Monday, December 29, 2014

Cute Baby Chronicles: Catching up

Written on December 18, 2014...

After the initial surge of excitement which I didn't feel OK to share right away (so frustrating!) I stopped writing altogether. I'm not sure why, but I guess I was just trying to stay in the moment and experience everything as opposed to focusing on chronicling it. This post is catching us up closer to the present....

As is my habit, I've been consuming tons of information about pregnancy, child birth, and babies. I'm a bit obsessive like that. It's mostly podcasts and blogs at this stage. I just don't have the patience for books. I've listened to almost all the Pregtastic, Preggie Pals, and Birth, Baby and Life podcasts so far. So much great info!

Now, just at 20 weeks I'm starting to feel like this is really happening. I'm finally starting to show a bit (that took forever!) Careful what you wish for, I'm sure... I no longer obsessively track my food intake, but I'm working to incorporate as much good whole healthy food and I can. I've hardly gained any weight so far (and nothing in the last month before my last appointment), but I'm trying not to see that as either a good or a bad thing. My doctor isn't concerned but warned me that it WAS coming and it would be OK :) My chiefest concern is just getting the nutrition both of us really need right now.

My zeal for prenatal yoga also waned as the first trimester queasiness and fatigue set in. I haven't been to a class in awhile, but have done some at home. Now that I'm starting to feel more like myself, I plan to start attending the classes again. I really did enjoy them!

Yesterday was my latest doctor's appointment and it is so fun to listen to that heartbeat! I also got my first unsolicited "Are you pregnant question" yesterday. It was tentative, but I certainly did appreciate it! Tomorrow Cute Man and I will go for our 20 week ultrasound - the anatomy scan. Can't wait to see the little guy!

And yes, it's going to be a BOY. We already know due to a genetic test we did early on so here's to announcing the impending arrival of Samuel H. Dodson V due on or about May 5, 2015. How crazy would it be if he actually came on that date? Baby Sammy Five born on 5/5/15. Wow :) But, he'll come when he's ready (no elective inductions for me!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cute Baby Chronicles: Containing the Excitement

This was written on August 29, 2014...

I just can't seem to contain this excitement. All I want to do is read pregnancy blogs and listen to podcasts. I've also started mining the internet for good movies. I'm all about my beloved Knocked Up and What to do When You're Expecting, but I need some variety. Suggestions welcome! I've even started looking at maternity clothes online... Soon will come the books, but I just don't have the attention span for those yet! Gotta check Audible...

Meanwhile, mum's the word of course. It feels so weird not to share something I'm THIS excited about, you know? I'm pretty sure I'll wind up spilling the beans to the fam when I visit both sides next weekend. But maybe not. I go back and forth on this. I'm definitely not mentioning it at work for obvious reasons.

As for what I usually talk about here... I'm still tracking my food in My Fitness Pal. Surprised? No, I have not developed Pregorexia (which is a very real and sad thing). However, I know that eating well is super important, now more than ever. Having a detailed record can only be helpful down the road. I changed my settings to "maintain your weight" and it seems like such a boon to eat that much! If I start to feel restricted, I will raise it or ignore the "limit". That is not what I'm doing here -- I'm not counting calories to try and avoid weight gain. I'm sure some WILL happen. But, it does serve me (and Cute Baby) well to keep things on an even keel and not go overboard with weight gain which would make things harder on me in the long run and add stress to my body, which is working hard enough as it is!

I now have my first appointment (with sonogram!) scheduled for a few weeks from now when I'll be around 8 weeks along. It feels so weird to not go in right away, like it isn't even real at this point because an expert hasn't declared me "pregnant". Well, I guess I'll just have to dig deep for some patience.... I took photos of the positive tests and my belly has felt strange all week, like very mild cramps. It might all just be in my head, but I'm rolling with it! If nothing else, my cycle is nowhere to be seen, which is of course, reassuring (and bizarre!)

And I'm very much looking forward to my second ever prenatal yoga class tomorrow :) I'm a happy mama-to-be!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Prenatal Yoga

Still waiting before posting this... Writing on August 28, 2014.

As I mentioned in my previous post, it has been a dream of mine to someday get to go to a prenatal yoga class. It seems so silly, but I was incredibly excited to have finally earned the right to go to one of these classes. The teacher and teaching assistant were both incredibly welcoming and introduced themselves to me right away, realizing I was new to the class despite the fact that the rather large studio room had over 30 women in it. They helped me set up this little incline made out of two yoga blocks and a couple of blankets plus a bolster under the knees. Although not yet necessary for me at this early stage, later on it's not recommended for pregnant women to lay flat on their backs. Regardless, it felt nice and supportive. I enjoyed it! I was just so overwhelmed with gratitude that I even felt some tears as the class got going and I was laying there, comfy and happy where I'd always wanted to be.

The class pace was perfect -- not too fast but definitely challenging. There were a few poses that we did 1 min on/1 min off to practice breathing through discomfort. Although wall-sits are difficult, they are a far cry from labor, I am sure. But the idea is there. You can survive being uncomfortable/in pain for short periods of time, especially if you know it will be intermittent.

The last part of class had us pairing up for some tandem stretching. It was nice to chat and get to know someone else in the class, which I'm sure was why they did that. The class ended with final relaxation in the supportive Sivasana pose in which we started and I again felt the tears come. I still cannot believe this is finally happening but at the same time, I have this incredible sense of peace, knowing it is the right time - the journey to this point has been completely worth it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Healthy Baby On the Way!

I have just reached 20 weeks so I'm ready to start sharing my thoughts... I planned to wait until I hit the magical 12 week mark to start posting these updates. It was very hard to contain my excitement but I totally get why waiting until then is the convention. 12 weeks came and went and somehow, I still wasn't quite ready. But here, at the halfway point, it's time to let it fly! 

This post was written on August 27, 2014 -- the day after I got my positive test. I just cannot wait to start cataloging this journey! So, for now, this is just for me with the idea of posting these updates starting in a couple months.

I am still very much in shock. It's been over 4 years of not preventing conception, with only one other pregnancy, which was an extremely early miscarriage that happened before I knew I had been pregnant. It was traumatic physically, but emotionally I just couldn't process that I had lost something I didn't even know I'd had. My doctor thought it was ectopic (a tubal pregnancy) because they didn't see anything on ultrasound, despite my insistence that I could only possibly be a day or two pregnant due to knowing my cycle. They did eventually see something in the uterus, but it was not viable by that point in any case. 

That was two years ago and since then, nothing. I went through periods of actively charting my cycle and doing tons of research and planning. I also went through times when I couldn't think about it at all. I needed to enjoy my life the way it is, which is fantastic. 

All the time, the clock was ticking... I was staring at my 37th birthday and just knew that it was now or never in terms of taking a proactive approach. I saw my doctor, got some preliminary tests (all seemed fine). Sam was checked. We started jumping through the hoops my insurance needed for our referral to the fertility center (dealing with two different sets of medical systems -- Kaiser and GW was quite the fun time!) 

I signed up for a Yoga for Fertility Class. I joined Baby Launch Camp. I worked with a Health Coach. I downloaded Fertility Meditations. I recommitted to daily temperature and fertility sign charting. I was on this! But, somewhere in the back of my mind was Negative Nelly whispering how this just wasn't going to happen for us. I started looking into adoption and foster care (the latter something we want to do eventually, regardless of whether was have a biological child). Those are great options that I support but there was this niggling craving to have this all-too-human experience. I wanted to find out "for sure" (at least as much as the medical establishment can determine this) before exploring other options. 

I'm not sure what "did it" this month. Not much has really changed -- I still eat a Paleo diet, which has been including Perfect Health Diet starches to varying degrees. I had been counting calories and slowly losing a bit of weight (nothing significant yet). The main difference is that I did put my intention on the process to a much greater degree. 

I also read somewhere that stevia is used for contraception in some cultures (totally controversial and not an established fact) so I stopped using it. I had been using it quite a bit in smoothies and coffee/tea. I'm telling you, if that turns out to have been the issue I will scream! I was trying to avoid sugar at all costs only to be undermining my fertility? So wrong! But, who knows? These days, I'm working to eat things without a sweet taste and to use honey sparingly when I really want it. Sugar is sugar, but at least the body knows how to process glucose/fructose. I figure that small amounts won't cause too much trouble. The idea is to avoid the dreaded blood sugar spikes. 

That brings me to several days ago when I realized that my temperatures weren't starting to drop in advance of my expected period. That was a good sign! Then, a few more days went by... And yesterday, I decided what the heck? Just take a test. And it was positive! I could not believe it. So, I took another one. Also positive! Seriously? Was this really happening? I stared at the sticks for a minute or so, then ran down two flights to find Cute Man. He was surprised but very happy! 

I contacted my doctor right away to ask to take a blood test to confirm. She said that it wasn't needed and that the home tests are accurate. I should just make an appointment in a few weeks for my first sonogram. Really? It didn't seem like it could be official without a doctor pronouncing me pregnant. Even so, I know in my heart it's true -- it's happening. I have such a wave of joy that has just permeated everything for the last two days. And tonight, I'm going to my very first prenatal yoga class! Is it weird that I've dreamed of going to prenatal yoga? It's like a club that I just couldn't get into. Now, I have my free pass  and I'm not wasting any time taking advantage of it! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Health Coach - Part 2

I like this picture because it's from a time when movement was nothing but fun. I adored gymnastics as a kid and that joy has translated into my love of yoga as an adult. Where else do you get to stand on your head as a grownup? It's also nice to see evidence of a time before my hormones went haywire and I was just a normal, cute little kid.

As I mentioned earlier, I've been working with a health coach to try and get things back on track. Sometimes you just need a little outside perspective! It's been a very positive experience and I would recommend that anyone who feels stuck to try working with someone.

Some things I've been working on:

  • Tracking all my food on My Fitness Pal
    • This is something I've actively resisted for a long time. Finding Paleo seemed to free me from the need for this but over time, the weight has started to creep back on. Seeing my food choices documented in black and white helps keep me honest and also allows for some wiggle room for a few indulgences within reason
    • I've finally made my peace with this. I've found that tracking things really does keep me accountable. I also must do this 100% for every penny I spend so it shouldn't surprise me that it's important for my food intake as well. I feel great about it these days, which has surprised me. I've let go of the resistance and I'm just letting it be a tool that is helping me. 

  • Meaningful Activity
    • I've been focusing on walking and yoga, mostly. I'm thinking about doing a membership at a local yoga studio -- it's the only "exercise" I really look forward to so why not go all in with it? 
    • I also think sprinting (interval training) is super important. I've only actually done it a couple times since instituting it as a goal but the plan is to an interval workout once a week: 30 seconds hard; 2 min recovery. Repeat for 15 minutes. Doesn't sound like much, but it really gets the heart rate up and has great hormonal effects. I use the elliptical at my work gym and do some stretching afterwards. 
My initial bundle of consultations is now up with my coach and I'm deliberating about whether to continue. I was indeed super helpful, but it is another budget item. It's coming down to either the coaching or the yoga membership at this point and I'm leaning towards the latter. I can always seek out help again if I feel like I'm slipping. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Health Coach - Part 1

It's been a month and a half since the retreat and I've spent that time trying to sort out my goals. As with most things in life, having that experience was transformative and enlightening, but not at all in the way I thought it would be. Going in to it, I was feeling extremely good. I had hit a good rhythm with activity level and what I was eating. I thought the retreat would just cement those positive changes and spur me on to even greater things.

Since I had the great honor and privilege to attend the retreat as a work-study person, I had a somewhat different experience from the other guests. I am eternally grateful to the organizers for giving me this chance. Huge thanks to Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet, Whitney Ross Gray, Kamal Patel, Laura Schoenfeld and her mother, Pam Schoenfeld. I had a singular opportunity to learn from the best, and value all I absorbed from the daily lectures, cooking demos, and informal discussions. 

The break in routine really through me, though. Also, with hindsight being so clear, I have noticed a few other things that conspired to knock me off course:

  • Slightly less sleep than normal
  • Higher carb consumption than what I was doing with my version of PHD prior to the retreat
  • Less downtime than I'm used to
  • More social interaction (I'm an introvert, so I need quite a bit of alone time each day to recharge even though I love people)
  • Intermittent fasting (we ate only from 12:00pm-8:00pm each day and I was up at 6:00am; I've determined that I really do need a whack of protein in the morning to feel my best)
  • Vitex (I was taking this supplement for several months to try and regulate my hormones -- I finally realized it was having the opposite effect from what I was intending and it made me very moody, emotional, and increased my PMS and menstrual symptoms, things it was supposed to help relieve. I finally found some info that noted that some people can react this way so I'm pretty sure this was the biggest culprit).

All of this is to say -- I came home not feeling that well at all so this post is mostly about how I'm working to get myself back on track. I've had to move past a lot of self-blame for not being more resilient, flexible, and adaptable -- all qualities I've always thought of myself as possessing. I've finally come to the conclusion that I truly was not myself at the retreat. It was not a failure of me as a person, rather a failure to recognize or address the issues I outlined above. 

Since I initially blamed my mood/exhaustion issues all on the carbs, I resolved to go low carb again shortly after I returned since I always felt so good when eating that way. This time, it didn't seem to "work". It took me some time but I finally realized it was the Vitex and stopped that just last week. I already feel better. Go figure!

To help bring clarity to my situation and get an outside perspective, I've decided to work with a health coach. I have a new game plan that I'm working on with her help. I will lay it out in Part 2, since this is getting so long!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Perfect Health Diet Retreat, New Fitbit, Whole Food Juicing and T-Tapp

In just  few days, I'll be heading out to NC for the Perfect Health Diet (PHD) Retreat. I am super excited to be going on this two week adventure and very proud of myself for contacting the organizers and arranging to come on a work/study basis. This program is amazing and well worth it, but simply not in the budget this year. I'm glad to be going as the onsite helper, where I'll be able to reap the rewards of the program and assist the other participants as well. I will be sharing much of what I learn/experience here periodically while at the retreat.

In other, related news, I decided to take the plunge and buy myself a Fitbit Flex. I've coveted these for some time, but again, budget concerns kept me from making the purchase. Oddly enough, it was the upcoming retreat that spurred me into action. One of my duties will be to make the morning coffee, etc. so I'll need to be one of the first people up. Part of the PHD is working on your circadian rhythms and good sleep is extremely important in that regard. The last thing I wanted to do was to wake up my roommates (I'll be in a shared room with other women) with my blaring iPhone. Yikes! So what does this have to do with the Fitbit? Well, the Flex version has a silent alarm feature that vibrates to wake you up gently. I've tired it out and it works! I've also been loving the step tracking, which is fun to watch in real time on my phone. I am such a little kid. Easy to please :)

My more recent food related passion is juicing. Yes, really. I was always so against it, due to the blood sugar spiking and fiber wasting. Well, I found a way that does neither. Enter Whole Food Juicing. Using my trusty Vitamix, I'm able to blend my veggies and fruit so well that it drinks like a juice but still keeps all the fiber. There are tons of great recipes at the Blender Babes. My current favorite is a version of this Giada De Laurentiis one (I use cucumber instead of the carrot and granny smith apples to keep it bright green). I've really been enjoying these and feel great getting in so many more raw veggies.

Last but not least, I am still loving my T-Tapp DVDs. Doing the basic, 20 minute workout 2-3 times per week has me feeling way more toned and great in my own skin. I can't even explain how awesome it is. The effort to results ratio is astounding. I've never done such an effective workout, especially one that doesn't leave me in a puddle on the floor by the end. I highly recommend you check this out!*

*Please note that many of the above links are affiliate links to Amazon. If you click on one of them, and then go on to buy something, I get a small percentage, which is awesome. However, I get nothing for recommending T-Tapp. I just think it's wonderful :) And I only link to anything that I truly use and love whether it's on Amazon or not.