I am in week 36 and I’ve started counting down the days until I get to meet my little peanut. The last few months have been layers of joy and discomfort/frustration. I was taken off work due to a shortened cervix and risk of premature labour at 28 weeks, 10 weeks earlier than I anticipated leaving work. I quickly realized that I had little control over this process and had likely been pushing myself too hard. Time for my wake up call. Jamie (our incredible clinic manager and a mother of 3 herself), had been reminding me for weeks to slooow dooown. I’m sorry I didn’t listen sooner Jamie! But I learnt my lesson. It was time to respect the delicate process my body was going through. I quickly embraced a “couch potato” lifestyle and taught myself to knit, read a bunch of books, journaled, became best friends with Netflix and Love it or List it Vancouver, and did the best I could to catch up with friends and family all while getting some R&R.
During this time away from patient consults and hustle of the clinic, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what it means to physically and emotionally support a woman through this incredibly rewarding and precious time in her life. As I anxiously anticipate life changing as I know it, I’d like to share a few of the experiences and lessons that pregnancy has taught me so far. Don’t have time to read? Watch my abbreviated VLOG here.
- Learning to Let Go. I feel I have a good sense of control over my health and well-being. All of that went out the window the moment I found out I was pregnant. I quickly felt less and less in control of my body, my hormones, my emotions and digestion. My Red, Green, Clean and Lean diet quickly became bread, pasta, crackers and cereal; anything CARBS that would settle the nausea that always seemed to hit in the middle of my work day. I quickly learnt that I’d have to let go of my need to control and instead embrace my instincts (and in those first few weeks that meant CARBS!). And the day I pulled on my favourite pair of jeans and was unable to secure the button (or the fly) I was flooded with insecurities about my changing body. But again, it was a lesson in letting go and embracing the change that was necessary. And believe me, I have fully embraced the pregnancy panelled pants and am currently lounging in stretch pants and a nursing tank.
- Comparing is NEVER helpful. I’ve had a lot of friends go through pregnancy (and pregnancy loss) over the last few years. It has been mostly encouraging listening to their stories but I’ve found myself walking away from some interactions feeling discouraged that my experience has been different. But that’s just the thing…everyone has a different experience and that’s ok. No two pregnancies are the same and although it can be tempting to compare, I’ve had to remind myself that my experience is special and unique in its own way. One thing I found helpful was starting a pregnancy journal, which I’ve used for everything from simply recording my symptoms to writing down my fears and anxieties. It’s been a helpful outlet and a way to embrace and appreciate my own personal experience.
- Trusting my Momma Instincts. I’ve embraced my inner intuition these last 8 months and one in particular that spoke loud and clear was to avoid pregnancy related books like the plague. Aside from indulging in some webinars and blogs online (The Pregnant Chicken is my favourite), I only read one book. With all this free time, you’d think I would “get my read on”. However, my instincts and intuition told me otherwise. I even returned a book to Chapters because I was giving it the stink eye every time I passed it on my night stand. My fears could have also been playing into this (see #4) but I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. Although this has worked for me (so far), others find it incredibly helpful to read books and blogs to better prepare themselves. But the lesson here is to trust your instincts to guide you. Intuition is a powerful force in pregnancy and motherhood. It is the inner guide that warns us when something just isn’t right. It is a skill that requires practice because the messages are not always obvious and can come in the form of dreams, physical sensations and subtle whispers. So best to practice tuning in to your unique signals sooner rather than later.
- Seeking the “Right” Support. I’ve been extremely lucky to have amazing family and friends to support me through this process. However, I found myself needing a little something extra to get me through the emotional (and sometimes irrational) rollercoaster that has been my hormones. I’ve been quite fearful of the end stage of pregnancy, particularly the process of labour. Working with a counsellor has been really helpful in making sense of my fears and helping me recognize when I’m sending myself down an unnecessary black hole. Fear is normal but learning to recognize fear that is motivating vs. fear that is paralyzing has been an important part of learning to cope. And working with a professional can be liberating and a sign of strength.
Thank you to all my patients for supporting me these last few months. Your emails and kind words have been so encouraging and I look forward to seeing you all again. But in the meantime, I’m going to soak up every moment I can with my little baby boy.