everyone has different thresholds. Find your own balance.

What are some of the ways you find balance in your lives? 

Women’s March

Last weekend we witnessed the incredible coming together of millions of people all over the world to march for their voices to be heard. It was called the women’s march, but (unlike the good ole boys clubs of the past) all were welcome and included in this record breaking event.

march

What started as a march for women’s rights (already a broad topic in and of itself) quickly morphed to include ANY man, woman or child who felt that their voices were not being heard, that their government was not listening and did not care about them. This was a march to ‘take the power back.’ A march to remind our politicians, and our newly instated president, that they work for US. WE are in charge!

I have spent the last few weeks since the election trying to muster motivation to take charge and fight for change, only to actually feel powerless and silenced. I live in a big(ish) city that definitely leans liberal, as most cities do, but my state as a whole is about as conservative as they come. Sure, I shared plenty of articles and information on my Facebook, but let’s be honest – that’s probably just preaching to the crowd. My like-minded friends would like and share my posts and I, in return, would like and share theirs. Just a big circle jerk. But I couldn’t fathom any action that I could do that would actually make any difference.

But that changed a bit on Saturday with witnessing just how many people are feeling the same way I am. Luckily there were enough people who did feel like they could make a difference by organizing and energizing this movement. They didn’t feel powerless or silences, and I am so thankful they didn’t!

It doesn’t matter that we aren’t all rallying behind the same exact issue. What matters is that all of us – SO MANY OF US – are feeling unheard, unrepresented. 

It was invigorating! It was inspiring!

It was just what I needed to buckle down and say NO MORE. No more silence from me. It is too important to our future, to my daughter’s future, that I don’t just bury my head in the sand. Time to get involved.

So I signed up on the Women’s March 10 Actions in 100 Days email list. Anyone interested should do the same. The first action is to write a letter to your senators about your concerns that aren’t being heard. They have a template you can print off if you’d like.

I also came across this helpful article if you are shy about calling your representatives.

Since this is a private blog, I have been reluctant to share photos. But I am pretty sure no one in my real life has stumbled on this blog yet, so here I am with a bump photo from Sunday.

26-weeks

I haven’t really delved into any of the specific topics of #whyImarch, but this post is getting lengthy as it is. In the future, in addition to pregnancy and baby updates, you can expect me to weigh in on various topics I care about.

Feel free to ask me any questions you have, or please comment below on what issues are of concern to you right now! I would love to hear from you 

Icing on the Cake

Let me back up a bit here…. I forgot to mention something that happened last December

Christmas 2015

Christmas Day last year my brother calls to let me know that they are expecting their second child! It’s been just over one year since their first child was born (her birthday is December 6th) and this one was a SURPRISE. Apparently my sweet sister in law did not think she could get pregnant while she was still breast feeding… Oops! Apparently she had suspected for a while she was pregnant, but didn’t tell my brother right away. She put a pregnancy test in his stocking for Christmas. Cute.

It’s difficult for me to explain my feeling about this. On one hand, I was happy for them. A baby is always exciting news. On the other, I was having my own struggles to get pregnant and to hear that someone got pregnant ‘accidentally’ was tough. On yet another hand (I had to grow a few extra hands for this scenario), aside from my own struggles with it, my brother was not exactly expecting to have another child so fast, and while he wasn’t upset, he was definitely stressed-out about finances and so I felt bad for him and this sudden unplanned pregnancy. On an additional hand, I thought my SIL was a bit of an idiot for believing that she couldn’t get pregnant, and I blamed her home-school education for her ignorance (though public school education is also severely lacking in sex-ed in a lot of places too). Also, part of  me was a bit suspicious that she wanted to get pregnant again so soon but knew my brother wouldn’t go for it, so perhaps this was a sneaky plot on her part more than a total accident. I also found it suspicious that when she told my brother on Christmas, she said that she had expected she might be pregnant for a while but wasn’t sure (turns out she was about 4 months in by then!!!!!). Wouldn’t you tell your husband if you thought you were pregnant for the last 4 months?? And wouldn’t you take a test immediately? It just didn’t totally make sense to me that this was a complete surprise.

So needless to say I had a lot of weird feelings floating around about the whole thing. I really did want the best for them. It was just hard for me to not compare myself to my sister in law. For one, she is quite a bit younger than me. She was 25 and I was 31 at the time. Not a huge difference, but she still seemed pretty young while I felt like the clock was ticking. Also, she’s not a terribly healthy person. She is thin, but she never exercises. I don’t know what kind of diet she follows but I think she pretty much eats what she wants (though definitely not in excess). I consider myself to be a pretty healthy person. I exercise regularly and definitely pay attention to my eating (sometimes better than others, of course). So again, it wasn’t adding up to me that she should be able to get pregnant so easily and me not.

In fact, this was a thing that would bother me ever so often. I wasn’t always upset when I’d see that other people were pregnant. Seeing most other people pregnant did not bother me at all, and I seemed to be seeing them everywhere. What did sometimes bother me was when I’d see a visibly unhealthy person pregnant or with their newborn baby. I am sure you’ve seen them too: very overweight, baby in one arm and giant soda in the other. When I’d see those moms I would get a bit agitated. Why do unhealthy people get to have a child and I don’t! In some ways, it still doesn’t totally make sense to me. But I guess our evolution hasn’t caught up with modern day unhealthy lifestyles to prevent the ability to procreate in unhealthy individuals (not that I would wish infertility on anyone!). In fact, having extra body fat and a sedentary life was probably at one point in our evolution as humans considered to be more ideal for carrying a child.

My sister in law does not have extra body fat, she’s quite thin. But she definitely leads a sedentary life of little activity. So I didn’t know what to think as I was gaining weight from my lack of activity (with my foot injury) and worried that gaining too much would decrease my fertility. So what I learned is that things sometimes just don’t make any sense, and the more we try to control every little aspect of our lives, the less control we actually have.

I would definitely not recommend giving up exercise and activity as a means of boosting fertility. I am convinced that there is very little we can do to change our personal fertility. There are no magic supplements, or levels of activity, or lifestyles that have much effect on our fertility at all. If you are struggling with fertility, it is not your fault. There is not something more or less you need to be doing to change your circumstances. I tried all of them, and felt no change. My only advice would be to seek answers from professionals. Sometimes the answer is right in front of us and we just need the proper tools to find it. Not everyone who meets with a fertility specialist will get answers, but it’s probably more effective than trying to figure everything out and control it on your own.

Holidays and Ovulation Predictor Kits

OCT-DEC 2015

Ah, the holiday season. The most wonderful time of the year, or so the song goes. Really though, it can be the most stressful time of year for a lot of Americans. And stressed I was.

I started using Ovulation Predictor Kits in October. Kind of by accident really. I bought what I thought was a box of pregnancy tests. The box contained only one pregnancy test and 7 ovulation predictor kits. I didn’t read closely enough and just saw the “includes 8 tests!” on the box and thought that was the best deal and grabbed it. So once I had them I figured I might as well give them a try.

For those of you who are not familiar with ovulation predictor kits (OPK), they look and act very similar to a pregnancy test. When you are at a point in your cycle where you think you are ovulating based on your typical cycle length and what-not, you pee on the stick. It then tells you if you are ovulating! Or rather, if you’ve had the hormone spike that usually indicates that you have/are ovulating. The tricky part is that when the spike appears it means ovulation has already happened, so it would be best to have sex the day before you get the hormone spike. But it isn’t always easy to know when that is going to happen, still the tests can verify that you are having a hormone spike and sometimes it’s not too late to try to conceive that cycle if you get on it right away! So there’s a bit of guesswork and urgency when using the OPK.

My cycles had always been pretty darn predictable, so it wasn’t too hard to know when I was ovulating. According to the tests it was happening every month. And according to my charting we were having sex at the right times to become pregnant. Still, over those three months, NOTHING. UGH.

So of course the usual holiday stress was exacerbated  by trying to conceive (TCC). It was also exacerbated by my continued limitation in exercise. My foot was still not healed and so I was restricted from doing as much activity as I was used to. Since I wasn’t getting pregnant I was also reluctant to restrict my diet too much as some suggest that calorie restricting can interfere with TCC. But let’s be honest, it was the holidays and I was not at any risk of actually restricting my diet so much that it interfered with my cycle. Still, I was desperate to avoid anything that could even potentially cause an issue.

So all of that added up to a whopping 15 pound weight gain from the spring (prior to injuring my foot). What a fucking mess. When New Years finally rolled along I realized I was spiraling a bit from stress and filling my emotions with food. Too much yummy holiday food. I needed to get my ass in gear!

When It Rains

AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2015

Looking back on those first few months of trying to conceive, it’s really no wonder that it didn’t work out. I had A LOT going on at the time and stress levels for both Beau and I were off the charts.

I had been working with a therapist over the last year or so to process my relationship with my own mother. I knew that Beau and I were gearing up to become parents and I didn’t want to repeat her unhealthy patterns. Not that she was a terrible mother, she was a single mother and did the best she could, but she has some major boundary issues. And as my brother and I got older she became more and more resentful that we didn’t “need” her anymore. Her way of getting us to behave was to lay on the guilt. These are things I struggled with for years. Always feeling guilty that I was letting my mother down, that I wasn’t spending enough time with her or was doing things that she wouldn’t like. Working with a therapist to talk through some of these things and get an outside perspective has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I totally feel confident now that I am not going to repeat old patterns and can have a healthy relationship with my children. (Though I also accept that everyone fucks their kids up a little bit)

But in July and August 2015 I was still working through some of it and at the same time my work was REALLY busy. I work in research and we were data collecting. I remember feeling like I could not get caught up at work. At the same time I was working my ass off I didn’t know if I would have a job past April because our grant funding was going to run out. We were scrambling to apply for more funding and the deadline for that grant application was September – and it was quickly approaching. But because there were no guarantees, I was searching for other jobs around that time. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Beau was also in the midst of uncertainty with his job. His company was going through a transition of ownership, but he didn’t know who the new owners were going to be and how safe his job was – so he was also looking at other job opportunities.

It gets better. I had also injured myself playing soccer the beginning of July. I got kicked in the side of the foot/big toe area when myself and another girl were both going for the ball. I got the ball, she got my foot :/  I did’t think it was that bad, but a month and a half later it was still hurting to walk on it (and my job had me on my feet a lot). So I was scheduled for an MRI mid-August that revealed a torn ligament and I was given a surgical boot to keep it stable in order to hopefully heal it. So by end of August I was walking around a lot with this heavy surgical boot that was hopefully healing my foot, but also causing other pains in my legs and hips since I was basically walking with a limp constantly. So I also couldn’t exercise properly (my go-to stress reliever).

And of course there’s more: My niece who lives near me was getting married in Sept. Right when the grant for work was due. So my Dad, Step-mom, Brother, Sister-in-Law, and their 9 month old baby were all coming to stay with me for about a week.

By the end of September, I was beyond stressed/exhausted/overtaxed/worn out/ drained/spent.

I was ready to take a month long vacation from everything. But I was also ready to be pregnant.

 

Sorry this turned into such a long post!