I saw my mom's battle scars growing up. She wore them with pride. Those white/pink lines on her belly that she'd point at when I'd glance at them and say "Yup, you gave these to me, and it was all worth it." I figured one day I'd get them too. When we'd have to stop multiple times on road trips, and my brother and I would sigh because Mom had to pee agaaaaaain, she'd turn around and say "You two ruined my bladder forever." I knew pregnancy would probably result in more frequent bathroom trips. I knew that when she was in labour with me, my dad left to get dinner at White Spot. Did all Dads go get dinner while the Moms waited for baby to arrive? I knew she called my dad at school during a test, and he wanted to finish writing it before he left because he figured it would take a while. I wasn't born until 10pm. I guessed labour pains last a full day.
That was about all I knew about my mom's journey to bring me into the world. She saved me from the details. Even when I was an adult and our family and my friends were having babies, I didn't know the nitty gritty reality of what I would experience in pregnancy or labour because my mom didn't divulge her own journey.
Now that I'm almost due myself, she's told me more and more about what she went through, usually only after I've expressed my own anguish over my own battle scars.
Here's what my mom never told me, that I want to pass along to you. You may not have these symptoms, and my mom may not have had these either, but this is what I've experienced that I wish I'd been more prepared for.
1. Heartburn - I'd heard that some women get heartburn, but no one I knew personally ever complained about it. I had it for the majority of my pregnancy. There are pills for it, and remedies that are safe for pregnancy, but TUMS have been my best friend. Now that I'm less than 4 weeks until my due date, the heartburn has subsided somewhat, and it only occurs now and then. But I wish that someone had told me in advance so that I could have stocked up at Costco.
2. Hemorrhoids - I got my first case of them on Sunday after a family dinner. There was no warning. I stood up to leave, and my bum hurt. By the time we drove home, I was in severe pain. I asked Aaron how I'd know if I had them, and he said to feel for them. Yup. It was the big H. I didn't know this would be an issue. My mom never told me that she'd had them as well. Apparently when you're pregnant, especially in the third trimester, the baby dropping a little bit and going into position with the head down puts extra pressure on your rectum and you end up with a big round disgusting ball hanging out of your butt hole. It's uncomfortable, sore, and gross. After phoning my doctor to find out what the safe methods of relief would be, I ran to the store for some Preparation H and soothing pads. I wish I didn't have to work this week! The chair is killing my poor back end.
3. Houdini Stretch Marks - Yes, I was fully aware of stretch marks and the fact that I'd most likely end up with them since my mom had them and wore them with pride. But I thought I was in the clear when my third trimester hit and I only had a few small ones on the side of my torso. Then one day I walked past our full length mirror and I almost fell over. They were like spider webs all across my mid-section. Literally nothing one night, and in the morning - poof - the place where stretch marks go to party. Not cool. Not cool at all.
4. Swelling - We've all heard that pregnant women swell, and maybe we all do it in different ways. I've ended up with ankles that look more like Shrek feet than human ones. They are like elephant legs. My mom bought me a dress to wear to the shower, and I can't expose anyone to these beasts. I wish someone would invent a pill to make only our beautiful bellies grow, and nothing else.
5. Smells and Sweating - No one will tell you this. Maybe even your best friend will keep it a secret. My bff and I are more upfront with each other, and we shared this little tidbit that I'm going to pass along to you. You will smell worse between your legs from pregnancy than from not showering for 2 months. It's rancid. It's nasty. It's natural. Don't be afraid of it... it's still your vagina, but there's something living inside your body that is making that beautiful woman part smell like it's rotting. Sorry, ladies, but it will most likely happen to all of you. The sweating doesn't help your smells either. It was -7 at our house in December, and I wore a sweater outside, no jacket. I constantly run hot since carrying this child, and I'm thankful I wasn't as large in the summer. You will sweat from every pore in your body. Get used to it.
6. Comments - This isn't a physical ailment... it's a psychological one. The comments people give you when pregnant will go straight to your head. You're already a hormonal hurricane, but the voices of others will turn that into a full fledged tornado of emotions. People will say hurtful things that they think are funny. Yesterday a coworker (male of course) looked at my belly and asked if I thought I'd have a large baby. What is that even supposed to mean? I screamed that I'm measuring normal so screw off! Okay, I only thought that in my head, but I just politely told him that everything is on track right now. Be aware that people are happy for you, but the fact that you're carrying a baby makes you a large target for jesters. Smile and move on... easier said than done.
Right now that is all I can come up with that might save you a little bit of insanity. I wish my mom would have told me more of what I could expect... but I'm sure in her mind, none of it mattered. Maybe she thought that if she spared me the gory details, I'd be more inclined to give her grandchildren. Pregnancy, labour, child-rearing... it's all scary things. It's all got its drawbacks. But if it was so terrible, hundreds of billions of people before us wouldn't have had multiple children.
I'm looking forward to finishing this journey in 2 - 6 weeks from now. Really, it could happen any day. And when my child grows up, whether it's a girl or a boy, I will probably tell them how much I loved the 9 months they lived inside me, and spare them the details as well. Will I forget all of the pain and suffering - nope. Is baby worth it - oh hell yes. But the destination this time, unlike most journeys, is so much better!
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
On December 14th, 2013, my husband and I met with our photographer, Roxana Albusel Photography, to go to Cypress Mountain for our maternity session. I'd been looking forward to it since before I was even pregnant, and told Roxy that I needed her to be free when it was time! :)
I booked her back in July with this exact vision in mind for December, and I was lucky enough that she was just as excited as I was to make this dream a reality.
I had a rough time picking out an outfit, and in the end I just settled on comfortable casual clothes, but splurged on hair and make-up from my wedding make-up artist Jayna who is a much sought-after artist in our area who has worked with Lada Gaga and received many awards for her work.
I can say that I haven't felt this beautiful since my wedding, and even as large as I was, I felt like I was the best version of myself that I could be.
Here we are... the two and a half of us!
As much as Aaron and I are Christmas people, we are NOT New Years people. Neither of us enjoy all of the anticipation and ultimate disappointment that comes with New Years Eve. The first year we were together, I surprised him with a full scavenger hunt at home which led us to Granville Island and all around it for the evening, where we enjoyed a set dinner and a night at a hotel. After that, however, we decided to just stay home each year due to lack of money after Christmas, lack of excitement to spend time on the roads with crazy people, and lack of desire to get dressed up.
This was our 5th year in a row staying home, our first with a baby on the way, and our last as a couple - next year we will celebrate as a family!
We had a lot to be thankful for this year, as we spent our first full year in our own home, took a trip to San Francisco, found out we were having a baby, and enjoyed life as a married couple. We took the last opportunity to enjoy the quiet before the storm.
We enjoyed delicious Indian take-out
The cats hung out, slept, and continued to play with their new catnip toys
We watched When Harry Met Sally
And then we watched Dick Clark's Rocking NYE and celebrated when the ball dropped and struck 12!
We had our traditional midnight kiss
And then, we ventured to bed with this 34.5 week belly
All in all, it was a very lovely night in for us, and I even managed to stay awake until midnight, as much as I yearned to be in bed. Aaron polished off a bottle of good red wine, we kissed the cats, and then we were promptly in bed at 12:05am on January 1st, 2014.
This will be the very best year of our lives because we will celebrate becoming parents, we will watch my step-brother become a husband, we will learn more about ourselves and each other, and we will make so many amazing memories along the way.
Cheers to you all in 2014!
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
We have a very small family, especially since Aaron doesn't really keep in touch with anyone in his family with the exception of his parents and brother. He communicates with a few cousins, but never sees them even though they are local. My family is very close and we celebrate everything together. Therefore, this makes for a very long, drawn-out Christmas season, especially with several birthdays falling in this time period.
We traditionally start the celebrations at Ben's house on Christmas Eve where we all bring a dish to share, which usually ends up in a table FULL of food and a million left overs at the end of the night. We used to all wait until everything was out, but the boys in our family are all men now and seem to graze on everything before it's time to eat, so everyone is eating all night.
The past few years, we've changed our gift giving from personalized, individual gifts to a secret santa game which almost always ends up in both laughter and sometimes anger because some people don't get that it's a GAME and not a war. But I digress...
This year, because of our baby on the way and more and more kids being added to our family, we set a limit on the amount to spend on the kids, and also decided that instead of toys, they would start to get books for Christmas, and we got the BEST reaction out of each of them.
Calista was very excited to get Thea Stilton books!
After Colby opened his gift of a Cars book and a Thomas the Train movie, he exclaimed "How did you know that I love Thomas... AND I love Cars???" Ummm, could it be that almost everything you own has wheels? :) I love him!
Aaron and my mom played with the puzzles
Peanut got a new pair of pajamas from Ben and Bahar
And we wore matching shirts... mine said "Baby Bump's first Christmas", and Aaron's said "The Man Behind the Bump" that my mom gifted us at my birthday party.
When we get home from those activities, we always load up under the tree with our wrapped presents and fill the stockings for each other. We typically put on a Christmas movie, enjoy a rum and eggnog, and watch for Santa! :) This year, I skipped the rum obviously but we stayed up and enjoyed the quiet for a while until Keiko decided that it would be a good idea to try to unwrap all of our gifts in advance.
It was at this point that we decided we should give both of the cats one of their gifts from their stocking... a cat nip pillow for each of them. It was then that Halo abruptly turned into a drooling hippie!
The next morning, Aaron woke up early as usual (like 6am) to get our coffees poured (after setting the timer for 6am the night before) and turn on the Christmas music. He woke me at 6:30am with a Christmas dance, at which time I had no choice but to join him for Christmas morning.
Halo continued with his Hippie routine after opening the rest of his stocking, and proceeded to fall asleep on his stocking. He was so very happy with his presents!
Keiko was totally in his element amongst all of the paper he could rip up!
As much as Aaron and I set very specific budgets for each other, we still managed to find thoughtful and wonderful gifts to give. Aaron got some new shirts and a new sweatshirt, a single pour wine aerator, a new lunch bag, a book, a movie, and a new saw! He was very thoughtful and got me a one hour foot massage, pajamas, a beautiful scarf, an ITunes gift card, roll-on cocoa butter for the mama stretch marks, magazines, and a lot of wonderful stocking stuffers.
After tidying up a little at home, we hit the road for Mom's house where we were blasted with this sight as usual...
Mom's living room is always spilling over on Christmas morning with gifts for all 5 of us. It's pretty insane!
Oakley tends to open his first, and got a brand new dog bed!
I had asked my mom for practical gifts this year, so she gave us a bag full of cleaning supplies which was strangely one of our favorite gifts!
If you couldn't tell from the mountain of snowmen behind her, my mom is a snowman collector! I even bought her a sign a few years ago that said SNOWMAN COLLECTOR! Last year I got her perhaps the cutest snowman we've ever seen, so this year I got her a similar ornament and the above guy to add to the family as they are all from the same maker. She loved it!
Aaron and my mom have an inside joke about the camel who loves hump day, so she got him this shirt that recites the entire silly commercial.
All in all, Christmas morning took about 4 hours of presents and a delicious breakfast. My mom, truth be told, upset me a lot by going overboard again after I was very specific about sticking to a budget. She went way above and beyond, especially considering that she treats all 4 of us kids (spouses included in that) equally and has a grandchild on the way. When we were done opening, I burst into hormonal tears and couldn't stop because I was so upset that she spends her very hard earned money on us when it isn't necessary at all. She proceeded to cry, which made Cindy cry, which made Aaron cry. We were a mess, but left her house with many hugs and smiles. She has since sent me a very emotional letter about how it's a parents right to spoil their children, and I'll understand that one day. I'm sure I will, but I hope she slows down before she's in the poor house and living in our garage! :)
When we got home, we went right to work preparing Christmas dinner for my in-laws!
We had a lovely dinner of brined turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, chestnut stuffing, green beans, and bacon-fried brussel sprouts. We had such a great time with them and they gifted us with the one thing every expectant couple wishes and prays for: MONEY! :)
Boxing Day is always spent at my dad's. We exchange giant stockings (they are some of the best stocking stuffers in the world) and then exchange secret santa gifts!
Wendy found Aaron a limited edition Superman bust and he was over the moon!!! Cindy got me a nursing tank top and a robe... just what I needed!
Mama-to-be with two out of her three favorite men on the planet!
Sorry for the super long post, but I didn't feel like splitting it all up into a dozen posts. As you can see, we felt very spoiled, very loved, and very tired by the end of Christmas, and I am thoroughly looking forward to Christmas 2014 when we will have a 10 month old to celebrate with as well!