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?

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Durban Doula's Pregnancy Diary Week 30

Our growing family...
(Karen E Photography)
Phew! The big 3-0!

After our weighty topic last week, this week is mostly bits and bobs...

Over the Christmas period we had some family pics done with my husband's side of the family. I was so grateful that our usual photographer got back from the UK three days before we needed the shoot, and as always, she really got the best out of us as you'll see in the pics scattered through the post! She is great fun to work with, and excellent with the kids - we did our previous maternity shoot with her, and a family shoot or two before and after that - and we keep going back so you know she must be good!

Hear me Roar!
(37 week maternity shoot with Karen in 2011)
I'm really enjoying this pregnancy to be honest. I'm grateful that I've had a pretty easy pregnancy on the whole. Other than some morning dizziness, I've had a couple of days of swollen feet - remedied by sleeping with my feet raised after an Epsom Salts foot bath, and some hip niggles, and some very occasional heartburn, but beyond that I'm feeling quite good. Oh, and the tiredness... I'm not as flat out finished as I was in the first trimester, but just the physical work of carrying this extra weight and growing a whole human in this heat does take it out of me. Oh, I forgot about the spider veins too... this list of things that aren't bothering me too much seems to be getting longer! But compared to what many women experience, I think I'm doing okay!

My awesome hubby... What a man!
(Karen E Photography)
That human I'm growing weighs about 1.3kg now, and is around 40cm tall, about the size of a large butternut, although it's all relative at this stage!

It's been so busy that on the whole I haven't really had much chance to think about being pregnant, never mind doing any colouring or anything like that. Trying to juggle different school times with extra murals, while working full time (albeit flexi-time) is hectic. I try not to use my flexibility too much, because I do still have to catch up the time, and right now my energy levels past 5pm just are not up for the task of getting work done once the girls are asleep!
My poor veggie garden (and my gardening blog) have been sorely neglected, as has nearly every other non-essential task, especially over the last two weeks as the girls start school again.

Lady in Red.
(37 week maternity shoot with Karen in 2011)
On the topic of school, are there any other moms who detest homework? Parents hate it, teachers hate marking it, kids hate doing it, many many studies have shown that it can even be harmful to their academic futures as it destroys their love for learning... So why do they still get it? Apparently my daughter's Grade 1 homework should take 15min. Pah! I tried convincing her that this was fun time for us to spend together - both colouring in, reading, counting and adding - but she wasn't having any of it. She just blinked at me. Unconvinced. I'm not sure if I can keep this up for the next 20 years to be honest!
(Link on homework here)

On a more positive note, I made some of my own newborn winged prefolds out of old baby blankets to use in some spare newborn covers I have, and taught my almost 7-year-old how to use the overlocker so she could make a baby blanket out of some flannel I bought. She was so chuffed with herself! It was very sweet.
All the cousins.
(Karen E Photography)
(For a video on different types of cloth diapers / nappies - look here.)

I'm all for budget babies, so I was overjoyed when I found a Joie Stages car chair, only 18 months old, second hand. No accident damage or anything like that, still in great nick. The mom felt her daughter wasn't comfortable in it so was buying a different one.  What I like about the Joie Stages is that they can use it from birth to 7 years old, and they can do rear facing until 18kg! Now we just need to figure out how to fit these chairs into our car...

I was also gifted with some boy clothes by a doula client, and another client is lending me her stash of newborn nappies to add to my currently modest stash. In terms of nappies after 3 months, I was able to supplement my collection with some second hand nappies I bought from friends who were emigrating - so all in all I think we're doing well! In the midst of all the busy-ness I sorted through the old baby clothes I was keeping in case we had another girl, and was able to give away a large suitcase full of clothes to a family that has been struggling... Yay for paying it forward!

Love this one!
(37 week maternity shoot with Karen in 2011)
So with all the sorting and repacking, I have also been inspired to spruce up our room a little bit, seeing as I'll be spending a bit more time in there. Why now, with 10 weeks before the baby is due? Blame it on nesting, blame it on the fact that we're going to be cosleeping and won't need a baby room for a while, either way I have big plans. How many of them will get done by the time baby is here? I have no idea!

The starting point is finishing a quilt I've been working on for about 8 years. I dusted off my sewing machine for the first time in a long while and have been diligently working at getting it all together - when I have the energy! One of the last times I worked on it was when I was in early labour with my youngest daughter - nearly 5 years ago! So I think it's time. It seems my seamstress skills have been inspiring my eldest daughter (almost 7), as she is busy designing her own fashion range that I am going to help her sew. I'd much rather do that than homework any day!

So yeah, that's us for this week. I've got another checkup due in the next few days, so we'll have some updates, and perhaps some progress on the various craft projects and gathering of birth supplies... Beyond that, I think uneventful is good at this stage!