Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Weight of a Snowflake


Tell me the weight of a snowflake" A sparrow asked a wild dove

Nothing more than nothing

In that case I must tell a marvelous story," the sparrow said.

I sat on a branch of a fir tree, close to its trunk, when it began to snow, not heavily, not a giant blizzard, no, just like in a dream, without any violence. Since I didn't have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch - nothing more than nothing, as you say - the branch broke off

Having said that, the sparrow flew away.

The dove thought about the story for a while and finally said to herself: 
"Perhaps there is only one voice lacking for peace to come in our world."

Whenever you think your contributions, acts of charity, work for justice, gifts of love, or your talents are nothing, or are small in comparison to those of others, remember that when one is added to another, and then to another, great things can happen---from "nothing more than nothing."
Merry Christmas everyone and may the spirit of the season be with you all year long.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Special Delivery

Once baby's heartbeat was confirmed at our 8 week ultrasound, I decided to sign up for baby samples. It was an emotional moment for me when they arrived in the mail yesterday. Let me tell you why...

2 years ago, we had recently purchased our first house and I was excited to settle into it with my husband, 2 dogs and of course - our baby who would surely be on its way in no time. With all the naivety and confidence of my 26 years, I decided to sign up for free baby samples despite the fact that we had already been trying to conceive for a few months without success. Sure enough, a few months later the samples began to arrive. Free baby formula and bottles, baby wash and diapers. And of course, there was no baby.

I saved the first few samples that arrived, confident that I would be able to use them soon. Eventually I had to throw out a full size tin of formula because it had expired (depressing!)  As the samples continued to arrive, our baby was getting further and further away (or so it seemed). Adoption programs we liked closed, infertility treatments failed, and yet the samples continued to arrive every few months, congratulating my non-existent baby on beginning solid food and taking its first steps. It was pure torture every time I opened the mail box and found a sample of baby stuff. It was a reminder that if we had conceived within our first year of trying (as most couples do) we'd have a rambunctious toddler by now! Heck, we might even have baby #2 on the way!

The final sample arrived (snacks & coupons for older toddlers) on a summer day when I was shopping for a baby shower gift with my very pregnant friend. (Lord knows shopping at baby stores as an infertile is hard enough, let alone when you bring your pregnant friend with you!) We left work early to shop at the baby store together and I wanted to swing by my house to change out of my work clothes first. I ran inside to change and on the way out I checked the mail. The baby samples package was there and I didn't even bother to open it, I just gave the package to my friend. I remember sitting in my car and cursing the day I was stupid enough to sign up for baby samples when I was not pregnant!

I know a lot of people choke up when they see their baby moving around on the ultrasound, or hear the heartbeat for the first time, but Andino and I are not criers. We didn't choke up at our wedding or during the ultrasounds - we were too excited and grinning from ear to ear! But let me tell you... when I opened my mail box yesterday and found a package of baby samples for newborns - I choked up. Finally the day had come when I received baby samples for my baby who is on the way!! Somehow everything we have been through and everything we have to look forward to really hit me in that moment.


Saturday, 14 December 2013

So Much Change in 10 Weeks

Oh my gosh. Am I at the stage in pregnancy where people start to touch my belly? How did that happen? Am I really the pregnant woman at the party?

Last night, Andino and I were celebrating the 40th birthday of one of his best friends and someone (who I had just been introduced to) touched my belly! It was my first time wearing a tight shirt that showed off my little bump. Up until now I've only been wearing loose shirts outside of the home because I was self conscious during the beginning stages of pregnancy when I had definitely gained a few pounds but I didn't have a bump yet so I just looked like I ate too much. Last night I decided I was ready to show off the bump - and what better time than at a celebration with some of Andino's nearest and dearest friends?

4 Months photo 20131213_195615_zpseb82f92b.jpgThe woman who touched my belly was the girlfriend of one of Andino's friends. It was the first time we'd seen them since I became pregnant (and the first time I met the girlfriend) and Andino told his friend the news. The girlfriend immediately reached out and touched my belly. I was surprised because I still don't feel pregnant yet (despite the bump) because I haven't felt bebe move and I don't have any pregnancy symptoms. I didn't mind the belly rub though, in fact it made me feel a little special! After expressing her excitement and congratulating us, she launched into telling me that I shouldn't get an epidural and that Doctors rush too quickly to suggest pain medication and my body will be able to handle the delivery because that's what it's built for. Yes, it will be painful but it's an amazing womanly experience and if I get an epidural I will be missing out on a lot of it. I wasn't bothered by what she was saying because as of right now I still don't plan to have an epidural. That being said, once I am in the moment if I change my mind I won't be disappointed in myself and I certainly won't feel like less of a woman because I took advantage of the pain management options available to me. I just found it amazing to be having this conversation at all. I kept thinking thoughts like "Am I really talking about delivering my baby?" "Isn't it a little inappropriate to tell someone you literally met 2 minutes ago not to get an epidural?" & "I feel a little awkward having this conversation because I take a bit of time to open up to people and I feel like this is a personal topic..." But overall, it was a fun conversation to have.

I know women bond over their pregnancy/birth experiences and it is just unbelievable to me that I am now one of those women. A few months back I went to a wedding with Andino's niece (who is my age and a good friend). We were sitting at a table with a few other couples and somehow the conversation turned to pregnancy and delivery. At the time I was 6 weeks pregnant, but I didn't know yet. I certainly didn't have anything to add to the conversation so I was quiet, but I was not unhappy. I was excited to someday be part of the adoptive mama's club and to be able to share stories of the first time I saw the referral photo of my child and the first time I laid eyes on him or her in their orphanage. Both paths to becoming a Mama are equally amazing and exciting, I just can't believe how much has changed in the past 10 weeks... It reminds me of the quote:

Who knows what new and unexpected adventures are in store for us?

oh and p.s. I updated my bump photos too :)

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

To Just Be Me Again

I don't have much to write about these days. When I was still trying to conceive I was anxious and I felt like I wanted to talk/write about it all the time. Now that I am pregnant, I realize I am going back to my old self. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about all the other things I love and am interested in outside of having children. Of course I still talk and think about my pregnancy and becoming a Mom, but it doesn't consume me. Not that infertility consumed me either, but it definitely took up more space in my head than being pregnant does. Now that I don't have to worry about when and how I am going to have a family, I can finally just relax and let things unfold as they will.  It's something I constantly tried to remind myself to do while I was still trying to conceive, but it comes much easier now.

At the very beginning of my pregnancy I was excited to talk about labour & delivery, breastfeeding and diaper changes, but I don't want that to be all I talk and think about. Last week I met my best friend (who I call my sister) at Chapters for a coffee and a girl chat. We busted our guts laughing about things you can only laugh about with your girlfriends. We talked Christmas recipes, good documentaries on Netflix and our travel plans. It was great. Andino and I love to talk about travelling, his music and our big dreams for the future. Now that we don't have to stress about how much of our savings will be poured into how we will create our family, we can be excited about other things the future may hold. I used to say things like "we might be able to go to Hard Rock next year...  depending on how the adoption expenses go..." now we don't have to worry about that!

Don't get me wrong. I still had lots of fun over the past couple years. I still spent lots of time thinking about and doing things I enjoy, but it's different now. There's not an underlying river of stress. The girls at work have noticed the change in me, and it makes me happy. I always felt like I was doing a good job dealing with the stress, and I suppose I was. But dealing with it and getting rid of it are two completely different things.

I've been so relaxed about being pregnant and preparing for the baby. It has been a very pleasant surprise. If you had asked me a couple years ago what I thought I would be like once I became pregnant, I would have told you that I'd be spending hours looking at nursery designs on Pinterest (which I did in the beginning, but quickly lost interest). I thought I'd be buying lots of baby stuff and reading every baby book I could get my hands on. But it's not been that way. I am not consumed by all things baby. Now that a baby is finally on the way, my stress levels are at the lowest they have been in years. It is so much easier to live in the now.

To just be me again.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Body Image

I've decided to start a page with my bump photos (up top). So far, there's really no bump, just a bit of a pooch and some extra thickness through the middle. I am definitely not complaining, but I am excited to get a real bump. I have been the same weight for about 10 years, so experiencing my body changing has been an interesting adjustment for me. For the first time, I am buying clothes to fit a different shape and adjusting my exercise routine.

The other day, Andino and I were in a maternity/baby consignment shop looking for some good deals. Andino spotted a box with a girdle. The box said something about shrinking your hips for use post-baby. His reaction? "Shrink your hips? Why would you want to do that?!" Needless to say, Andino has been complimenting the thicker version of Gypsy Mama almost every day which makes me feel so much more confident about my changing shape. I love this man...

I picked up a pair of maternity jeans and they are SO comfortable. I still wear my non-maternity pants regularly, but they are starting to get a bit tight. I bought a bella band and it's great! I still plan to buy a few more pairs of maternity pants/jeans when I get bigger, but for now it has been great to still be able to wear my normal clothes comfortably with the button undone and the band over top. I haven't purchased any maternity tops yet, I've just been wearing my regular tops, favouring the loosest ones. I don't want to go overboard buying maternity clothes since I won't get as much use out of them as my regular clothes. I'm holding off on getting much until it's necessary.

I've been doing prenatal exercise from the very beginning of this pregnancy. Since entering the second trimester I started to incorporate the treadmill again. I am not jogging, but walking at a medium pace on the highest incline. It feels good to be physically active and everything I've read about exercise during pregnancy says it's a good thing. I have been considering signing up for some prenatal yoga, but I'm not convinced it's for me. I haven't decided yet though, because I have heard nothing but great reviews about prenatal yoga so I might want to give it a try.

As for my diet, the dreaded heartburn has kicked in. I went for lunch yesterday with two of my colleagues to get shwarma at a local Lebanese restaurant. My favourite food EVER. I polished off the garlic sauce that came with it, and I was regretting it for the rest of the night. 4 tums later and I was still not feeling well. I didn't want to eat supper but I forced down a chicken caesar salad with garlic toast and some fruit and yogurt for dessert. I've had heartburn (if I eat something that triggers it) for about a week now, so I'm assuming it's here to stay for the duration of the pregnancy. Now I am going to have to avoid some of my favourite foods due to heartburn! According to Baby Centre, these are the most common foods that cause heartburn: chocolate; acidic foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, mustard, and vinegar; processed meats; mint products; and spicy, highly seasoned, fried, or fatty foods. Who doesn't love spicy, highly seasoned fatty foods with chocolate for dessert?!

With the onset of pregnancy signs and symptoms it is starting to feel more real that I am actually going to have a baby in 6 months. Not that it didn't feel real before, but it wasn't on my mind as much as it is now because I basically looked and felt the same. As uncomfortable as heartburn and too-tight pants are, I am so happy to be progressing in my pregnancy.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Little One's Debut!

We had our second ultrasound last week at 14 weeks and I am happy to share with you some of the Little One's photos. We saw the baby moving its arms around and rubbing its face, but the ultrasound tech said the legs were tucked up under the butt. The baby was moving SO MUCH we couldn't get a lot of great shots, but we managed to get a couple good ones:

(the images are poor quality because I just took a photo of the ultrasound photos with my phone)

wpid-20131127_184934.jpg   wpid-20131127_184910.jpg

It was so amazing to see the baby. It hadn't really sunk in that we are having a baby because I still can't feel it kicking and I'm hardly showing. Seeing the baby move and actually look like a baby was a pretty cool experience. It made it feel more real to us that we are actually going to be parents this summer!

As usual, the ultrasound tech wasn't allowed to interpret the results, so I was looking forward to getting confirmation from our Doctor that everything is okay. We saw her this week and although my blood results weren't back, she told us the results from the nuchal translucency test went well. It's always a relief to know that things are still on track, even though I wasn't overly concerned about worrisome news.

This was my first visit with a regular OBGYN - I've finally graduated from infertility specialists! The appointment started off with the nurse taking my weight and blood pressure. ( I think I've gained around 4 pounds) Then she went through a list of questions for Andino and I. Finally, she asked if we plan to attend prenatal classes (yes) If I plan to breastfeed (yes) if I'd had any bleeding or vomiting (no) and how healthy I would consider my diet (very healthy). After she left, the Doctor came in. She explained what to expect going forward and on the day of delivery. It was hard to believe we were actually talking about delivering our baby in MAY! At the end of the appointment she used the doppler and we got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time, which made Andino and I smile :)

The Doctor wanted to schedule my 20 week ultrasound when I was 18 weeks (not sure why) but Andino will be in Chile for 3 weeks coinciding with when she wanted to schedule it, so we asked her if it was possible to have the appointment later so he could be there for it.  She agreed and we will be having the next (and probably last) ultrasound when I am 20 weeks and  1 day. I'm glad Andino will be able to make it to the appointment, as the Doctor explained it will be the most important one because it checks all of the baby's anatomy.  Hopefully the holidays can keep me busy enough over the next 5 weeks so I don't worry too much about the 20 week ultrasound!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Round Ligament Pain

The other night I was writing in my baby book, and thinking about how lucky I am that the pregnancy has been going so smoothly. No morning sickness and hardly any symptoms to speak of. I've had the odd night of heartburn here and there and I was quite tired in the very early weeks, but overall it's been smooth sailing.

Starting on Sunday, I started to feel some dull aching in my lower abdomen, alternating between the right & left side (sometimes both at once). It was a very mild ache, certainly not enough to scare me. I was in the middle of making cinnamon scones and I wasn't concerned enough to stop. (they were delicious! I will post the recipe at the bottom). I told Andino about it and he wasn't very concerned either. He said it was inevitable that I would feel something eventually as my uterus expands. The aching continued for a few hours, and I started getting concerned. Andino asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital but I said no because I didn't want to overreact (or spend my Sunday evening in emergency!). Eventually the aching stopped, but it has returned on and off since then. Never more than a mild discomfort, but enough that I decided to mention it to the public health nurse who works out of our office on Thursdays. She recommended I call my Doctor and ask her opinion. The nurse's reaction surprised me because I was expecting her to tell me not to worry, that aching is common in pregnancy. After lunch I called my Doctor's office just for peace of mind. As I was speaking with the receptionist my Doctor walked by, saw my name on the screen and took the call immediately. She told me not to worry, and that at this stage of pregnancy the aching is most likely from the uterus stretching as it moves outside my abdominal cavity. She is usually quite cautious, so hearing her say this made me feel much better.

I thought it was so nice of her to take my call like that. There were times during my appointments with Dr.H that I wasn't extremely fond of her. I guess by the time we met, I was so tired of all the poking, prodding & failed treatments that I was not the perky optimist I was at the beginning of this journey 2 years ago. I was beginning to think that I suffered from unexplained infertility and wished that she would treat me more aggressively. (Specifically, I wanted something for my lining which never got above 7mm). Dr. H kept assuring me that we had great chances and that 7mm is not too thin to achieve pregnancy. I guess she was right because we had success on our first treatment at our province's fertility clinic. (We also had one IUI performed at the local hospital, but Andino and I are quite skeptical of the nurse's methods there). As a matter of fact, we were Dr. H's first patients that she sent to the fertility clinic located in a different city. She told us at our 8 week appointment that she is no longer offering IUIs locally, in favour of sending all her patients to the fertility clinic. She thanked us for being her test patients and for all our feedback of the two experiences.

We have an ultrasound next Wednesday, and I am so excited for it. Everyone tells me to stop worrying now that I've passed the 12 week mark, but I haven't seen the heartbeat since 8 weeks so this final confirmation that everything is going well will be wonderful. I haven't been overly worried though. I've been trying to have faith in my body & intuition that everything is okay. Andino and I are even going to start purchasing things for baby soon! But that is for another post. For now, I will leave you with the recipe for cinnamon scones and a recommendation that you all enjoy them with a cup of tea, milk or hot chocolate :)

Glazed Cinnamon Scones

Scone Ingredients:

2 cups flour (I used unbleached, but you could use half whole-wheat, half unbleached)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg, separated
3 Tablespoons honey
1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1/3 cup milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice)

Crumb Topping (can be adjusted to your liking):

1-2 Tablespoons turbinado (or sugar)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Glaze Ingredients (can be adjusted to your liking):

1 cup powdered sugar
1-3 teaspoons milk (enough to make a glaze)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.

Separate the egg white and yolk. Set the egg white aside.

In a separate bowl, mix egg yolk, honey and buttermilk (or milk/lemon juice mixture). Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Form dough into a ball on a floured surface. Roll or pat out to half an inch in thickness and eight inches in diameter. Cut into eight equally-sized pieces.

Transfer to a greased baking sheet. Whisk the egg white until froth forms and brush over the tops of scones. Mix turbinado and cinnamon together and sprinkle over egg-white-topped scones.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Mix together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until glaze forms. Drizzle over scones after they bake.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Evil Eye

I'm sure you have heard of the evil eye, or mal de ojo as it is called in Spanish. Many different cultures around the world believe in the evil eye and although the causes & cures vary somewhat, one thing is quite common among all of the superstitions - pregnant women and newborn babies are most susceptible to its effects. 

My closest friend in Mozambique was pregnant while I was there. (She was due a month or so after I left and we've not been able to keep in touch due to the fact that there was hardly any access to internet in the village.) She always told me that a pregnant woman should try to be nice to everyone. One should avoid getting into arguments or boasting while pregnant, for fear of the evil eye. She believes (and I believe) that envy and negative feelings are not healthy during pregnancy.

I really believe that negative emotions can have an effect on things. Just look at this experiment on water:

So, I am trying my best to be humble and kind these days. Not that I ever tried to be cranky before, but I guess it is on my mind more now!

So what about you? Are you superstitious? 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Welcome to the new blog

I am excited about the new journey to parenthood that Andino and I are on, and I created this blog to share our new journey. Some of the posts I write here will be private, meaning you will need a password to read them. I've decided to make the change from an entirely public blog to a blog that offers some privacy because I love writing about our journey, but since I've become pregnant I've felt the need for more privacy. I want to share my personal photos with my family and friends but I don't feel comfortable having them on the world wide web for just anyone to see. I plan to share my bump photos as my pregnancy progresses, ultrasound photos and photos of our baby here.

I'm glad I had the public blog over the last few years. I met so many women who were going through the same thing as I was, and just being able to connect with them made a world of difference in my ability to cope with the hard times we faced trying to reach where we are today. I also received emails over the years from people who said they appreciated my blog because I helped them in some way. Many were considering IVF in Mexico, some liked the posts I wrote about natural supplements and a few people wrote to ask questions about the adoption process. (Incidentally, 3 of the people Andino and I referred to Mexico had success on their first or second tries!) I'm so glad I had the chance to connect with those people and I wouldn't change my experience to get to where I am today.

That being said, the path we are on now is different. It feels more personal and private, so I've decided to move my blog in that direction as well. I considered stopping blogging altogether, but I know I would miss writing and I also want to document this journey for my own sake. I hope the bother of typing in passwords sometimes doesn't deter you from reading. Everyone I've decided to share my blog with has helped me immensely over the past few years. I have always felt so blessed to have such supportive friends and family - I don't know what I'd do without you all!
Blogger Template By Designer Blogs