Thursday, April 30, 2015

39 Weeks, Loss of a Publisher, aaaaaand ...

... whatever else may pop into my mind as I write this.

This is the last day of April. Tomorrow we enter the month that seemed so far away when I first found out I was pregnant. Tomorrow I will be 39 weeks along, one week away from Wyatt's estimated due date. I will be nine days from my 39th birthday, which is also Mother's Day this year.

This is the most significant May of my entire life. When I think about it, I'm sure my face must take on an expression akin to being stoned out of my gourd.

This has been a surprisingly smooth pregnancy. I maintained my medical status of "boring" throughout, nothing strange, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing to cause excessive worry. (I say excessive because mothers will always worry about everything all the time no matter what.)

There was the two weeks of nausea, food aversions, acute smells, and fatigue around week 8. Then the constant pressure on my bladder and the pubic symphysis issues started, the only things to occur consistently. (I did not get the second trimester respite from the bladder issues that many get.) A few weeks ago, I got the pregnant itchies, occasional rashes that would sprout, last an hour, then go away.

I had a two-day bout of edema in my feet and ankles, which went away, but has returned with a vengeance the last couple of days, thanks to Wyatt's low head-down position in my pelvis. I have been referring to them as "Hobbit feet," and it is definitely the oddest thing I have witnessed in my body. However, I have not needed to resort to getting larger shoes or schlepping around in flip-flops, which I hate. My feet have always been long and skinny (think Disney's Ichabod Crane cartoon), so I've always had room in my shoes for width. I just keep my sneakers double tied with enough room to slip my feet into them.

I have exercised all nine months. Not anywhere near what I was doing as a fitness instructor beforehand, of course. Maybe three or four days a week at the most, sometimes going several days without because of physical issues or time issues. My routines have modified and shrunk. When I go walking with hubby and the dogs, our jaunts are shorter and I walk much slower now. I feel like I'm swinging my legs around Wyatt's head with every step.

I have forgotten what it is like not to feel like I need a bathroom all the time.

I expected to get wider as I gained weight. However, my belly has been growing steadily forward and not out to the sides. Even one of the midwives exclaimed how I was all belly and nothing else when I laid down for positioning.

Wyatt has been in ROA position for at least a couple of months. The midwives tell me that having his spine on the left would be better, so I have spent part of every day on my hands and knees, sometimes more like Child's Pose, to encourage him to spin. No luck yet, but he might chose to swing at the very last second.

He is still pretty active, but I thinking it's harder for him to move now, so he gets tired easier. I love watching my husband's face as he feels Wyatt's movement.

I have not gotten any of the insane pregnancy cravings that everyone talks about. Any cravings I have had are normal cravings that I've had ever since going Paleo, for the stuff that I once loved to eat but hated the way they made me feel afterward: fast food, doughnuts, candy bars, etc. I have occasionally had a box of cereal, Annie's White Cheddar Bunnies (which will accompany me to the birthing), potato chips, ice cream.

I did allow myself whatever I wanted at my baby shower. No way was I missing out on that cake.

But everything that I indulged in was the best that I could find, with the healthiest ingredients available. Everything was organic when possible, natural with simple known ingredients when not. For example, I made my own hot chocolate from organic whole milk, organic maple syrup, organic vanilla, and 100% cacao powder. I have never had a moment of crazy, uncontrollable desire or the need for strange foods that I would never have otherwise eaten.

I mention this because food is such a huge issue for many people. I get the impression that some people felt bad about themselves when they would see how healthy I was eating all the time. But I really do think that by feeding myself and my baby the way I did, my body did not want for anything. I have gained thirty pounds almost exactly. It looks like it's all in my belly (and my ankles these days.) I feel good most of the time and usually have a good amount of energy every day.

I hope maybe telling about my experiences will help other moms in their choices.

I have not had the intense nesting or cleaning urge yet, but I do think I have procrastinated enough in getting the house set up. This week will be spent putting together the Pack n' Play, washing all the new cloth diapers and soakers and baby clothes, maybe canning up some stews for dinners, and cleaning the house for when the grandparents come to visit.

Okay, I think I have exhausted the whole baby topic.

And now for something completely different ...

I recently found out that one of my publishers has decided to go out on a high note and close up shop. They have a couple of my stories, one stand alone and one in an anthology. I had just finished writing and editing a story for one of their anthologies for this year, but I didn't get to send it in.

It makes me sad when publishers go out of business. I feel like I'm being pushed toward self-publishing more and more nowadays. It makes me wonder what will happen in the publishing industry in the next five years.

This year I've decided to push a little harder and submit my stories to pro and semi-pro paying markets. I'm also sending queries to magazines, like travel and special interest magazines rather than fiction mags. It will be interesting to juggle these new ventures while I figure out being a first time mom at the same time.

Well, I thought there might be other things to blog about, but I think this particular entry has gotten long enough. And I'm getting hungry, thanks to all that blather about food.

And I need to make my tenth trip to the bathroom today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A New TSA Rant (plus Alaska Airlines praise)

One of my dear friends ran into some very unfortunate circumstances a couple of weeks ago, right in time for her birthday. So I decided to give her the best present I could manage: my presence. (Written with a completely straight face and in all seriousness.)

So I scheduled a last minute trip to Northern California last week to cram in as much time as I could with her, our friends, and my family. I got to bump baby bumps with my best friend who is about two and a half weeks behind me in her pregnancy and looks absolutely radiant. I got to reconnect with someone I hadn't seen in many years, got to play guitar with my dad, and had a Chinese food party with so many people I love. It was quite the whirlwind for a lady about thirty-one weeks along.

The interesting part was the experience flying there and back.

I have a lot of praise for Alaska Airlines. When I told the flight attendants I was seven and a half months pregnant, they were all very nice and offered me drinks and extra snack packets even before the cart went through. I was able to walk up and down the aisle whenever I needed. I'd also made sure I got the seat closest to the bathrooms in the back. As no one else was sitting with me, the attendants even encouraged me to put my feet up on the empty seats.

When my first return flight to Seattle was delayed about four hours, I received a hotel voucher for the night, which was nice since I was prepared for a twelve-hour layover in SeaTac anyway. I had even bought a cheap air mattress and pump and knew exactly where I was going to sack out for the night. Didn't even need it.

I got about five hours of sleep before having to brave the TSA security of SeaTac. I had no idea what to expect.

My other experiences were the same as before: opted out of the scanner (they still tried to convince me to go through in Anchorage, insisting there were no X-rays to harm my baby in the scanner. There hasn't been enough research to prove the scanners truly harmless yet, X-rays or otherwise. Research that has been done has been paid for by the companies selling the machines.) Had the typical pat-down in Anchorage as well as Sacramento.

Now here's where my disdain for TSA has grown even greater than before.

In Anchorage on my way to California, I got the pat-down and saw one of the TSA agents going through my bag. I thought I had removed all the non-security-friendly items at home beforehand, but I had missed my Leatherman tool in a small side pocket. I sighed, thinking that I was going to lose it or have to mail it home.

When my pat-down was finished, the agents discovered the machines for the test pads with which they wipe your bags for bomb chemicals had all gone down at once. I had to wait an extra ten or fifteen minutes while they called someone to get one running. During this time, the agent that gave me the pat-down noticed my Leatherman tool sitting on the counter next to my bag and asked if there was was something wrong with it. The agent searching my bag replied no, there were no blades in it.

Now, there are several possible explanations here. One, perhaps she didn't want to give me any more hassle since I was pregnant and already waiting quite a while to be released thanks to the faulty machines. Two, perhaps she'd never seen a Leatherman before and only saw the pliers when she opened it, not the other tools inside the handles. Three, perhaps she never even opened the darn thing to check.

She said it was fine. The tests came out fine and I was told I could go on my way, so I did.

I did not do this on purpose to prove a point. This bag of mine was somewhat new and I had overlooked one of the smaller pockets when getting ready for my trip.

But the fact remains that the TSA agents let a banned item through their security.

What happened in SeaTac was even more interesting.

I'm sure most have heard about the TSA Pre-check lines by now. You pay a fee and get a government background check that, when passed, allows you to go through the Pre-check line instead of the regular security line. It's just like the old days: no taking off shoes, no taking out laptops, and just going through the good old metal detector.

When I got to SeaTac the morning after my hotel stay, a bunch of people including myself were being herded through the Pre-check line like cattle. I didn't realize it until I got my ticket and ID checked, and for a moment I thought I had gotten into the wrong line. But it was very busy that morning and there were two agents guiding masses of people into the Pre-check line. I went through without having to take off my shoes (very nice for a pregnant lady) or going through the pat-down for opting out of the scanner.

I pondered this as I waited for my flight to board.

If I had been one of those that paid for Pre-check, I would have been very pissed off seeing all these people going through for free. So why were they doing it?

I believe it was because the scanners are too slow for the busy periods. And when you include those evil people like me who opt out, it gets even slower.

What's to stop a terrorist from planning to go through during those known busy times when people are pushed through Pre-check just to keep things moving smoothly? Is this something that happens at all major airports? If the body scanners and the pat downs are so effective, why are they so easily tossed aside when things get busy? How long would it have taken to get through security if they hadn't done that? If my Leatherman tool could be missed when things are slow, what could be missed when things are hectic?

I choose not to do Pre-check because I only fly at the most once a year. And I plan on not doing that as often as I can get away with. I believe that it is unconstitutional to force me through pat downs, through body scanners that are unknown health dangers and often give false positives and negatives, and to force background checks on a law-abiding citizen without a warrant. This all tromps on my right to freely travel about my country.

If they will send people through the old fashioned security measures en masse at busy periods, then why is all the rest of it even considered remotely necessary?

The more I see, the more I wonder why so many people just accept what they are told and go along like sheep with such ridiculous charades. I weep for our nation and pray that those who chose to be blind will one day open their eyes.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Third Trimester!

I am twenty-nine weeks today, a week into the third trimester. I'm getting more tired and my exercise routines are gradually shrinking as the list of exercises available to me dwindles. I can see why it is so difficult to work out when you are carrying extra weight. I've only gained fifteen pounds as expected with pregnancy and boy howdy, can I feel it!

But I continue marching on, trying to get at least some sort of exercise each day, even if it is only parking at the back of the store lot and walking (slowly, to make sure I don't lose my balance and slip on the ice.) I continue to eat as healthy as I can, though I still dream of doughnuts after all this time.

I did the gestational diabetes test and had no adverse affects from it. I expected my heart to race, but perhaps the exercise I did that afternoon and the protein that I ate for lunch helped my body process it quickly. My baby did not seem to be affected by it either, but he is such an active little boy to begin with. :)

My lab report came back within normal limits, and I can't express how relieved I was to hear I didn't have to do the three-hour test, nor did I have to worry about declining and having to test my blood sugar all the time. So it ended up being a good choice for me, especially since they had a version without the red food dye in it. No migraines, very helpful.

The weather here has been fairly abnormal, though if you were to ask fifty Alaskans what normal weather is here, you'd get fifty different answers. But even with that knowledge, the fact that it has snowed once a month since the winter season started is very odd. And then that snow gets melted away or blown away. People are taking photos of their bare lawns and temperature gauges showing forty degrees or more. And then we watch the national news and see southern states getting buried up to their ears in snow and ice, frozen stiff with negative temperatures. Oh, so that's where our winter went.

Yesterday was one of the warmer days, and very sunny to boot. It was the day I felt the shift from winter towards spring. I feel that shift every year, but it seemed pretty early this year. I think it usually happens in March. I actually went out without a scarf and hat, without warming up my car, without feeling like I immediately wanted to go back inside the warm house. I have my homemade organic hot chocolate and have to turn off the house heater before it's halfway consumed.

I have some interesting prospects developing in my writing career, including the possibility of a regular gig writing for a local magazine. I sent in some examples of my writing today in hopes that they like it. I have also received a couple of rejections, but I have set my sights higher this year, concentrating on professional-paying markets first, so that is to be expected.

I am working on a submission to a fairytale anthology as well as possible articles for the local magazine. I plan on returning to the complete rewrite of my novel after the fairytale is finished and sent off. I continue to exchange handwritten letters with my closest friends in other states, as it seems to oil the gears of my writing machinery.

I look forward to getting out and about with my husband and our baby boy this summer. Hubby has been interacting with the little one in my belly. Yesterday he patted the area where his feet and bottom have been hanging out and got a whole bunch of kicks and wiggles in response. I pretended to glare at him and said, "You woke him up." But inside I was smiling and oh, so happy to see the joy on my hubby's face.

I am loving this year so far. I pray that the stupid amounts of happiness I have been feeling spreads to as many people as I can touch.

Okay, done with the sappiness. On with the adventures!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

We've Got a Wild One, Folks!

My growing child has been a very active little bugger. Instead of a few random pokes, I feel like arms and legs are flailing in all directions! Kickboxing classes seem to be taking place in my womb as I'm trying to go to sleep at night!

We're seeing the movements even through my clothes now. It's very distracting when we're sitting and watching movies, and my belly gives this great jerk to the side. We often have to rewind (does anyone say that anymore?) the movie because we lost about ten minutes to watching the baby's activities and trying to guess which way he's facing.

Just had an appointment where heart rate and measurements are still right on track. I get to do the gestational diabetes glucose test next appointment in three weeks. Oh, joy. I was even told not to be surprised if I flunk the first one; I have so little sugar and carbs in my diet now to begin with, my body may freak out and not even know what to do with the drink when the day arrives. "What IS all this crap?!"

It amuses me to think what adjustments would have to be made if the tests DID show gestational diabetes. I guess my apple juice will have to go. Other than that, I have no idea what we could possibly change. No fruit?

I have recently fallen in love (again) with my calligraphy dip pen, even bought some parchment and a few extra colors of ink to play with. (I will never buy pearlized ink colors ever again though. They are way too difficult to remove from my pen while cleaning it.) I've been writing letters on adorable stationery with matching envelopes that I get from the Internet. I'm hoping a few of the recipients will write back in the same old fashioned way.

This sudden interest in letter writing and generally supporting the post office is pretty easy to understand: my frustration with social media continues to grow. A lot of people make great fanfare about whittling down their friends list, and that ever popular post, "If you're seeing this, you made the cut!" has been making an appearance on my newsfeed with alarming regularity. I notice this because I am pretty selective about accepting friend requests to begin with. I've stopped playing Facebook games. If I don't know a person or see/converse with them on a regular basis (or did at some point in time, even if we don't currently), I usually won't accept. I made it pretty hard to find me on Facebook in the first place, so I don't get random requests from strangers anyway.

At the beginning of this year, I did go through my friends list and unfriend those who hadn't been on Facebook in a very long time, or rarely posted at all. (I imagine a couple of them had probably unfriended me when their lives took an entirely new direction.) There weren't very many of those.

But today, for the first time, I unfriended someone for a very different reason. This person often posts inflammatory memes and articles, always negative in content, as well as disturbingly graphic and violent. Rarely were the posts ever about life or activities in general.

It made me sad to click "Unfriend." I'm all about being free to post what you want. I understand that the posts were very important to this person, that they were about life missions this person has, that there is great hope change will come about with the sharing of these memes and whatnot.

I've been told that a friend or two thought about unfriending me because of all the pictures of adoptable cats from the local rescues I share. But they hadn't because I post funny things and life updates as well, not just cats. And I guess that's my issue too.

When I find myself wanting to hide almost every single post a person makes on Facebook, it's probably time to unfriend. The constant negativity was turning me off to the message of the poster. That internal sigh was turning into a hurricane wind.

I also find it rather pointless. Unless you are friending a ton of strangers because of business, fame/celebrity, promotion, what have you (and you have a very loose handling on privacy settings), you are most likely posting to friends who already share your beliefs. Preaching to the choir. And if you have differing opinions, the likelihood of changing those opinions through a Facebook meme is next to zero. Do it excessively, and you are likely to drive people away from the message instead.

Sometimes people know how to debate, bringing up countering points without the intent to change minds. But most people only know how to argue and fight, sling insults, devolve to a verbal brawl without intellect or facts. Even when the initial post wasn't an invitation to debate or a plea for advice and opinions, many are still quick to put their dukes up and goad others into their battles.

One phrase that makes me groan: "I don't really want to get into this here, BUT - "

Then don't. Just don't. Please.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

19 Week Ultrasound

I am now about halfway through week 21, over the halfway-to-actual-baby hump, and about the middle of the second trimester. Things are getting a little more real all the time, and also getting a little more scary. A good scary.

A day before officially hitting 19 weeks, hubby and I went in for the fetal assessment ultrasound. This is the one where they do all the measuring and check the baby from all angles to make sure everything is moving along as it should. This is also where most people find out the gender, which we already knew from the Panorama test. Still, it was nice to have visual confirmation. Our little Cinnabon was quite cooperative.

The technician was very friendly and chatty, telling us everything she was measuring, and marking some of the pictures with funny phrases, like "Flexin'" when it looked like Cinnabon was flexing a bicep for the camera. We got lots of pictures, both in regular and 3D formats (which was a surprise).

I posted the ones that (I thought) did not have obvious clues to the baby's gender, as I was planning on a gender reveal at the baby shower. One of my friends is going to make a special cake for it. But apparently one or two people were able to tell from the photos, and posted their congratulations as such, so I ended up taking the whole thing down so as not to ruin the surprise.

This still doesn't stop people from making guesses when they see the picture of my 20-week baby bump. Alas, social media is not something to keep secrets on. This prompted me to switch gears and plan a small gender announcement photo shoot with a smaller cake, which will be happening next weekend, rather than the reveal at the baby shower. What with the constant requests for gender prior to purchasing or making gifts, and the fact that most of my family and friends in the lower 48 do not get to witness the glory that is my growing belly, I figured it was best that I succumb to the inevitable and get the gender announcement done soon.

However, there are two much more important things than the gender reveal issues: the baby is healthy and still measuring a day ahead of schedule, as was shown in the 10-week ultrasound, and I am extremely grateful for all the interest, well wishes, and desires to shower my baby with attention and gifts. I am a deeply thankful mom-to-be.

In other news, I utterly failed Nanowrimo again, but this was not a surprise in the least. I simply no longer want to write in the word-dumping fashion required to get a certain amount done in a certain amount of time. I end up hating it all and chucking the whole thing, regardless of whether it was a good idea or not. I am one of those people that needs the whole story planned out ahead of time (leaving it open to surprises along the way), and needs to be able to go back and fix the things that are not working before I get so deep in the hole I dug, I can't see to get out. Doing short stories has changed the way I do things so much, Nanowrimo is no longer conducive to getting things done for me.

I do it every year because I love the camaraderie, I love the memories of snow falling outside the windows as my fellow writers and I tap madly on our keyboards with cups of hot chocolate by our computers, I love trying out fresh, new ideas (if I have them in time for November). But I no longer worry about whether I make 50k by the end.

Most years seem to have things that get in the way of crossing that Nano finish line as well. This year it was my participation in VPA's "The Story of the Velveteen Rabbit." The show opened the week of Thanksgiving and closed the weekend before Christmas. Even though I had a small part, it still sucked up a lot of my time and a good portion of the energy leftover from growing a baby. I had a lot of fun and frustration mixed up with this one. Granted, I normally wouldn't have agreed to this show, as it was a small part in a musical I wasn't familiar with, and half the cast was comprised of kids. Also, I don't like performing during the holidays, even though we don't have family here to celebrate with.

But with the discovery of my pregnancy, I realized it was very likely this would be my last show in many years. If I waited for "South Pacific," I would find myself eight months pregnant, close to nine months, by the time the show opened. Not exactly a safe proposition. And I knew I'd be even more exhausted than I was for this show.

I got to meet several newcomers to the theatre scene and help get them started on the path to local entertainment (with the warning that once the theatre has you, it doesn't let go easily, especially for guys!) I got sing to my baby every night, which I will continue to do each day. I got to see the evidence of my growing belly as my first act costume got tighter and tighter, and the waistline of the skirt rose toward my bust. (This in particular was a source of amusement for all us adults.)

Perhaps it wasn't the farewell performance I'd dreamed of. But maybe the child will catch the theatre bug someday and we'll make a debut together.

And now the year is drawing to a close. I'm rapidly filling up a baby registry, which is taking up most of my time right now. I have to do a lot of research on things because there hasn't been a baby in the family since I was fourteen or fifteen years old, and I have never taken care of babies. I can count on one hand how many times I've even held a baby. So I read as much as I can (reading "You: Having a Baby" right now), exercise, eat right (always a struggle during the holidays), and ask a lot of opinions on Facebook.

Around week 17, I started feeling the first popcorn pokes of my baby with the certainty that it wasn't just gas. I feel movement every single day now, getting stronger and stronger. The little Cinnabon is wiggling as I type this, for movement is most noticeable when I'm sitting still. I admit, as much as it delights me, it creeps me out a little too. It's just so strange and different!

After the gender reveal photos are posted, I will post my registry as well and actively start planning for the baby shower that two of my theatre friends have generously offered to throw.

Thinking of all the theatre people that will be invited, I think this may go down as an epic shindig. ;)

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Great, Fantabulous, Marvelicious Pregnancy Pet Peeve Rant!

I was having a good laugh a little bit ago reading about the different pregnancy pet peeves that women develop during their nine-month "miracle time." A lot about criticizing name choices, breastfeeding opinions (opinions and advice about anything, really), comments on belly sizes, even choosing birthdays. ("Oh, you should have the baby on my birthday! Even though your due date is three weeks ahead of that!")

I've had a serious rant cooking in my brain for several weeks. Actually, ever since I announced that I am pregnant with my first child.

So let me begin this epic RANT with the following caveats:

I am not a doctor or medical professional. Before you do anything, always check with your doc. I do, however, have a Bachelors in Kinesiology and a Masters in Sport Performance, a third degree black belt in karate, and multiple certifications in Group Fitness Instruction. I do not believe one study is the end-all-be-all answer to any health question, especially since money can make research tell you whatever it pays for these days. I try to do as much research as I can manage on a topic before spouting my opinion in such a public way, but admittedly, my research is largely limited to the internet, which is not always reliable. I do glean a lot, though, from my background in schooling, as well as my certification publications, such as ACE's magazine.

Some of my closest and dearest friends have been known to commit the "atrocities" I am about to annihilate. I in no way want to make them feel bad for the things they have said to me, but I do want to explain in detail why this gets me so hot under the collar. I am a first time mom-to-be, and I do not have loads of experience with children, most seriously lacking in time spent with infants. I want opinions, I want advice, and I want people to understand when I decide not to take their advice. I also want people to know why I might get snappy about this subject, when I generally try to be an un-snappy person. Please remember as you read on that everyone has opinions and these are merely mine. I'm fine if you disagree, I'm just begging you not to make it personal, or make a mountain out of a molehill.

So if I'm so worried about other people disagreeing with me, why am I bothering with this rant?

Because this is an issue that I think is extremely important. Because this issue reaches deep into every human being, male or female, and many struggle with it day in and day out, pregnant or not.

So here, my friends, begins my biggest pregnancy pet peeve rant. Prepare yourself, for it's going to be a long read.

If I hear one more person say, "If you're craving something, you should just go ahead and eat it because your baby needs it," I'm going to -- 

(Okay, I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do. I don't want to be violent, and there's many arguments that I'm already crazy, so ... )

A while ago, I posted on Facebook that I was seriously craving McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, and it was too bad I am aware of how horrible they are for the body. This was a random lament, not one I expected to spark such a huge reaction in me.

Every single person who commented on that post said the same thing: "Eat the nuggets."

There were variations on that, of course, but the message was the same.

(Again, if you are one of my beloved friends who made one of those comments, please understand that I'm not angry or trying to hurt you. I just want everyone to see where this rant is coming from, and why it's so important to me.)

I get it. Fast food and junk food is a big part of society's vast array of edible choices. It's not harmful if it's eaten every once in a while, not as a main staple.

The problem is, most of us have our heads in the sand when it comes to the reality check of "How much are you really eating?"

Sugar is everywhere. It's being put in everything, in various forms. And it is highly addicting. I myself am a serious junk food addict. And that's where the problem lies.

People say they can control how much junk they eat, but are they really?

I don't want to get in the great diet debate. I mean, like Paleo vs Vegetarian vs Vegan vs Wheat vs Dairy, etc. That's a debate that will never die and will always have hard core backers that swear this diet or that diet works for them.

But I think we can all agree that there is too much sugar in most of our store-bought items, too many chemical ingredients in prepackaged food. I think we can also agree that fast food restaurants are not in business for our health. They are in business to make money. Their food is addicting to keep us coming back for more, even knowing how unhealthy most of it is. The only reason any fast food joints are offering "healthier" options is because of public backlash and people suing for making them fat.

Okay, got that out there. So what does this have to do with pregnancy cravings?

I have seen many forms of this opinion floating around: If you are craving something, that means your baby needs it.

Now, I don't think I've hit that point yet where the crazy pregnant lady cravings are supposed to happen. I'm not quite fourteen weeks along at this point. As mentioned in my last post, I have had the aversions, the nausea, and the superpower sense of smell. Most of those have now gone by the wayside. (I'm still waiting for the trips to the bathroom to lessen, but I think I should give up on that ship.)

I've had cravings most of my life, stemming from my teenage years when I ate bags of candy in one sitting and had fast food every week. Since my mid-twenties, though, I decided I didn't like the aftereffects of such binges. I decided it wasn't worth the crashes after the sugar high, the racing heart, the jittery shakes, the queasy tummy. I stopped buying candy, doughnuts, and Mickey D's. I asked my mother to stop sending me bags of candy on holidays. Husband and I wanted to try going Paleo, and took a year to eat up all the pasta, cereals, and other grains we'd stored. We still have brown rice and dairy, so we're not exclusively Paleo, but we're eating a lot more fruits, nuts, and veggies than we did before. Our eating habits have significantly improved, and so has our general health and well being.

When I had my first trimester nausea and food aversions, I became so desperate to find something that sounded good, something that my queasy tummy would accept. I turned to cereals and pastas during that time. But at least everything I chose I kept as organic and all natural and healthy as I possibly could.

Those Chicken McNuggets I was craving? Hubby went to Fred Meyer and got me a box of high quality, minimal ingredient, organic chicken nuggets that actually tasted much better than the fast food version. (Though admittedly, they were expensive as hell. I've only had that one box since then.)

Now, I realize I'm starting to sound preachy, maybe even holier-than-thou. That's not my intent. My intent is to lead by example, to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. My career has been all about helping people get on track to a healthier lifestyle, and sometimes that requires being the mean one, the raging bitch about important issues.

I know a lot of moms out there will be yelling about how there's no such thing as a bad craving, how if you're craving a certain food, it is because your baby needs something in it.

And those are the key words: something in it.

Most of us will be craving garbage all the time, because most of us have eaten garbage for so long and we like it. I know fast food is horrible, but if my husband, or mother or whoever, brought me a McDonald's double cheeseburger, twenty-piece nuggets, and large fries with a Sprite, I'd probably eat it because it smells so damn good. I am not perfect. (Did I mention I'm not perfect?)

But this statement infuriates me so much because so many women use it as a banner to cave in to whatever junk they want to eat, because "the baby needs it."

So if a mom-to-be told you she was craving dirt, laundry detergent, sand, or rocks, what would you say? "Go ahead and eat it because your baby needs it!"

Good lord, I pray not.

Most likely you would tell her that she is deficient in something and to seek medical assistance. According to this article (see link), it may be an iron deficiency, as many women get anemic while pregnant. But it may be the body is missing other vitamins and minerals too.

There are other sites that mention possible reasons behind other, more regular cravings and possible solutions to them (such as having sorbet or yogurt instead of ice cream).

So why is it okay to tell a woman that if she is craving junk food to go ahead and eat it? Wouldn't healthier substitutes be a better suggestion?

For example, when I have a major chocolate craving, my response is to make a Paleo chocolate mug cake. It is composed of organic cocoa powder, coconut flour, almond flour, an egg, coconut milk, real maple syrup, a little organic vanilla extract, and honey. I mix it up in a coffee mug and bake it. I believe this to be a much better option than most of the chocolate bar and candy options out there.

Or perhaps I'll buy a small container of organic chocolate ice cream with the fewest ingredients I can find and share it with my husband. Or maybe a bar of organic dark chocolate of at least 78% dark.

So many women struggle with diet, health, and body image in their regular lives, with so much tempting food out there that is bad for us. But I would hope and pray that during this time of all times, when a woman is growing a precious new life within her, that she would realize that this is the time to take charge. It's no longer just about her. It's about the little one inside her that has no control over the decisions mommy makes about her body.

One of my fears is that my child will be born with those cravings already in place. It has been documented that babies can taste what the mother eats during pregnancy through the amniotic fluid, and during breastfeeding through the milk. They develop likes and dislikes during that time. Babies can be born addicted to the drugs or the cigarettes the mother was smoking, and then they have to go through withdrawal after birth. I do not want my child to have the same health issues that some I love dearly have been dealing with their whole lives.

If we know these things about our babies, how can we just wave away the importance of what we eat while the child is developing?

It's hard, though. I know how incredibly hard it is, especially this time of year, with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all one right after the other. But we can make better choices, at least during this one time when our unborn children are residing within us. For example, when my child is born, I want to start a new Halloween function. Sort of a Trunk or Treat thing, where the treats are toys, books, or useful goodies instead of candy. Or if this is not possible, perhaps trading the candy for a larger toy the child has been wanting, and then disposing of that candy in some other fashion. (I heard there's a dentist in Anchorage who buys back children's Halloween candy after the holiday because he cares about kids' teeth. I want to meet this guy.)

For those who moan about junk food being okay in moderation, all I ask is that you take a real hard, definitive look at your diet and see if it really matches with your belief. Check the ingredients of packaged food that you buy at the store. My midwifery has their clients fill out a food diary for three days. I decided to do it for longer than that, and keep track of my diet as well as exercise. (Since I am no longer teaching at this time, I need the record so I know for sure I'm exercising as regularly as I think I am.) Sure enough, I was skipping more days of exercise than I was willing to admit to myself, even after my fatigue and nausea issues had vanished. Now I can fix that.

My biggest hope for this public post is that it will help other pregnant women make better choices for themselves and for their children. There is so much information out there about what pregnant women should and should not do, and much of it is conflicting. But I believe that healthy eating is one thing that a woman should not stint on or dither about. In improving her own life and health, she can also help those closest to her improve, such as spouses, family members, and friends.

You know, that whole "Physician, health thyself" thing.

Whew. That was quite a load off my chest (which has been getting heavier by the moment without such subjects weighing on it). Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. ;)

While I'm here, I will further demonstrate how I am not perfect: Every Saturday, I have a small Sierra Mist soda with my garden salad lunch and Sun Chips. On Halloween, I had my organic dark chocolate, but I did have a single York Peppermint Patty at a restaurant after my shrimp salad. At a Nanowrimo meeting last Saturday, I had a sugar cookie with icing and some Cranberry Sprite (after informing everyone to keep me away from the rest of the cookies, else they disappear.)

Also, if it is a choice between a less healthy food option and not eating at all because of nausea and vomiting, I understand how difficult it can be to make yourself eat when you're not hungry. So if it would otherwise mean starving yourself, then go ahead and eat something. But try your best to make it organic or all natural or some equivalent. The fewer ingredients on the list, the better.

At this point, all I can say is: Blessed be, lots of luck to you other mothers-to-be, and


Friday, October 17, 2014

Shall We Try This Again?

So it's been a little while since my last blog post because on September 1st, I received my first, what the baby forums call, BFP (Big Fat Positive) pregnancy test. I did another one about a week later just because I was rather bored that day and wanted to see if it looked any different. It was such a strong positive, the pregnancy line pulled color from the negative line.

I already knew I was pregnant long before I took the first test. I felt a shift which must have been conception day and I felt different thereafter. This pregnancy is so much stronger than the last one. I was extremely bloated during weeks four and five, I already couldn't fit my jeans. And my trips to the bathroom, previously frequent from my water intake as a fitness instructor, doubled.

And then week six hit. Extreme nausea, crazy food aversions, intense sense of smell, disappearing appetite, and insane amounts of fatigue.

While I was not doing the traditional praying to the porcelain gods, I was shocked with how different and how bad I felt. It was like having a horrible flu that wouldn't go away. I was used to being sick for only a few days and being able to sleep most of it off.

This didn't go away for two weeks.

I had to step off our rather rigid Paleo diet (no cereal, pasta, or bread in the house at all) just to find something that sounded edible. I got organic cereals, organic granola bars, canned ravioli and boxed mac and cheese, seed and nut bread. I ate organic sorbets and ice cream, and drank real ginger ale and sparkling fruit juices. The gas was tremendous, but the bubbles helped my irritable tummy. My midwife mentioned that carbs are easier to digest, and someone like me probably needed more carbs anyway. Carrots were the one veggie I was able to nibble on regularly.

I was amazed at how dramatically my digestion slowed. That is typical, but I had only just quit my teaching job in July (before learning I was pregnant), so I was still used to being hungry all the time. I have to nibble now, eat smaller meals or I get all blocked up.

By the eighth week, the nausea diminished and some of my energy started to creep back in. I still have to sit down during a round of dish washing, but I'm exercising more often once again.

And then I realized just how tired I got. My concentration had completely deserted me. I always thought I'd deal with the first trimester by writing and reading a lot during that time.

It didn't happen.

I'd sit down to write and end up just staring at the computer doing nothing. Not even surfing the net. I'd try to read a book and just end up reading the same paragraph over and over without understanding a single word. And even with all this, naps rarely happened. I started watching TV and DVDs with alarming frequency. My Facebook visits began to increase in short-attention-span-theatre style. I started referring to my baby as the Parasite because it felt like I was being drained from within.

I am so happy to report that I'm feeling almost "normal," my appetite is returning, and I have more energy to take the dogs for walks and do a few yoga routines at home. We had our first ultrasound at ten weeks (more on that later), and I am now heading towards the end of the first trimester at eleven weeks. I am now calling my baby our little Cinnabon in the oven. Gradually working back toward a Paleo-based diet, with a few cheats here and there. (Hello, flour tortillas.) I'm even in the Christmas show at the theatre this year, and I did a song for the annual fundraiser (gods, the cheesecake was heavenly.)

There is so much to write about, but I think I'll finish this entry with this: the end of my first trimester, and the associated nausea and fatigue, is perfectly timed for Nanowrimo next month. I can use it to get back on the writing track. I want to get back to Write 1 Sub 1 as well. I count my blessings that I am not one of those who will be sick through the whole nine months. I am grateful for my appetite and for my ability to exercise again.

Now I can only hope that my Nanowrimo idea is a good one. :)