My New Job as Mom

This will be short and sweet, just to give an update on how things have been going for me.

Yesterday I started spotting again, and the spotting lasted for about half the day, with slight cramping and a lot of lower abdominal pressure. I made an appointment for the doctor this morning, and just took it easy for the rest of the day. This morning there was some blood, but significantly less than yesterday…but it’s never comforting to see pink or brown, especially when you know there’s a life you’re carrying inside of you.

My appointment confirmed what I had suspected – an onset bladder infection with the (still) possibility of a low-lying placenta which may be covering my cervix. I was told to not over exert myself, stay calm and take it as easy as possible. If you know me, you know stress is a huge factor in my life that I’m trying to eliminate, and I knew that meant having to quit my part-time job.

Now, I understand why this is happening, and why I need to do everything possible right now to help keep baby healthy, but I’m struggling mentally with the idea of doing just that. I went into pregnancy healthy and assumed I could continue working out, continue working and continue my life as normal. As rug after rug has been pulled out from under my feet, I’ve started to feel anxious and nervous about what I am going to do, what I am capable of and now to proceed with this new title of “pregnant.” I know pregnancy is not an illness, but when I’m being told I can’t or shouldn’t do so many things, I feel like it is.

Today I struggled a lot with the internal dialogue of worries and wonders. Am I doing the right thing? Does my doctor really know best? How can I quit a job I just started? Am I a quitter? Do I have a defeatist attitude? How will I contribute to my family?

Luckily, I have a wonderful friend who is a brand new stay at home mom, who helped me through some worries. She put into perspective for me that my job right now IS still important and maybe the most important job I’ll ever have – being a mom. Although I can’t feel baby or see baby right now, I am already a mom, and the most important thing I can do is make a safe and healthy environment for baby to be in. I’m the only person in the world that can carry and grow this child, and if eliminating unnecessary stress from silly jobs is what does that – so be it. My job is making this human, not working out and hitting PRs, not lifting boxes and climbing ladders in a retail store, not working in an office with high levels of stress. My job is simple – my job is to be mom.

This transition may be difficult, and I am struggling with letting go of the idea of contribution (after all, how much more can you contribute than manufacturing a small human?) but I know the signs are there and everything has lined up to get me to this situation. I’m frustrated, I’m hurt, I’ve cried a lot and locked myself in my room to try to work past this feeling of discomfort, but I know why I must do it.

Now, if only my job would call back so I can move forward.

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It’s Just a Number

This is a blog that I considered writing for a few weeks now, but I was worried about how it would be perceived or how to present it without seeming too – well, shallow. Today I remembered though that I wanted to be transparent with everything that was going on, and this has been an underlying concern for me, so I am going to just say it. Come hell, high water and the wrath I may endure because of my “shallowness.”

It is no big secret that pregnant women are supposed to gain weight. In fact, from the moment you get pregnant, people start telling you how much they gained, asking you how much you’ve gained so far and if you will be continuing to workout throughout your pregnancy. I’ve heard stories ranging from the extreme end of the weight gain spectrum in both directions – some women gaining 100+ pounds, others staying happily at 20 pounds of extra weight. You read books and blogs and apps that tell you how much weight you “should” be gaining and “based on most pregnant women” how much you should gain during each course of your pregnancy.

I’ve never been one to obsess over my weight and can confidently say that I’ve never purchased a scale. As a naturally petite and small-framed girl, my weight never fluctuated much and I never went through a “heavy” stage. I had a fast metabolism and when I started CrossFit 4+ years ago, I could eat without a care, knowing I could burn it off later at the gym. The only time in my life I started “caring” about the weight on the scale was when I became an Olympic lifter and even then it was only in the weeks and days leading up to a competition. Otherwise, the more I ate, the heavier I lifted.

At my absolute heaviest, I weighed in at 136 pounds. 24 hours after making weight for my first competition, I shoved my face with pizza, beer, subway, In-n-Out, a milkshake, fries and a large breakfast and tipped the scales 10 pounds heavier than I had weighed in the night before. That weight went away within another 24 hours and I consistently averaged between 130-133 pounds as a functioning body weight.

Right before I got pregnant, I was on my gym’s TRANSFORM diet; a strict regimen of specific foods that can be eaten at specific times throughout the day and punctuated by intermittent fasting. I dropped an entire weight class, saw my endurance and energy skyrocket and felt fast and strong. I felt like I was finally on the path to hitting my goals for the American Open and knew I was just a few kilos shy of where I wanted to be.

So, naturally, before the home pregnancy test even dried, I started thinking about all the ways my life would change – and weight was one of them. I weighed in at my first doctor’s appointment at 127 pounds, my second at 128 and my third? Well. 134 pounds. Now? Who knows!? I probably weigh closer to 137 or more.

When the scale slid to the 134 range, I panicked. I completely panicked. Technically, 133 pounds is my “walking” weight as an athlete and 127 pounds was just a dieter’s weight…so I went back to my original weight and gained 1 pound…but in my head, the “fact” was that I had gained 6 or more pounds in the course of a week and a half and I felt like I was on a slippery slope to nowhere. All the pregnancy apps and books told me I was only supposed to gain 5 pounds in my first trimester and I had already gained 6 in the course of a few weeks!

Dangerous thoughts started tracking through my brain –

“I’m going to be huge!”
“I’ll never lose the baby weight!”
“I’ve become ‘that’ person that thought she was eating for two!”
“But I’m SO HUNGRY.”

I started trying to watch what I ate, which didn’t really work anyway because I was so sick that nothing really sounded good and what I could eat and keep down wasn’t exactly healthy. I tried to eat meals that I would eat pre-pregnancy, like salads and veggies, only to find myself spewing them up or becoming so sick and bloated that I lost interest in them altogether. When my pants couldn’t button at week 11, I was convinced that I was just becoming a huge slob and all the eating I was doing was classifying me into the above average category for American pregnancies.

When I had my slight bleeding episode a few weeks, I had an incredibly humbling moment. On the ultrasound, there was no longer a tiny gummy bear of a spot, but an actual baby-like image. There was a big belly, a big head and tiny little arms and legs squirming around the screen. I had an “aha” moment; I was hungry because, well, look! I had made a little mini person! That giant placenta that it was happily swimming around in I had done. I had successfully housed a growing human and made all the parts and pieces for them to survive for 9 whole months inside of me. No wonder I was hungry! No wonder I was tired! Duh my pants didn’t fit anymore, look at that baby!

I started reading and researching about other women and their pregnancy stories. I learned that the apps and books have good intentions, but it truly boils down to each woman, each baby and each pregnancy. At first, I was shocked to see a bump in my first trimester (especially after reading that women with “tighter, more athletic middle sections keep their flat stomachs well into the second trimester”) but then I realized that I’m 5’2 with shoes on, there really isn’t much space for that baby to go. So what I gained some weight during the first trimester? I started at an unrealistic body weight that I had hit only the week prior to getting a big fat positive test. If I go based off my average weight of 133 pounds, I’ve only gained less than 5 pounds at this point. One lady on a pregnancy forum that I blabbed my concerns to broke it down in a really, real-life way to me –

1 pound of weight to water gain
1 pound of weight to extra blood
1 pound of weight to boobs (well, yeah!)
1 pound of weight to baby
1 pound of weight to just, well, weight

I’m staying as active as I can right now, especially considering I feel awful most days. I walk my dogs, I go to the gym when I can. I let it slide that my 235 pound front squat has been replaced with me having a hard time standing up off the couch. I eat when I’m hungry and when I feel like something sounds good. I’m not going to NOT eat because it’s “unhealthy” and risk just vomiting later when I try to stuff spinach in my face. Right now, getting nutrients into my system is more important to me than a salad. If those nutrients are coming in the form of rice or pizza, so be it. My mom gained 50 pounds each pregnancy (hi, mom…) but she started at about 100 pounds – but guess what? She lost it every time. Some women gain 20 pounds and keep 15 of it. Some women gain 45 pounds and lose it all.

I have no clue what to expect from pregnancy, how my body will (or is) reacting, and how my baby is will be when they are here. I have learned to take it one day at a time, listen to what my body is telling me and just accept the fact that yes, I will have to gain weight. It’s a natural part of the pregnancy process. Yes, I may have to work extra hard to lose some, but you know what? When I have a plump happy baby here, will that really matter? My body is capable of some extraordinary things, I’ve seen it do some cool stuff, and I have to just trust that it knows what it is doing.

After all, aren’t we all taught that the number on the scale is just that? A number? It doesn’t reflect our happiness, our athletic ability, or confidence or beauty on the inside. My insides are making a person. And I’m going to eat that extra bit of dinner because dammit, I’m hungry.

Also, here is a picture from today – week 13. Sitting a little heavier, but totally ok with it.

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Let Sleeping Mothers Lie (and a recipe!)

Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move mountains.

Or eat something and go back to sleep. That’s more of what I have been like lately. There has been a new lesson learned in the past couple of months and it was a lesson that I really struggled to comprehend – listen to my body. I know that the human body and the female anatomy are capable of moving mountains and making new humans and there are some things that this complex biological sack of meat are trying to tell you. At first I pretended I could do everything, only to quickly learn that alas, this is not the truth.

It started with the gagging and the constant just-spun-in-circles dizziness. This progressed to vomiting. Every. Single. Day. And pregnancy fatigue? Yeah. That’s a real thing. And it hit me HARD this week. Along with my new found skill – projectile vomit for distance! I’ve learned that when my body says it’s tired, I need to sleep. I feel guilty about the state of my kitchen, about the piles of laundry, about the tumbleweeds of dog hair that could star in a John Wayne spaghetti western, about the accumulation of belongings in my vehicles, and sometimes I get up and I attempt to do it…and then I realize I am just way too tired and I end up sleeping for two to three hours.

I’ve passed on some most of the chores to my dear husband, but let’s all be honest here – there was a very clear reason why we had a housekeeper in California.

That being said, in the past few days I’ve learned to take advantage of how I am feeling at precise moments. A sort of “live in the moment” reminder. If I feel like I can get up and clean, I get up and clean. If I feel like I can fold a bit of laundry, I fold a bit of laundry. One day I made french toast. Yesterday I even put on makeup, brushed and CURLED my hair and made dinner. And oh what a dinner it was! Recipe at the end of this post.

Today I had really good intentions of getting up and getting to the gym. I figured out a WOD (workout of the day) and I even washed my dishes, threw in some laundry and completed all my work for the week before 2:00pm. Then the sleep monster came and what was supposed to be a 10 minute nap turned into an hour and a half nap and the idea of getting up and going to the gym seemed daunting. Luckily, I live in a beautiful residential neighborhood (*lemmebragokay* with an ocean and Diamond Head view!) and I hooked up the dogs to their leashes and set out to make it to the top of the hill before dark. I’m glad I did, because by the time I came back, I was once again ready for another nap and the dogs beat me to it.

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So my lessons for all my pregnant and non-pregnant friends. Listen to your body! It has taken us thousands and thousands of years of evolution to get to this point and these skin-covered machines we live in really do know what they are doing. If you’re tired, sleep. If you’re hungry, eat (which is something I’ll have to get into later…) and if you feel like doing laundry, well, you could probably wait because no one really likes doing laundry anyway.

Now, who wants to learn how to make that delicious puttanesca!? Not all at once now…

Chickpea Puttanesca with Creamy Cilantro Polenta * inspired by www.mountainmamacooks.com

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*This fed my husband and I two solid meals, so I’ll guestimate to 4 servings

Polenta
*Since I live on an island where people stared at me blankly when I asked for polenta, my options were actually rather scarce when it came to purchasing this product. I found a package of precooked cilantro polenta that actually greatly decreased the amount of work of fresh polenta and was just as delicious.

-One package of precooked cilantro (or any flavor you choose) Polenta
– 2 tablespoons half and half
– 1 tablespoon butter
– 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Puttanesca
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
– 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
– 1, 14oz can of stewed tomatoes
– 1, 14oz can of petite diced tomatoes
– 1/4 pitted kalamata olives, roughly quartered
– 2 tablespoons drained capers
– 1, 14oz can of garbanzo beans
– 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
-1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

– In a microwave-safe dish, heat polenta according to package instructions. Mash occasionally with a fork until it reaches a mashed potato-like consistency.
– Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add half and half, butter and parmesan cheese. Cover and set aside.
– In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
– Add onion and let saute until translucent, about 3-5 minutes
– While stirring, add dried basil and red pepper flakes
– Add kalamata olives and capers, let cook for another 2 minutes
– Add garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes
– Add stewed and diced tomatoes to the pot, stir the ingredients together, reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes
– Add garbanzo beans, add salt or pepper to taste
– When finished, add polenta to a plate, top with the puttanesca and add fresh chopped basil if desired.

Enjoy!

Taking a Step Back

Are you ready for raw, honest truth? Well, here it comes. If you don’t want to see it, if you are easily offended…here is your cue to move on.

You’re still here?

Alright. Here’s today’s novel.

When I found out that I was pregnant, I had a complete hissy fit. I lost it. I threw a temper tantrum and really thought my life was ending. I cried, and I cried, and I peed on numerous sticks to only have that line get brighter each time.

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Light, dark, darker!

I had always assumed my life would turn out one way, and children were not involved. I never experienced absolute panic or fear as I did the moment I saw that one little pink line come across the screen. As my husband laughed and patted my back, I thought my world was ending. I actually dreaded it so much and resented letting myself get pregnant, that even everyone’s congratulations, happy tears and pats on the back were enough to make me angry. How could this be a happy moment? My life was crashing down around me!

Of course, after a few days, I ended up coming to terms with it and even allowed myself to get partially exciting (is that the right word?) and start reading books, looking at pictures and decorate a nursery in my head. I even took my first “bump” picture (also a way to remind myself of how I looked prior to having children.)

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Day after I got my positive test(s)

I started doing research on how big the baby was each week, how my body was changing, why I was feeling a certain way and how I could try to be as healthy as possible during my pregnancy. I started documenting the size of baby each week and posting them to various social media platforms as a way to encourage myself and to keep my family in-touch with my pregnancy that were living far away.

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Week 8 – size of a raspberry

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Week 9 – size of an olive

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Week 10 – size of a strawberry

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Week 11- size of a lime

I had always approached situations with a “take it by the horns and ride!” attitude, but all of a sudden, I felt like I had been tossed into the deep end with led weights on my feet. Not only was I completely overwhelmed with the idea of being pregnant, having to go into labor and have a child, but I was always experiencing a lot of changes in my personal life.

What I had once assumed I could handle, I couldn’t. And let me tell you, stress and hormones do not combine well. I had taken on too much at once, I was feeling downright depressed and anxious and I started hearing myself say “yes” to too many things. I could feel panic attacks creeping up, I would cry myself to sleep over everything from money to insurance to baby names to family to my new friend backne to birth plans to doulas to the numerous ultrasounds I had already received. When the day came that I couldn’t button my pants or fit into a bra anymore, I had an utter meltdown.

Here I was, only a few months into my pregnancy – into a season of my life that should be happy and filled with to-do lists for baby and relaxing and nesting – and all I could do was cry. I cried a lot. I wondered if post-partum had hit me in pregnancy. I felt completely overwhelmed with my life and had no clue how I was going to move forward. My husband was very aware of what was going on and kept reminding me that this stress wasn’t just altering my mood – it was altering baby’s mood, too. I needed to take a step back, reevaluate the important things in my life and just do the one thing I was having the hardest time doing – breathe.

Breathe. What a simple concept. Something that happens involuntarily, yet I had completely forgot how to do it in the past few weeks. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Deep breath in. Long breath out. Yoga. Meditation. The roots of what I had known. How could I forget that?

After some deep soul searching, some deep meditation, I realized I needed to let go of some things. I needed to let go of the stress I had been harboring. I took a step back from some of the responsibilities I had gathered over the past few months, which included four jobs, and reminded myself to breathe. I felt almost instantly better, knowing I could focus on being healthy and pregnant and leave some of the stressful tasks to my incredibly mild-mannered husband. Suddenly, I felt better. I felt happy to be pregnant. I felt hopeful about the future. I didn’t feel 100% about all the changes happening in my body, but I felt more at-ease.

And then the next day happened.

I woke up the day after I had eliminated numerous stresses in my life to find myself spotting. TMI WARNING – I was bleeding a brown blood that didn’t stop after just one wipe and as the day wore on, it turned pink. If you know anything about pregnancy, bleeding isn’t abnormal, but it definitely isn’t normal. Up to this point, I had a relatively normal (with a lot of vomiting) pregnancy. I immediately went back to panic-mode. How could this be? I was past the 11 week mark. My miscarriage rate was going down day by day! I sent a text to my husband, called my doctor and proceeded to lay on my back, moving as little as possible, until my appointment that afternoon.

I had done too little, too late. 

Flashback to one of the most stressful days of my life this past May. I saw firsthand how stress can change my body; after a particularly traumatic and stressful day, after the fact, when I thought I had calmed down, I started my period. Off-schedule. Completely out of the blue. My body’s way of reacting was to flush itself. Now, in almost the exact same fashion, I was bleeding again, only this time – it was a little more serious than just a period.

I got to the doctor completely nervous, but got to see a big, fat healthy baby, moving and wiggling with a strong heartbeat. Doctor even commented on baby’s size. Up to this point, baby had looked like a blob, and I had affectionately nicknamed it Blog Scurti – but yesterday, it looked like a baby.

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6 week ultrasound, doing a little dance move

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8 week ultrasound, all I see is giant lips and a big head

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11 week ultrasound of super wiggly, grainy, Halloween baby

Baby was okay, but the placenta was sitting low on my cervix and the stress had caused some bleeding. I was put on pelvic rest (look it up) until week 16 and told that whatever I do, I must keep my stress l o w. I also need a RhoGam shot, because I have RH- blood and baby’s blood and my blood could have mixed.

Let me tell you, these past few days have been an eye-opener. I learned that not only do I really want this baby, but I learned my first lesson in motherhood – I have to put my needs, my wants, my drive to prove I can succeed at all the responsibilities, aside. Now, more than ever, I need to think of the needs of this big-bellied baby bouncing happily inside of me. All the food I eat, baby eats. All the liquids I intake, baby intakes. All the exercise I get (which I can still do…yes that includes weight training you nay-sayers) baby gets. All the stress I feel, baby feels. Is it worth it to have a stressed out baby? No.

So, taking a step back, I am thankful for all the opportunities that have been presented to me in my life, including the opportunity to take on something I never assumed I would – parenthood. Taking a step back, I see now that I should have listened to my body sooner. Taking a step back, I can see how truly grateful I am for everything that has been given to me, the people that had only good intentions toward me and how stressed I may have made myself.

I am willing to take this challenge on – but first, I need to do some meditation.

You’re still here? Wow. Good for you. You read Bree’s novel. Now, go do some breathing exercises and take a step back and look at how fortunate you are!

Namaste.

Where to Begin?

“Bree, why aren’t you blogging?”

“Why did you stop writing?”

“You should really document this stuff, you know.”

Yes, I know. Once upon a time, Bree used to blog. I blogged a lot, actually. Granted, this original blog was very rough-around-the-edges and probably held more grammatical errors than I would like to truly confess; but it was there, and it was a way for me to communicate to my family and friends across the world and a way to word-vomit. -QUICK NOTE- You’ll hear the term “word-vomit” quite often in my posts, it’s my way of describing the sudden flow of emotion and inspiration that I quickly jot into a blog…you are warned.

But then I stopped writing. I stopped for numerous reasons – one, my blogs became an emotional outlet and I started to feel that I was only writing in them when I was upset – which I may still do, but we will see. The main reason I stopped writing though, was because a fun past-time had suddenly turned into a paid gig, which was cool, until I became completely burnt out. For a little over two years, I was paid to write. All day, every day, numerous times a day and for long, grueling hours. My job as a writer had taken away the passion I had for writing and instead turned it into something mundane, something that took all creativity out of the equation. So, I stopped.

Skip forward to a few months after leaving my writing job – now, October 2014. I still write as a freelancer, but I felt a sudden urge to start creative writing again. I toyed around with the idea of starting my old blog back up again and then decided that this chapter of my life deserves a new, fresh blog that is shiny and free from my past. Not that my past was bad, in fact, I have a pretty cool past *bragging moment*.

Today, I decided to start blogging again. Why? Well, I have a few simple reasons:

  • Up to this point in my life, my life has played out like a well-written yet slightly chaotic movie. It’s humorous. It has a good sense of comedic relief and just enough drama and romance to keep people hooked. I think it is worth sharing.
  • I live a unique life. I am a vegetarian, weightlifting, pregnant military wife that has worked in a lot of strange jobs.
  • I enjoy cooking (when I’m not suffering from morning sickness) and would like to share my Pinterest fails.
  • I live somewhere beautiful simply because I made the choice to chase happiness and not fall into the 9-5 rut.
  • I feel like I can inspire someone, somewhere.
  • Let’s be honest – I have a lot to say (type)

So, this is it. This is where I am starting. My blogs and posts will most likely be about things that are happening to me on the daily. Things that inspire me. Things that bother me. Things that make me laugh or cry or swoon and fall in love. I can be emotional. I can be raw. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and say whatever it is that I am thinking or feeling. One thing I do want to share is that I am being upfront about my pregnancy. All the aches, pains, drama and weird changes that are happening in my body. I feel like I owe this to other women, and to let them know what their bodies are capable of. I may post weekly (or daily) pregnancy updates, so be aware.

Now we can all stop saying, “Bree, are you going to start writing again?”

Because I’m doing it.

Here is my blog.

Here is my life.

All sent with love from a little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

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