I love being pregnant. You might even say I'm a little obsessed with it-- I have hard time not laughing every time I feel a little kick or jab from inside my belly, I take full advantage of eating "a little extra" and things I would normally pass on, I spend extra time in bed, I'm given extra massages at home... the list could go on and on. But my love for this pregnancy does not mean it has been without challenges. In this (week 23) of pregnancy particularly, I had two huge challenges- one emotional and one physical- both of which have tested me.
On Tuesday we had our monthly check-up at the Doctor. All went normally- good weight gain, good measurements, fantastic heartbeat. I even received some great news from my doctor when I probed her about sleeping positions. I've had some trouble sleeping comfortably on my side because of some on and off hip pain, but everything you read anywhere says "if you're in you're 2nd or 3rd trimester, you "CANNOT sleep on your back." All of these warning seem extremely dire...they make it seem like you'll cut off all blood or oxygen supply to yourself or the baby if you sleep on your back! Not so true, it seems... my doctor told me "sleep however you can get rest... Just get rest" She told me that one day while sleeping on my back, I might wake up out of breath, and that will be my body telling me to turn over. I suggest every pregnant woman ask their doctor's opinion on this- but she sure made this momma-to-be happy. I've since been sleeping on my back intermittently and feeling much more well-rested.
So that part of the doctor visit was great- it was the end that hit me like a ton of bricks. My doctor slipped in a little news that she actually might be going out on maternity leave right around the day I give birth... meaning, there is a good chance she will not be the one delivering my baby. Firstly, let me just say, scrubs and tech coats can hide a baby bump really well-- I had not a clue that she was pregnant. In fact, I'm sure I was staring at her belly the rest of the five minutes we were there because it was still hard to see. But in fact, my OBGYN is pregnant- and having a baby right around the same dang time as me!! "F. What. Now what..." I was thinking at first. She talked nonchalantly about it (like it WASN'T a BIG DEAL?!), as she gave us our options for continued care. Option 1: we can continue as normal seeing her through the pregnancy- then if she goes out on maternity leave before we give birth, she'll have a fill-in at our birth..."she's really great and I think you'll love her... but you probably won't get to meet her at all before then." Option 2: switch now for the remainder of the pregnancy to another doctor in the practice. She told us we didn't have to decide right away, to take time and decide. I held it together in the room and until we made it to the car- then I broke down completely. And I cried. A lot. In fact, I was a complete mess on and off all evening on Tuesday. I was clearly attached to this doctor, who I have seen regularly for the first 23 weeks of my pregnancy. And I felt so upset that my pregnancy was now not going as I had planned out in my head. Thank God for Kevin, who calmed and soothed me with tea kindness through the evening and helped talk with me rationally about it (he was surprised too- but he doesn't have pregnancy hormones raging throughout his body). We eventually chose option two, and our doctor quickly referred us to another doctor in the same office, who is a woman, and highly recommended.
Today I'm looking back on it and realizing the lesson it taught me (is still teaching me). So- my pregnancy won't go exactly as I had planned out in my head? Well, what does? Most of the things we plan out in our head (probably 95% of them) do not go as planned. But does that mean they turn out badly? No. We cannot control what happens with other people or with our environment, but we can control how we react. I can control how I feel and how I will continue about my pregnancy- I will be flexible, mindful and especially grateful that I have so many options in medical care at one of the best hospitals in the entire world.
The second challenge this week was less emotional, and much more physical- but let's be honest, it did hit my ego a bit. Thursday morning on Thanksgiving Day, Kevin and I geared up for the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. I had signed us up for this 10k (plus an accompanying Santa 5K in December) about a month and a half ago. Our last race was the Redwood City OktobeRun- a 5k at the end of October, in which I jogged a very slow 30-ish minute 3.1 miles. And I was extremely sore the whole week following. I knew on Thursday this week I would have to not only slow my pace again- but that I probably would have to walk a few out of the 6 miles this time, and I was okay with that. Now, I'm not a "runner" by trade, and I actually dislike the "race" aspect of these events- I don't run to beat others. But, if I'm really honest with myself, I do normally like to have a "good race time" - and I felt extreme pride when I hit my personal best in a 5K in May (23mins 40ish second). Jogging/walking in these races now still feels unnatural, even if I know it's what my body needs and currently is capable of.
So as the count down began, and we took off for the 6.2 miles, I slowed and let people pass me, I enjoyed the crisp air and jammed out to my music (I also usually run without music, but it seemed necessary this time), and I took in the beautiful downtown San Jose, which I am completely unfamiliar with. I felt good the first mile, and told myself to keep jogging to the end of mile two. That's when I decided I would walk the next- so I sped-walk mile 2-3. Then I picked it up again mile 3-4.. but my body was feeling it big time. My lower back was a little sore, but my old knee injury was acting up and I knew the last two miles I would have to walk. So I did. I walked miles 5-6 and completed the Turkey Trot with an average pace of 12-ish minutes a mile. I was happy... but my body was not.
The rest of the day I had shooting pain up my left tailbone area, which I am pretty sure is my sciatic nerve. I've never had pain this bad before, that I can remember. Again, my plans had to shift, completely out of my control. I had planned to be running around the kitchen with my mother in law, helping prepare our big feast... but instead I had to sit down on my butt with an ice pack for a majority of the day- and hobble around in pain when I wanted to move anywhere. It was hard to accept, but I am now more mindful of what my big beautiful pregnant body needs- more rest. I still want to stay active, and I will- but I know running is now out of the picture completely. My ego wanted me to be one of those cute pregnant running ladies, but alas, my little girl doesn't want that so much. And I need to listen to her. So lesson number two of the week? Be mindful of my body- listen to what I really need and surrender completely. Love it completely.
Undoubtedly there will be other things that come up in my pregnancy that I don't plan or prepare for. There are still 16ish weeks left in this beautiful journey (OMG- only 16?!). I want to take it as it comes, accept everything as it is, embrace the changes, enjoy the little things- love it all.
There is so much to learn from life, when we step back and take it in. Yesterday I was out and about getting some holiday shopping done, while rain came and went- when we looked up at one point, we saw this beautiful double rainbow. It stretched across the whole sky. Another reminder. So "cliche" but so true- no rain, no rainbow.
As the days fly by, I’ve found myself getting off track and distracted - caught up in work during the days, watching sad news in the evenings and not really feeding my soul what it needs.
So, this weekend I made a decision to focus on me, a decision, which I hope will increase my mindfulness day by day. I’m making a promise to myself to consciously do one thing every day that breathes life and vitality into my mind, body or soul. It can be something big, or something small- but that one thing has to make me more happy, more fulfilled and make me feel and be more, well, like me.
Through the current meditation experience that I am pursing, I’m learning more about relating and connecting. One main theme that spoke to me is that: Our true self is “the face we had before we were born.” But that face is always still there, though sometimes hidden or forgotten in the hustle of our current situation, or our egos as we aim to survive and thrive in our everyday reality. If my true self is the diamond within, my aim through this pregnancy journey is to bring that diamond out to the surface, to live from my center and connect with others through my true self.
So on Saturday I extended my meditation practice into my daily life, by promising and committing to myself to mindfully do one thing everyday that brings more joy and light into my life. Here’s how it’s been going so far:
On Saturday, Kevin and I took the time to become "local tourists" and take the SF Urban Jungle and City Heights hike. This hike is something we registered for, and were gifted for a wedding gift (thank you Shobha)- so we finally made the time to book it and experience it together. It was fantastic and a great way to connect together, through things we both enjoy: being active, learning new things, and getting outside. We topped off this soul-building experience by enjoying brunch at Apple Fritter in San Mateo- indulging in cheesy eggs & greasy hash browns for me and a cheeseburger and fries for Kev, plus a sampling of the tastiest apple-filled bear claw you will ever taste.
On Sunday, I extended my heart and took the day to sew a quilt with Kevin’s grandmother (Nana). Even though I’ve been quilting a bit on my own now, and have successfully (in my mind) created a sewing project without direction or a pattern, Nana was insistent, and how could I resist. I was tired and cranky Sunday morning, but I told myself this was not really for me, this was for her- and I felt one-thousand times better after the 3+ hours we spent sewing together. Not only did we spend quality time together, but I have almost finished another cute quilt (pictures to come when it’s complete) and I was astonished by the effort and care Kevin took to help us! While he desperately wanted to just sit and watch football (a wife senses these things), he was instead constantly on his feet, lifting and moving the sewing machine for us, ironing the seams after each piece was complete and running out for sandwiches at lunch- never complaining once. So not only was I privileged to experience the joy in Nana’s expression because her sewing machine was used after 20 years of sitting idly-- I was enamored by the true nature of my husband- the generous, kind and patient man that he is.
The work week can be more challenging for me to make quality time for myself and to really focus inward. I can get frustrated at work and tired after my walk home- especially now after Daylight Savings Time- when the sun goes down around 5pm. I’m likely to curl up on the couch and be lazy - and with my on and off back pain, I’ve been challenged even to stand up to make dinner. So I’m being more gracious with myself during the week and making these “one mindful things” smaller and more bite-sized.
On Monday I got back to spinning at the gym at lunch and it was phenomenal. What once used to be my weekly Monday lunch routine has fallen off my radar as “more important” meetings or other things have consumed my calendar. But I decided this week, no more, I’m getting back to this one thing on Mondays that breaks up my day, increases my endorphins and does something great for my body. Afterwards, I was sweaty and I was sore, but I was happy. This class (with my favorite 24hr fitness teacher, Angie, by the way) will be back on my calendar every week for as long as my preggo body can muster it!
Tuesday night I did something quite small, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for over a week now, and haven’t taken the time to do it. I painted my nails- and I love them. I feel prettier and more feminine for it- even today when I didn’t wear a speck of makeup to work. There is something nice about polished nails that makes me feel put together. For the most part, I’ve kept my nails bare during my pregnancy. The last time I had a manicure was prior to our honeymoon when I was 2-3 weeks pregnant and since then, I’ve avoided most all nail polish, even at home. Partially concerned over the chemicals and fumes, but also being budget-conscious by avoiding manicures or pedicures. But lately, my nails have been so beautiful, long and strong and I’ve felt color fading from my skin as the days shorten- I’ve been desperate for some polish. So I sat down last night and painted my nails, and they look beautiful and I feel great about it. Now writing about it and reflecting on it, it seems a little trivial and potentially silly, but it made me feel good. And anything that makes a pregnant woman feel good is a great thing, in my book.
Wednesday nights are easier for me these days, as I have a commitment to myself and my new community at my Fit4Baby class, which has been amazing for my body and my soul over the past 4 weeks or so. This class is a major highlight of my workweek. And although I never find it easy to get back out the door after work when it’s dark outside, this class is way worth it. It brings strength into my body through movement, light into my heart when we connect to our babies and joy into my life when we share our experiences with one another. I plan to keep this Wednesday routine (and one more day a week when I can squeeze it in) because it is a perfect way to end the day mindfully <3 thank you to my instructor, Jamie, for making this class and community happen!
I hope to keep this “one thing” practice up through the pregnancy and beyond because I truly do find it bringing more mindfulness into my life. No matter what or who comes at me during my days now, I feel that I am operating more from my center and core-being, and I want this feeling to only grow.
Do you have a daily practice that helps you stay centered? I would love to hear how you stay mindful and operating from your heart!
We all want the best for our children. And it begins with the basic necessities - a warm bed, a belly full of food, educational opportunities and a community of people to help them thrive. We desire a peaceful world in which they can grow to become successful and happy. I imagine that all parents and all parents to be feel this way. Our hope for our children's future is what inspires us everyday.
But we have differing opinions on how to get to this ideal world- and no more was that apparent than in this divisive presidential election. And then the outcome. A surprising and hard pill for many of us to swallow. What we thought could never be, is today a reality. So what to do?
My only answer: Pure, Full and Radical Love. Love our children. Love ourselves. Love our communities.
Our little baby girl is due in March. I still have 4-5 months to keep her safe and protected inside of me. In the next 4-5 months I am going to do all I can to pour love, warmth, strength and optimism into this little body and soul growing inside of me. I am blessed to have this time with her and will take this as my most serious role in life.
For those of you whose little ones are already a part of this world, out wandering the playgrounds and schools- the world isn't a perfect place. The world, as we know it today includes fear, hate, war- and you know this already. And unfortunately your kids know this already too. My hope for you and your families is that you can continue to begin with peace and love at home. Teach your little ones to love themselves and love others. Model for them how to use their words and to stand up against injustice. I'm not an expert by any means, but I'm gathering resources. Here is a really great article my friend shared with me this morning. Here and here you'll find lists of books on social justice.
Over the next 4-5 months our family will be planning for the arrival of our little girl, and we intend to bring her into a good world. The peace we want for the world must begin at home. We will meditate, practice yoga and have discussions about kindness and love before and after she arrives. And we will serve others and our community- we will do this as a family with full hearts and hope for humanity. As a family we will do all we can, and I have deep faith that many other families will be doing the same. We are, forever, a human family. We must remember that we belong to one another.
What can you do to promote world peace?