Saturday, January 31, 2009

A New Outlook on a Basic

Cat / cow was a yoga pose I typically would rush through in the past. If I was practicing at home on my own, I would sometimes skip it all together. If I was a participant in a class, I would do the motion, but not really be in the pose. When I was leading class, I would demonstrate the movement and then watch the participants do the pose rather than continuing to do it myself. There was just something about the slowness of the movement that I had trouble connecting with. If I was in the mood for a tough practice, I would rush through it to get to something where I could feel the burn and build heat with. If I was doing a relaxing practice, I still wouldn't concentrate on cat / cow and would instead opt for deep leg stretches or hip openers. Sure, I would do lip service to the pose, as I knew it to be a great way to warm up the spine, but it just wasn't on my top 10 list.

Now, however, eight months into a pregnancy where my only real physical complaint is back pain, I can't get enough of cat / cow. I do it almost each morning and each night. Sometimes at work, I hang out in a bathroom stall to do a standing version of the pose. Where I used to abhor the pace of the posture, now, I adore the slowness of the movement. The release through the back is amazing as I slowly round and arch the spine. I concentrate on starting the movement in the tailbone and visualize each vertebrate separating and releasing, ending the movement with my head. I of course, knew this was the point all along, but now something has clicked and I actually feel the movement. Oh, and it really helps the back pain too.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Love it or Hate it

A question I get quite often is if I am loving or hating being pregnant. This question usually comes from women who have had already children. Often they will ask the question and then look at me with breathless anticipation awaiting my response. It seems they are waiting to check me into their club or the other club. Some women loved being pregnant and will tell me about how they felt great for 9 months. Some women hated being pregnant and will tell me all the reasons why.

The truth is, I'm somewhere in the middle of the two camps. At first, I was too tired to really explore my feelings on the condition of pregnancy. Then for a long time, I didn't feel pregnant and really had no opinion on the matter, other than that I knew we were having a baby and was happy about that. After that, I began to feel the baby move and there were more outward physical changes. During this time I was in the loving it camp - I had energy, I could still see my toes and I felt really good. Recently, though, I can see why there is a hating it camp. I'm not quite there yet, but I certainly don't feel like myself any longer. My back almost always hurts, for the first time in my life I know what heart burn is and I'm ready for bed by 8:30 each night.

Still, though, even with these (and other) psychical ailments, I can't really put myself in the hating it camp. I still feel flashes of amazement and love when I get a strong kick. There are a couple of minutes a day when my back doesn't hurt and I don't feel like a whale when even I think my huge round belly is cute (these are very fleeting moments).

So I am not really sure which camp I'm in, but I'm a lot closer to loving being pregnant than hating it, because in the end, I have to think that it is all going to be worth it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Too Much Excitement

I knew this coming week would be exciting one. How could it not be, starting off with a vacation day and then moving right into the inauguration and the series premiere of Lost. All three are much anticipated events for me and I was looking forward to the excitement surrounding each.

However, today I think I crossed over the threshold of anticipation officially into TOO much excitement. This morning as I was enjoying my day off, practicing yoga and eating oatmeal, I didn't notice The Olive moving at all. I drank some cranberry juice and laid on my left side and again felt nothing. Usually if I give this kid some sugar, there are kicks and punches and a general dance party going on in my belly. So when I called my doctor's office to get a new vitamin prescription, I mentioned the no movement thing in my message. This was a little before lunch time and I didn't expect a call back until later, so I decided to fit in a pedicure. On my way to the pedi place, the office called back and told me to go straight to L&D at the hospital. Uh, what? I didn't think it would be that big of a deal, but after talking with Chris and my Mom, decided it was better to err on the side of caution and have them check me out.

I'm happy to report that the hospital I'll be giving birth in (not until March, please) is very nice and the nursing staff are quite lovely. My nurse hooked me up to a monitor, where we learned the baby was doing fine. I, however, was having a few contractions. These just felt like back pain to me, but they were strong enough to warrant some type of test to see if I was secreting some type of protein that signals labor in the next few weeks. The test came back negative and I was sent on my way home.

I left feeling a little silly about the whole thing. Baby was good, and there was nothing really wrong with me either. The nurse, Chris and my Mom all assured me I did the right thing by going in and getting checked out, if for nothing else than the peace of mind. I still feel like an overreacting first time mom, but I'm glad to know everything is fine.

So Lost and the inauguration had better pull out all the stops to live up to my expected level of event anticipation.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winter Weekends Call for Soup

This winter I've been whipping up a batch of soup pretty much each weekend. Soup, to me, is a perfect food, especially when paired with bread and topped with cheese. Soup doesn't take a lot of effort to make, but yields many meals of nutritious and filling sustenance. A favorite this winter has been my twist on minestrone. I sometimes don't like minestrone because some people feel the need to put in TOO many beans and odd vegetables (such as mushrooms or green peppers, blech). This version does a good job of hiding half of the beans and sticks with what I consider perfectly acceptable soup veggies. Chris likes it because there is meat involved. Original recipe is here, but I can't comment on that as I have always made it the following way:

My White Bean and Sausage Minestrone
2 -3 links of Italian sausage
1 carton chicken stock
clove garlic
3 carrots
2 ribs of celery
Spices to your liking, plus salt and a bay leaf (I rely heavily on the sausage to add heat to the soup, but if your sausage is a little anemic tasting, you'll have to help it with red and black pepper)
2 cans of white beans
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup Pastini (the tiny pasta used in Wedding Soup)
1/2 bag fresh spinach

Method: Squish the sausage out of the casing and into a hot soup pot. Brown until pretty much cooked through. Remove sausage from pot. Add chopped garlic, carrots and celery. Add spices and bay leaf. Let cook for 2 - 5 minutes. Meanwhile using blender or immersion blender, puree one of the cans of beans with some of the chicken stock until smooth. Add puree and remainder of stock to soup pot. Add other can of beans (rinse first). Add desired amount of water to the pot. Add tomatoes. Let the soup come to a boil. Add pastini (this really expands, so always use less than you think need). Let cook for at least 30 minutes. Before eating add rinsed and stemmed spinach (always more than you think you will need) to the pot and let that cook down.

Top with Parmesan cheese and serve with bread - enjoy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Suddenly So Real

Last Friday marked 30 weeks of pregnancy for me. Which, if you are keeping track at home, means there are only 10 weeks left in this journey. Now I know full well as a first-time mom, I could go late (let's everyone send me deliver on or before my due date vibes, m'kay). Still, there are less than 10 weeks before we meet our little Olive and while March 20 seems so far away, it also seems so close.

Almost each morning, either Chris or I will remark that the belly has grown overnight. Suddenly, the belly isn't going to be ignored any longer. It can't be hidden under a cardigan or with a scarf and when I walk into a room, the belly precedes me. The growing belly reminds me of our growing family.

The movements from Olive are also getting a lot bigger as the baby gets bigger and stronger. There are times when we can see the belly move as the Olive is having it's own little party. By the end of each work day, the poor little Olive has bunched up on the right side of my womb, making my belly look very lopsided. The Doctor says there is more room over there, but I am liking that our little Olive already has very real personality quirks.

Today I got an e-mail from the HR department asking about my maternity leave plan. I have to figure out how much vacation, sick and short term disability I want to take to equal out to my 12 weeks off work. Making plans for my being away work makes it clear this is actually happening.

I had said I wanted to have the nursery set up early so Prada would get used to the idea, but in reality I think I am the one who needed to get used to having a whole room in our house and a space in our lives for a baby. As I waddle to the bathroom each night and glance in at the lovingly put together crib, it all becomes so very real.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Danger Ahead

To a pregnant woman, what is even more treacherous than an imported cheese platter, is listening to soft rock radio. It's like a field of sappiness, loaded with landmines the likes of Rod Stewart and James Taylor. Inevitably, Forever Young by Rod Stewart comes on and there I am driving down 670 a blubbering mess of tears and hormones. This has happened more than once, as it seems the lyrics of the song really get to me when I'm pregnant and I'm powerless to stop the tears.

The other night I was having dinner with clients and there was a couple there who were very concerned about the career choices their adult was son making. I sat there listening to them, making sympathetic noises and thinking this is what people mean when they say I won't sleep for the next 40 years because I'll constantly be worried about the The Olive. And on those future sleepless nights, I'll do well to remember the crying mess I was each time I heard the Forever Young song, especially these last couple lines:

And when you finally fly away
I’ll be hoping that I served you well
For all the wisdom of a lifetime
No one can ever tell
But whatever road you choose
I’m right behind you, win or lose

Sunday, January 4, 2009

And Here it is...2009

Happy New Year everyone! I managed to stay awake for midnight on New Year's Eve (no small feat since I was turning 31years old and 28 weeks pregnant) and I've been paying for it ever since. Luckily, I had a nice long weekend to recover and catch up on sleep, and now I can do the yearly resolution post. It's been hard for me this year to come up with resolutions because I simply don't know what having a baby is going to hold for us. I don't want to resolve to do something and then find out that it just won't work out for our family.

So with that said, resolution Number 1 is Go With the Flow. I'll try to focus on being more laid-back and less control-driven. While I think I am pretty easy-going, this has been a struggle for me in the past. I like to know what is going to happen next. Now the realization is hitting me that I just need to let that go - I can't always know what is going to happen and I need to be open for several different possibilities. Where this will test me the most is during the actual labor and delivery. I've already broached the subject of a birth plan with my Doctor, who gently told me the only plan he was worried about was a healthy baby and mom and urged me not to get too tied to one ideal scenario in my head. I'm sure after the actual arrival of the Olive, I'll find plenty of other chances to go with the flow and let go of preconceived notions of what I think motherhood should be like.

Resolution Number 2 is get back in shape post-baby. Those ten pounds I resolved to lose last year were still hanging around when I got pregnant and they've since been joined by about 25 more. A simple neighborhood walk pretty much kicks my butt at this point and I'm amazed that at this time last year I was finishing a 5k. So once the baby is ready to leave the house, we'll be doing lots of walks (eventually leading up to jogs) and I'll be signing up for a yoga class.

Resolution Number 3 is to not lose sight of myself when the baby comes. Sure, I want to be a good mom, but I also want to be a good person, wife and friend. This will mean making time for myself and making time for Chris and me.

All in all, I think these resolutions will serve me and my growing family well. I'm really looking forward to 2009, I think it will be a great year, full of new life, hope and wellness. What are you looking forward to in the new year?