A Lifestylye Blog

Friday, September 28, 2018

Pregnancy~ First vs Second Time, Health, Home Birth, Fears, Work- Life Balance and More!

Pregnancy- oh, pregnancy....

This is my first mention of our baby boy coming in just a few short weeks on the blog here. I'm currently 36 weeks +5 days as I write this. And I am not one of those women who gush over and adore being pregnant. Pregnancy was not the most enjoyable experience for me the first time around. I was physically healthy all throughout and had an amazing home birth experience, but my mental health and comfort was extremely challenged. It took a lot of healing, some marriage counseling, kindness toward how (and whether) I exercised, a job change and self-care to recover my sense of self. After about 2 years of soul care, body healing and working to a place where our whole family was able to sleep through the night that I was beginning to feel ready to open my body to growing another human again. It's amazing how much we are able to endure as women one time and then to do it again... it feels like insanity! But the joy of having Chaya has truly shown me just how worth it it all is. 

My husband and I follow natural family planning and we are both very in-tune with my cycles. I so appreciate his understanding of ovulation, all the fluids, the days before and the days after. We had been talking for months about what that would look like for us as we both came to a place of readiness to bring another child into our family and this world. It is SO much different planning a pregnancy than having it spring up and shock the hell out of you like it did our first time around! If we had tried to find that perfect timing, I probably would not be pregnant to this day. We prayed and just allowed the peace of God to fill my body and our process. 

Symptoms: Nausea was my returning (un)friend who visited me again this pregnancy. And it was brutal. It was just as bad and strong as ever, similarly to my first pregnancy with Chaya. The first trimester for me was absolute Hell. I'm just going to say it and lay it out there- for real. I was physically so sick that I needed to take 3 weeks off from working. And I work from home! All I could really do was lay on the couch. I could barely go in the kitchen let alone prepare food. I grieved being able to be interactive with my daughter (she's watched a lot of TV this pregnancy, by the way) and I grieved all my visions for this blog and my creativity taking a back seat. 

Generally Healthy- Although I felt terrible during my first trimester, I am so thankful to be healthy. I have not had any life-threatening complications. My labs, blood pressure, and other indicators are all well. No swelling, ongoing backaches or other pregnancy woes. This truly is a blessing as I now have this heightened sense of awareness this second time around about all the possible scary and tough things that can come up when bringing life into this world. Pregnancy truly is a miracle.

Midwives, Home-birth Team- We are using the same home-birth team as we did with Chaya. It was an excruciatingly amazing experience that I haven't fully detailed out here yet but hope to sometime. Our home birth team is phenomenal and I couldn't imagine not having their spiritual, medical, emotional and nurturing support this time around again. 

                               Abiding Grace Midwifery- Me, Dr Anne Marie holding Chaya, Midwife Pauline and my husband Zach

Symptoms: Thankfully, my nausea lasted just under 13 weeks this second pregnancy compared to 18 weeks the first time around with Chaya. This was likely something that I did not have much control over, but taking time to rest, eat more protein-rich meals/snacks and exercising regularly may have contributed to me handling the nausea better in my second pregnancy. I'm also not experiencing any constipation, heartburn or indigestion this time around like I did with Chaya. Also likely related to my higher veggie, fiber, water intake and exercise regimen.

My food aversions have been stronger in the first trimester and I did not have as many this pregnancy.  With Chaya, I was sensitive to a lot more random foods and restaurants; I couldn't stand Chipotle and with this second pregnancy I would have Chipotle multiple days in a row! My only food aversion this pregnancy was buffalo chicken wings my husband made for himself one evening. Again, random- and very minor.

Time of Year/Weather: Let's just say, being pregnant in the summer means a lot more sweating in a lot more unmentionable places! :P

Another Child to Care After- This has been the hardest difference this second time around. Although expressing more independence than an infant, Chaya at 2 yrs old was still breastfeeding during my first trimester and is currently working on potty-training and requires a lot more attention than ever before. When home, mama is her playmate, chef, personal dresser, diaper changer, hygiene assistant, dry cleaner, teacher, chauffeur, etc! 

Nutrition and Exercise~
Because of my more flexible work schedule doing health coaching and counseling from home, I've been able to plan my exercise and other self-care needs much better this second pregnancy. The kids club at the gym has also been a great source of playtime and social interaction for Chaya on days when she's not at daycare.

Nutrition-Wise- This pregnancy, my focus has been to include generous amounts of protein into my meals and snacks every 2-3 hrs. This tactic has worked to help reduce my nausea, bloating, constipation and heartburn that I experienced a great deal with Chaya. It has also given me more sustained energy and a sense of more stabilized blood sugar. Protein and veggies- my every-meal goal! With Chaya I craved carbs galore. I still do with this second pregnancy, but I go for fruits (thank goodness for all the delicious summer fruits!) and whole grains. I include a sweet treat like dark chocolate or a cookie every day and on occasion I enjoy- devour- a tasty vegan donut from Whole Foods :)

My OB/ midwives also have me on a supplement regimen to match each stage of my pregnancy. I'm currently taking good amounts of red raspberry leaf tea, alfalfa, evening primrose oil, vit D3 and more on top of my prenatals.

My Weekly Workout Split-
Mondays- 30 min cardio (stairmaster) plus upper body strength training (biceps, shoulders, triceps and back)
Wednesdays- 30 min HIIT workout, circuit training rotation style (burpies, sled pushes, box step-ups, pushups, banded squats) 
Fridays- Lower body (deadlifts, squats, Bulgarian split squats, hip thrusts and other mobility calisthenics) plus 20 min cardio cool down on stairmaster

Three days during this pregnancy has been my weekly challenge, commitment and all that my body has really been able to handle with a toddler now. And I think that has been plenty! It doesn't take hours and hours at the gym to maintain a great sense of fitness, strength and well-being. Most days I have to really push myself to get going because all I want to do is lay on the bed, honestly, but I've noticed a huge increase in my physical abilities, functional movement throughout the day and overall strength this pregnancy because of exercise. I was a lot more nervous to push myself the first time around because there is so much content on the internet cautioning women to not increase their heart rate above a certain level, risk falling if bicycling, risk injuring yourself when weight training, etc, etc. But this second pregnancy, with some common sense and really listening to my body, I've been amazed at how much it can do. 

Let's treat our bodies to some healthful activity- with kindness and a little nudging :)

Work-Life Balance: 
Women can really go through A LOT during pregnancy. I struggled weeks 1-28 (first and second trimester). Some women are blessed with low symptom, fine energy, easy-breezy pregnancies. I am not one of them. Although my labs come back normal, I eat well and exercise, I still feel beat down and not so great for the ~10 months of pregnancy. What I found to be most helpful was to embrace what my body was trying to do and re-arrange my lifestyle to help me cope in the best way possible. That meant finding a daycare for Chaya to start going to a few days per week, changing my method of communication for work appointments, scheduling more appointments with my own life coach, rearranging our budget to allow grocery shopping using Instacart (instead of carrying groceries and a toddler up a flight of stairs while pregnant in 100+ degree weather which was soooo brutal) and honestly, just resting and "be"-ing- which can be SO hard. I spent a lot of time reflecting and waiting and just letting my body be okay with the discomfort as it syphoned off nutrients and energy to grow this child. There was lot of time spent staring out the window, just letting time pass. Being still can be hard. But it was necessary for growth- literally in a physical sense of this baby but also spiritually.

Thankfully, I am working from home in this season of life (something I fought and prayed for) and it has provided immeasurable relief to my health and well-being. It still requires a great deal of personal discipline and self-driven structure. I know not everyone is able to, but I am extremely passionate about advocating for flexible work  -parent or not- and challenging our culture's standard on productivity in the 40 hr work week. If you are feeling stressed or hopeless about your current work situation, I would love to talk with you more! Pray on it and don't give up looking!

Fears, Spiritual Growth, Learning Experiences
Shortly after deciding we were ready to TTC (try to conceive) I was surprised with how much fear I experienced. My senses were even more heightened than the first time around. I think with Chaya, I was just in sheer shock most of the pregnancy. I didn't realize how many people around me were privately suffering miscarriages and struggling with infertility. This time around, many thoughts of "what if I (we) can't" taunted me and those two weeks DPO (days past ovulation), felt like the longest two weeks ever. I remember journaling throughout those days and really challenging where my hope and trust were truly rooted. It was a good wake up call and a good introduction to pregnancy, because the whole 9-10 months is really about trust and hope and waiting and expectation. 

Trust, trust, trust. I found I was having a hard time relaxing, letting go of control and allowing the process to unfold organically. I felt like I needed to have the perfect circumstances all lined up with perfect ovulation day timing, healthy sperm (asking my husband how he slept, ate, whether he drank coffee, water, etc) in order for everything to work out to have a healthy baby. And we didn't do ANY of that with Chaya. This time around I felt like I was being irresponsible if I didn't do my due diligence. And this is so not true! Of course we need to honor our bodies well and feed and rest and take care of ourselves. But at the end of the day, we have to surrender to the process! 

Chaya was so healthy with no complications or special testing. So I believed that I had reached the end of my good portion. That it had run out. And that I was due for something bad to happen. Again, not true and NOT how God works. What I found helpful was to keep active (not busy) and stay prayer-full. It can be a mind-consuming thing once you've decided it's go-time and you want to make this thing happen! 

What I've Learned at the End of the Day: 
1) Live your best life (don't compare) and trust your body to do the rest. Honor each hard story you've heard while still keeping an open heart.
2) Continue to exercise, cook (or purchase take-out when you need) healthy meals, stay active in work commitments, relationships and hobbies/ passions.
3) Ask for help
4) Gratitude 


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