As I wind down in what I think is the final week of my pregnancy with my second child, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the experience.
Being 11 years older, I had a lot of trepidation when I found out I was pregnant. I had just started a new job with much increased responsibility. I was in a fairly new relationship too with my fiancé Mark who is an older first time father at 52. I became worried about having a healthy pregnancy. I think most women worry about this throughout the pregnancy to a degree. When you are creating a life and nurturing it, you feel a sense of responsibility for the outcome, more so than the father I believe. You wonder how everything you do could negatively or positively affect the baby and with so much data available, it can be overwhelming.
One of the hardest things about being pregnant is not being able to predict how you will feel from day to day. It seems like every side effect is normal. No one can understand what you are going through and if you tell them, you count on them believing that it could really be that bad all of the time. I remember when I first got pregnant, my oldest sister described how she imagined that pregnancy was a blissful experience for most women - I promptly told her that's not the case for MOST women. I tried not to complain all the time - that would have gotten old and I just hoped that the time would fly by...longest 40 weeks ever!!!!
Here are some of the effects of pregnancy that I experienced:
Fatigue - This was the toughest part of being pregnant. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I was in the middle of leading a team in negotiating a $500M contract. I couldn't show weakness or inability to do my job and the fatigue nearly consumed me in the first trimester. I didn't want anyone to doubt my ability to do my job and when we were at the finish line at work with that negotiation, I finally admitted that I was pregnant. There were days where I felt that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I wasn't used to slowing down and the sheer lack of any energy made me move at a snail's pace mentally and physically. Even a short walk into my office consumed my entire being.
Blurry vision - One day I was at my son's basketball game and when I looked across the court, I realized that I couldn't clearly make out every player. Yep, pregnancy affects vision too! Many pregnant women retain fluids which can change the thickness and shape of your cornea leading to blurred vision.
Nausea - It was hard to make it through many meals due to the nausea but I didn't suffer from the incessant vomiting that accompanied my first pregnancy.
Gas - Due to my higher levels of progesterone, I had my full share of burping and flatulence. My son discovered that girls do both! I told him it's just the baby and that most girls don't make a habit of farting and burping for no reason. Progesterone relaxes smooth muscle tissue throughout your body, including your gastrointestinal tract.
Constipation - When you're used to frequent bowel movements, you feel like you're stuffing yourself full of poop when you only go once or twice a week. At times, I wondered how much of my weight gain was poop and how much was really baby. I know which one will be easier to lose! Increased progesterone slows the movement of food through your digestive tract and the pressure of your growing uterus on your butt doesn't help either. Elevating my feet for about 20 minutes a day helped increase my bowel movements.
Nosebleeds - The whole winter, I woke up with a bloody nose - even with the use of a humidifier, the bedroom still felt like it was full of extremely dry air. Pregnancy can cause the blood vessels in your nose to expand, and your increased blood supply puts more pressure on those delicate vessels, making them rupture more easily.
Lost sense of need to urinate - Early on, I realized that I no longer knew that I needed to urinate. I didn't proceed to involuntarily urinate on myself, but I did have to make a conscious effort to empty my bladder from time to time when I began to feel uncomfortable. I did not suffer from having to urinate frequently at all.
Low iron - Whew - by the third trimester, my iron was extremely low. I took iron tablets for a little while, but I am horrible at remembering to take pills and at taking them consistently so my regimen tapered off after a while and the fatigue associated with low iron returned late in my third trimester as a result.
Healthy hair growth - I think I lost 10 strands of hair the whole pregnancy. The gray hairs came in nice and thick and I am sure the standard hair loss will resume soon after delivery.
Leg Cramps and Restless Leg Syndrome - During sleep, I often experienced painful leg cramps and even had restless leg syndrome a few nights. This could have been due to low calcium or magnesium levels. I was not good at taking my prenatal vitamins throughout the pregnancy.
Backache - Increased progesterone and relaxin loosens joints and ligaments in preparation for birth. When the ligaments around the spine relax, extra strain is put on the back and hips. Two pregnancy massages were very nice to get during the pregnancy. Near the end of the pregnancy I couldn't really comfortably turn over in bed.
Sore belly - I was all belly during the pregnancy, so towards the end, my belly became quite sore around my belly button from all the stretching out. I didn't exercise at all the entire pregnancy. After the extreme fatigue I experienced in the first 12 weeks, I decided that I would just take a break from any working out during this pregnancy. I was simply too tired for exercise.
With all of these effects, it was hard for me to get excited about being pregnant. Luckily, the excitement of my friends and family began to rub off towards the middle of my second trimester when my energy began to pick up for a few weeks. I began to like some pink things (I don't own very many pink things for myself and I'm not a "girly girl".).
My son's excitement about getting a sibling also helped me to be excited about the pregnancy. When we finally told him that I was expecting, then we had to wait to find out the gender. He wanted to know why I hadn't shared the news prior to the second trimester and I had to explain that sometimes the baby doesn't survive the first trimester. In the back of my head the whole pregnancy, I remained concerned about how he would respond if something did in fact happen to the baby or if the baby wasn't healthy at birth.
Now I am three days away from my due date and feeling ready to be done! I finally signed up for teleworking which is a blessing. I am feeling really nervous about going into labor and although we all know that's temporary, it doesn't make the anticipation or anxiety go away. As I am typing, I am having a contraction. I had the Braxton Hicks throughout the third trimester and now I am hoping to start having the real contractions.
This pregnancy, I began to do some research about post-partum depression. For some reason, I thought i would be more susceptible to it after this pregnancy. My extreme fatigue during my pregnancy combined with all the other effects of the pregnancy had made me mentally exhausted at times and frustrated with my ability to feel alert and focused. Thinking about the lack of sleep experienced by breastfeeding moms in the first few months combined with thoughts of the physical recovery from childbirth nade a feeling of helplessness begin to set in.
i wanted to be proactive about my approach.
One of the potential solutions I discovered was placenta encapsulation so I am planning to give it a try.
The placenta is the organ that surrounds the fetus in the womb and allows for the exchange of nutrients, blood, and waste with the mother. After childbirth, a woman expels or delivers her placenta. Placental encapsulation is the consumption of the placenta after it is steamed, dehydrated, ground and placed into pill form.
First, I had to find someone who would encapsulate my placenta. The average cost is $250 - $300 for the service. After I located a specialist, she delivered some basic supplies to me - a cooler and some zip lock bags basically. I will request the placenta from the hospital and then put it on ice. The placenta will stay refrigerated until I return home from the hospital at which time the specialist will come and encapsulate it over the course of two days at my home.
Some of the claimed benefits are hormone balancing, reduction in post-natal bleeding, increased energy, increased iron levels, milk production, CRH levels (stress reducing hormone), increased oxytocin levels and decrease in post-partum depression.
I am looking forward to giving this unique process a try and hope to reap some of its benefits. More to come on how it actually goes!
Most people go through each day in consistent and complete distraction because it is the easy way to live. Being distracted means you never stop and focus on yourself. To think about who you are is often hard and uncomfortable. The result is that we then cannot let go of people, experiences, and possessions because that is what we have become or we are afraid of what will be left.
Without these things, we feel alone and afraid. Fear sets in. We can't listen to our own thoughts even for five minutes. We must pick up the phone. We must turn away from the show that makes us think about struggle and hardship. We must find the bar. We must watch the sports game. We must eat the food. We must work late. We must avoid ourselves.
I personally have learned to enjoy the isolation because I am introverted and I like myself. I have realized that I am struggling with connecting back to people, possessions and experiences.
I know my truth but now I protect myself from others.
What am I protecting myself from? Sometimes I think that if you are not even vulnerable with you, then we should not be vulnerable together.
The story of Patricia Davies struck me deeply. Peter Davies, now Patricia Davies, was a World War II veteran who lived a life publicly as a male for 90 years and privately as a male for 60 years. At the age of 90, she finally, after 87 years of secrecy, decided to publicly admit her transgender status.
How long will it take you to admit who you really are?
Do we live in a society that influences us to nearly die with our truths? Do our religions facilitate this closed mindset? Or is it our inherent selfishness that doesn't allow us to simply be happy for someone who has an unusual truth? What made people so uncomfortable with the idea of transgender for so long?
What is happiness worth to you? What are the truths that define your core identity?
Read more about Patricia, my hero, at https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3204144/world-war-2-hero-transgender-ninety/.
...my simple beauty routine...because creating a habit of taking care of yourself is SO important. While this might be a physical habit, it has mental benefits. I am sure you have heard the old adage - when you look good, you feel good. I could pretend I don't fall victim to low self confidence from my physical appearance at times, but that would just be an alternative fact. I am going to be vulnerable and admit that I have had self image issues over the years - some driven by my lack of love for myself which was exploited by people close to me and some driven by my desires to look a certain way. Over the years, I have taken steps to look the way I want to. Even still, there is pressure to cover up, to dress up, to undress more, to wear more makeup, to wear no makeup, to wear hair straight, wear hair curly, to wear shorter heels, flats, taller heels, etc. At the end of the day, we all just want to be accepted for who we are but an underlying vulnerability is present when we are not happy with who we are or when we succumb to the desires of others with regard to our appearance...and what about when we are threatened by the appearance of others or jealous of the appearance of others? If deep inside we are unhappy with who we are, then we alone must fix that and take the steps that result in self love. Taking ownership of our own happiness and being honest about our vulnerable areas is critical and overcoming our fears of changing and our fears of failure is the first step. Start with a simple routine...15 minutes of makeup, 15 minutes of exercise, 15 minutes of healthy eating, 15 minutes of cooking, 15 minutes of reading a good book, 15 minutes of playing a guitar, 15 minutes of self love.
How do we make sense of our hurt? Most people try to reason and make sense of why they are hurt. In the process, they create false stories about the intentions of others. The truth is that we can only understand from our level of perception which is unique to us and inherently false as a result. The basis of your understanding of your hurt can often be a falsehood. Then you may spread that falsehood causing further damage - this approach does not assist you in the process of moving on. The truth is that you do hurt. Don't make the truth be the story that you create from your perspective to make sense of your hurt. You cannot transfer the hurt to others by perpetuating the story. Trying to hurt someone will not fix the hurt you have within either. Learn to resolve hurt within yourself - be sustainable and recoverable. Shift your focus from the why you are hurting to what makes you feel grateful. Start with the smallest things...the easiest things...the sunshine, the smiles of others, the kindness of a stranger, etc.
Simple routines are key to making the best use of your time while at the same time developing yourself as a whole person. Many people have excuses for why they do not take care of themselves when the truth is that they have created absurd routines for each self care action that give them ample reason for ignoring themselves. There is no excuse.
God did not make most of us special by requiring that we go through complicated routines to take care of ourselves. We tend to want to establish ourselves as being different from everyone else because we have some unique excuse why we cannot take care of ourselves or some unique excuse for how we got where we are.
When we can let go of these things, then we can begin to clearly see how simple life can be. We can begin minimizing cost (time and money) and maximizing benefit (whole person development).
When you eat healthy, you feel better.
When you look nice, you feel confident.
When you have faith, you feel hopeful.
Health Tip #1:
Make healthy meals simple - breakfast prep should take 15 minutes or less most days. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day which of course tends to happen at the busiest time of the day. You're waking up - maybe you are not a morning person, you are rushing to get kids on the bus, and you are rushing to get to work on time. To stay on track for a healthy lifestyle, you have to have something quick and easy. Self-care often involves putting ourselves first - AND - putting ourselves first does not mean we are putting others last. It is simpler than that. We are choosing to start our day with a simple routine that is best for us like a healthy breakfast. When I make sure I get a healthy breakfast in the morning, no one was put last, but I did take care of myself first thing in the day.
I am 31 weeks pregnant and soon a new baby girl will be here. I will be spending a lot of time breastfeeding so I want to have a few simple breakfast recipes that are healthy and easy for my fiance to prepare for the family. He will be tired too so something simple is key! Going in, we won't have an excuse for not eating a healthy breakfast.
People tend to either have a financial excuse or 'lack of time' excuse for why they aren't eating healthy. I smile whenever someone quotes one of these factors as the reason they cannot eat healthy because I know that neither constitutes a valid reason.
Today for breakfast I had a parfait. This took less than 5 minutes to make and since I've increased my caloric intake due to pregnancy, I made a double serving.
Chocolate Raspberry Yogurt Parfait
Layer granola, organic whole milk yogurt - plain or vanilla flavor, and organic frozen or fresh raspberries.
Depending on how hungry you are, just increase or decrease the quantity of any ingredient.
Beauty Tip #1:
Create beauty routines that are simple and require little time. Anyone who knows me, knows I love looking nice and I try to look nice most of the time. I have even started realizing the importance of looking nice at home when I do not leave the house. I developed a beauty routine that takes between 10 and 30 minutes. Where I could save more time is in choosing an outfit to wear...this takes me way too long!
When I make sure I look nice in the morning, I teach my children the importance of looking nice and I am a good example for them. Looking put together will help them as they grow up, as they seek jobs, and when they find themselves in a position where their confidence is waning. It's a good habit to have.
People tend to either have a financial excuse or 'lack of time' excuse for why they do not look nice. I smile whenever someone quotes one of these factors as the reason they cannot look put together because I know that neither constitutes a valid reason.
I straighten my hair sometimes. When I do, I receive a lot of compliments and people always ask how long it took me because they assume that this takes me a long time. I have very long hair - almost flowing down my entire back now. The truth is it only takes me a total of 30-45 minutes extra to straighten it. Here's how I do it.
1) Shampoo and condition hair as part of normal shower routine.
2) Comb as part of normal post shower routine.
3) Add pea sized drop of L'oreal Smooth Intense Straight Perfecting Balm.
4) Tie hair in a bun and leave to dry for about 24 hours. (saves blow drying time and hair damage)
5) Untie and straighten w/ Chi Flat Iron.
Now straightening my hair actually reduces my hair preparation time and saves me money for the next week or two. I don't wash my hair for at least a week, (saves water and time), I don't have to add many hair products to make it look nice (saves money), and I don't spend as much time making it look nice each morning (saves time).
Another thing I consider prior to straightening my hair is the weather for the week. If there's a lot of rain in the forecast, then I choose a more practical style for that week like a simple bun or natural curly hair.
Spiritual Tip #1:
Incorporate worship or prayer into your normal daily activities. Gratitude is central to my spiritual practice. It keeps me grounded, centered and humble.
People tend to have a lack of time' excuse for why they do not have a spiritual practice. I smile whenever someone quotes this factor as the reason they do not have a spiritual routine because I know that it cannot and should not constitute a valid reason.
As I am typing this blog on Sunday morning, I am playing gospel music which has a spiritual message and serves to make my work a living worship. As I was waking up this morning, I said my prayers of gratitude before I got out of bed.
Spiritual acts don't necessarily have to involve going to church each week or reading a religious text for 15 minutes a day.
Just do what works for you - whatever makes you whole - with the time and money you have. And if you've been making excuses this whole time, it's time to examine those excuses and determine if they are actually valid.
Looking past things and people is a learned skill. See everything is not meant for your dissection, processing and analysis. Learn to let certain things pass by you without you paying attention or getting sucked in. Save your energy for things that matter, not distractions. If it's meant for your attention, it will approach you with kindness. It won't jolt your spirit and surround you like a tornado. Obviously there are outliers to this scenario but if someone or something is making you feel this way consistently, it's time to stand up, look past them/it and walk away. Do that bravely and without regret for you deserve it.
Lord, bring peace to the hearts of the worried. Show them a path, hold their hand, surround them, and love them when they doubt themselves or feel hopeless. It is strength we all desire in our moments of weakness. Aid us in our times of struggle.
Life is so tough sometimes. The unimaginable happens but we have to be resilient and relentless in our search for positivity and opportunity even when it feels like we have hit a setback. I believe in you and know that you can reach higher and achieve more than you can imagine or see. Just keep waking up each day, thanking God for that day and putting one foot in front of the other and one step at a time you will find yourself somewhere great.
I feel overwhelmed, overloaded, and maybe even exhausted mentally and physically but despite this fatigue which is enveloping me, I have a lot to be thankful for. Just taking a moment to think about that as I try to hold myself upright. In our struggles, we must pause for a moment to reflect and find something for which to be grateful for there is always something. Be still and it will come to you. Struggles are relative. We can always find someone struggling more or less than us. For each of us, we have to assess where we are right now, avoid comparative thinking and avoid becoming enslaved to our circumstances. We have to be resilient and determined...we have to be positive visionaries. I seek to encourage you.
In the movie the Accountant, Christian Wolff's father says to him, "Life is a series of choices, none of which are new. The oldest is choosing to be a victim. Or choosing not to." We don't have to play the victim card for how we respond to life's stressors all the time. Once we realize that our response was learned, we can recognize the triggers and deliberately mitigate the impact of the event and control our response. It's intelligent, positive and productive management of self. My boss at work has a habit of always saying "it is going to be great" after discussing what might be an unenjoyable task and most of us laugh when he says it, but it completely changes how we approach a known stressful situation. We go in ready to endure, ready to accomplish, ready to learn...and we don't dwell in our misery. I am not a victim of life and I accept the challenges in front of me with joy and resilience because I know they will divinely position me where I am meant to be.
I feel that I have been vitally part of many men's growth path but not destined to share the benefits of subsequent soul prosperity.
The color of your skin or your religion can exclude you from so much. Diversity is a natural part of some people's circles but not most. Diversity of religion, race, gender, background, etc...maybe what we should have in common is nothing...in that environment we can learn everything. The discomfort, the growth...
In the unfamiliar environment, I urge you to drop your defenses and simply listen with an intent to understand, not necessarily agree or disagree. Expose yourself to the experience and then allow yourself time to process what you have learned.
Being a mother can instill a confidence, an armor, a pride, and a resilience no human can diminish. #motherhood
Endless efforts to satisfy another's ego has destroyed many souls. Enable people to find and fill themselves.
The universe is so much bigger than me. I humble myself before that realization. The more inward I look, the less my situation matters and the shorter I dwell on thoughts of insignificance. I am part of something much bigger than myself or you. If I have ever been upset about something, it doesn't boil up inside of me or lie dormant...I have it let go. Today. Moving Forward. Winning introvert life.
Conflict and fear do not reside within me. You radiate that which is within you...not that which is within others.
It's not time to hide. It's time to survive and thrive with your head held high the entire time. Through chaos, uncertainty, fear, and disappointment lies opportunities that can benefit all people. Let us not bury our heads. Don't abandon your ship because you can't see the horizon. Be a visionary and become the master of your fate, become a more skillful sailor, and even pick up a few people lost at sea and teach them how to sail. Then one day the horizon will be in plain sight again. Let us all rise and be our best. And remember, when in doubt, be the change you want to see in the world.
Watching the show Extreme Weight Loss, Bob, a former football player and current police officer hadn't weighed 220 lbs since he was 14 but he was up for the challenge. He lost 228 pounds in nine months and proved that the near impossible was indeed possible even when enduring a knee surgery during those nine months. Mental and physical grit got him there. As I rang in 2017, this testimony reminded me of all the people who have told me that I put too much on my plate, that my goals are too aggressive, and that my goals must be conservative. I have been guilty of telling others these things too. Fear drives us to doubt our abilities, set small goals, engage in comparative thinking, stumble on mental blocks and lose focus when truly transformational opportunities present themselves. Weight gain is an adversity for many, financial debt is an adversity, being in an abusive or unfulfilling relationship is a adversity....we face so many adversities. My wish for you...and for myself...in 2017 is that we will swallow your pride and tackle some areas of adversity in our lives with an unprecedented fervor. The word fervor means an intense and passionate feeling...it's possessing passion, intensity, earnestness, enthusiasm, excitement, energy, zest, or FIRE in our approach to accomplishing the impossible. If you want something bad enough, there are NO excuses. And when our Chris Powell shows up to motivate us, let us not turn them away Instead, let us hold ourselves accountable to them and thank them for their willingness to be there by our side as we tackle our adversities. In 2017, I am determined to be a better writer, to share more, to be a better partner, friend, mentor, example, and mother. I am committed to healthy eating and fitness. I commit to loving myself more and to tackling the self destructive habits I engage in. Join me in living in the present and making each day in 2017 a day where we believe in ourselves and one another a lot more.
My health is both within my control and in control. I can maintain this through intentional acts. I can achieve fitness beyond any previous state. I will not limit myself. I will not make excuses. I will make better choices. I will prioritize myself for this is no one's responsibility but mine alone. I will not hide behind peer pressure, comfort, self doubt, laziness, being busy, getting older, and other unspoken fears and barriers.
What is best for me is already on its way to me. I move in confidence into my destiny through the peaks and valleys. Whenever life has shown me challenges, it has also presented opportunity. When life has shown me opportunity, it has shown me the needs of others. I claim and share my abundant blessings.
Ms. Nora has been busy moving around tonight...which has me thinking trying to get back into the gym. Just haven't had the energy to get back into it. This pregnancy I haven't had the morning sickness like most people think - but the extreme fatigue has been kicking my butt. I have never been so tired in my life and sometimes I wish for the energy but I know that my body needs the rest. I do the best that I can with what I have. Reminds me of when my ex told me I needed to get into better shape to be pregnant. While I am sure it is a good idea to be in good shape when you do conceive, I am not in horrible shape and I felt so depressed/defeated in that moment - body image is a major issue for most women I know. It was a low life moment for me for sure but it made me grateful for the man I have now who has never doubted the timing of our blessing. At my healthy weight, this isn't about whether or not I can bounce back into model shape so a man can look at me with lust and desire after childbirth. It is about trying to eat healthy and keep my mind in a positive state despite the mental and physical fatigue I must overcome on a daily basis. It's about the miracle of life and the opportunity to impact/shape a new life in a way that I hope will be a positive and net gain for the world.
Does your paved road lead you to places of fear, stress and worry or to happiness? When we decide to practice gratitude in place of expectations, we can focus on the present instead of a place that does not exist. Let go of suffering immediately by stepping back and recognizing what is going on. Obsession with self causes suffering (frustration, guilt, fear, stress) because in this state when you think you will be less than due to something that occurs. Life is too short to feel sorry for yourself, to be angry, to be sad, to be guilty, to blame yourself or to blame others. You can't make real change or progress in those states. Being grateful is a survival framework for the toughest of times. Consistently find something to appreciate. Trade expectations for appreciations. Always come back to the moment of gratitude before you make important decisions so that you can be calm and collected. Navigate from places of ease. Care less and love more. Caring is fear based.
Do not be afraid to UPGRADE the decisions that set who you are and who you aren't. Spontaneously try experiences out of ordinary to create amazing and unexpected moments. Then decide to let these moments drive meaning into your soul.
Most people live lives in consistent and complete distraction...because it is easy...distraction from themselves because to think about who you are is hard and uncomfortable. They can't let go of people, possessions or experiences because then they'd feel alone and have to face themselves. If you keep doing what you have always done, you'll keep getting what you always got. Isolate yourself and discover your truth. For me, I enjoy the isolation because I like myself but, now, I struggle with connecting to people, possessions and experiences. Is this worse than not knowing my truth? What am I protecting my heart from? Perhaps I feel that if you are not even vulnerable with yourself, then you don't deserve to be vulnerable with me.
Ms. Bhakti Mary
I am an optimistic, positive, generous and driven woman who is passionate about self-improvement.
The essence of who you are does not lie in the past. What matters is what you are willing to do NOW. You are the presence.