Well, it’s taken me 9 months to write a blog post about being pregnant. I suppose I’ve written a post but I think I mentioned my baby once in it which is quite shocking. Now, at 39 weeks plus a few days, I’m finally sitting down to write! I think there are a good handful of people who come to Pie On The Windowsill for more of that grittier or introspective writing and perhaps this post won’t be for them. I really just want to share today about what’s been going on in our lives and unsurprisingly, most of our general comings-and-goings have revolved around this little person who’s due to show up any day now. I also write this just as much for me – I want to remember the last 9 months and my blog has always been a fun place to reflect on trips, momentous occasions, etc.
Jesse and I found out I was pregnant just one day after our camping trip in Winthrop during the summer. Now, despite what you may THINK you know about me, finding out I was pregnant was actually quite a surprise! We had hoped to start a family soonish but were thinking we would wait perhaps a little while longer. As with most big steps in our relationship together, things don’t tend to go according to this little type-A planner’s plan. But with each and every significant step we’ve taken together thus far (going to school, choosing careers, getting engaged and married, moving…), things have happened at the most perfect time – more perfect than anything I could have orchestrated myself. And believe me, I do plan, plan, and plan—usually never seeing my plans come to fruition the way I’ve envisioned. I’ve learned so much about relinquishing control of timing through mine and Jesse’s relationship and this little sweet gift of a baby was no different.
Jesse’s parents were here for most of the summer and into early fall due to political unrest and violence in Nicaragua. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be able to share our news with them in person. To the same effect, my Nan was here from the UK in September and to be able to tell her face to face that she would be a great-grandmother for the first time was an absolute dream come true. My mom’s entire family lives in the UK and it’s during wonderful times like these that you truly wish the geographical distance would disappear. Having Nanny here seemed to eat up some of that distance and meant the world to me.
Now I must confess, early pregnancy was an absolute breeze for me. I think my body must have known the challenges I would face later on because the first trimester was probably my easiest trimester. I lost weight despite eating pizza and grilled cheese every other day, I experienced only occasional nausea, and tiredness really consisted of blissfully nodding off around 7:30pm during an episode of Game of Thrones. A cute little bump also appeared fairly early and I didn’t feel too awkwardly pudgy. Before you mothers start to hate on me, things did change considerably later on in pregnancy but we’ll get there eventually!
Around the halfway mark, we took a little road trip to Tofino for the first time. We had lazy mornings in our Airbnb, walked countless beaches, stopped for coffee and pastries, enjoyed some damn good food, and stayed up late binge watching Shark Tank. We grabbed our first meal from a pricier spot called Wolf in the Fog. The food was quite delicious but the Raspberry Cream Soda really stole the show for me. Watching your husband drink a cold beer after a hike around the ocean is fairly awful and this mocktail was a highpoint that I tried (and failed) to top for the rest of the weekend. We also had a super tasty meal from Shelter Restaurant and of course, drooled over the donuts at Rhino Coffee House. These are the pretty commonly recommended places to eat in Tofino and while the prices were quite high, we weren’t disappointed. Jesse enjoyed a delicious burger at Shed so I would suggest trying that restaurant out as well! We tended to eat breakfast in our room, grab bits and pieces from cafe’s or grocery stores for our lunch, and have one bigger meal for dinner.
There’s something very therapeutic about simply driving from beach to beach with no particular agenda in mind. We visited most of the beaches in the area at least once but found ourselves back at Long Beach a couple of times – just outside of downtown Tofino. We caught two sunsets there and also spent a chilly afternoon bundled up in fleece, reading and watching the waves.
I also loved Tonquin Beach and that’s where I dragged Jesse and our tripod to take this epic photo (he just loved every minute of the staging, posing, and evaluating photos – in case you were wondering).
I’d have to say my favourite part of the trip was the little hike/walk around the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet. To me, the coastline in Ucluelet was so striking and this walk was the perfect level of exertion. There were a couple little wooden staircases that led down to tiny rocky beaches that felt so peaceful and picturesque.
Jesse and I travel so well together and we really appreciated having a long weekend to escape from work and just dream a little bit more about what the next year would hold. Unbeknownst to me, Tofino was also one of my last chances to really walk and use my body the way I am used to. Another month or two after our trip, I really started to notice my body change and it’s been a bit of an uphill battle since then. In 2015, I had two back to back car accidents that seemed to really affect the soft tissue and joints in the left side of my body. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years trying to strengthen the muscles in my glutes and lower back to give some stability to my hips but unfortunately, pregnancy hormones seem to be wreaking havoc on those areas. As this little baby has grown and chunked up, daily life has become more and more painful. Even just grocery shopping or going for short walks has begun to cause so much pain and stiffness that I sometimes end up out of commission for the rest of the day. I’ve already practiced yoga at home prior to being pregnant and that’s been about the only physical activity I’ve been able to continue in some capacity. Jesse and I have tried to swim a little bit here and there to compensate for my inability to walk or do resistance training but overall, I haven’t been able to stay as active as I would have liked. Even on Christmas Eve, walking around downtown became so painful that I finished out the days fun activities by waiting in the truck for the rest of the family and then gluing myself to the heating pad once we were home.
I think the hardest part of this physical limitation is insecurity about how people perceive my pain. It is, of course, very normal for the most physically strong and healthy pregnant women to have a sore back, difficulty getting comfortable at night, or to have to be careful about physical exertion. That said, it’s been embarrassing for me to turn down short walks with friends or to be high maintenance at work about how many clinics I can do per week, wondering if people think I’m just not coping well with normal pregnancy aches and pains. The nature of the pain is consistent with my history and how I felt recovering from those old injuries but it’s hard to convey that to other people without sounding like a big whiny drama queen. Especially, and I hate to say it, in a time where women do get blasted and made to feel guilty for sounding the slightest bit ungrateful or unexcited about being pregnant. In reality, the pain in my hips has been the one trigger for major meltdowns throughout pregnancy. I hate that I can’t enjoy even a short walk on the weekend in the sunshine or look forward to a quick grocery shop with Jesse on a Saturday morning. I dread these outings because I know it will be painful just to lower myself onto the couch. We had an absolutely blissful time in Hawaii in February but I know I missed out on so many wonderful experiences and excursions because of pain. Speaking of Hawaii, I think this post would turn into a novel if I wrote about that trip so check out my or Mollie’s Instagram photos or highlights for more about the different beaches we visited. Here’s one picture just for kicks!
The saving grace in all of the physical discomfort has been a newfound appreciation for Jesse’s patience. He’s always been so patient with me but he’s had to compensate for my limitations in ways that are just downright unfair. After a long day at work, he’ll come home and knead my back or help me stretch out muscles in my hips. There’s no elevator in our building and he has basically become a pack mule, carting our things to and from the car when we travel or shop. He sacrifices his own body to carry or do things for me so I can waddle up the stairs carrying only a purse. And in the 4 months since this issue really flared up, he has never once made me feel guilty or bad about all I have asked him to do—even though I know it’s exhausting and frustrating for him at times. We talk often about whether we’ll be good parents and I always tell him I know he’ll be an incredibly kind and caring father just based on how caring and tender he has been with me. I am so lucky.
I’ve been fortunate not to have experienced very many untoward symptoms of pregnancy (save a little heartburn) and I think it’s because somehow my body and God knew how this one challenge would consume my everyday life. It’s also motivating me to work hard at strengthening my body after the baby comes so that I can go into another pregnancy as strong and capable as possible. I can’t imagine how this experience might have been different if I hadn’t spent the time before my pregnancy staying active and working out frequently.
Despite these challenges, I can say without doubt or hesitation that I have loved every moment of being pregnant. There have been trying moments and hard adjustments but carrying this little one has been the most special and meaningful honour of my entire life. I certainly feel a bit puffier in the face and more round through the booty than I imagined I would be but overall, I love being pregnant. And I am so thankful to have had a healthy and happy pregnancy, free of serious complications.
When you start to prepare to bring a baby home in this part of the world, it becomes clear how locked we are in a society that places more emphasis on preparing your home for a baby than actually preparing your mind and heart for a baby. Jesse and I decided early on that we wanted to keep our purchases simple and focus more on preparing to be actual parents. Between all the mommy-bloggers with their “must have” lists on Instagram, friends who are buying the latest and greatest gadgets (and absolutely swearing by these products!), and even baby registries which list out about 500 things you must register for in order to survive the first 3 months, resisting the urge to spend thousands of dollars on baby gear has been hard. I also can’t count the number of people who have asked us how we’ll ever manage in our one bedroom apartment or cope without an elevator to carry all the baby gear to and from the car. This is where I have been so grateful for my job—for my resilient and resourceful clients who live in the tiniest of walk-up apartments with all three of their children sleeping in their one bedroom with them, using the most basic of second-hand baby gear and living their lives with such quiet grace and dignity. These mothers, many of whom are refugees, have taught me far more about simplicity and minimalism than anyone or any documentary ever could. I am inspired and challenged by their resilience. Every time I wonder if I’ll need that $400 breast pump, $300 baby monitor, or a home where I could have planned and executed an expensive but beautiful nursery, I think of these thriving women that I’ve had the privilege of visiting and supporting over the last two years. Every time I look at that torn and creaky recliner chair in our living room and dream of replacing it with a beautiful glider, I also think of my mom and other women who had babies in the ’80s and ’90s when you just bought a crib, a car seat, a few good blankets, and diapers! Sure, they accumulated more gear as their babies grew and their needs changed, but there wasn’t this pressure to have every gadget at their fingertips by the time the baby was born. As someone who has way too many clothes, kitchen gadgets, and a propensity to order things online that I really don’t need, I’m proud to say Jesse and I have managed to stick to our goal and have really bought only the basic items ahead of time… okay, apart from baby clothes… I’ve been weak in that department.
Now, I know so many incredible women who are guilty of buying every contraption known to mankind and I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty. In fact, I’ve enjoyed learning from my friends and family about what they truly feel their must-haves items have been out of all those purchased gadgets. However, it’s just no secret that we live in an all-consuming era of online chatter from just about every social media platform, telling us what to buy at every turn. I watched a YouTube video review of a diaper bag and was shocked to hear about all the items I MUST pack with me at all times in said bag. By the way, I did not know before watching this video that a little cosmetic bag you fill with lip balm and tampons is now called a “set piece” and can be purchased for the reasonable price of $50 – perfect to swathe your toiletries in organic cotton and match your diaper bag. You learn something new every day. Case in point—mothers are made to feel like their diaper bag should be packed to ensure their babies survival through the apocalypse. And for the bag to look fashionable and luxe all the while. Perhaps it’s not as simple as this but I have to wonder if social media influencing has single-handedly propelled mom-guilt to its new heights. We are bombarded every day with images of mothers who are prepared for every scenario with every gadget on the market and it’s an impossible standard to live up to. We value convenience and I’m no stranger to putting my money towards convenience in my daily life. Jesse and I just wanted to challenge ourselves in this area, keeping things simple with children’s items from the outset. We have bought into western consumerism in so many other ways and these few months have felt refreshing and illuminating in terms of our habits.
Just last night, Jesse mentioned we needed to switch to our summer bedding soon because he would be way too hot under our down duvet if the window was going to be closed overnight soon. I asked him why we would have to close the window and he said, “Well, we can’t have the window open with the baby sleeping in here!” Then we both had a good chuckle about how many babies across the world sleep in homes that are open to fresh air, not coddled and sheltered as we are here in the west. It is all about perspective, as we are learning.
I think our baby will be just fine with the window open.