Monday, July 14, 2014

Experiences of a First-Time Pregnant Lady – Part 2: Preparing for Labour

Preparing for Labour - Blog Post Header

As we all know, the culmination of nine months of pregnancy comes to a close with labour. Dun dun duuuuun! I’m in the third trimester now, and with this being my first pregnancy, I've been reading up on ways I can prepare myself for that grand moment and wanted to share this with my readers. Note: I'm a healthy individual having a normal pregnancy. I'm no expert and am not dispensing medical advise. Please consult with your primary care practitioner before trying any of the following.

Nutrition

Water water water!

Before getting pregnant, I would rarely drink water. I'd have a cup of tea in the morning and another in the afternoon. I rarely felt thirsty, but one look at my skin (or pee colour lol) and you could tell I was dehydrated. Now I drink about 6 cups of water/non-caffeinated drinks per day, which still probably isn't enough, but my skin, hair, and nails, have never looked better! I'm working on upping my water intake because being properly hydrated has so many benefits to pregnant ladies, all of which will be useful come labour time: 

  • Increased energy
  • Reduces muscle cramps
  • Improves circulation
  • Keeps you regular
  • Reduces fluid retention

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

I first heard about Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (RRLT) on a mommy vlog on YouTube. It's an herbal, non-caffeinated tea that is most commonly used in pregnancy for the purposes of increasing uterine tone. What does that mean?? Supposedly, it may help women to have stronger, more effective contractions, which may make labour shorter. I asked my midwife about it and she said it was safe to take and she has heard that the loose leaf versions are more effective than the sachets. I initially bought a pack of 20 sachets from Shoppers Drug Mart for $6.99, but then found a loose leaf version at The Tea Emporium on the Danforth for $14 for 100g. I'm a bit skeptical, but I love tea, so thought I'd give it a try. I drink 1 cup a day after letting it steep for 10 minutes.

 

Skin Care

Water water water

There's no denying that there's a lot of stretching that goes on in pregnancy and delivery. On top of the good things all this H20 is doing for my insides, it's also helping prepare my skin!

Coconut oil

This tip is more for vanity than actual labour: I have been using coconut oil exclusively to moisturize my body for at least a year and I can't ever see myself going back to regular lotion. The brand I use is Carrington Farms Organic Virgin Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil (bought from Costco for less than $20 for 1.6L) and I love it. I got stretch marks in my teen years on my legs, butt, and boobs, and am really really trying my best to avoid getting any new ones. I don't have any new ones yet and this is what I've been doing:

  1. Every time I shower I lather up my body using exfoliating gloves. Focus on areas you don't want any (new) stretch marks.
  2. Once done showering, I very lightly pat myself dry. The key is to still be quite damp.
  3. Apply coconut oil on my body from the neck down! Bonus points if you can spend a few minutes really massaging it in to those areas prone to stretch marks!

Physical Exercises

Kegels

I used to think that strong ab muscles were the key to pushing effectively during labour, but have heard countless times since getting pregnant that it's all about the kegels. I have an alarm set on my phone to remind me to do them. Kevin likes to yell out, “Kegel Time!” every time he hears my alarm lol I do 5 sets of 20 and hold each one for 3-5 seconds, depending on how much time I have. Keeping these muscles strong helps avoid any stress bladder leakage, and helps with post-partum recovery as it increases blood flow to that area.

Squats

Squats and kegels go hand in hand! I've been reading over and over that staying mobile is one of the best things you can do to speed up labour. Lying on your back is apparently one of the worst. A lot of labouring positions engage your leg muscles, so it's suggested to do squats to increase your muscle tone so that you don't fatigue yourself early in labour. I aim to do 20 squats every time my kegel alarm goes off, but it's a lot harder to stop and do a bunch of squats if you're in public.

I'm So Crafty, I Make People Pregnancy Jokes

Pre-natal yoga

My leg flexibility is pathetic. And I'm also not good at breathing deeply. I'm a shallow breather with lots of intermittent sighing. This is where yoga comes in! I found a pre-natal yoga series by Body Talk Daily on YouTube. Each video is 10-12 minutes and there are 5 of them so it's very easy to do a few times a week.

Walking

Walking is a great cardio exercise for pregnant women! I set a goal in May of walking 100 miles before this baby makes its debut at the end of summer. I'm about 25% done and may not complete 100 miles, but the point was to set a goal (using the RunKeeper app) to motivate me to get outside! Walking in the third trimester is supposed to help the baby get into the best positioning for birth as well. My tips for walking:

  1. Bring water with you
  2. Wear comfortable shoes
  3. Sunscreen and a hat are also a good idea. During pregnancy, your skin can get more sensitive, causing you to burn more easily.
  4. If you'll be walking for a while, do a little research to find where the bathrooms are on your route. I've cut a few walks short for not having planned ahead

Sleeping

Everyone says, “sleep now because you won't be able to once the baby gets here!”, but unfortunately it's been proven over and over again that you can't “catch up” or “store” sleep. At various points in this pregnancy, sleep has eluded me for a variety of reasons: weird dreams, bathroom breaks, heartburn, etc. Labour is (usually) a long process and I want to be well-rested for it! I've let Kevin and my family know that if they see me passed out on the couch, just leave me be. Kevin's woken me up from the couch before to tell me to go to bed – he had good intentions and thought I'd be more comfortable in bed – but then I couldn't fall asleep once I went to the bedroom! My tips for sleeping:

  1. As it can be difficult to get comfortable, catch your zzz's wherever you can. Ask those around you not to wake you up unless necessary.
  2. Avoid eating before going to sleep
  3. If you're experiencing acid reflux, prop yourself up with pillows so you're sleeping in a more upright position
  4. Put a pillow between your knees if you're sleeping on your side. I used to be a stomach sleeper pre-pregnancy, and once I got to the point where I had to start sleeping on my side, it was giving me achy hips. A pillow between my knees made all the difference! I bought this one from Ikea for $4.99 and saved myself the added cost of the expensive body pillows that are highly advertised towards pregnant women.

Mental Exercises

Tune People Out

So this might sound counter intuitive because I'm writing a blog post about labour, but I really feel like one of the most important things I've done is to tune people out. Since getting pregnant, I have found that people are downright fascinated by pregnancy. And as such, they start actin' a fool. I've had a lot of people, almost all women and almost all mothers, say and do some very insensitive things to me. I don't want to hear about your horrific back labour, or your friend's emergency C-section, or about your stage 3 episiotomy. I don't want you to tell me my ass looks fat, or that I look like I'm about to blow, or that being pregnant in the summer is the worst. These are all things that have been said to me. I've found the best way to avoid getting unsolicited advice is to not talk too openly to people about my pregnancy. I think the more information you give to people, the more opinions you get back.

Getting In The Right Mindset

I’ve watched a few documentaries (ie: The Business of Being Born, which was awesome!) about birth and it’s so interesting to learn about the different views on birth in different cultures. In Western culture there seems to be a lot of fear surrounding birth (watch this TedTalks video, Reducing Fear of Birth in U.S. Culture by Ina May Gaskin), and there are proven linkages between fear and pain. Watching these documentaries made me feel empowered!

And I had a conversation with my mom's friend, who has 2 children under 2. She said listening to the hypnobirthing app on her phone while labouring was immensely helpful in helping her relax. I aspire to feel relaxed during labour! We talked about a bunch of stuff, but I immediately went home and downloaded a couple free hypnobirthing apps to hear what they sounded like and they were SO relaxing and gave me really positive feelings about labour! I want to feel empowered and calm about labour so I'm adding listening to the hypnobirthing tracks a few times a week to my pregnancy regime. Anything that can make me feel good about pregnancy and labouring is a huge plus in my books!

I'd love to hear how you prepared yourself for labour! What worked for you? What didn't? What surprised you about labour? Spill the beans!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

DIY: Natural Multipurpose Cleaner

Since becoming pregnant, I’ve taken a closer look at some of the chemicals that are part of my daily life and have done some reassessing – I’m talking to you, nail polish!… which is apparently really really bad for you :( I switched over to a homemade cleaner a few years ago and haven’t looked back. Sure, I have to put in a tiny bit more elbow grease, but I’m fine with that. I need the exercise anyway. The one thing I miss from my all purpose cleaner is a “fresh” smell. Most store bought cleaners have a synthesized fresh smell of pine or citrus.. but I was wondering if there was a natural and affordable way I could add the smell of lemons to my vinegar solution so that my house  didn’t smell like salt and vinegar chips. Granted, the vinegar-y smell dries off fairly quickly, but wouldn’t lemon-infused vinegar be so much better?? After a bit of internet sleuthing, I found what I was looking for!

DIY Natural Multipurpose Cleaner

To make this:

  1. Cut up a whole lemon and remove the flesh from the rind*
  2. Add the rind to a lidded jar and pour vinegar over the rind until your jar is full
  3. Put the lid on the jar and store in a cupboard for about 2 days for the lemon to infuse the vinegar
  4. Once infused, strain the infused vinegar into a spray bottle
  5. Optional: Compost the lemon rind :)

*Add the lemon flesh to a pitcher of water to make yourself a refreshing summery drink!

To do a test-run I used the lemon infused vinegar, along with about 2 tbsp of baking soda, to clean the bathtub… it worked like a charm and the smell was great too :)

For cleaning my house, I use a variety of ingredients, all of which can be found in the grocery store, and most of which you can ingest no problem!

Typical ingredients:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen Peroxide

Occasional ingredients:

  • Lemons/Lemon juice (if I have them and they’re cheap/in season)
  • Alcohol
  • Olive oil (a drop or two will help shine up wood surfaces!)

Do you have any go-to natural solutions for cleaning? I like to hear what other people use!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

One Year Later

heintzman-house-wedding-toronto-emily-jane-kevin-31
Sam Obeid Photography
This past weekend marks mine and Kevin’s one year wedding anniversary. To say the time has flown by is an understatement! A lot has happened in that time, but I still can’t believe that it’s already been a year. And I thought I’d be sad about not being a newlywed anymore, but I’m not. At all! I actually feel way better about being a regular ol’ married couple now that we have that first year under our belts. I hear the first year is supposed to be the hardest, but we’ve been together for almost 7 years now, lived together for a couple years before getting married, and have pretty much had every trial and tribulation thrown in our direction in that time.

For those that say that marriage is just a piece of paper and doesn’t change anything... I think those people are mostly the ones that have choose to co-habitate before getting hitched. I agree mostly that the day-to-day doesn’t change much, but marriage makes everything feel a lot... heavier. Like, this is FOREVER. It’s a pretty heavy decision to willingly choose to commit the rest of your life with someone! I think way too many people out there reach a certain point where they think they’re “at that age” and just marry the person they’re with, or they get wedding fever because their friends or family are all getting married. Don’t fall for the trap! I was so glad when all the wedding planning was over and Kevin and I could get back to just being us. I actually said as much in our speech at the wedding, which got everyone laughing.

A great piece of advice I heard about relationships is regarding the fact that you have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else. It went something like this:
Remember, you’re the dessert and your partner should be the cherry on top! Definitely not necessary, but nice to have :)

So anyway, the whole point of this post is that I wanted to share what we did for our anniversary! The weather was AMAZING, so we took a weekend trip up to Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you’ve never been, it’s really quite beautiful up there. We bought some passes for a wine event called the 2014 Discovery Pass Wine & Food Pairings. With each pass ($40+tax), you get 8 food and wine pairings at different wineries (you choose from a list of 20-something wineries) and they had a Designated Drivers pass ($30+tax) where you get a mocktail instead of wine, so I got that pass. It was definitely money well spent! I made a little map that showed where the wineries we wanted to visit were located and the food/wine pairings they were offering. It was very handy to see everything laid out like this while we were driving around so we knew what order to visit them in.
Location of Wineries
My favourite food was HANDS DOWN the grilled calamari bruschetta with toasted fennel, tomato, marinated olives, and basil at Inniskillin! It was so delicious. Other great food locations were Kacaba Vineyards, Good Earth Food & Wine Co., and Trius.

My least favourite food was easily the thai-style chicken (too soggy!!) at Hinterbrook Estate  and the Jamaican jerk slider (too dry!!) at Greenlane Estate. Also, the drink samples they gave at Greenlane Estate were SO STINGY!!!!! Kevin got about a thimble of Riesling, and I got about 3 thimbles of lemonade. I’m not sure why they were so stingy, especially with my lemonade… it’s freaking lemonade! Oh well.

The Discovery Pass event is still going on next weekend, so here are some iPhone photos I took if you’re interested in seeing what we got

1. Good Earth Food & Wine Co offered a trio: an Italian vegetable caponata with rosemary and Bella Vitano cheese; a Jamaican beef patty with lime and papaya slaw; and a Vietnamese cold roll with tamarind dipping sauce
2. & 3. Kacaba Vineyards offered: BBQ five-spiced pork medallions on arugula, with a navy bean and fennel mix, topped with sweet tomato ginger drizzle. The vegetarian option (which I ate) had all the same, minus the pork, and with the addition of feta cheese and a ciabatta bun.
4. Trius offered: a fresh strawberry cupcake topped with Chantilly cream.
5. Reif Estate offered: fish tacos – blackened tilapia with avocado cream, shredded cabbage, and pico de gallo on a soft corn tortilla.
6. Jackson-Triggs offered: Jerk chicken roti with cilantro, habanero, and cucumber.

Have a great week everyone :) This is our last week before summer officially begins on Saturday!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Experiences of a First-Time Pregnant Lady – Part 1: Finding Out I was Pregnant

As of writing this post, I’m just starting my third trimester. Ahh! Part of me feels like time is flying and part of me feels like I’ve been pregnant forever. Sometimes when I see myself in the mirror, especially my bare belly, I think, “holy crap, I look so different!!” and other times it just feels normal. Like, “Didn’t I always have a baby bump?” lol no!! At Christmas last year I had a 25 inch waist and was 25 lbs thinner.

So anyway, I’m writing this series of posts as a kind of diary entry. Being pregnant for me has been a trippy adventure so far. I was never that girl who used to say, “When I have kids…” It was always, “If I have kids…” For some reason I just felt like I wouldn’t or couldn’t. I couldn’t picture myself being pregnant or having a family. The whole idea just seemed really foreign and I didn’t understand other women who were so certain they were going to have kids. I used to tell Kevin that if he was certain he wanted kids, I wasn’t the girl for him because I didn’t think I’d ever truly want them. But while I couldn’t picture myself pregnant or with a baby/young child, I knew I wanted to have grown kids. Does that makes sense? I wanted to have a relationship like what I have with my parents now. Weird? Maybe. But that’s how I felt.

So here’s my experience on the whole pregnancy thing so far. Note: There’s going to be some over-sharing in this post. You’ve been warned. Also, these are my personal feelings on the matter – if you feel like something I’m writing is offensive/upsetting/etc feel free NOT to let me know in the comments :) Positive vibes only!

Finding out I was pregnant:

Kevin and I got married in June 2013. His friends had their first baby a couple weeks after our wedding and we had gone to see them when their baby was a few months old. During our visit, the new mom told me all about her experiences of getting pregnant and delivering. I always love hearing these stories. There is literally no such thing as TMI in my world! She told me she bought cheap ovulation predictor strips online and that if I were ever trying to conceive, that’s the way to go because it’s waaaay cheaper than the ovulation kits offered at the pharmacy. Seemed like smart advice, so I kept it in my back pocket.

In the fall, I had been modifying my diet from poultry/seafood to seafood to vegetarian to vegan, and as a result, my period had been quite late in October (there’s that oversharing I was talking about lol). Even though we hadn’t been trying, we had been talking about starting to try and I had been thinking about it, and I had convinced myself I was pregnant! I went to Dollarama to get a pregnancy test (yup! I’m that girl.. no shame lol) and it was negative. I took another one a few days later, also negative. I finally got my period, which ended up being 8 days late, so I chalked the whole thing up to the changes in my diet.

In early November, I bought some pre-natal vitamins, and at the end of November, we threw caution to the wind *wink wink*. I remember saying that if nothing happened by the end of December, I wanted to be careful until at least April because I didn’t want a child born at the beginning of winter. Winter is cold and depressing and it seems less ideal to have a baby in the middle of it. At this time, I also made a trip back to Dollarama for some ovulation strips. I bought 5 of them. There wasn’t anything leading me to believe I couldn’t have kids, but like I said in the intro of this post, I just wasn’t confident that I could. A $5 investment for some ovulation strips seemed like a good place to start. The instructions are on the package, but basically you have to start using them at certain time based on your average cycle length. One lines means you’re not ovulating, 2 lines means you will be ovulating in the next 24 hours. The package says something along the lines of “do the horizontal mambo after 24 hours but before 48 hours of testing positive.”  The fourth test I took had the two lines I was looking for, but we missed the <24/> 48 hour window and I remember thinking, “we’ll try for real in the spring”. No harm, no foul.

My period ended up being late again in December, but this time I didn’t stress about it at all. It was clearly diet related, as I had committed to a vegan diet until the new year. I had also lost a few pounds so I thought the weight loss and diet were to blame. On December 30th, my friend came over to have a vegan baking/cooking day with me. We had to go to the store to get some supplies before we started. I picked up 2 pregnancy tests because was planning on drinking -to be honest, because I didn’t have to drive at all that day, I fully intended to get drunk that night. When we got back to my house, I poured her and myself a glass of red wine when she got a phone call. I took that time to excuse myself to the bathroom to take the test just in case before I started drinking. At this point I was 8 days late (same as in October) and really felt like my conscience needed to see that negative test before I started on my wine. I did my thing, 2 lines came up, that meant negative, right????, and I checked the box just to make sure….  image

Two lines meant positive! I was panicked and confused. I think at that point my eyes bulged out of my head. I was confused because when you take the ovulation tests, which look exactly the same by the way, you’re looking for 2 purple lines. So I had gotten used to thinking I was supposed to be looking for 2 lines. Also, I was so ridiculously dehydrated at this point and thought that maybe the hormone is just super concentrated in me because I’m so dehydrated lol All these thoughts passed through my head in about 3 seconds and then I burst out of the bathroom door waving around my pee stick mouthing “WHAT THE F*CK IS THIS???!!” to my friend, who was still on the phone. Her eyes bugged out of her head and she motioned for me to take the second one (I always buy 2 tests at a time). The second test came up with the same result. And I feel like I also need to say, there was no waiting 3 minutes for the lines to appear… they appeared immediately and they were dark. There was no mistaking that both tests had 2 dark lines. I grabbed my phone, went into the bedroom, and called Kevin, who was at work. The conversation went something like this:

Him: Hey

Me: Guess what the f*ck I just did??! I just took a pregnancy test and it says I’m pregnant!!!!!!!

Him: Are you serious?

Me: YES! Of course I’m serious!

Him: ….omg. We’re gonna have a baby… (although I couldn’t see him, I knew he was grinning from ear to ear. Not exactly the same response as me LOL)

My friend, who had just finished up her conversation came bursting into the room and tackle-hugged me down at this point. Kevin and I said our goodbyes and my friend and I walked back into the kitchen. I was STUNNED. I was so blasé about buying the tests, and taking the tests, and being late. We put so little effort into trying to get pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I know a lot of people have fertility issues; I just thought we would have had to.. you know… try a little harder. Anyways, my mind was reeling and my eyes settled on the 2 glasses of red wine on the kitchen table that I had poured no more than 5 minutes ago. I said to my friend, “Do you think I could still drink that?” She then picked up my glass and poured its contents into hers lol. I guess that answered that question.

The rest of the day was a blur. Kevin came home. We had a moment. He was SO excited. I was freaked out. I’ve never had such an introspective day in my life. I literally couldn’t think of anything else. I mean, I didn’t feel pregnant, so clearly a mistake had been made. I called my doctor and scheduled a physical and a blood test, but I couldn’t get an appointment for about 10 days. Other than not drinking, I didn’t do anything different until my appointment. I decided I didn’t want to tell anyone until I at least had the results confirmed with a blood test, but those 10 days were weird. I didn’t feel different, but everything was SO DIFFERENT!  I could barely sleep because every night I had the most crazy thoughts about pregnancy and babies,and when I did finally fall asleep I had the vivid dreams and nightmares about it too.

My physical with my family doctor was pretty routine, except he told me to make sure I take my multi-vitamins and don’t eat deli meat (random). He said if I took a home test and it was positive, that I was definitely pregnant. I was still skeptical. He sent me down to the lab to get my blood test done and the following week he called me with the results just as Kevin was dropping me off on his way to work. I put him on speaker phone and he let me know I was “definitely pregnant”, that my hormone levels were showing me to be at least 4 weeks along, and that I’d need to start my pre-natal care as soon as possible.

**MIND BLOWN**

There was a baby in my belly. No two ways around it.

image

Monday, May 5, 2014

Living Without Cable

and for a scary few weeks, without internet!

I have a confession to make: I’ve never lived in an apartment/house that didn’t include cable and internet. That includes my parents’ house growing up, residence in university, 2 university rentals, and 3 different post-university rentals. The cable and internet has always been included in my rental costs, except for an apartment that I had in university where the cable was just never disconnected so I had free cable for 2 years!! #opportunisticcriminal

As the move to this new apartment was so temporary, we decided to not get cable or internet while we were here. We figured it’d be 2 months (tops!) before our move to the condo. As it stands, the day after we moved in here, we got notification telling us to schedule our Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) for our unit. I was excited at the prospect of a move so soon following our move here (that meant we really wouldn’t have to unpack anything except bare essentials), but I was sceptical that this PDI would actually go through on April 16th, as planned. My pessimism was due to the facts that:

  1. >90% of purchasers had their first PDIs cancelled
  2. there was no permit yet for people to move in on our floor
  3. we had taken our own private sneak peak at our unit and were missing things, including flooring, toilets, light switches, closet doors, door handles, etc.

Two days beforehand, we received notice that our PDI was cancelled. At this point, I had gone 2 weeks without cable and internet. If you’re thinking, “oh poor you #sarcasm #firstworldproblems”, you’re absolutely right! I never knew before how much I depended on cable and internet! In an act of desperation, I called Bell. Bell and Rogers are both offering pretty sweet deals to the purchasers of my condo so I wanted to see if I could get any kind of deal extended to this apartment for internet service. The gentleman at Bell was very nice, and offered a great deal in terms of monthly costs for internet (about $30 for a crapload of bandwidth), but the start-up cost was $50 and we’d be locked in for 2 years. Um, no thanks. I’ll stick to my DVDs and browsing internet on my iPhone for now. This whole process has made me seriously consider not going with either of the two major service providers this city offers and finding an independent that will offer a better package at a better cost!

Service Provider

After talking to the Bell guy, I thought about the tenants upstairs. Before we even moved in, I wondered if I would have the balls to ask them (a retiree and her daughter) if we could share their wifi (if they had it) and split the cost while we were in this apartment. They are both very very nice ladies, but I’m a wimp and couldn’t bring myself to ask them. I didn’t want them to think we were trying to take advantage, but I did see it as a win-win situation – if they had a decent amount of bandwidth, we could supplement their costs for it for a month or two and it wouldn’t affect them at all. Makes sense, right? I just had to muster up the nerve to ask. Turns out, my mom (their landlady) ended up asking them for me one day while she was here doing maintenance and they were totally fine with it! They said have unlimited bandwidth (whaaaaaaaaat? I didn’t know such a thing existed!) and they didn’t want our money. We insisted several times, but they were adamant. Since we have a car and they don’t, I’ve offered to take them to the store/grocery shopping while we live here. I have a feeling they’ll never take us up on that offer either, so we’ll probably just end up getting them something to show them our appreciation before we move out.

How’s that for a feel-good story with a happy ending!? I now have internet and am a happy lady. I’ve been streaming TV, which feels like such a luxury! And I’ve learned that internet hands down beats cable. So much so, in fact, that I think we could actually do without cable altogether and save ourselves that added monthly expense!

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