Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The impossible dream

Can we talk about pregnancy fitness for a moment? (she asks while heating up three (yes, three) butter croissants in the oven)

Before I fell pregnant (a term I love as it was like falling sick) I declared, more than once, I would be a fit preggo woman.  I was determined to stay in my jeans and just use those button extenders/belly band things.  I would keep running and doing yoga and this would make the unimaginable pain of labour a bit easier (all things being relative, so I hear) and we would have a healthy kid before it was even born.  I would have to give up the half-marathon but, who are we kidding, I wasn't that into it anyway.


I just spit part of my croissant across the room laughing at myself.

As I said, this was before I fell pregnant and was immediately leveled by mourning sickness and incredible bloating.  I naively assumed the body gently worked its way into pregnancy and I had time to get used to the idea of being inhabited by something eventually the size of a watermelon.

HA!! HA!!

Almost immediately after those lines showed up on those sticks (because I took more than one test, just to be sure, who doesn't?) I was sick and bloaty.  Now sure, I have in the past made myself sick purely through mental stress and anxiety (hello, PhD viva and almost any job interview) but I have never made myself, or even heard of, bloating caused by mental anxiety.  This was unbearable.   Only six, maybe seven, weeks gone and I can't fit into 90% of my trousers and jeans!!!!!

Needless to say, I wasn't running anymore.  If I could make it out of bed it was a good day and if I only had one conference call with the toilet it was a great day!

Cue everyone telling me to get some fresh air and take a walk.  It took all I had to not throw the nearest toilet roll at them.

I'm now 17 weeks gone and the sickness is gone and yoga is regular once again but those jeans aren't seeing the light of day again for a long, long time.  I can't torture myself, it's just too mean.  I've only 'gained' a few pounds but all the muscle in my thighs and bum is gone and the cellulite has returned.  So much for being a fit preggo lady.

Two nights ago I dreamt about a midwife/scan appointment.  It was drawn out and a lot was going on but the one 'test' I remember watching them perform was to suddenly poke a pregnant woman's bladder (from outside, just a short jab to the belly, you know, nothing invasive) and measure how much urine she released. Of course, they gave no warning of this test and I watched two women flood the floor before I woke up.

My fitness goal now is to not pee my pants when I sneeze.  Pie in the sky, I know, but it's all relative.

Pelvic Floor Muscles: 5  Sneeze: 2

Not too shabby but definite room for improvement.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

of Greece, Gods and Salted Gold

Half-way through the month and a little over a third through the pregnancy.

Or as I like to call it, the habitation or invasion.

Before I go on, I should warn my dear readers that I am not (thus far) of the glowy-happy preggo persuasion.  That probably goes without saying for my regular readers, but in case you're new to this corner I'm giving you fair warning.*

Yes, these past few months have felt more like being host to a parasite than making a cute baby, and I know parasites.  I drank the water in Turkey and ate the street food in Morocco.  I know parasites.

Here's a tip, to you from me, Pinky Lee, don't schedule a beach holiday in the middle of your first trimester. Especially if that holiday is in a country where you can't flush toilet paper so every toilet, public or otherwise, has an aroma which sends you dry-heaving even when you're not 8 weeks pregnant.

Two days after we moved, we left London for the sunny beaches of Greece.  We hadn't had a proper relaxing holiday in over a year (Morocco doesn't count, we were both sick twice and spent at least half the time in a crowded and hot SUV. I said relaxing holiday) so we were looking forward to a week of laying around and eating.

I did a lot of laying around.  Not so much eating.

attempting glowy-happy & failing

I spent four point five of the seven days rotating between the bed, the balcony and the toilet.  Eating was next to impossible   The buffet on offer turned my stomach before I even got close enough to see what I couldn't eat.  I was stockpiling apples in the room and the only things I could keep down were generic cocoa pop-like cereal in the morning and bland spaghetti in the afternoon and evening.  But even then it wasn't a safe bet.

Before I forget.  You know what's awesome when you're feeling like you are dying?  And I say this with complete sincerity, salted crisps.  Regular potato chips.  They are a gift from the gods.  Seriously, the mythic gods worshiped in the surrounding temples reached down from the heavens and delivered me crunchy, crispy, salted gold.

Of course that could have been Pete coming back from the local store.  He is olive skinned with dark curly hair and I was laying on the dark bathroom floor.  It's entirely possible I was hallucinating.

So preggo tip No. 1, no beachy holidays with plumbing that won't accept toilet paper and salted potato chips are AMAZING!!!!

*These experiences are completely my own and I pass no judgement on glowy-happy preggo women or mean to cause pain to those suffering through infertility.  

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


It’s the day after the US presidential election and I don’t feel like puking.*  

Seems as good a time as any to start things back up.

For the last two years November becomes the Thirty Days of Thanks in this space.  On the surface, this practice was in deference to my favourite holiday, Thanksgiving.  As I contemplated doing it again this year I realized that it is also a coping mechanism. 

The first year I was in a very, very dark place.  I had put on those post-wedding/post-PhD pounds and lost momentum in the job market.  But the real clue I was stumbling was finding myself on a week’s holiday to Paris, completely paid for by my husband’s work, hiding in a hotel room in the business district.  

I was in Paris! 

Not my favourite of cities but not my least favourite.  I had all day to myself and was one train stop away from the centre of this beautiful city (I mean I could see the Ferris Wheel in the Place de la Concorde from our hotel room) and I was hiding in the room watching BBC daytime programming (reality programming seeking out ‘cowboy builders’ and various ‘benefit cheats’).  The housekeeping staff felt so sorry for me they started delivering free macaroons to the room.  The situation is obvious in the posts I threw up in this space.  I was thankful for ‘stolen apples’ and ‘my headtorch.’  I was so far down my hole I couldn't see beyond my daily situation to find things to be thankful about.  

Shortly after that trip I joined Weight Watchers and started CBT therapy and by the time the next November rolled around I was feeling good.  

Really good.  

I was 30 pounds lighter and regularly running 6Ks.  We just returned from Morocco, a trip we dreamt about for years, and I started volunteering at a place I hoped would jump-start my working life.  I threw our first Halloween cocktail party and then headed back to Cleveland for a month.  

Last November I learned you can’t go home again.  It’s a cliché, but it’s true.  At least for me.  Going back to the US causes me all kinds of stress.  When I left the US six years ago I was flailing.  

I was going on my third year of flailing.  

To be honest, I was running away and trusting to another cliché (love conquers all) that everything would out.  The girl who left is not the woman that returns and Cleveland is slow to catch on.  Or maybe we both are playing catch-up.  I was counting the days until I got to go home, my home, the home I had built with my person.  Once again, November’s Days of Thanks became painful and difficult to write and turned into a kind of therapy.  

Which brings us to this year.  

Following the pattern, I find myself with a need to cope but for completely different reasons.  In September my world changed drastically (and I guess that’s where this long-winded post is going).  
In September we moved into our very own house.  A few months earlier we made a concrete decision for our future. Finally stepping away from some abstract, what-if, if-where, future shaped by the demands of our families.  This was for us.  Just us and everyone else would have to deal.  

Two weeks before we moved we found out we were pregnant.  

That’s what happened to us as well.  A double-take and a long HOLY SH*T-type pause.  

Shortly after the move, the year-long volunteering gig I hoped would jump-start my working life ended leaving me with a lot of ‘experience’ but still tragically underemployed.  

Prior to all this change I was blocked.  I had the words, but I couldn't get them out on a page. I write best when ‘improving’ the truth of my day to day circumstances and I had become a bit of a bore. So the universe served up the perfect writing prompt: 

new mortgage, knocked up and unemployed.

Is this my life or a sitcom premise? 

This is all to say that the Days of Thanks will most likely take a backseat to new house/preggo anecdotes.  

I hope you’ll stick around.

*see what I did there?