Sunday, 14 February 2016

Durban Doula's Pregnancy Diary Week 32 - Aching for Beauty

Image via Unsplash
Typography by Instagrammer evamwinters
Lyrics from 'In Over my Head'

Aching for beauty...

But before we get to that, I've been having some funny moments where people ask how far I've got to go, and when I say, 'About 9 weeks,' their eyebrows climb up their foreheads and they say, 'Oh!'

Now you see, I'm never sure what they mean by that. 'Oh! I thought you looked ready to pop!' or 'Oh! You don't even look like you're half way!' Either way, I don't really care what they think. I feel great and I love my belly - It's the only time in my life I get to have some curves! But I giggle internally every time I get that response.

Wikimedia Commons
Having said that, this belly has been giving me some backache when I try to walk after  I've been sitting or lying still for a while. Each time I put weight on my right leg it felt like my sacroiliac joint was going to give way. (See diagram if you're not sure where that is.) My pelvis was feeling like a cheap jigsaw puzzle that just doesn't want to fit properly - each time you press on one side, it pops out on another side.

I'm sure the fact that baby is now around 1.7kg in weight and about 42.5cm tall has something to do with that!

I remember having this problem last time only at around 38 weeks, but I was much fitter last time and I was teaching ballet right up until 37 weeks, where now I spend most of my work day in front of a computer. Going to see a chiropractor really helped then. It probably saved me from a c-section actually. So I got some recommendations and went to see a local chiro here in Westville - Dr Jacob Nell.

He made some astute connections between my breathing habits and weaker core muscles due to pregnancy. I tend to do chest breathing rather than abdominal breathing - a bad habit of mine exacerbated by chest tightness related to a wheat allergy. He also made a connection between my latent jaw tension and the pelvic imbalance. He did some releases on my neck and pelvis and I've been working on keeping my jaw relaxed by touching my tongue to the back of my teeth and manually stretching my jaw, as well as practicing diaphragmatic breathing and making sure I'm staying on top of my magnesium intake and it is feeling much better.

My 24-hour healing chicken soup!
(Recipe here.)
Another contributing factor is a lovely big pregnancy pillow my mom-in-law made me. It's a long sausage shaped one that I'll eventually use as a cosleeper i.e. place the sausage shaped pillow along the edge of the bed, with a cover that goes around the pillow and under mom and baby, and you have a safe cosleeping space. That is if I can get it back from my hubby - he claims it's not a pregnancy pillow - it's just a cuddle pillow and everyone should have one.

I've had another ache this week too. I know it sounds a bit odd, but I've been aching for beauty...

Our haul of sweet potatoes
from our garden!
These things make me happy!
I often tell moms towards the end of pregnancy that it is a time for seeking pleasure. When I apply it to myself, something in me has an immediate, 'Yes, But...' reaction. So often women, and especially mothers, have difficulty seeking pleasure. It feels so... so selfish, so hedonistic. I know it's not just me.

Pregnant ladies have a bit of a tightrope to walk. We don't want to be seen as sick or disabled, or a liability to our employers, so we pretend that the growing belly doesn't even exist. We work hard to try to keep up and prove ourselves worthy, all the while growing a whole other human being within our bodies. I totally get that pressure.

That pouf I was working on...
But at the same time, society needs to acknowledge growing a human being is not an easy task, but a vitally important one! Ask any country suffering from decreasing birth rates and an aging population! I truly believe pregnant women should be cherished and nurtured during this time of expansion and transition. Giving your whole body over to this new person, never to be the same again, is a demanding task physically, mentally and emotionally, and one that deserves recognition.

Cherishing the mother is one way to love the baby she is carrying. She is not merely a detached vessel - she and the baby form a unit, a symbiotic organism for now, and their combined health should be seen as having utmost importance.

I have an incredible husband who wholeheartedly acknowledges this idea. He encourages me to take time and space for myself in the busy-ness of raising two children and working full time - and actually puts legs to his encouragement by doing the capable parent thing with great enthusiasm.

So what does it mean to ache for beauty?

It's as if something inside me yearns to saturate my senses with joy - and to go beyond that and create things that bring joy to those around me. Maybe it has something to do with nesting? I don't know.

My herb garden - doing quite well since I started it!
Geraniums, Lemon, Pennyroyal, Lovage, Rosemary,
Basil, Thyme, Lemon Grass, Yarrow, Burdock, Curry Leaf,
Fennnel, Dill, Rocket, Purslane, Echinacea, Calendula,
Coriander, Parsley, Sage, Lemon Balm, Thyme
and Stevia! Phew!
This, too, saturates and satisfies my senses and makes me happy.
I made the wall hanging many years ago,
along with a couple of the other items on the dresser,
while the rest consists of found objects,
gifts and indoor plants...
I love these collections of my favourite things! 
But I can see this impulse in action in how I choose to spend my snatched moments of down time - cooking nourishing chicken soups to freeze, upcycling old t-shirts into a pouf for the lounge, colouring in my pregnancy affirmations, working on my quilt, sorting out my herb garden, filling my house with indoor plants... these things bring me great satisfaction, and in a sense each of them is a way of bringing order out of chaos, in the same way that my body is growing a baby.

So what are some of the other ways I am going to seek pleasure over the next few weeks? (Other than the list above!)
Here are my super budget ideas:

  • Bath by Candlelight - with some Epsom Salts mixed in for a magnesium boost.
  • Pick flowers - Marigolds and Sunflowers in my garden at the moment!
  • Drink Lemon Balm tea - picked from my garden, while sitting on the balcony.
  • Listen to music that touches me.
  • Stretch - It's great for pregnancy and gives a great endorphin boost!
  • Admire my belly - I know the time is short. Soon this belly will be empty and my arms will be full.
  • Cuddle - Lots. With my hubby and with my girls. 
  • Bask in the sun.
Quilt pieces ready for stitching...
I find this stage of pregnancy quite intense. There is no moment in which you can forget you are pregnant. At any moment you might have baby kicking, heartburn bothering you, pelvis all over the show, sweating from your internal heater - whatever your particular set of niggles... And every time you get dressed, go to the toilet, pick something up, strap your seat belt on, try to stand up from a low chair, or try find a position to sleep in, you are reminded of this little person snuggled up inside your belly.

With that comes the realisation that this baby is going to have to come out sometime! That part is also becoming more real to me. I've found myself looking forward to laboring and birthing this baby. My previous births were both empowering and affirming experiences - and I am looking forward to that post birth high that can't be explained unless you've experienced it! Ecstasy, exhaustion, euphoria and energy all mixed up together... It's quite unlike anything else.

So on the whole, it's been good. This e-card sums things up quite nicely:

One last thing, now is a good time to make sure you follow me on Twitter - @DurbanDoula - or Facebook - Giving Birth Naturally - to make sure you don't miss any birth announcements! 

So did you experience that 'ache for beauty' in pregnancy? 
How did you

scratch that itch?

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