Monday, June 27, 2011

Journal Day: A Story of a First

Danielle, over at one of my favorite blogs-Sometimes Sweet, has started a new feature called Journal Day and it inspired me to jump on board! Creative writing was always such an outlet for me growing up and even though I have journaled and blogged over the years, I feel like this is a great opportunity to approach creative writing once again.

Here is what Danielle wrote about the project:

"I think this will be a fun way to get a writing community going, and I'm so looking forward to getting to know more of you through your words. All of these prompts come from the notebook I kept in my desk in my English classroom and they come from various places; college writing courses, my own mind, websites, friends and colleagues. I'm so excited to share them here, and bring back the most important aspect of blogging to my blog- writing. I think this will be a neat way to infuse some creativity into our daily lives too, and inspire each other to write a lot more! So, here we go."

And here is her first prompt:
Describe a "first" (first date, first lie, the first time you experienced something, first time in a particular setting, etc). Include as many details as possible to paint a picture.

The first that I am writing about is the first time I was pregnant. This is a story that I have put off writing for a long time. Partially because I don't want to go back to that place. And partially because it's not something most women talk about. Miscarriages.

But the more I thought about it, the more I felt it was important to share my story.

I found out I was pregnant last September. It was a warm day and I walked over to Duane Reade to pick up a pregnancy test. Approximately 20 minutes later, I was breathlessly running to the cafe down the street where Scott was working for the day. I practically fell through the door as I bustled in and dragged him outside on the sidewalk. "I'm pregnant!!!!!!," I screamed. After much hugging and excitement he went back inside to finish up and I called a friend to get some lunch. We sat on the steps eating falafel and talked about how there will be a baby coming in May.

Fast forward to November. The day before Thanksgiving, S and I went in for a 16 week check up. I could barely contain my excitement as we rode the train to Brooklyn. "I can't wait to hear it!!" I couldn't wait to put a sound to the gurgles I'd been feeling for so many weeks in my belly. As I slid on the exam table, Scott sat at the end and rubbed one ankle with his hand. Our midwife jokes about the cold goo that she was rubbing on my slightly bloated belly and my heart was beating faster than ever before. She scanned the doppler across my belly, telling me that it may take a moment to find the heart beat. And it did. And so another minute passed. My heart racing even faster. Looking down at Scott, I could see his reassuring smile. And so she started over. Maybe she tapped the doppler. With a nervous laugh, "Come on little one, stop hiding." I could feel the tears forming. "I know there is life in you," she said. She told us to go out, get some lunch, and come back in an hour. "The baby is hiding!"

And so we went. I can see the french toast on my plate so vividly. I ordered a hot cocoa. It was such a beautiful and unseasonably warm day. On our way back to the office Scott reassured me that everything was fine. That this wouldn't happen to us.

So back on the exam table. Back with the goo. Back with the doppler echoing sounds of an empty womb.

Then a walk five blocks away to a foreign hospital. An ultrasound. A hazy image of what once was. What had once lived and moved. And then a thousand visions crushed. I lay there motionless, unable to breathe as the doctor on call gave us some hurried instructions on what we had to do now. She asked me if I wanted some water and handed me a box of gauze to take home. "You'll need it," she said.

In a fuzzy blur, I remember running out of the hospital, barely making it two blocks before I collapsed on the corner of an intersection. Scott was holding me up as we tried to catch a cab through our tears. We ended up on the corner for half an hour. Him standing in the street, me wailing on the curb, the trees blowing with an autumn breeze, the sun shining down on us. My parents both called in excitement to find out how our appointment went...

"The baby's not there," I told them.
"It's NOT THERE. It died...inside me."
Silence. Tears. More hyperventilating.

Why are we still on this street corner?

We ended up taking the subway back to Manhattan. The longest half hour of my life. I felt dead inside. I felt death inside.

We cancelled our Thanksgiving plans and my dad came to pick us up early the next morning. We sat in traffic leaving the city as all around us people were getting ready to go to the parade or carrying dishes to celebrate with friends. Scott, my dad, and I made some idle conversation about something or other.

The next four days were filled with plenty of soup, silence, idle stares in the direction of the tv, wine, hugs, and buckets of tears. Uncontrollable crying. And sadness. And then there was research. The two of us sat in front of the computer for hours. Looking for answers. Looking for reassurance. "Oh, look!," S says. "This woman had a sonogram at 16 weeks, they told her there was no heartbeat and then a week later they found one!" Well, duh. Obviously the same thing had happened to me! It was a mistake! So I called my midwife. Not a mistake...

After our rehabilitation at my parents house, we came back to our small apartment. Hearts heavy, eyes swollen, and spirits low. Now what?

Well the unanswered question was still, what about the baby inside me? The now not living baby...

Well as it goes, there are not many options. You can either go to the hospital and have it "removed" with a terrifying procedure or you can deliver "it." Which means that you can also get induced at the hospital or just...wait.

So wait we did.

For six weeks.

And those six weeks proved to be the most confusing, terrifying, empty, cold, and quiet weeks I hope to ever experience. There were days that I woke up so sad, I didn't even know how to begin my day. In a muffled state, I went through the motions of each day. My boss was amazingly supportive and told me to take as much time as I needed. So day after day I sat on the corner of the couch, in the same sweats and the same blanket wrapped around me. Drinking gallons of tea and little else, I stared at the computer for hours, still searching for an answer. What had I done wrong? Why had this happened to me? To us? My heart broke every time I saw a pregnant woman or a baby. As friends and family called to see how my pregnancy was going, I couldn't face them. I couldn't admit what had happened. Couldn't actually say the words. I still couldn't believe it.

So after six long weeks of midwives, websites, acupuncture, herbs made of twigs and who knows what else, but mostly of living with the grief of an unborn child, a baby was born. At home. At 3 am. With my husband by my side. The day after Christmas.

And then it was over. Then it felt real. And then I was free. We could start fresh. So with a new year upon us, we decided to let it all go. Leave it up to the universe to take care of us.

And wouldn't you know it, about six weeks later I was feeling life again. I was pregnant. And so with hushed words and hasty hearts, we started our journey again. Very slowly this time...

I immediately got a ton of blood work done. And we went to a conventional OB/GYN for the first several weeks of my first trimester. I requested every test and scan under the sun. And when we saw that first little squished up kidney bean on the screen at nine weeks, I all but fell off the exam table from excitement.

But still I cried. I was so scared. It was not the same joy I had felt just a few short months ago. This was a cautious excitement.

But as the weeks flew by and my belly grew, so did our hearts. We would lay awake at night as Scott would rub my belly and tell me about our baby. About how amazing he or she was and how much we were going to love him/her.

So as I sit here, weeping and typing, baby boy is making a special effort to dance around in my belly tonight and let me know he's okay. He knows I worry.

It wasn't easy writing this. And remembering what happened just half a year ago feels like a dream. A nightmare so distant from my life now. But we made it through. And we continued on our journey. We picked up the pieces. And here we are. Only 17 weeks away from meeting the baby we've been waiting for.

If this has happened to you, I hope you find my story a comfort in knowing you're not alone. And that your heart will heal again. After I went through this experience, I felt that I was the only woman who had ever lost a baby. I know it's a ridiculous thought but I had never felt more alone. Even with all the love and support around me, I needed to know that it wasn't just me.

It's not you. It's not your fault. It took me a long time to come to terms with it. But it was out of my control. It was part of the universal plan. And in some strange and twisted way, I feel like my heart is even more prepared to embrace this new life. To become a mother. And I hope you can find peace in your heart.

So there you go. There is my "first."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reading Room

About 5 minutes after I found out I was pregnant, I ordered somewhere between 5 and 5000 books from Amazon and have been devouring them little by little. In the grand scheme of pregnancy related books, most are not what I found to be interesting, informative, or even up to date. Let me explain...

Without using titles, some of these "fabulous" books included information such as: Don't eat parsley, don't listen to music too loud, etc. You can see where I'm going with this.

Given our birth plan, I was more interested in learning about natural approaches to pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. Along the way I found some really great books! These have helped me develop a positive attitude through this journey and prepare me for an empowered labor (HOPEFULLY!).

Anyway, here they are:

Having a Baby, Naturally: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth

Let the Baby Drive : Navigating the Road of New Motherhood

Juju Sundin's Birth Skills: Proven Pain-Management Techniques for Your Labour and Birth

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth with Kundalini Yoga and Meditation

The last book is also the style of prenatal yoga that I have been doing. I'll have to write about that soon. It has been essential these last few weeks in restoring me physically and emotionally.

I still have a whole stack to go through including Hypnobirthing, some Dr. Sears books, Birthing from Within, Bradley Method, and a few others. Phew...

Did you have any favorite pregnancy, birth, or parenting books?

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Home Birth

That's right. We are those crazy people that want to birth their child in our home.

I was waiting for a good time to write about this topic and our personal choices but as it turns out, it's always a good time be honest and share your views. Who knew?

Anyway, our choice to pursue home birthing came pretty naturally. Scott and I try to live our lives in a way that keeps us closest to the source of whatever the situation is, while enjoying our urban life. That means eating well, trying our hand at building/making/crafting things we need, supporting businesses/farmers/artists we love, and the list goes on and on.

Even before I was pregnant we talked a lot about how we wanted to raise our children and the first thing we agreed upon was how we wanted to bring them into the world. And for us, what made the most sense was being in our home, wherever that was. Right now it's our tiny NYC apartment. And so it goes...

We began our adventure by researching midwives who deliver babies at home in Manhattan. I originally went to a conventional OB to take care of all my prenatal blood work and preliminary tests. To make a long story short, I was appalled by the level of care I received. This is a very well known practice with very in demand doctors. Obviously the patients do not receive the same courtesy. My appointments lasted maybe ten minutes, after waiting for an hour and a hlaf in the waiting room. Yeah, no thanks.

The happy ending is that we transfered to an AMAZING midwife with her own practice. During our first appointment, she sat with us for an hour and we just chatted about everything. Outside of the standard medical questions, she asked me about my fears, how I was doing emotionally, our experience so far...I finally felt like I was cared for (outside of hubs/family/friends of course) in this pregnancy.

I know this is a really controversial topic right now and every family has their own feelings and fears about the very important subject of giving birth. I don't want to go into a million reasons about why WE feel its safer/better/more responsible/and all around great to welcome your babe into a happy home environment.

Some days I have anxiety about having enough space but even though our place is small, it's definitely larger than a hospital room! I'm sure I'll be writing more about it more. But until then watch The Business of Being Born if you haven't yet!

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Let's talk about: Protein

I feel like most pregnant women I talk with have this issue. (One of many...) They can't figure out how to get enough protein in their daily diet. Protein is essential for proper growth and development of your baby as well as for your milk production as your due date nears. Eating plenty of protein will also give you plenty of energy throughout your pregnancy. It's also said to reduce swelling, later in your third trimester. While I'm not having that issue YET, I'm definitely interested in doing anything I can to keep (at least!!!) my feet from expanding...ew.

The recommended daily intake is 60 grams of protein. Now, I don't know about you but for me, that is a whole lot of protein. I do eat meat, fish, and poultry. I also eat tofu and various other vegetarian sources of protein. I drink cow's milk.

Given all this...I was still struggling to meet my daily goal. UNTIL I developed a plan!

It seems obvious, but eating protein at every meal increases your chances of getting 60g, right? Well yes, but are you planning on putting chicken on everything? Um, not if you're this girl. I've had a serious poultry aversion since the day I saw those two lines on a stick. I've tried force feeding myself steak, as well as disguising fish in pasta. I CAN"T DEAL.

And so what am I left with? Well here are some of my daily noshes:

Pregnancy Protein

Yogurt: Specifically 2% Greek yogurt. With a whopping 20 grams of protein, these little tubs of love are a quick (and delicious) way to satisfy my hunger and boost my energy for the day. I often have one for breakfast or snack before bed. And now with all the amazing summer fruits in season, it's a great addition of Vitamin C.

Quinoa: Another great source with 24 grams per cup. Yahoo! This is a perfect substitute for rice, potatoes, and even oatmeal. I even use quinoa in cookies and muffins, in place of flour. If you've ever made home made granola, try toasting quinoa instead of oats!

Hummus: Ah hummus, an old friend. I kind of hummused myself out for a few years but have recently revisited my old standby because of it's 19 grams of protein. Go Hummus! Also, it's such a bargain when home made. I think a can of chickpeas is maybe a dollar. Don't buy five dollar hummus people.

Milk: Oh milk...what a delicious beverage you are. Who needs margaritas when I have you? (Yeah, right...) Oh and I'm talking whole people. None of this 1% garbage. Milk should not be grey. 8 grams in a cup. And if I have enough bowls of cereal in a day, I bet I can reach my intake just on this liquid gold alone.

Nut Butters With about 7-10 grams in two teaspoons, I could survive on nut butters most days. I try to shake things up with almond, peanut, cashew, and various others. But some of this on an english muffin with a tall glass of milk (yum) and I am a happy lady.

Smoothies Now we're talking. Ever since project protein began, I have been drinking smoothies almost daily. The number one reason: kefir. Don't know what kefir is? It's basically drinkable yogurt. But that's not all. We're talking 30 grams of protein folks. Toss that in with any other fruit you may love and you've got a meal. "But why don't you just use those awesome protein powders, Karolina?" Well, I try not to eat too many synthetic foods and those powders are highly processed. It doesn't matter if it's organic, soy, a million dollars, etc. It's fake. And I'd rather get my protein from real food sources. Hence all this research...

Eggs: This is weird, but eggs are probably one of my favorite foods. I know... But I can eat them any time of day and in any fashion. There are six grams in one large egg not including all the healthy fats you're getting! Egg-cellent. (Wow, this post is getting crazy.)

String Cheese: A five year olds lunch or a pregnant girl's best friend? I doubt you can hate string cheese at any age. Depending on what brand you get, it's between 8 and 10 grams of protein per stick. But who says you need to stop at just one?! I think I've, um, heard of some people eating a whole package at one time...

Phew. So there you go! These delicious little gems have been feeding myself and baby boy for the past few weeks with as little gagging as possible. Yay!

And don't forget some honorable mentions such as cottage cheese, tofu, an occasional turkey or veggie burger, and of course bean burritos.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Top Baby Blogs

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Hello lovely family, friends, and readers.

Thanks so much for the sweet comments on here and on Facebook about the last post.

They always put a smile on my face!

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

20 weeks: Halfway There!

I can't believe I am halfway through my pregnancy. I feel like the days are moving so quickly that I can't keep up. Didn't I JUST find out I was pregnant?

This photo was taken on our way back from lunch today with our doula. This onesie has been saving my life, as it has been nearly 100 degrees. Mama needs stretchy clothes.

These past 20 weeks have been incredible, stressful, emotional, exhausting, exciting, and unbelievable in the best sense. I am looking forward to the next 20, now that the countdown is on! It's so exciting that from this point on, S and I can start counting down until baby.

It's still difficult to wrap my head around the idea that this is our last summer as just us two. This time next year, we will have a tiny one. Usually in the summers we plan big adventures. Last summer we took a three week trip around Scandinavia. The summer before was Central America. This summer, growing a baby is our adventure. Next summer we plan on taking baby boy to Eastern Europe. (That was our original plan for this year and then, well, you know what happened.)

Today we received some tiny striped clothes in the mail and whatever mood I was in quickly disappeared as soon as I saw a hat only a bit larger than my fist. (!!!) The next hour was spent touching the sweet clothes and imagining baby boy running around in them. Sigh...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cravings...or not.

When you are pregnant, every person you see/talk to asks pretty much the same five questions.

How are you feeling? (Good. Ask me again in an hour.)
Do you know if it's a boy or girl? (See here.)
When are you due? (Halloween...)
Can I touch it? (Do you even have to ask? Always and forever no.)
Do you have any cravings?

Um...let's just say I don't NOT have cravings.
The truth is, in the beginning (that magical first trimester) it's more likely that I'm hoping you keep all food away from me. Especially any and all raw vegetables, all meat, fish, poultry, melted cheese (i know, don't even get me started), and probably anything that smelled, looked, and tasted weird/exotic/healthy.

Strange, huh? I basically only ate plain yogurt, an assortment of crackers, smoothies, bagels, english muffins with peanut butter, and actually any and all types of bread. But don't bring it near me if it is wheaty, seedy, or at all healthy.

This is so unlike me folks. As many of you know, I am a chef and holistic health coach. That's correct, I feed people and teach them how to eat healthy foods. Er...yeah, not happening.

Good news though! I am happy to report that things changed around week 14 or so. Phew! I was basically feeling like a big ball of dough from all the carbs I was eating. I am now happily back to every and all veggies, fruits, and mostly eating well. Including that melted cheese.

So what I am craving? Let's see...


As S so lovingly says, "It's all about volume right now." Um, yeah, thanks for the support. Ha!

It's true. I can pretty much eat anything, any time. And if I get on a kick, that's it. Last week I ate watermelon three times a day all week long. This week it's cereal.

For those of you asking, YES, I will put up a "bump" photo. Even though I hate that name.

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