10 Things That Surprised Me About Labour

My "they just admitted me and ordered my epidural" face.

My “they just admitted me and ordered my epidural” face.

And I thought pregnancy was a wild ride! I have come to the conclusion that nothing, literally nothing, can prepare you for labour and delivery. My sister described it as the craziest 24 hours of her life, and I am going to have to agree. In the spirit of my last post, and to spare you the graphic details of my labour and delivery, here are 10 things that surprised this first time mom, about labour:

1.) I was really glad that I didn’t make a labour plan.
I went into labour with a very open mind and it’s probably a good thing because nothing went the way I pictured it. There was no time for back rubs or cat naps, everything went so quickly, even the three, YES THREE, hours of pushing and it was all totally out of my control.

2.) Getting an epidural does not mean you are home free, unfortunately.
In my head, once you got an epidural, it would be smooth sailing. I was wrong. I was pleasantly surprised that the epidural actually didn’t hurt that badly but I was unpleasantly surprised to find that it only worked on the left side of my body! So, lucky me, I got TWO epidurals and then guess what, right near the end, in the throes of pushing, it wore off and I was in excruciating pain. Thankfully, my nurse decided to get me a top up, unfortunately, it didn’t work. Enter: fentanyl, which normally would have freaked me out, but in the early hours of August 20, I wanted ALLLL the drugs.

3.) Your labour and delivery nurse is the most important person… ever.
I knew the doctor wouldn’t be in the delivery room for very long, but I did not realize what an important role my labour and delivery nurses would play. When my nurse Pauline told me it was time to start pushing, I wondered where everyone else was. (I also didn’t think it would take me three hours…) That nurse was with me the whole time, holding my leg, coaching me and most importantly, ordering me more pain killers.

4.) I was nicer to my husband than I thought I would be.
I actually said this out loud to Mike at one point and he agreed. I envisioned myself feeling a little bitter towards my husband during labour and yelling out all sorts of things like, “you did this to me!” but instead I was quite mild mannered, even saying please and thank you as he gave me sips of water. I did however, tell him he needed to come up with a new affirmation after hearing, “you’re doing great!” for the 50th time.

5.) I was still trying to be funny.
Humour must be my coping mechanism because I found myself still trying to be funny, for example: while I was pushing, Mike and the nurse were trying to motivate me to push harder. Mid push I heard Mike say, “A big hard one!” and I almost burst out laughing. After I was done pushing I looked at him and quipped, “You can not say that again. A big hard one is what got me into this mess!” 

6.) I no longer cared about modesty.
I’m probably the last person you would find at a nude beach so the thought of being in stirrups for a wide variety of hospital staff to see made me really uncomfortable. It turns out, when a baby is trying to make its way out of your vagina, you don’t really care anymore, you just want people to help you. Even my husband got a front row seat to all the action as he held my left leg and cheered me on. There was no, “just look at my face” from that vantage point.

7.) I was less brave than I thought I would be.
Near the end of my pregnancy I started to feel ready for baby to come. I wanted to be some stoic, wonder woman in labour and pictured myself just getting into the zone and powering through. In the end, I was significantly more scared than I thought I would be and more vocal about how scared I was, especially when baby’s heart rate would dip and I wasn’t sure how much more I could push. Luckily my husband was an incredible support!

8.) I thought it would take me more time to bond with baby.
I have never had baby fever or been crazy for babies so I assumed that it would take me a little while to feel connected to my baby, which I know is totally normal. When they put that little wrinkly, gooey baby on my chest I felt like my heart exploded and I couldn’t believe she was real. (That feeling was also a fabulous distraction from the doctor working away to stitch me up…ugh) 

9.) We couldn’t wait to get home.
People always complain about how quickly they kick you out of the hospital these days so I assumed we would want to stay as long as possible. My husband was basically sleeping on a piece of plywood that went wide to narrow (who designed that?!) and our baby screamed the entire night. While the nurses were unbelievable, we could not wait to be in the comfort of our own home.

10.) The truth behind “mom and baby are doing well.”
Now that I’ve had a baby, I’m certain that “mom and baby are doing well” is actually code for “mom feels like she got hit by a truck whilst laying spread eagle on the road and baby is a tiny dictator who triumphantly rules our roost.”

There’s a reason they make babies so cute! Have you had a baby, what surprised you?

10 Things That Surprised Me About Being Pregnant

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Being pregnant is pretty wild and no matter how many books you read or apps you download there are bound to be some surprises along the way. (Ok, so I only read one book… but I have TWO apps…) At just less than two weeks to my due date I am currently on the home stretch (not sure if that pun was intended or not) and have been reflecting a lot on this whole “miracle of life” thing.

Here are ten things that I have found surprising throughout my pregnancy:

1.) I still think being pregnant is kind of bizarre and totally sci fi.
Before I was pregnant, the whole thing kind of freaked me out. Seeing pregnant stomachs morph and move was totally surreal and dare I say… a little creepy. I always thought I would feel differently while pregnant but I am still having a hard time wrapping my brain around this whole thing.

2.) I may live in maternity pants for the rest of my life.
It’s like Spanx and jeans had a baby and I, for one, am a big fan. Maternity pants – where have you been all my life?

3.) I thought my vag would be the star of the show.
From the time I saw that tiny pink cross, I assumed that every doctor’s appointment would involve stirrups. I was wrong, the star of the show for the most part has been this growing bump of mine and my first pee of the day in a cup (who knew?!).

4.) I don’t actually mind people touching my belly.
I like my personal space and the thought of people patting my belly made me cringe. Once I actually had a legit baby belly, and not just a “is she pregnant or does she just love carbs?” belly, it really hasn’t bothered me, it’s kind of cute. 

5.) I didn’t realize that people seem to think there is a prize for knowing you were pregnant before you announced it.
“I totally knew you were pregnant because your skin was so bad in December!” “I thought you might be pregnant because you were starting to get a bit of a gut.” “Ohhh I thought something was up because you looked sooo tired.” There is no prize people, these are not nice things to say, especially to a hormonal, chubby, acne ridden pregnant woman!

6.) I also didn’t know that my growing bump and body would be such a hot topic of conversation.
Whether it’s how small my bump is or how big, I still haven’t quite figured out how to respond… Thanks? Your belly looks like it doubled in size too? 😉

7.) I’ve never felt so in tune and yet out of touch with my body.
Being solely responsible for growing a human life is a pretty big task and requires you to pay closer attention to your body… but since this is my first pregnancy, I have no idea what is normal anymore! So, so many Google searches.

8.) I thought I would miss alcohol more.
This one was a pleasant surprise. The only times I have really missed having a nice adult beverage have been when we’re out for dinner or when I have to make small talk somewhere… I’m so much better at small talk with a glass of wine… or two, or ten.

9.) I have a new understanding and empathy for menopausal women.
I too can not control my emotions or body temperature, it’s frustrating! Oh, and I totally get why you ladies are always rocking white pants now, because you CAN. Liberating, right?

10.) I actually think I’m going to miss being pregnant.
Even though being pregnant is the most physically demanding (my poor belly button!) and nerve wracking (say a prayer for my vagina) thing I have ever done, I think I just might miss having this little partner in crime safe and sound, tucked away with me.

Did you find anything surprising about being pregnant?

You’re Going To Have The Best Dad

Your dad tying my shoes because you’ve made it a bit of a challenge for me.


Dear baby girl,

You might not know it yet, but you’re a pretty lucky lady. As you and I spend all of our time together there is someone else who is anxiously awaiting your arrival, and he’s pretty awesome. (You might remember him from that time he tried to listen to your heartbeat and you kicked him in the head.) By the time you get to know him better, he’ll probably be driving you crazy with curfews and dad jokes but right now he’s just a proud papa to be who can’t wait to meet you.

Together we talk about you and wonder what you are going to be like. We muse about which traits we hope you don’t get from us and which ones we hope you do. We suspect that you have a substantial dose of stubborn and sassy coming, courtesy of me. I’m hoping you get some good traits courtesy of your dad, to balance it all out… 

Your dad is one of the most kind hearted people I know. He thinks about other people’s feelings and rarely has a bad thing to say about anyone, even when I try to egg him on! Your dad is intelligent and analytical. He works hard and takes opportunities to continue to learn and grow. Your dad is a man who loves his family deeply. He makes an effort to spend time with them and help them out whenever they need it.

Your dad is already thinking about you. He’s wanted you since before I even knew I was ready for you. He thinks about everything from how he is going to teach you to snowboard, all the way to how he is going to help mend your first broken heart. He’s going to be there cheering you on and there picking you up when you fall down. He’s going to be the best dad, and I know because I picked him out just for you.

Now sit tight for another 10 weeks knowing that at this time next year, you’ll be here to celebrate your dear old dad in person. Until then, think aerodynamic thoughts, we’ve got quite the journey ahead of us!

Love,

Mom

The Struggle is Real: 10 Reasons I’ve Cried While Pregnant

Loudly_Crying_Face_EmojiIt’s true what they say, pregnancy hormones are no joke! I’m not normally a big crier but being pregnant has definitely softened my little black heart. Here are ten ridiculous reasons I’ve cried while pregnant:

1.) Bernard the Elf on the Shelf
At Christmas time I bring an Elf on the Shelf (Bernard) and hide him around my workplace for fun. On the weekend I bring Bernard home and hide him on my husband. (Nerdy, I know, but it makes me laugh.) One morning I woke up and Bernard had been hidden on me! I cried so hard when I found him and then again when my husband insisted he didn’t hide Bernard, he must have moved on his own. Adorable.

2.) That Damn Dog Movie
They shouldn’t be allowed to show previews for A Dog’s Life, a dog looking to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes. Just sobbing. I didn’t even go see the movie.

3.) That Damn Dog Movie AGAIN!
Turns out that poor dog was terrified and looks like he is almost drowning while filming. I.can’t.even.

4.) That Time We Went to a Hockey Game
My husband and I went to an Oilers game and they had a retirement ceremony for Haley Wickenheiser. I like hockey and I know who Haley Wickenheiser is but I am by no means a super fan however, I could NOT keep it together during this thing. I cried when they brought out all these little girl hockey players, I cried when she came out with her family, I cried during the speeches even though people were booing some of them, I cried during her standing ovation. I couldn’t even sing the national anthem because I was still choking back tears!

5.) Two Words: Undercover Boss
You know that part at the end where the bosses give the employees some big bonus or vacation and everyone cries? I was right there bawling with them even though I hadn’t seen the whole episode and had no idea what their emotional backstory was.

6.) My Husband Really Loves Our Dog
We were out for dinner and talking about our chocolate lab Beatrix, you know like normal people talk about their kids, and my husband said very seriously that she has such a sweet soul. She totally does… flood gates. #crazydoglady

7.) Mother Effing Marley and Me
Ok so this movie made me cry before BUT I watched it pregnant and was inconsolable. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, watch this movie if you are pregnant AND a crazy dog lady.

8.) That Welcome Home Commercial
Remember that commercial around Christmas time where the military girl is on the plane and she sees a message from her family set up in candles on the ground far below? I honestly don’t even remember what the message was or what the commercial was for because I couldn’t see through my tears by that point…

9.) A Bison Blessing Ceremony
They had a blessing ceremony for a bunch of bisons that were moved to Banff National Park. Perhaps I felt we were kindred spirits because they were almost all pregnant bisons? Who knows, but cry I did, “that’s so beautiful”.

10.) Husband Strikes Again
We made our first trek to a baby store to check out strollers. My husband wants to run with our baby so he was testing out all of the strollers we were considering, running up and down the aisles like the most adorable human being ever… cue the waterworks.

What made you cry unexpectedly while you were pregnant?

Pregnant in real life.

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I found out I was pregnant on a Sunday afternoon, by Wednesday night I was certain that I wasn’t anymore. For the last four months I have gone back and forth a million times about whether or not I should write about this experience. It’s nice to live in a world where being pregnant is just a cute baby announcement, ice cream and pickles, but that’s not real life. Behind every baby announcement there’s a story, and this is a little piece of mine.

After a day of being violently ill with what I assumed was food poisoning, I convinced my husband to go grab some pregnancy tests, “just in case”. I headed into the washroom and before I knew it the little pink plus sign appeared. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I came out of the washroom stunned, “I’m pregnant” I said, followed by an absurd amount of “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god”s and one “what have we done?!” I was excited and happy… but with a strong dose of petrified in the mix.

My husband, who was quite simply ecstatic, calmed me down and we decided that instead of thinking about worst case scenarios we would assume everything was going to be ok. We looked up how far along I was online and found out our baby was the size of a sesame seed. “Sesame” – the perfect nickname for our new addition.

Over the next couple of days I was still quite ill and navigating my way through a mixture of emotions. Sometimes excited, sometimes scared, and sometimes mad that this little sesame seed was making me so sick. I cursed pregnancy and couldn’t imagine spending 9 months in that state. And then everything changed.

It was Wednesday afternoon and I was in a meeting at work, I started to feel really unwell. I went to the washroom and to spare you the details, let’s just say I had all the classic symptoms of a miscarriage. Trust me, I googled them all on my phone in a panic trying to convince myself it wasn’t happening. I went home heartbroken and surprised at how connected I already felt to Sesame. “We shouldn’t have nicknamed it” I sobbed to my husband, “why the fuck did we do that?”

Thursday morning I went to the doctor, “it happens all the time,” he said, “and at this stage, it definitely sounds like you’ve had a miscarriage.” I cried in his office and back in my car as I headed to get my blood work done. Even though I knew miscarriages were very common, I felt so alone. I was mad at myself for getting attached and feeling guilty about how upset I was, after all I had only known I was pregnant for four days.

I took the blood test on Thursday afternoon and found out on Friday that there was still human growth hormone in my blood. I would have to get another blood test and “act like I was pregnant” over the weekend just in case. I had zero hope, in my heart I had accepted the idea that this whole thing was over.

That weekend I thought a lot about my friends who had confided in me, telling me about their miscarriages over the years and I wondered if I was compassionate enough in my response, I doubted it now. I wondered if they too felt like they shouldn’t be sad because “it happens all the time”. I thought long and hard about these women, these strong amazing women who have become incredible mothers. And I thought about other women too, whom I haven’t met but were brave enough to share their storiesAs I waited for my second test results, I felt like I had absorbed some strength from these ladies and I felt so appreciative that they had shared their stories with me. 

On my way to work Monday morning, my doctor called me. “I have your test results, and I have some good news, the human growth hormone in your blood has more than doubled, it looks like you definitely have a viable pregnancy.” And once again I was stunned, only this time I felt a whole lot more grateful. 

The Best Worst Decision I’ve Ever Made

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“What the fuck have I done?” I thought as I laid awake on my tiny twin bed staring at the ceiling of my dorm room. “What was I trying to prove? Who did I think I was? I am not adventurous, I am not brave. What.the.fuck.was.I.thinking?”

I waited three days for my new roommates to arrive and for 72 hours I chastised myself for the worst decision I had ever made; the soundtrack in my head a compilation of self doubt, anger and crippling loneliness. I’d only moved 300 kilometres away from home but as I laid awake in those ikea sheets, it might as well have been 3000. I’d left everything I knew behind in search of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on anymore. I looked at pictures of my friends back home, taped to my concrete walls, and I couldn’t remember a single reason why I thought attending the University of Calgary was a good idea. “You always have to be different don’t you?” I scolded myself, “you couldn’t just be happy with the status quo.”

Deciding to move away for university seemed like a great idea at the time. I spent a year at Grant MacEwan as a commuter student, not investing any real time there or meeting many new friends. It was a good year but I wanted more. I wanted something different. Calgary was close enough for visits but far enough to gain the independence I was craving. Away I went… applied, accepted, arrived. My little dream had become reality but now I was certain that it was actually a nightmare. (Looking back, it seems ridiculous, but those three nights were some of the longest in my life.)

Eventually my roommates moved in and I was so pleasantly surprised: we drank. we talked. we clicked. (Well 3 out of 4 of us anyway…) We bonded with our quirky neighbour across the hall and over the next three years we embarked on a wild ride together. I made strong, important relationships with my new friends, I navigated my way through university (including switching my major in a mad mid semester panic), and I gained the confidence I needed through my new found independence.

We moved from the safety of our apartment style dorm to a mouse infested duplex and we dreamed together for hours on end about our futures and the people we would become. Booze, books and boys, we learned many lessons in many different facets of life. We challenged each other’s biases and we bonded over our similarities. It felt like we were on the cusp of everything and yet at times “real life” seemed so far away, we couldn’t wait for it to come.

Time has a way of romanticizing the past and erasing the hard edges of a memory. Sure, there were tears and heartbreak, loneliness and anxiety but there was so much more laughter and compassion. I can’t help but look back on my time at the University of Calgary and be amazed at how three short years could have made such an impact on the person I have become and the path that I took to get here.

As I crossed the C-train bridge and headed home after dropping off my final essay, I stopped to take a moment and soak in the view. The mountains to my right, the downtown core and iconic Calgary Tower to my left, I reflected on the scared 19 year old girl lying in that twin bed furious at herself. “This was the best decision you’ve ever made” I thought to myself, my eyes brimming with tears of joy, “You did it, you really did it.” 

The 5 Most Important Things I’m Learning From Yoga

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Not sure who to credit for this awesome cartoon making the rounds, let me know if you do! 

The first time I tried yoga I was 17, worked at a gym, and thought yoga was a place for flatulent old people. My sister and I decided to give it a go anyway and ended up confirming my suspicion: we spent 45 minutes stifling hysterical laughter caused by the audible farts of seniors. A fantastic ab workout, but not something I ever wanted to do again!

As the years went on my view of yoga remained the same, I tried a couple more classes at the Y but it just wasn’t my thing. And then surprisingly, my husband (boyfriend at the time) thought it would be fun for us to do yoga together.

Mike’s parents had taken him to a hot yoga class (probably in hopes of finding him a nice yogi wife) and he loved it. After some convincing, he persuaded me to try a class with him. It was so different than my first yoga experience, it was a real workout and a nice relaxation for my mind.

From there I ventured to our local yoga studio. It took a little bit of bravery but eventually I tried all of the classes they offered and learned that classes can range from virtually catatonic to the hardest workout of your life. No matter which class I took – Hatha, Flow, Freestyle Friday – the lessons of the class remained the same:

  1. Be present
    Don’t think about what happened before you got here or what is to come, focus on the now and be in the moment.
  2. Every day is different
    Don’t be so hard on yourself. Some days you are capable of more challenging feats than others. It’s nothing to be annoyed about, it’s life.
  3. Honour your body
    We are all unique including the limitations of our bodies. Put your ego aside and follow what is right for you, not what you wish you could do.
  4. Plant the seed
    When you face a challenge that seems impossible, instead of telling yourself you can’t do it, plant the seed that perhaps you will be able to in the future.
  5. Thank yourself for showing up
    It may seem small but making a commitment to yourself and following through should be celebrated. You did it!

After coming back from my accidental fitness hiatus, it is more clear to me than ever that these messages are the reason I love yoga the most. In a yoga class, more than any other fitness class I have taken, you are in control and most importantly, you are enough. 

If you are interested in trying your hand at yoga, my go to studios in Edmonton are Bliss YogaSpa and Navina Yoga which just opened this fall. Both studios have an amazing atmosphere and fantastic instructors. Enjoy!