Monday, 31 March 2014

The Baby Shower

Andino's family threw a baby shower for me on Saturday. His Mom has been talking about it for months and his Aunts helped out with the cooking and planning. This is the first granddaughter for his parents (third for mine!) and their first grandchild in over 15 years. Unfortunately I didn't get many photos because I was feeling quite overwhelmed with the whole experience, but I did snap these after most of the guests had left:

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Andino's Mom on the left and his Aunt on the right - the party planners!

DSCN0157 DSCN0164

Andino's sister is on the right, which makes the other two girls my nieces. Weird because we are the same age! The girl in the orange shirt is one of my best friends and will be our support person during the delivery.

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My best friend who I also call my sister. She's from back home but lives in the prairies now with her boyfriend (hopefully soon to be husband!)

p.s. I am only 5'4" I'm but the tallest person in all these photos!

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The cake that was beautiful, but didn't get eaten because there were cachitos & chilenitos which are chilean desserts that are DELICIOSO

 

cachitos & chilenitos - pastries filled with caramel!

 

I didn't expect to be so overwhelmed by the baby shower. I've been to plenty of baby showers over the years and they are all basically the same - women get together, eat, chat a bit and the guest of honour opens gifts. No big deal. Well, it is a lot different when you are the guest of honour. I don't know if I felt so nervous because of everything we've been through to get to this point or if it is because it is nerve-wracking to have 30+ people watch you open gifts for an hour. I was sweating and nervous-smiling and very self-concious the whole time. I am definitely a shy person when it comes to social situations like this. I can give public presentations no problem, but put me in a room with a lot of people and expect me to be outgoing & friendly to everyone and I seize up. I remember when I was in Mozambique I went to a meeting with representatives from various government offices and NGOs and I was put on the spot to stand up and speak (in Portuguese) about the project I was working on. I got nervous, but it was nothing compared to my nerves on Saturday. I don't think it's a coincidence that my best friends and husband are all very outgoing, friendly people who excel in social situations. I always rely on them to be the chatty ones while I sit back and smile/watch. The night before my shower I woke up at 3:30 am and couldn't fall back asleep. I was thinking about the shower but I didn't realize I was so anxious until the next night (after my shower) when I also woke up at 3:30 am and had to get up to read my book because I still hadn't fallen back asleep by 5:00 am. I couldn't turn my mind off and stop wondering if I had been friendly enough, if I thanked people enough, if people had a good time, if they could tell how anxious I was and if so did my anxiety ruin it? I can honestly say that today (Monday) is the first day I feel back to normal again.

I was touched that so many people showed up to celebrate us. Andino and I have been very open about our challenges on our path to parenthood, so everyone in that room knew what a big day it was for me. What a long time it was coming. Every single gift I opened was so thoughtful and beautiful I was overcome by emotion. Andino's family in Chile sent gifts too, and his favourite Aunt sent us the favours. A couple of my friends weren't able to make it to the shower so we are planning to get together this weekend for lunch. My Mom said that I was probably overwhelmed because I realized that so many people were thinking about us not just on that day, but in the days leading up to it when they were picking out the gifts for baby girl, writing the cards and making food to bring.  I'm sure I was anxious for a variety of reasons but overall it was a very special day.

One thing is for sure, this baby girl has people all over North & South America who love her already!

 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Gassy Mornings

My due date is exactly 2 months away. I am 31 weeks and 2 days pregnant which means my countdown to delivery is in the single digits now! (9 weeks) Which is really very exciting. I am so ready to meet her... and also to not be pregnant anymore! haha

Overall, things are still going very well. I don't have any aches or pains but she's getting so big (I'm getting so big!) that sometimes I get short of breath. I think she's pushing on my lungs or something, but thankfully that doesn't happen often. There's also the challenge of getting dressed - I haven't put so much time & effort into putting on my socks and shoes since I was a toddler! And there is one other thing that I think makes Andino just as uncomfortable as it makes me; the only pregnancy symptom I had first trimester  - excessive gas - has returned. With a vengeance. Oh, and the hemorrhoids. Or as I affectionately call them "hemis" but that's nothing new, I've been getting those for 7 or 8 years now. Glamorous - I know.

So like I said, overall things are still going very well. These complaints are just minor annoyances that go along with carrying an extra 23 pounds in the belly. Basically, I don't feel cute pregnant anymore, I just feel big pregnant. For the first time ever, someone asked if I was just about ready to have the baby:

"Not much longer now, eh?"

"Well, two months... "

"Oh really? Because you look so big!"

"Yeah..."

That happened this morning. I need to tell you that I am so not a morning person. I like getting up early, but I hate having to get up and get ready and go out in the cold. Andino wakes up singing, smiling, dancing, being goofy (and reminding me every 10 minutes not to be late and telling me how much time I have left to get ready). I wake up... I might as well be honest here... on weekdays I wake up with a grumpy face. It takes me a couple hours to get in a happy mood. That's only on weekdays though. On the weekend I still get up early, usually by 7:30 am, but when I wake up naturally instead of to the jarring sound of the alarm clock (which usually causes the first words out of my mouth to be curse words) and I sit quietly reading the news or a book for an hour over tea, it makes all the difference in the world. I only have 6 weeks of work left and I am really looking forward to a year off to spend with my baby. I know it's going to be hard getting up with her at all hours of the night, but like I said, it's not the getting up that bothers me, it's the having to get up and go that makes me cranky. My parents spoiled me when I lived at home. They knew I was not a morning person so they didn't try to talk to me until I had been up for a couple hours. Andino is a chatterbox in the morning. I wonder if baby will take after me or Andino? I guess we'll know in a few years!

Luckily, Andino has been very understanding and helpful which I appreciate so much because I need that right now. He has been helping me with all the little things that need to be done around the house which means I still have enough energy to do my little workouts 2 or 3 times a week. Exercise is the only thing that really makes me feel great these days. I do about 20 minutes of walking on my treadmill at varying intervals and then I do 20 minutes or so of light weights. I really think that these little workout sessions are what have kept me from experiencing too many unpleasant pregnancy symptoms so I hope to keep them up until the end.

So what about you? Are you a morning person? Speaking of mornings, tell me what your favourite breakfast is too! I love pancakes and waffles (homemade of course!)

Monday, 24 March 2014

A Happy Weekend

I don't think I mentioned we are taking prenatal classes. A friend told me about a lady who is famous in our city for the prenatal classes she teaches at the YMCA, so we signed up for those instead of the free ones through the health region. At the first class there were 170 people in the room because it was accidentally overbooked. That's 85 pregnant women crammed in one classroom. It was such a weird feeling to be surrounded by that many pregnant women... and to be one of them.  Thankfully, they've moved some of the other couples around and now there's about 100 of us. We've taken 3 classes already and I understand why they are so famous. The instructor is an older lady with white hair and a total hippie (my kind of lady!). Every class she says and does things that you don't expect and make you bust a gut laughing. For example, last class she was talking about how labour progresses and how to breath properly in each stage. She demonstrated deep breathing, mid-breathing and shallow breathing. And you know how she demonstrated this? By faking an orgasm, people. She started off deep breathing with oohhs and ahhhs and ended with the shallow breaths of yes! yes! I wish I could have recorded the various reactions of people in the class. There was a really innocent looking girl in the front row whose support person was her Mom and I wish I caught their reaction because I'm sure it was priceless. The class is at 8:00 pm on Thursdays. Sometimes I'm tired after work and don't feel like leaving my house, but I know she's going to be entertaining and funny so it's easy to find the motivation to go. Thursdays are quickly becoming my favourite week night.

Friday night I was planning to go to one of my husband's shows. I haven't seen them play live in a long time and I thought it would be a fun night out. The venue was a fundraiser for the Sunday Art Market in our city and also a celebration of the arrival of Spring. It was going to be a very hippie event so I knew I'd like it. I've been to a show they did at the Art Market once before, and I loved the vibe of that place. Unfortunately, I found out they were scheduled to start at 11:30 pm and I knew it would be too late for me since I'm usually in bed by then. Instead, Andino took me out for supper before the show. We make date nights a priority because it makes me so happy to get dressed up and spend time together (and of course to eat good food I didn't have to cook!) After supper, we got Andino's nephew to take a few photos of us since we haven't taken any together since I've been pregnant:

A Family Photo: (I couldn't fix Lola's eyes)
Love this one! photo picmonkey2_zps4a70689e.jpg




The classic pregnancy pose:
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I like this one:
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On Saturday morning we went to the indoor farmer's market which was really nice. I grew up going to the farmer's market back home quite regularly with my Dad because he had a table there. Although the market here is a lot smaller in comparison, the vibe is the same and we picked up some delicious treats. We bought organic raspberry jam, a raspberry danish (SO GOOD!) butter tarts and cookies. (Do you think we have a sweet tooth?) We never buy store-bought treats because the preservatives in them upset our stomachs but since this was all homemade we bought lots!

Later that night, Andino's band was playing at a fundraiser for Engineers Without Borders and I was able to go watch. We caught the end of a lecture on designing wells for developing countries which I thought was interesting. There were photographs of people and places in the developing world for sale that some of the Engineers had taken over their travels. Andino offered to buy me one for my office but since I only have 6 weeks left (30 working days!) I didn't pick one out. The show was great and the crowd was dancing the whole time. I didn't dance but I still had fun on the sidelines. Don't you love people-watching? I looked at some of the Engineering students and thought about how much I've changed in the past 4 years since I've graduated University. How much I've grown and how I wouldn't go back to being 23 again if given the chance. It was a good night.

So we had a busy weekend but it was nice. Andino and I spent a lot of quality time together and we got out of the house and did things which were different from our regular routine. I know once baby arrives our weekends will probably never be the same and I am looking forward to making new memories as a family of 3 (plus our dogs!)

What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Too tired to clean the bathroom

It happened. I "popped" as they say. I officially look pregnant without a doubt. Even a month ago, some people didn't realize I was pregnant just by looking at me. (Usually I was wearing a loose shirt or an open jacket) but now there is no mistaking it. Just look at the change in my bump shots over the last 3 weeks!

[caption id="attachment_661" align="alignnone" width="225"]20140315_182249 29 weeks 5 days[/caption]

How I managed to avoid stretch marks so far is beyond me. When I look at the stretching my belly has done over the last month, I'm amazed I don't have at least a few. I'm slathering on the coconut oil and cocoa butter, but I think my best defense is the 3-4 litres of water I drink every day. You know, hydrating from the inside out. Mom didn't get stretch marks and I know they say they are hereditary, but I didn't inherit Mom's skin, I've got 100% celtic skin and Mom has a European, olive complexion. According to my app, baby is estimated to be only 2.75 pounds right now, so I know she still has a lot more growing to do. How much bigger am I going to get over the next +/- 10 weeks?! So I still may get them... 

Thankfully I am still sleeping well. I can't imagine how cranky I'd be if I weren't, because I am tired all the time now. I don't have much patience when I'm tired but Andino knows that so he doesn't push my buttons. (smart man!) Until now I've maintained my regular workout schedule and household chores that I did before I got pregnant, but I told Andino on the weekend that I might have to start scaling it back a notch. I felt kind of guilty saying so because he is a much busier person than I am but he totally understood. He asked me which chores I'd like him to take on and I told him it would be nice if he could be in charge of cleaning the bathroom. I find it hard to bend over the toilet and tub and stretch to clean the walls inside the shower. This weekend I realized the work of growing a baby is finally starting to catch up with me.

As tired as I've been lately, I've been worried about the possibility of having gestational diabetes and how that would impact my life during the next two months. I was looking forward to seeing my midwife this Thursday to discuss the results of my second glucose test, but she called on Friday afternoon. She said the same thing she said when she called to tell me I failed the glucose screening test: "Do you have time to talk right now?" I wasn't expecting to hear from her because I assumed that like a Doctor, she'd only call if something was up and I didn't expect to fail the glucose tolerance test. "I'm just calling to let you know that everything was fine with the second glucose test" Yay! I was so relieved. I appreciated that she called to let me know, so I wouldn't have to wonder until my next appointment.

In other news, I have been having fun learning how to use my new camera. I've been looking for photography tips on Pinterest and I've started taking a few shots. I am so excited to learn more and hopefully take some great shots this summer.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Positive Thinking

Don't you find when you are reading a book on a certain topic it starts to change your every day behaviour? For example, 6 or 7 years ago I was reading a book about spirituality and how to conserve personal energy. While reading the book, I began to notice how much personal energy I was losing because of how I reacted in daily situations. In the beginning, it was easy to remind myself of the tools I had learned to change my behaviour, but a few months after I finished the book, my old habits started to creep up again. Over the years I have read the same book at least 4 or 5 times until the teachings became ingrained in my memory and changed my behaviour permanently. (Although sometimes I still need a reminder; I read the book again about a year ago during a particularly challenging time in my life.)

Focusing on my blessings was the best coping tool I had when I was frustrated by the adoption/IVF process. Every time I would feel sorry for myself or worried about what the future would bring, I would remind myself how lucky I was to even be able to attempt IVF and pursue adoption. For many people (and even a few people I know personally) those paths to parenthood were not an option due to the heavy financial burden they carry. Reminding myself that there is always a silver lining, and that there are happy moments in even the worst days became a habit for me. Even though I'm not frustrated anymore, positive thinking is healthy and I never want to get out of the habit. I know that there will be many more challenges and frustrations to come and I hope that I can use the skills I learned while going through IVF & adoption to handle those situations well.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Don't eat borscht before the glucose tolerance test

First of all, I need to thank everyone who commented on my last post Is a Diaper Bag Really Necessary?  You all gave such great tips and I appreciate that so many of you took the time to help me out! Your responses were truly helpful and I will do another post about baby gear soon, but for now, there are more pressing issues on my mind that I need to write about. Well, one issue specifically - my diet. I consider myself to be a very healthy person. I can limit myself to one or two (homemade) treats if I'm craving something sweet. I make well balanced meals every day that are high in fiber and vitamins. We don't eat processed food of any kind or food that is high in unhealthy fats. I drink the recommended 3-4 litres of water a day and exercise regularly. Sure, I splurge a little when I go to a restaurant, but overall we eat very healthy. So when I got the call from my midwife that the results of the blood and urine samples I gave on Monday "concerned" her, I was surprised and of course a little worried.

On Monday, I went for lunch at a Russian restaurant with my best friend. After lunch, I did my glucose screening test. It was a bad idea to do lunch and the test in that order...

At the restaurant, I ate a huge bowl of borscht (a soup made mostly from beets) which have a moderately high glycemic index, followed by crepes filled with mashed potatoes (!) which also have a high glycemic index.  The crepes weren't even that good but the reviews I read online said they were the best so I had to try them. I may or may not have also had a few bites of cake as well... I was stuffed far beyond comfort when I waddled into the lab to do my glucose tolerance test. If you aren't familiar with the glucose tests done in pregnancy, here's a bit of info:



  • A glucose screening test is a routine test during pregnancy that checks a pregnant woman’s blood glucose (sugar) level.

  • A glucose tolerance test is done if a glucose screening test result is higher than normal. It is used to diagnose gestational diabetes.

  • Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar (diabetes) that starts or is found during pregnancy.






I'm sure by now you can guess where this is going - I failed the screening test. :(

I have to go back to the lab for a glucose tolerance test tomorrow morning. I feel pretty confident that my huge lunch was the reason I failed the screening test, but I'd feel a lot better if I didn't have any of the symptoms of Gestational Diabetes. Unfortunately, according to Baby Centre - "Gestational diabetes often doesn't have any symptoms, but you may experience the following:"

  • tiredness

  • excessive thirst

  • passing a lot of urine

  • blurred vision


ummm... doesn't every pregnant woman experience these symptoms? I haven't had any blurred vision, although it is a common pregnancy symptom even in non-diabetic women. I'm seeing my midwife in 10 days and I'm really hoping that she'll tell me I passed the glucose tolerance test.

But that's not all the midwife called to tell me. She also said I had a"very low" level of iron. I should have known because lately I've been feeling exhausted no matter how much sleep I get (and thankfully I am still sleeping soundly) and iron deficiency is associated with fatigue.  I think it's because I don't eat much meat. However, I do try to eat other foods high in iron, but apparently not enough. So I'm back on the liquid iron supplements and I swear I can already feel a difference in 3 days! Andino is taking the iron supplement too because he has the same diet as me and he says he notices a big difference in his energy levels too.

I have been a vegetarian on and off since I was 10 years old. I'm not a vegetarian now but I don't like meat very much. I like most seafood though (sustainably harvested of course). I'd say we eat fish about once a week and chicken or beef about twice a week. On the days we are eating chicken or beef I take a teeny tiny portion and even then hardly ever finish it. Since I eat a semi vegetarian diet, I'm concerned about getting enough protein. Are there any other Veg Mamas out there who care to send me some healthy eating tips?


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Is a Diaper Bag Really Necessary?

According to my baby bump app, I have 84 days until my due date. Is it just me or does 84 days sound like a short amount of time? And that's if I go all the way to 40 weeks but we all know that babies are unpredictable so who knows when her birthday will be? I feel like there is still a lot of preparation to do before she arrives. We have a crib, a mattress and crib sheets (all eco-friendly might I add!) so at least she has somewhere to sleep. We still need to pick up a few more items to finish off the nursery but we are getting there. Andino has asked me to make a list of what we still need. Andino loves lists. He gets a lot of satisfaction from crossing items off. Almost as much satisfaction as he gets from paying bills. (Who enjoys paying bills? really...)

So this morning I consulted my favourite baby websites to get an idea of what we really need in order to make my list. I'm not a minimalist (and if you ask Andino he'd tell you I'm far from it) but I don't want to fall into the trap of buying all the baby products on the market. Here's what I'm thinking:

  • Stroller - We have a jogging/all-terrain stroller, but this morning I found a maxi cosi foray stroller exactly like the one pictured below for an awesome deal second hand. I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile to have a compact little stroller that I can pop the car seat into. Also, we are planning to travel with baby back home to the Maritimes and also to Mexico (woo-hoo!) so a compact little stroller might come in handy for travel too.




  • Car Seat - We don't have one yet. I've been reminded by various people that we aren't allowed to leave the hospital without one so I suppose this should be our next purchase. If I decide to go with the maxi cosi stroller (if it hasn't already sold!) I'll need a maxi cosi car seat to fit it.



  • Baby Carriers - If you know me in real life or have been reading here for a while, you'll know that I have been daydreaming of babywearing for years. It's probably the thing that I am most excited to do once baby arrives and I want every single hippie-style baby carrier on the market. I haven't purchased any yet (but Andino got a snuggli with a skull & cross bones on it - he's so awesome!) Since I can't afford to buy 5 or 6 baby carriers, I signed up for a babywearing class on March 19th to help make my decision as to which one to buy. As for now, these are my two favourites (in my favourite designs):

  • Maya Wrap

  • Bali Breeze Wrap



  • Diapers - It probably won't come as a big surprise that we are going to use cloth diapers. We have some already but still need to purchase more. We have 10 applecheeks diapers (5 in each size) and 5 bumgenius one-size. I love applecheeks because they are made in Canada and I like their envelope style pocket that allows the liner to agitate out in the wash. Plus, their 2 size system (as opposed to the bumgenius one-size that grows with the baby) will fit newborns better. More applecheeks are definitely on my list!



  • Feeding - I plan to breast feed baby. Do I still need to buy bottles and/or a breast pump? I was planning to see how it goes before investing in any supplies. For those of you who have been there, what's your take on this?



  • Clothing -  I think we are covered in the clothing department. My sister in law is sending me a ton of clothes, plus I have already been given lots by friends and family.



  • Bathing - My mother-in-law gave us a baby bath. You know the mesh kind that goes inside your tub? It's a pain to set up and take down though. What I really want is the Boon Bathtub. My friend has one and it seems really convenient. You only have to fill the baby tub with water (instead of your entire tub if I were to use the mesh one) and the best part is that it collapses and can be hung inside your shower. Major convenience factor right there...



  • This and That - Do I really need a diaper bag? I have a million purses in all different sizes, how is a diaper bag that much different than a purse? What items am I missing that are must-haves and what can I do without?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Photography

I've been thinking about photography lately. I was getting into the hobby last summer and it was fun to read tips and tricks on how to create better photos. Some people are such naturals and take incredible photos with no training at all because they have the eye for photography. That's not me. But I do think that with some practice, a decent camera and a basic knowledge of photography I could take some nice photos. With winter's arrival I stopped practicing, but here are a few of my favourites from last summer:

[caption id="attachment_555" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_4756 Relaxing at home in the Maritimes...[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_554" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_4712 A wheat field in PEI[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_553" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_4450 I love how he hops like a bunny in the tall grass[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_552" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMG_4448 My big slobbery girl[/caption]


I contacted a professional photographer to have maternity photos taken, but we decided against it. We really want to have a newborn photo shoot and we can't justify spending hundreds of dollars on a professional photographer twice in the span of a couple months. However, we may end up having Andino's friend who is an amateur photographer take the photos because I really want to have photographs of me pregnant and I feel kind of awkward posing for photos like this and asking Andino to "take a picture of me!"




[caption id="attachment_557" align="aligncenter" width="189"]6 months Date night last Saturday[/caption]

I'm hoping to get ourselves a good quality camera and a tripod before baby girl arrives. We haven't upgraded our camera in almost 5 years so I think it's time anyway. Baby Makin' Machine has some great photography tips that have gotten me inspired. I especially like her tips for taking self-portraits with your kids. I love the idea of having a tripod with a self-timer and a portable camera (I don't want a DSLR because they are too bulky for my needs) so I can snap a few shots whenever the mood strikes me. Have you read Huffington Post's article The Mom Stays in the Picture? I found it quite touching. Plus, if we had a tripod and a good camera with a self-timer, Andino and I could be in photos together for once! The vast majority of our vacation photos are of just me (Andino is actually the photographer of the family).




[caption id="attachment_562" align="aligncenter" width="300"]summer2011 111 Cuba 2011[/caption]


When I was putting together our adoption photo book I was hard-pressed to find enough nice photos of Andino when he wasn't performing with his band. Speaking of photo books - that's my plan. I really enjoyed putting together the photo book for our adoption and I want to start making one each year. We aren't the type of people to have family photos in frames around our home, but I love photo books. We got a photo book as a wedding gift from Andino's cousin & wife and I love it. It's the best memento of the wedding we have, a small hard cover book filled with photos of our wedding that we can easily pull out to reminisce.


Anyone have some good photography advice/tips they want to share? Suggestions on a good little camera that's not crazy expensive?

 
 
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