16 Days

A Little Tin of Chocolate

I began writing this blog in 2008, fresh after a breakup from a very complicated relationship, and filled with excitement because I was about to embark on a solo vacation to Paris. Life felt pretty huge and terrifying then. I was raw with emotion, and apprehensive about what the future held for me. When I returned from my trip, I would have no place to live, and I’d be facing the realities of being single and thirty-something.

I drank Paris in, and fell deeply in love with a city that I always suspected would have a special place in my heart. Because I was on a very tight budget, I allowed myself only a few token souvenirs, mostly purchased at a well-stocked supermarket and the Parisian equivalent of Winners. One of these mementos was a tin of French drinking chocolate, so I could enjoy the delicious little ritual I had created for myself each afternoon no matter where I ended up back home in Canada.

When my new family and I combined our households, the chocolate tin came with me. I hadn’t expected the chocolate to survive, but the tin was pretty so I imagined we could use it for storage in our kitchen. French chocolate is resilient though, and to my amazement still tastes as good as it did when I first bought it almost five years ago.

On Tuesday night, A and Daddy made us a post-dinner hot chocolate and marshmallow nightcap, and all five of us sat around the table enjoying it together. As I gazed at the faces of these beautiful girls who have been one of the greatest gifts of my life thus far, I was suddenly overcome with emotion. Strolling through the aisles of that Parisian grocery store, trying to choose just the right thing to bring home, I had resigned myself to believing that children and family were a long, long way off and perhaps something that were not meant for me in Schnooville. But now I sat surrounded by my family, (a family I have chosen against all odds, and a family who freely chose me despite all of my flaws), drinking that Parisian chocolate and ready to burst with another brand new life who gets to go through each day with these wonderful people. I feel no fear about this huge milestone because my heart believes I am exactly where I should be, with the people I need most in my life.

Look defeat in the eye and love yourself even harder. Tell disappointment that you deserve better. Treat your broken heart to vacations and decadent chocolate and trust that somehow, probably in the most unpredictable way, it will all work out. If you believe that you are lovable, the love you crave will find you.

H & A Enjoy Some Tummy Time:

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20 Days

Trying to keep my feet up. So swollen and weird.

Cervix Says…

What a unique and complex challenge this third trimester business is. Not only are the physical challenges quite remarkable, but the mind warp of hitting 37 weeks is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

Pregnancy is a great teacher for the control freak. Each morning I wake up wondering (read: hoping) that I will go into labour, and then I must push this thought to the very back of my mind so that I can function through the rest of my day. I am not really known for my patience, and there is something really humbling about realizing that nobody, not nobody can predict when this baby will decide to make his entrance.

So I am trying this “living in the moment” business, which is insanely hard for me. For much of my adult life, the kind of work I’ve chosen has me always three steps ahead of myself. With labour, once the nursery is done and the bags are packed there isn’t really much left to do but wait, and try to deal with the realities of what is happening to my body now that this little guy has dropped down into my pelvis.

Here is a list of things that I’m working on to help pass the time.

Improving my gait – Walking is supposed to be excellent for bringing labour on, so I’m trying to be active. However when I walk now, I look like George Jefferson, waddling and flapping my arms behind me. I am actively concentrating on tucking in my pelvis and finding a stride that won’t leave me winded (so that when I enter the house, I can still bellow out ‘Weezy, I’m home!”)

Naturopathy – Our midwives sent me home with my ‘birth binder’ after my last appointment. Among many other useful things were some natural tips to help prepare and encourage labour. Here’s what I’m doing, and please note NONE of this is a good idea before 37 weeks, nor am I a doctor or healthcare professional recommending you do any of this:

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – 5-6 servings a day to help strengthen my uterine muscles and stimulate contractions

Evening Primrose Capsules – 1000 mg 2x per day to help efface my cervix

Acupressure – self administered on two specific labour-inducing points. This seems ridiculous, even to me

Pineapple – nobody anywhere has proven that this works, but people everywhere swear that it does. I am mostly just using labour as an excuse to gorge on pineapple

Hands and Knees Time – I spend 15 minutes a day with my ass up in the air in child’s pose. This is supposed to help the baby turn and settle into optimum birthing position. Cat stretches and rocking also work in the hands and knees pose. Daddy has requested I always work on this when he’s around to watch, which can lead to…

Various Oxytocin-stimulating activities (use your imagination) to help bring on contractions

Event Planning – What? Does that seem crazy to you at this very pregnant point in my life? Yeah, me too but all three of us wanted to see our families for Thanksgiving, and we had to spare ourselves all of the running around and driving. We decided to host dinner for 20 people at our place next Monday. Either the plans go smoothly and once our pre-planning is done I get to sit with my feet up surrounded by family while Mama S and Daddy do the bustling, or the baby comes and there is no party to host. In which case we’ll have a 23 pound turkey up for grabs. We’ve insisted on pot-luck to reduce the insanity, and I think it will be lovely to see everyone in our home. The real challenge will be relaxing and doing nothing because I have a very, very hard time with this (as evidenced by planning a dinner party for 20 people at 38 weeks of pregnancy) I hope they don’t mind paper plates!

‘Working’ – I’m trying to be productive with my duties for our family business. I can’t focus my brain on ANYTHING for more than ten minutes right now, (except writing, it seems) so this is actually kind of hilarious. I keep telling myself SOME work is better than NO WORK. My boss is hopefully sympathetic because when I’m not working, I’m growing his son.

Napping – Oh my god, how I love a good mid-day nap these days. One hour is all I need, and one hour is all my poor bladder will allow me. With this spotty sleep I’m experiencing, it’s really a necessary part of my daily routine so that I can make it through the rest of the day without crying, or making anyone else want to punch me.

Deep Breathing & Relaxing – At several points throughout the day I will pause and just see where my body is holding tension, and then I breathe and will those places to relax. This exercise is particularly useful through my Braxton Hicks practice contractions, and through a new phenomenon I like to call the Cervical Ninja Chop. I’m really not sure exactly what this is, but it feels as though the baby is suddenly and forcefully bashing his head into my cervix. There is no warning here, just sudden shocking pain and me doubled over the counter/shopping cart/back of the sofa etc. Fun times.

Setting Timers/Alerts/Alarms – Timers are my friends right now, because I cannot remember ANYTHING. Timers tell me when to switch the laundry loads, and when my crazy herbal tinctures are ready to drink, alerts remind me of appointments and tasks that I have to complete, alarms tell me when to wake up and pick up the children from school. I’ve even worked out a system where I must climb the stairs to pee every hour. It feels like I need to pee EVERY MOMENT OF THE DAY, and so if I wait an hour between visits, I don’t have to be disappointed when all of that climbing yields only a miserable little trickle.

Reading – I’m working my way through the last of my pregnancy books, and moving on to books about breastfeeding and early infant care. I would read other stuff, but pregnancy, breasts and babies are all I can think about, so there really isn’t much point in trying right now. The more I read about labour techniques, the more I realize that NOBODY actually knows what to do, and cannot possibly be prepared in advance for the experience of birth. There is real comfort in this – I have all of these tools and techniques, I know exactly what happens to my body at each stage of labour, but I have no idea what it is going to feel like or what my body will surprise me with and everyone else who has ever birthed a baby is in the exact same boat. When I read my birth plan, which I wrote at four months pregnant, it seems really funny to me now. My new plan is to relax as best I can, embrace what’s happening, and try to get out of the way of my body so it can do it’s thing.

Labour Play List – We’ve got two on the go; a mellow and relaxing one for during early and hard labour and then a Pushing Playlist. The Pushing Playlist may not ever make it into rotation, but it’s funny to work on. There is a lot of Zeppelin on that list because Mama S says I’ll need some good ass-kicking music by that point. Daddy and I listen to tunes while we work and yay or nay them.

And with that, I’m feeling so restless that I can no longer sit in this chair and type. Time for a stretch and round two of the Raspberry Leaf Tea. Please dear mommies of the Interwebs, share with me your secrets for not completely losing your shit waiting for baby to come!