Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As I begin my third trimester, I've become more focused on the fact that this baby is going to have to come out of me...and relatively soon.

When I first found out I was pregnant, it took a while for it to really sink in, especially because the baby was so tiny at that point that I couldn't feel him, and although I began to gain weight immediately, casual observers could not tell I was pregnant. Because of silly insurance issues, it took several weeks before I was able to see the midwives, and I actually sometimes worried (this was among my MANY worries) that they'd tell me I wasn't really pregnant - instead I was crazy and having a hysterical pregnancy.

Um, obviously that was a silly thing to worry about.

Anyway, for a couple of months now it has been abundantly clear, both to me and the outside world, that I am, in fact, quite pregnant. And it's such a huge part of my daily reality that I've found myself having to remember that this is not my permanent state. Soon, I will no longer be pregnant. I will be a full-time mother. And in between those two states, I will give birth.

This is both tremendously exciting and tremendously scary for me. I really hope to have a completely natural birth, probably a water birth (yay awesome hospital with birthing tubs!), but I realize that it will be a big challenge, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. As far as I can tell, the biggest thing standing in my way is my own tendency toward anxiety. I'm worried I'll get scared, and my natural birth plans will be derailed because of my own fear.

So I am trying to prepare myself, as much as I possibly can, to avoid this outcome. Here are some of the tactics I'm using, some very practical, some quite earthy-crunchy. Hey, whatever works!

Exercise - I am trying to keep myself strong, and keep my endurance up. I hope this will help me with the physical demands of labor and birth. I did my most challenging prenatal DVD (which I recently discussed here on the blog) this week, and I intend to keep doing it once a week for as long as possible. I've also been doing my yoga dvds and going for lovely evening walks with my guy.

Meditation/hypnosis - I've found guided meditation and hypnosis to be very helpful in relieving my anxiety. I've collected a lot of this stuff on my ipod and I have done it whenever I felt I needed it. Lately I've been focusing on some hypnosis tracks that are specifically geared toward pregnancy and birth. I was very attracted to the Hypnobabies method but I think the cost is a little much for me right now, so I downloaded a couple of other CDs instead. I know it's not a full program like Hypnobabies but I think it will be helpful.

Childbirth classes - These start in June. I'm excited! If nothing else, I want to meet some other local parents. I don't know many people in my new area yet, and it might be cool to have friends who will also soon have babies.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea - Okay, okay, I'm a hippie. But I've heard good things about this stuff, and I figure it can't hurt, especially at this point in my pregnancy. Since it's already 80-90 degrees outside here in Louisiana, I've been drinking it iced. My guy bought me a large iced tea dispenser and I made a 1.5 gallon batch of the stuff the other day. I actually like the taste of it a lot. So does he, and he has been amusing me by saying "I think I'll have some of that uterus tea." Ha.

Watching birth videos - I am far too modest these days to allow anyone to take a video of my birthing process, much less put it up on YouTube, but I am very grateful to the less shy ladies of the world who have done so. Watching these videos always makes me cry, but whatever. It is so helpful to see other women do it, and know that I can too!

If there are any books, movies, or bizarre rituals that I should be including in my preparations, let me know!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Recent reads.

Lately I've been into pregnancy and parenting books, but I'm also always a sucker for risky (I'm tired of the word "edgy") novels with female protagonists. Here's one of each that I recently read:

The Mother Dance by Harriet Lerner

I loved Lerner's The Dance of Anger, but couldn't really get into another of her books, The Dance of Fear. This one was excellent. Instead of focusing on the physical aspects of pregnancy and child care, Lerner wrote about the emotional experience of being a mother. With plenty of stories from her own life and from her therapy practice, she illustrated all kinds of challenges that come up when kids enter a woman's life. She talks about how your own childhood experiences play into your parenting style, along with cultural expectations and all kinds of other factors. It's an interesting, refreshing read.

Here's the other book I just read (in less than 24 hours):
Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky

Marie is not a very likeable character. Or, rather, Marie shouldn't be a likeable character, because she does all kinds of morally despicable things in her immature and hedonistic journey through post-prison life. Yet, there is something wickedly alluring about her, and I couldn't put the book down, always anxious to see what Marie would do next. There is an interesting, though subtle, exploration of the haves vs. have-nots in our culture. I could say more, but you should really just discover this book for yourself!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My adventures with pregnancy workout DVDs

Before getting knocked up, as I think I've mentioned here before, I was a huge fan of Spinning classes. I probably haven't been to a Spinning class since October of 2010. Now, I have no gym membership. When I lived in NOLA, I walked a lot, to do errands and for exercise (at Audubon Park). Now, I don't have a park quite as accessible to me (there are some nice ones in Baton Rouge, but they require a drive). Also, it is getting HOT outside. Yay Louisiana!

My solution: DVD workouts. I have three so far. I've found yoga to be really helpful in easing my back pain and anxiety, so I bought two of those:

Crunch Yoga Mama Prenatal Workout
This is a nice workout for the beginning of the day. The pace is gentle, but there are some great poses for loosening the hip area. This instructor is the kind of yoga instructor I prefer for an in-person class, too - she comes across as calm, friendly, and not show-offy or competitive. For those who are very experienced in yoga (I am not), this DVD might not be challenging enough. But I enjoy it, and I feel great afterward!

Prenatal Yoga with Shiva Rea
This one is a bit more challenging, but very easy to customize - there are 3 ladies, one from each trimester, wearing different colored full-body leotards! It's kind of funny. I found this one a little harder to follow the first time I did it, and had to pause the DVD a few times. It uses more props - blocks, strap, and a chair. Overall, I think it's great, but there are a couple of small issues I have: 1) you are supposed to breathe evenly, yet if I followed her "inhale...exhale" commands, I would not be breathing evenly AT I ignore them, and 2) instead of mats, the ladies on the DVD are practicing on these lovely large square rugs...when I work on a sticky mat I have to change its direction sometimes so I can still see the TV.

My third DVD is more of a toning workout:

The Perfect Pregnancy Workout Vol.1
Before doing this workout for the first time yesterday, I was able to convince myself that I was still in fairly reasonable shape. HA. Not so much, apparently. I'm still doing some massage, so I figured my upper body strength was still decent. I also figured I still had a fair amount of stamina and endurance. When I saw that there were two levels for the workout (Beginner and Advanced), I figured I'd be Advanced. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. I mostly followed the Beginner instructions (though I did use dumbbells for the arm exercises) and it was STILL a challenge! In all fairness, when my baby's dad saw the intro portion to this DVD he commented that this woman, while pregnant, could probably kick his ass. She is BUILT. She is also lovely and has a cute accent. And makes me feel like a slouch. Well, now I have a new workout goal, and that is to do this DVD at least once a week for as long as possible. If I can manage to do that, surely I can manage to push this baby out!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I went to Lewisville, TX this past weekend to participate in the American Association of Community Theatre's regional festival. I've been a part of an original piece called A-musing with Ashe Cultural Arts Center. We won at the Louisiana festival in February, so we advanced to the regionals. We didn't win in Texas, though - which I have mixed feelings about. The national festival is in New York in late June, when I'll be 8 months pregnant, so they would have had to replace me anyway. But it would have been nice for the rest of the team (who all worked harder and longer on this project than I did) to advance.

While packing to return home, it hit me that, for the first time in eight years, the home I was returning to was not New Orleans. I moved in with my partner (my baby's dad) at the end of March, and we live in Denham Springs.

I remember a few years ago, my sister and I (we lived together at the time) were thinking of moving to a new apartment, and we looked at some places on Algiers Point. We were unsure whether it would feel "too far" from downtown New Orleans. Ha! Now I'm a 90 minute drive away (if traffic cooperates).

I live in a subdivision with cookie-cutter new brick houses and no trees. There are no stores within walking distance. I've been forced to shop more than once at Walmart (which, among its other obvious issues, does not exactly have a great selection of vegan foods). Sometimes this still feels like a weird dream.

On the other hand, I now live in a 3 bedroom house with a big yard, 2 cats, and the guy I love. I've planted a vegetable garden. We've got a big compost bin, which for some reason I find ridiculously thrilling. Our son's room is gradually filling up with artwork, toys, and clothes that other parents have given me.

I'm still commuting to NOLA for work two days a week, and I've also visited often to see plays and attend French Quarter Fest. We recently checked out the Swine Palace Theater on LSU's campus, closer to home, for their production of The Metal Children, which I enjoyed.

The pace of my life has dramatically slowed over the past few months. I'm simply not able to work as much, to do as much theater, to exercise as much, etc. It was a big shift - much like the move itself. But I've found myself enjoying being able to really focus on one thing at a time. I do prenatal yoga DVDs. I cook dinner (I was doing that before, but it's nice to have someone to share it with). I finished revising the novel I've been working on for two years (finally!) and am ready to take that project to the next stage. When I was in Lewisville, I was able to direct all my energy to our performance and the necessary preparations. When I drove into NOLA for Playback rehearsal on Sunday, I felt fully "there," with no future responsibilities tugging at my brain.

I know this period will be brief. Believe me, every parent I know has informed me multiple times that this stuff will not be possible, at least for a while, after our baby is born. But it's where I'm at right now, and I'm enjoying the moments as they come, these days.