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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I’m at the point where I can’t wait to get my body back… and I wonder if I will get my body back (and when).

I see women walking on the street with brand new jeans and fall clothes (I love fall fashion!) and their tiny little waists, and I can’t wait to look like that again!

A year ago, I looked like this:

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I love Baby Audrey so much already… But sometimes I really miss being 100% me!

Featuring the belly, Baby Audrey, the scar and the vein!

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Tara mantra and Soft-Belly Mindful Breathing Meditation this morning.

Due date is only 33 days ahead, and I’m feeling moments of elation as well as moments of intense fear. Probably very normal.

The mantra can make me very emotional — especially when, at the yoga studio, N. would dedicate it to me and Baby Audrey.

N. also recommended a wonderful meditation book: Guided Meditation, explorations and healings by Stephen Levine. This morning, in Soft-Belly Mindfulness Meditation, the closing words really struck a chord:

In soft belly, there is room for it all.
Room to be born. Room to be healed.
And the breath breathes itself in the vastness.

Audrey is gently moving in that vastness right now. How do I cherish feeling her like this, and yet how much am I looking forward to holding her in my arms. And how scary is the process between the first feeling, and the second one. I know it doesn’t have to be scary, but the unknown always is.

According to Fertility Friend, I am now in the 9th month of my pregnancy.

9 months!!!!

That’s like done. Baked. Ready to pop out.

I’m not sure I’m even half-kidding when I say I’m kinda freaking out right now.

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…

Since I can’t talk about yoga because the asana aspect of it is pretty much inexistant from my life right now, I thought that it may be interesting to talk about the Bonapace method training Dutchboy and I took yesterday.

The Bonapace method is an alternative, natural pain management technique for labour, developed here in Quebec by Julie Bonapace. It starts from the principle that your brain cannot register pain in two places at once, and that by creating a pain secondary to the contraction during labour, you will help the body liberate endorphins (a kind of natural morphine) which will help relieve the woman from the pain of the contraction. Makes sense so far?

So yesterday, Dutchboy and I met with a trainer for this method. In two hours, he explained us how it works and showed us the “painful massage” acupuncture points to use during labour. Basically, they are located in 3 parts of the body: the hand, the sacrum, and the calf. He also showed Dutchboy “soft massage” techniques to use between the contractions.

From the beginning of labour until you’re ready to push, when a contraction comes, the partner starts applying pressure — a LOT of pressure — on the point on the hand or in the lower back. Sometimes, the man will have to put all of his weight on the sacrum for it to be strong enough. It’s hard work! But apparently it works! These points are very sensitive, not to be used for a massage on someone who’s not in labour. By doing so, he will help relieve the woman from the pain of the contraction. Between the contractions, he can just gently massage her back — the slower the better — to help the body better recover and prepare for the next one.

15 hospitals in Quebec are now equiped with massage chairs — apparently it’s a first in the world. The sacrum pressure point and the soft massage are better executed on a massage chair (especially since the partner can sit directly behind the woman and doesn’t have to be in an awkward position). My hospital has one of those chairs. That’s better than none, but it also means that if someone is there before me, I’m screwed. But the cool thing is that the trainer dude actually rents these chairs — and gives you insurance receipts — at a pretty good price: $70 a week. So I’m really thinking of renting a chair for the 2-3 weeks around my due date. That way, I can stay at home as long as possible, with DB massaging me, and when it’s time to go to the hospital, we can bring the chair with us and make sure we have access to it at all times.

I found out that I definitely couldn’t have an epidural about 3 weeks ago. Not that I absolutely wanted it, but I always thought that knowing you can have it if it gets too much was a pretty reassuring thought. And of course, not being a candidate for the epidural is not justification enough for a c-section. Lots of women give birth naturally, and the doctors assure me that despite the scoliosis, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to. My only drug option for pain management is remifentanil: it’s a drug that acts very quickly and leaves the body very quickly as well. It is injected by IV: when you feel a contraction coming, you push a button which sends the drug into your system. If your timing is right, the peak of the medication with arrive at the same time as the peak of the contraction. Two minutes later, it has completely left your (and the baby’s) body. The thing with this is that you can’t use it while you’re pushing, and it can have severe side-effects. Among those, respiratory problems (you need to put on the oxygen mask) and intense vomiting. Apparently they give you another drug to limit vomiting (so that’s drug on top of drug). The nurse has to check on you a lot more closely, etc. In short, it is an alternative, but one to avoid if possible.

So for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been a bit freaked out knowing that I would have to push a medium-size baby (I’m begging her not to be 8 pounds!) out of my tiny body (I weighed 105 pounds for 5 feet tall before I got pregnant) without the help of drugs — as much as possible.

Thankfully I have good ways of preparing for birth: meditation, pranayama (soft ujjayi breathing does wonder to calm me down when I’m under a lot of stress), visualization techniques… But to now have the Bonapace method as well really reassures me and makes me believe, maybe for the first time, that I might be able to do this the natural way, from beginning to end.

I know labour is supposed to hurt like hell. But when you think about it, the woman’s only job is to relax and work with the contraction as much as possible. Get to that place inside where everything is always calm and quiet, no matter how strong the storm is at the surface. I’ve been taught about that place since I started practicing yoga — I know it’s there, and sometimes I do manage to get there! I think I can do it during labour too. God, I hope I can.

I think it’s wonderful all these new things I’m discovering because of pregnancy. At the end of our yoga teacher training, N. was telling us about the importance of associating yourself with other professionals — ostheos, acupuncturists, massage therapists, etc. Sometimes you can’t help a student with a specific problem; it’s good to be able to refer them to someone who can. Since I got pregnant, I had to see a physical therapist (whom I had seen before for other problems), but I also discovered an amazing acupuncturist (who used to teach at the only college where acupuncture is taught in Quebec right now and who’s one of the pioneers in the use of acupuncture during pregnancy and labour), and now this massage therapist who works exclusively with pregnant women and teaches this Bonapace method to expecting couples. They are fantastic complements for a pregnant woman, maybe a yogini, who likes to do things as naturally as possible.

My due date is 7 weeks from today. We’ll find out if the Bonapace method works soon enough!

*Edit: Forgot to mention that there is also a painful pressure point for when you’re pushing — on the calf. So when the partner is holding one of your legs up, he can apply the pressure on the calf, and show the other person (often a nurse) holding the other leg how to do it too.

Once again, I do not have much to say on the yoga side. It’s been too hot, I’m too fat and not used to just sitting down breathing in this body. Yoga is difficult — not to say impossible. I miss it though. I miss it so much. I’m dreaming of the day when I can do a real good sun salutation again (even uttanasana is now impossible… or well, my variation of it is actually called prasarita padottanasana!). And I won’t even mention how much I’m looking forward to doing a headstand!So instead of talking about my non-existant practice, I’ll let a few pictures talk for me.

First, Dutchboy and I made a deposit on a new condo, at the foot of the Jacques-Cartier bridge, in Montreal (I want to say “obviously”, but maybe it is not that obvious). It’s just East of the gay village, between Ste-Catherine and de Maisonneuve, 2 blocks away from Papineau metro station. We haven’t signed the contract yet, or requested a mortgage, so nothing’s official yet, but next week it should be… For now we reserved it and are just thinking about it some more. Dutchboy hesitates a bit more than I do — I am more passionate when it comes to these things. But chances are very good that this is our future home, where little Audrey will grow up and spend the first years of her life with mommy and daddy. Our unit faces the garden, it’ll be nice and quiet. We have a Juliette balcony where I’ll be able to grow some tomatoes and other herbs. It’s close to downtown, close to the metro, close to the shops, close to the river… I know that we will be very happy there. Here’s the plan of the unit we reserved.

Condo plan

I also thought some of you might like to see the belly (hell, I like to show it off! It’s heavy, it keeps me awake at night, it moves in all sorts of weird directions and I have no control over it… I should be proud of it and I deserve to show it off!). Here’s a picture of Dutchboy and I (and that’s Baby Audrey in there), taken at the Mont-Saint-Anne Canyon, near Quebec City, on July 22.

Mark & Julie - Canyon Mont-Saint-Anne

Also, just a nice picture of the canyon itself… Cause it’s pretty!

Canyon Mont-Saint-Anne

Will blog more soon… For now, I have to try to survive in the heat!

Nothing to do directly with yoga. I spent the day painting the baby’s room with my aunt. It’s gonna be so cute. Pink and beige, like the bedding with embroidered giraffes, lions and elephants I bought this week-end:

The peanut is starting to respond when I push on my belly: she pushes back. I was sitting on the couch with Dutchboy, about an hour ago, playing with the belly (she was making waves and reacting to my touch), when I realized how much I already love this little thing and my eyes filled with tears. What is it gonna be in 12 weeks when she’s out? I sooooooo can’t wait!!!

If I have to make this yoga-related: there will be a 3-day workshop working towards achieving Padmasana (something I’ve been able to do all my life, but I’m still interested in the stuff around it!) during the last week-end of August/first week-end of September. I’m due on September 22. Should I register?

I’m now at week 28 of my pregnancy — there’s 12 weeks left. Dutchboy woke up realizing that yesterday and started freaking out because it’s so little time, and we don’t know how to change a diaper and wrap a baby in a blanket. Panic time!

We had another sonogram this morning. We got confirmation that it’s a girl (last time, the technician said it was “probably” a girl), and she’s growing wonderfully. She won’t be a very big baby (with me being 5 feet tall — or short! — and weighing about 105 pounds before I got pregnant, I should hope so!), but she’ll be in the average. Everything’s great, and I’m happy. And of course now she’s jumping up and down in my belly, making me feel like there’s an almost-continuous earthquake.

Last week without Dutchboy was nothing like I expected. I ended up spending one night in the hospital for pregnancy-related problems (I was having the problems, not the baby). I will spare you the wonderful details, but I will say that I am fine and, although I prefer to do things as naturally as possible, I’m thankful they have almost harmless drugs for the kind of problem I had.  So after the hospital stay, I spent a lot of time at my parents’, who took care of me.

Then came back home because the city was supposed to come here to turn off the water in the building from the outside (our shower has been broken for over 3 weeks now and they need the water to be turned off and they can’t do it from inside because the tap is too old). The city came, twice, but wasn’t able to turn it off, so they’re supposed to come back this week-end and dig around the tap-thingie… In short, we still don’t have a shower, I have to be at home as much as possible because we don’t know when they’ll come, and that sucks.

Also had a meeting with a lady who sells cloth diapers. She explained me everything and showed me all the different kinds of diapers available. I’ll definitely do the washable diaper thing. It’s so worth it. So much cheaper than disposable diapers, so much better for the environment, and so simple nowadays. We’re far from the diapers our grand-mothers used on our parents! Now it can be as fast and as easy as a disposable diaper. The only downside is the laundry, but with a baby, you’re gonna do a lot of laundry anyways, right? And then again, we have machines for that, we don’t do it by hand anymore!

In yoga-related news (yes, there are some!), I subbed an anti-stress class last Thursday night. I was afraid I’d be nervous like at the first class I taught in May, or like at my teacher training exam. But I wasn’t. 10 minutes before the beginning of class, I only had two students (a mother and her teenage daughter). I was a bit worried that no one else would show up. But at the last minute, 8 more people came. The class went really, really well. For the first time, I was able to give the “extra” instructions that I always wanted to give but was always too nervous to think of. For instance, in Supta Padangusthasana, I would mention the action of the leg on the floor, and the leg that’s raised, and how the breath should be, but that was it. I never remembered to mention to bring the attention to the hip of the leg that’s raised to make sure it’s level with the other one, or to mention where the toes of the raised foot pointed, or smaller details like that. So I was really satisfied with this class. At the end, people complimented me on my soothing voice, and were asking if I had been teaching for long, and saying that I was good, etc. I tried to remember what Nicole always says: take 50% of the compliments and 50% of the critics. But I was very happy and flattered. I hope I’ll get to sub a few more classes over the summer. Good practice, before I get too big and give birth and can’t repeat the experience for at least a couple of weeks (if not months).

My mom is coming to help paint the baby’s room this afternoon. She’s so sweet, I don’t know what I’d do without her. Also, I’m looking forward to her being here, because there’s a huge spider in a top corner of the bathroom and I know she’ll get rid of it for me. That’s what moms are for!!!

Oh, wait… I’ll be a mom in just 12 weeks… Does that mean I have to learn to get rid of spiders too? Even the really big ones???