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The biggest rollercoaster in a woman’s life has got to be pregnancy. It is almost unbearable to be feeling so many things at the same time, such opposite emotions. For the past week, I’ve barely been able to deal with it.

I am totally looking forward to becoming a mother, there is no doubt about it. I think I am a mother already. You can’t be feeling life growing inside of you like this and not automatically become a mother. So it’s not like I have regrets about embarking on this great adventure. But to feel so much love for something you don’t really already have, for something — someone — who will transform your life in the most important way possible, and have so much fear at the same time, is very confusing.

I’m someone who doesn’t like to feel in the first place. That’s how I came to yoga. I had to learn how to sit with my emotions and the sensations in my body. And this pregnancy is turning out to be the biggest test of all. There are so many things going on inside my body that I have no control over. Sometimes I want to lie down and calm myself down, but it’s impossible. Not because of me, but because of this little human being inside of me who decides it’s time to stretch and kick-box. I have pain in places that never hurt before. And I know the greatest pain of all — in all senses of the word — is coming up soon. But I don’t know when exactly, and that’s another thing that contributes to my anxiety! It could be tomorrow, and it could be in 5 weeks. How is a woman supposed to go through this last stage of her pregnancy while keeping her sanity intact?!?!

I’m feeling so many things at the same time that I don’t know what I’m feeling anymore? I don’t even know if that statement itself makes sense!

I have an appointment with my wonderful acupuncturist, then with my obgyn this afternoon. Even that seems too much to deal with right now.

We had our baby shower last night. I didn’t want anything too girly, I just wanted the people that I love — family and friends — to get together for one last time before Baby Audrey comes and completely turns our world upside down. My mom worked extremely hard, preparing a cold buffet for 20+ people and coordinating the whole thing. I had never had a celebration like this for me (I say “me”, but it was really for “me, Dutchboy and Baby Audrey”). No big birthday dinner or anything like it before in my life. And I had never had friends and family mix up. I was even scared that a bunch of people would just decide at the last minute not to show up. You know, when you think you’re unworthy of people’s love and time? Something like that. But all my family who lives within 90 minutes driving distance showed up, and I have friends who drove from pretty far to be there as well. Besides from the two people I knew way in advance couldn’t be there, everyone I wanted to see showed up. To have all the most important people in my life (or almost) in one same room for one night was pretty great, and overwhelming (everything is lately anyways!). I’m not sure I do feel worthy of everyone’s love and time after this, but I certainly feel extremely grateful and lucky to have them all.

I have to go get ready for my appointments now, and try to get my emotions (hormones) under control. Dutchboy is going to see a movie with colleagues tonight, and I’m thinking I might take the evening to go to the yoga studio. I haven’t taken a yoga class since June, I think, and I don’t know if physically I’m up to the challenge, but it’s worth a try. There are 3 classes being offered tonight — Hatha Yoga, Anti-Stress Yoga, and Strength & Flexibility. Sometimes N. does yin yoga in her Strength & Flexibility class. Or hip openers, or something relaxing and soothing like that. I could certainly do that. If not, there’s always the Anti-Stress class… It’s a 30-minute drive for me, but depending on how I feel, maybe I’ll go.

30 days to go before due date! God I hope I won’t be feeling so confused all this time. Life’s biggest rollercoaster, I’m telling you!

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Believe it or not, I did some yoga today!

Michele Schulz, with whom I did an ayurveda workshop back in June, sent an Ayuryoga for Pregnancy to my attention at the yoga studio and I just received it, so I thought I would try it.

Actually, lately, I’ve mostly been wanting to swim. The heat of the past 2 or 3 weeks has been hard on me (although it’s getting cooler now), and I’m getting so big and heavy that all I want is be under water and not feel that weight on my back and on my legs anymore. So yesterday, I went swimming 20 laps (not that much, but for 8-months pregnant little me, it was plenty). I would have wanted to go back today, but the schedule doesn’t work for me this time (3 swimming lanes for adults at 4 p.m. and I have to meet up with friends for dinner at 5 p.m.).

So instead I did some chanting. My teacher sent me the Tara Mantra on CD (she has been wanting to study buddhism for a long time and finally found a master this year — this mantra was given to her and she’s had us sing it a lot in the past few months) to help me with pregnancy and labour, among other things. So I did that, and then I tried the 3rd trimester ayuryoga practice.

It’s a very simple practice:

– Baddha Konasana (hold the pose for several minutes with ujjayi breathing and meditative awareness)
– Supported Upavista Konasana
– Twist in Upavista Konasana
– Supported Utthita Parsvakonasana (with a chair under the pelvis and the tigh that’s at 90 degrees angle)
– Shashank Mudra against the wall (it’s like active Balasana, but against the wall while sitting on the edge of a chair)
– Modified Malasana (against the wall, resting on top of a bolster)
– Supported Savasana (on the side at this stage of the pregnancy, obviously)

It was just perfect for me at this point. I really enjoyed it and I want to repeat it as regularly as possible until the baby comes. The top of the sheet says it helps “the mother to increase the passage for delivering the child” and that makes a lot of sense, as it’s a lot of hip openers with the belly pressing forward (I was reading in a book on delivery how from week 34 you should lean as much as possible with your belly pressing forward to help the baby descend into the birth canal more easily).

For the condo project I was talking about a few days ago, we decided to pass for now, for a bunch of reasons. But we’ll keep looking, and we’d like to find somewhere to move next summer… I’m a bit upset because I really liked the place and I think it would have been fantastic to live there, but I also think this was the best decision we could take for now.

Tonight, dinner with two friends…

I just dropped Dutchboy at the airport; he’s going to rock’n’roll-land until next Thursday. I thought I would use those days alone to spend some time with my best friend and my sister, but it turns out that my best friend is also leaving on vacation, and my sister has no time for me this week-end. Hm. I’m having breakfast and seeing a movie with a friend on Monday (national holiday here), but that’s about as far as it goes for social activities in the next few days. Guess it’ll be the occasion to read (I just started the whole Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles series — I enjoyed those books so much when I was in high school!), maybe go to the Jean Talon market, and go visit the Body Worlds exhibit on my own (I was waiting for my sister, but since you literally have to make an appointment with her these days…).

I haven’t done any yoga this week. I had a tragic encounter with a gigantic millipede (mortal for the millipede, very traumatic for myself) last week-end, and now I’m just scared of unrolling my mat on the floor and lying down on it. Seriously! But I’ll have to unroll it this week: Nicole asked me today if I would be available to sub for the anti-stress yoga class next Thursday night! Yay! So I’ll have to prepare for it and make sure I have the practice in my body.

Sciatica’s still doing good. It’s still there, but acupuncture’s definitely doing its miracle. I had two appointments this week, but I’ll only have one next week… hopefully a bit of yoga and swimming will help it stay under control until then.

Time for the last episodes of the first season of The Practice, I think!

This week-end marked the last week-end of our teacher training. I am now a certified yoga teacher, recognized by the Yoga Alliance (gotta send them my form and my payment)!

My last week-end was truly special. As you know (if you’ve been reading this blog!), the past few months have been difficult physically, and I haven’t been able to practice much. Last Friday afternoon, I had a first appointment with THE specialist of pregnancy acupuncture, who treatment me for my sciatica and other pregnancy-related problems. And then I had the best week-end ever in months! I was even more pain-free than after my new special sciatica yoga practice.

It was a good thing because, over the course of the week-end, I was going to attend 3 yoga classes (so that all the students could do their evaluation — regular students of the studio came in, but everyone in the training participated to all classes as well). Friday night, my practice was very solid. Same thing on Saturday morning (I did everything I didn’t teach).

On Sunday morning, but for reason, I felt very emotional. Hormones, last day of training, fatigue (we went out to an Indian restaurant the night before to celebrate and came home late… for yogis!), or a combination of all these things? I don’t know, but I was on the edge of tears. We did a wonderful meditation during which we visualized ourselves at 5 years old, ourselves at 15 years old, ourselves at 20 years old, and so, standing in line with ourselves right now and congratulating us, cheering for us. It was very powerful and a few tears came up.

Then the students started coming in to the reception area, so we opened the doors and turned on the music. It was Krishna Das. Krishnas Das always has this power of making me feel energized, strong. I did a few stretches on my mat, preparing for class. For the first time since I got pregnant, I think, just doing this, I felt “like before.” Like before putting my head lower than my stomach made me feel like I was going to throw up a little bit, like before my left started hurting so much that sometimes I could hardly do Uttanasana without shaking. It was just me, the real Julie, on my mat, with all the energy and the security I usually feel when I’m on it. I felt so good, I felt like I’d arrived.

It was amazing to feel like this on the last morning of my training, and I’m very grateful for it. I now have another option than communications/advertising when I go back to work after my maternity leave. And I know that this other option is the one that allows me to be the real me. My teacher already told me not to forget them whenever I would be ready to start teaching. And I am making plans to give private and corporate classes as well. A baby coming up, and eventually, a new career. I feel like it’s a brand new life beginning, a life in which I can have pretty much everything I really want and need (which isn’t that much). Sunday morning just showed me how very simple and good it was.

I went to a second acupuncture appointment yesterday, and I still feel amazingly good. I went to swim 20 laps this afternoon. It’s not that much (500 meters), but it had been almost a year since I last went swimming, and I was beat when I came out. It felt good though. Almost no pain in my leg, and I was a bit freed from the weight of the belly (and those boobs!) while I was underwater.

Tomorrow, I’m going to my second gestational diabetes test. Last week’s was inconclusive. Hopefully everything will be ok. Then, if the weather allows, I might go to the park for a yoga practice. A regular one, not one for sciatica. I’ve been feeling so strong these past few days, I’m dreaming of a sun saluation with jump backs, or Sirsasana. Of course, it’s not gonna happen : the belly won’t allow it. I’m not even able to walk back to the front of my mat from Adho Mukha Svanasana in one step — the belly gets in the way. I tried doing Sirsasana the other day. I’m not used to the additional weight, I can’t balance. But it doesn’t matter. I know yoga those sun salutations and Sirsasana will always be there for me, whenever I’m ready to reunite with them.

Teacher training homework of the month: celebrate for at least a whole month!!

One yoga practice later, and the horrible pain that kept me awake half of the night is gone. There’s always a kind of weakness, a sort of tingling, that stays and still makes me not want to put my weight on my right leg, but no more shooting pain that makes me want to scream.

I miss being able to do strong sun salutations and headstands, though. Oh well, I guess I’m just at a different place in my life now. Santosha, santosha! (And well, when I think about it, it’s really not difficult to be content with what I have right now!)

Lying in bed at 5 a.m., unable to sleep, with Baby Audrey also awake, doing her workout, Dutchboy resting his hand on my belly to feel her move.

(And now Dutchboy will probably say something to ruin it, but oh well).

Gotta do my sciatica practice now. Pain kept me awake from 3 to 6 a.m. I can sleep with Audrey doing Chakrasana in my belly. But the pain is something else, because there is no comfortable position.

Ayurveda workshop with Michele Schulz this week-end.

I’ve talked about my pregnancy-related sciatica problems before. It started at the end of February, at the end of March it was unbearable, and I saw my physiotherapist about it at the beginning of April. A few days after my first appointment with her, not only was the pain keeping me awake at night, but I also started having, about 10 times a day, extremely painful shooting pains/cramps. Like leg contractions, or something. Very very painful. Physiotherapy didn’t help much although it gave me some tools to work with the pain.

Three weeks ago, my therapist said that she had done all she could do for me, and she sent me to see an osteopath colleague. I’ve always had my doubts about osteopathy, and a bit scared of it because it’s not regulated in Quebec. But since she was recommended by my physiotherapist, I went. The treatment lasted 40 minutes, mainly consisted of a deep massage of my buttock area and didn’t help me much. Half a day later, I was back to the “normal” pain.

But then, on Sunday morning, a week and a half ago, in my yoga training, my yoga teacher gave me the greatest present. She had planned a yin yoga practice for everyone since that’s what we were studying that day, but she told me she had a different practice for me and to place my mat next to her so she could guide me through it.

The practice consisted of the following:

  • Supta padangustasana, feet against the wall, a sand bag on the leg that’s on the floor, twice on each side and holding at least 3 minutes every time.
  • Supta padangustasana with lateral opening, feet resting on blocks, for at least 3 minutes.
  • Trikonasana with a block, back against the wall, one minute on each side.
  • Parsvakonasana with a block, back against the wall, one minute on each side.
  • Ardha Chandrasana with a block, back against the wall, one minute on each side, resting in Virasana for one minute after each side.
  • Supta Baddha Konasana, supports under the knees, for 8 minutes.
  • Savasana for 10 minutes.

In the moments right after the practice, it didn’t feel like it had helped that much or like it was really gonna last. But at the end of that day, I was flying to the Netherlands to visit Dutchboy’s family, so I was going to have to spend the night on the plane, and then it would be another couple of hours before we could get some rest (we were having coffee with ex-colleagues of Dutchboy had the airport, then taking the train for two hours to get to his parents’ place). I was really dreading the whole travelling part, but it turned out that my pain was virtually gone — or that at least this was the best I had been feeling in at least two months. I had I think 3 very painful shooting pains in the following 24 hours, and for the first time in quite a few days, standing on my right leg wasn’t so painful. I was actually able to stand being in my own body, for once.

The effects of the practice lasted 4 days. I started having a lot of pain again on Thursday only. On Friday, I did the practice like I could, with the props that were at hand.

Now we’re back home. The past few days were busy with laundry, grocery shopping, and just recuperating from the jetlag (and being pregnant, I do everything much more slowly right now). Today, I did the complete practice with all the necessary props: I’m home, so now I have my mat, my strap, my blocks, my bolster, my eye pillow, and I used my 6-pound buckwheat hull nursing pillow (which I just received this morning!) as a sandbag.

I feel much better already, and I think the effects are gonna last. And if I do it every day like I’m planning to, I should be at the best of my shape (or the best that I can be in my present condition) shortly!

Isn’t it amazing how only yoga could do it? I mean, I’m not that surprised. Everyone who reads me know how convinced I am of yoga’s therapeutic effects. But since my problem is pregnancy-related AND structural (because of the scoliosis), I really needed an experienced teacher to create a routine for me. A normal practice for sciatica wasn’t enough. I didn’t even DARE ask my teacher to do it for me, and I am SO thankful that she offered it to me! Baby Audrey seems to really enjoy the practice too. She always moves around so much while I do it!

I cancelled my second osteopathy appointment. I realize I may have given it one or two more chances because I may take more than one treatment for it to be really effective, but it’s not worth the expense and the risk (she was making me do things that didn’t feel right with the pregnancy… I mean, I’m 6 months pregnant, and she was like “Can you lie on your belly?”… Uh… how about NO???). I’ll try the yoga practice first.

Well, I did it! I broke the ice, I taught my first class, and I’m glad it’s over!

I was nervous on Sunday morning, but not as much as I expected. As people came in and I was able to greet them at the door, the nervousness slowly left me. It’s usually a full group (about 28 students), but only 9 people showed up. It was Mother’s Day, after all. I was glad anyone showed up at all, I was afraid I’d end up having to go back home! Seriously!

Everything went very well. I think teaching a class from beginning to end — rather than teaching a part of someone else’s class — is actually easier. It’s your group, you’re the one warming them up and bringing them where you want them to go… I actually enjoyed it and I was able to be myself much more than any other time I was in front of a class before.

I think I was able to keep my theme alive all throughout the class. Thankfully, the day before the class, I was walking on the street and smelled — before I was able to see — the first lilacs of the year. I loooooove lilacs. They smell so amazing, they’re one of the earliest flowers to come out in the spring and their appearance just makes me feel wonderful every year. The theme of the class was the breath — how we spend winter with our lungs shut, trying to keep the cold from coming in, and how at spring time we can finally let the warm air fill our lungs… Throughout the class, I invited the students to smell the lilacs and, when came the time to do Vrksasana, do be lilac trees. I think it worked well!

My class ran a bit short, though. After one hour, all I had left was Savasana — and it’s a 90-minute class! Oops! I inserted a few twists on the floor, and a long Savasana (it was about 15 minutes — which is actually what they always teach us: for each 30 minutes of a class, 5 should be Savasana), and another very short meditation at the end, and it ended up being ok.

I was on a high when the class ended. Of course, I did notice that some poses didn’t work too well, that some people ended up in weird positions — including a 8-year old boy who was there with his mom. But I didn’t want to adjust people too much — we’re taught that you shouldn’t assist before you’re experienced enough with teaching. But overall, I thought it went very well.

But then I was sweeping the floor when all the students had left, and my teacher came to tell me she was proud of me for breaking the ice. Then she said that we could talk about the things that I didn’t do right for a long time — and she started naming a few. That’s fine. I agreed with a lot of things she said. But I was a bit hurt because, besides saying she was generally proud of me and that I had potential, she didn’t mention one thing positive specifically — just the negative. Yes, I made some mistakes, but I think I also did or said some things that were really good as well. I would have liked for her to recognize those as well.

But that’s me: always having a hard time with criticism. At least, a lady said she really liked the class and registered for 15 more at the end, and a young man who was there for the first time said I was a really good teacher, that I had a very soft voice and that it was a fantastic experience and that he would be back. Another woman said I was very pretty with my belly. Made me feel good!

Of course, I know no one should teach yoga to feel good about themselves. And as my teacher says (not the one who was there on Sunday, another one), you should take 50% of the compliments, and 50% of the critics. That’s what I’m trying to do. But it was nice to hear good comments like this, from people for whom this was their first experience.

Now I need to write my 2nd teacher’s training essay, and study for this week-end’s exam (a kind of oral presentation: I’m talking about adjustments, restorative poses, and doing a press review of the articles we read throughout the year).

Audrey’s been moving a lot since yesterday. I’m starting to feel her move when I put my hands on my belly. Dutchboy will be able to feel her really soon (he wants to wait until she kicks hard enough for him to really feel her). It’s so exciting!

The past few weeks have been difficult, physically. Baby is growing wonderfully inside my belly, but my scoliosis is coming back to haunt me.

The pregnant woman has an otherwise abnormally high amount of relaxine in her body, which allows her pelvic area to widen and make room for the baby. This sometimes causes back pain and sciatica problems. Considering my whole spine is fused from T1 to L4 and that the only mobile part of my lower back is the lombar region, it’s a very sensitive area. Last year, I have sacro-iliac problems. And since the end of February, sciatica has been slowly making its apparition.

It started with bum pain. My bum hurt, and I didn’t know how or why. It was as if I had been riding my bike for way too long… every day. It never went away. A month ago, the pain started going down my leg, all the way to my heel. I started having shooting pains. Light at first, and now extremely intense. It’s day and night, it never stops, and there isn’t much to relieve it. I started physiotherapy at the beginning of the month. It helps a lot, on the spot, but as soon as my therapist stops touching me, it comes back. I also started wearing a pregnancy sacro-iliac belt. Same thing: it helps, but not enough. At the beginning of the month, I also felt my sacro-iliac pain coming back. And the pain in my leg is excruciating at night. I’m not exaggerating. Cramps wake me up in the middle of the night and well, I just haven’t been sleeping much for the past week.

So… Monthly appointment with my doc this week. I mention this to her, and of course she’s not surprise. With my medical past, if I was going to have a problem, it was gonna be that. So she put me on sickness leave. I found out on Thursday, and my last day at work was Friday.

I’m not unhappy to be taken off the job. I have to walk 20 minutes morning and evening to get to it and back from it, and I walk a lot during the day as well — or running is more like it, between my desk and the print production studio. Otherwise, sitting at a desk for the rest of the day is not the best thing for your back either. Also, the days are very long. Often 9.5 or 10 hours. I am rarely home before 7 p.m., or even 8 p.m. That doesn’t leave me much time to take care of myself. With the pain of the past weeks, the lack of sleep, and the stress of working in the advertising field, there were a lot of moments when I almost collapsed in tears, feeling I couldn’t do this anymore.

But at the same time, I was not ready to be taken off the job so soon. I wasn’t mentally prepared. And I wasn’t prepared to ending up with just 55% of my income so soon either! The week-end has been an emotional roller-coaster.

I had to email my yoga teacher on Friday morning, so I told her the news. She replied with one of her classic sentences: “Good news, bad news… Who knows?” We’re about to find out! Funny coincidence — or maybe not one –, Dutchboy, who had been looking for a full time job for months, got a job offer on Friday. It’s not exactly what he was hoping for, but it’s a first job in Canada, and I think he’s getting ready to accept it.

As for me, tomorrow morning I won’t be going anywhere, for the first time in my life. It’s so strange.

On yoga-related news, the teacher training is going well, I taught a few poses at the class I assist yesterday, and I’m teaching my first full class on May 13. My personal practice is not doing so well though, with the lack of time and the back problems. Although that’s about to change because I will now have a lot more time to take care of myself, including doing restorative yoga.

As the pregnancy gets more advanced, my energy level is rising again. About time! But it’s also getting much busier at work, so I rarely get home before 19.00 at night, and by then I’m so hungry I can’t think of anything else but food… And of course, I can’t practice yoga with a tummy full of food and baby!

So my yoga practice isn’t re-established yet, but I’m planning on it. I am! I didn’t make it to the class I started assisting this morning because of the snow: it’s a 30-minute ride, and I warned the teacher I assist yesterday that I wouldn’t take the wheel if it didn’t look good outside. I was always scared of driving in the snow after I had an accident in 1997, and now that I don’t drive that much anymore (living in the middle of the city, with a metro station 500 meters away from home), it’s even worse. Anyways, it’s not worth the risk.

But today I am planning on studying the sutras, and hopefully getting a small practice in. I should do the practice of the month — for the training — at least once, but actually I miss a more active practice, more Ashtanga-based. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll just throw in a few sun salutations. It’s been a while.

In other baby news, we went for our first echo this week — for the nuchal translucency. Until we saw this little bean on the screen, I didn’t even really believe I was pregnant! Seriously! But then we saw that little thing… the hemispheres of the brain, the nose, the mouth (opening and closing — it was drinking amniotic fluid!), the little hands, the little feet, along with little fingers and toes, that little beating heart (we heard it too – 160 heartbeats a minute). It was the most amazing feeling in the world! I can’t believe that baby bean is growing inside of me! We’re already so in love with that little thing, and we already think it’s got the cutest nose in the world. Ridiculous feeling, but I guess it’s only the beginning!

Baby bean

And well, yesterday we got the results from the test, and the chances for trisomy 21 are extremely low, and even lower for trisomy 18. Everything’s going so well so far… We’re so lucky!