Sexy, Savvy, Natural Mama

a blog space for pregnant ladies, new moms, feminists, and interested souls

Pregnancy and the Loss of Self: 27 Weeks June 24, 2010

When you’re pregnant, you think a lot about the things that you can’t do. I try not to get too bogged down in most of the things you always hear you can’t do — I limit my caffeine but I drink some here and there, I’ve eaten a piece or two of brie and I would never toss goat cheese off of my plate, and I’m probably planning to break the sushi vow pretty soon. Mmm sushi.

What people don’t tell you is that you can lose parts of yourself that you never expect to lose. Along with the unwieldy body that changes the shape of who you are comes the things you can’t do, the trips you can’t take, and the people you can’t see. Anyone who knows me well probably has figured that I love to be social, travel, and generally enjoy myself. For me, this has recently taken the form of taking trips with my girlfriends, or planning a romantic getaway with my husband. In the more removed past, it took the form of jaunting off to the Philippines to get a diving license and swim with whale sharks. When in California, my van rolled from Santa Barbara through Orange County, LA and San Diego and up the 1 to Monterey, Big Sur, Salinas, San Francisco, and Berkeley. It saw rest stops on the highway, empty fields and vineyards, and the wild and beautiful California coast for hundreds of miles.

This summer has been, and mostly will be, at home. I’ve been invited out to see my California friends in LA and again for a girls’ weekend unlike any other in Tennessee. These are trips I would have bent over backwards to make before — and I have for the past two summers. It has been so important for me to stay connected to that adventure life where I could plan a trip and leave my normal life for a moment, to return refreshed and relaxed.

It has hurt me to lose this from my life this summer — it has hurt me to have to say no. I had tried to plan for a trip to California, but after my work retreat to New York, I knew I wouldn’t handle it well with my fatigue and the swelling in my feet. What has hurt me most is missing my Tennessee adventure. But with an eight hour car ride at thirty-one weeks pregnant, or a flight I would likely not be allowed to take, combined with my husband’s worry, I couldn’t make it. With these simple trips, I feel that I’ve lost a part of myself, and I wonder what else I might lose.

I am well aware that there may be no more trips to Cebu or Kyoto, and that I may not even be able to show my son the coast at Big Sur for many years to come. I’ve been mourning those losses since we decided to get pregnant, and I tried to cram as much into last summer as I could — San Diego, San Francisco, Lake Michigan, the Outer Banks. I’ve been trying to enjoy being at home this summer, and I’ve been working to look forward to the time I will have with my little boy and my husband. But I didn’t know that not seeing my friends, not releasing myself to a long, solitary road trip, or a flight to a new place would hit me so hard, and I never knew I would feel as disconnected from the person that I have been.

I know now that I must look forward, but it hurts me to do this. I must now change my perspective, and in that, give away part of myself that I have so long struggled to hold on to. But in giving that away, I know that I will gain something tremendously valuable in return. My husband and I will be creating a family, building a home, and raising a child to create adventures of his own. I know that I will miss the person that I was before we moved to the East Coast, and my passport may well expire, but the adventures that I have will not disappear. Instead, they will be closer to home: catching fireflies in the summer, baking cupcakes, decorating a real Christmas tree, setting up a pool in the backyard, or watching our son realize that he is seeing his first snow.

I won’t ever say that my traveling life won’t remain valuable to me, or that I will opt out of any and all trips during the long, hazy days of summer. I may well keep many of the parts of who I have been, but they will be combined with the new task of raising a conscious, respectful, and curious human being who may someday take part in all of the adventures I dreamed of and many I cannot yet fathom.


Third Trimester Survival June 21, 2010

Filed under: pregnancy,Products — hokoonchi @ 10:01 pm
Tags: , ,

I just officially entered my third trimester — or at least my iphone app tells me so. I’ll be experiencing this less delicate time during July, August, and early September. Perfect timing, right? I’m definitely freaking out a little bit that it’s all so close and so soon, but I’m taking measures to keep myself healthy and in check … But how do I survive it in the best way possible? Here’s my guide for the third trimester summer survival kit:

1. Yoga ball — my back has gotten to the point where it hurts to sit in certain ways or stand for extended periods of time. I would recommend using a yoga ball when sitting for long periods of time. It was a lifesaver for me during a long meeting last week, and I’m planning to start using it in my sewing room as well. Bouncing and rolling on the yoga ball also stretches out those muscles and makes the body feel a lot better. My doula also recommends bringing one to the hospital since it’s great for your body and your comfort to labor on the ball.

2. A nice swimsuit and a friend with a pool — This is the only thing that’s going to get me through. Unfortunately, my friend who has a pool is moving in July … so I’ll have to beg someone else. The pool is the only place I feel weightless. It’s great to stretch and just move your legs around in the pool. Total bonus.

3. A foam roller — What a fabulous invention. For those of you who have never used it before, it’s a revelation. When lying on the roller in various positions, you can give yourself the equivalent of a deep tissue massage. During pregnancy, it’s excellent to do this on the glutes, hip flexors, and lower spine. I also love stretching out my chest and shoulders while lying on the roller.

4. A yoga DVD or yoga class — My prenatal yoga class is a lifesaver. I’ve learned a lot of new stretches and techniques to alleviate pain, and you get to practice your meditation and detachment for labor. I can’t recommend this enough (full post on this to follow).

5. A tennis ball — I got this tip from my yoga class. Use a tennis ball or golf ball to massage your feet and hands. When we did this in class, my feet especially felt a lot different afterward. You can just put your weight on one foot, and roll the ball around on your other. It evens out the fascia and muscles, and it makes those summer-swollen feet feel a ton better.

6. A body pillow (or two) — Even though I’m not in love with my Leacho back and body pillow since it’s too big and bulky, I’ve started sleeping with it again. You really need a pillow between the legs while sleeping to even out the spin and support your belly … It helps the back feel better in the morning. I would recommend getting a cheap, long body pillow instead of a fancy maternity pillow like the Leacho. It will probably do the same job and take up less space in the bed.

That’s all for now! I may come back and add after experiencing more of my third trimester!


Take your DHA!

Filed under: pregnancy — hokoonchi @ 3:21 pm

Very cool article on benefits found here.


Three Years Married … June 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — hokoonchi @ 1:41 am

We got engaged in April of 2006 in a little inn in Wakayama Prefecture in Japan. It was cherry blossom season. A day later, Eric got the flu and I had to take care of him for the rest of his visit to Japan. After he left, I got the flu too.

Three years ago this week, we got married at the courthouse in Santa Barbara. Even though June is a foggy month on the coast of California, the day was beautiful, and I managed to get pretty terrible sunburn. We honeymooned in Hawaii, where we both got sick.

Since then, we adopted our first baby.

And then we decided to make a baby of our own (but it looks like the first baby won’t ever remove herself from the picture).

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life. I hope there are many, many more years to come …


The Shoes You Must Have — Pregnant Ladies Edition June 18, 2010

YES, you need to buy new shoes. Along with the maternity clothes. An expense you didn’t know about? Not me, you say? Well, read on …

I recently heard something on the radio that I figured out around week six of my pregnancy — pregnant women shouldn’t wear high heels! Check out the full article HERE. If you don’t end up reading the article, let me summarize in my own vernacular:

1. During pregnancy, your body starts to release the hormone relaxin. Relaxin’s main purpose is to soften the joints of the pelvis so that it becomes more flexible during birth. Unfortch, it ends up softening the joints in the whole body — which leads not only to a nicely relaxed pelvis, but also a body more prone to pulled muscles, back pain, and you guessed it — foot pain! The foot is all full of bones and joints and ligaments, and relaxin makes them mash all down and out and about, making your foot mooshy, big, and not easily supported.

2. Heels hurt your foot, even on the best of days when you are non-pregnant. They may look super cute, but they hurt your feet and your calf muscles. And they make you more prone to fall — and when you’re preggo, you’re wobbly and more prone to fall anyway.

3. You shouldn’t wear super FLAT soled shoes either — like Uggs, ballet flats, or flat-soled flip flops. They give those mooshy big feet like, NO support.

In conclusion, you have to be WISE about the shoes that you wear during pregnancy, or you’ll end up with sore feet, super-swelling, and possibly a sprained ankle or worse from a fall. Wear supportive flats instead!

Here are my suggestions for the shoes you need during a summer pregnancy:

Fit Flops

Fit Flops

1. Fit Flops: I had these guys before I got preggo. My mom’s best friend gave them to me, and my mom thought I’d never wear them since they’re not “cute.” Instead, I wore them all last summer. My dog ate one of the pair, and I got a second pair from Amazon ASAP.  Ever since it got hot, I’ve worn them as much as possible, all the time. They’re great on long walks, trips to the mall, or just about anywhere you go. They are extremely supportive (MUCH different than other flip flops), and they’re the most comfortable shoe ever. The CLAIM is that they burn more calories because of they way they’re shaped. I don’t know about all that, but I know they are really awesome and comfy. I’ve never had a day that my feet hurt in these … Buy ’em on Amazon!

Born Wedges

Born Wedges

2. Anything by Born, really: I have a pair of Born wedges very similar to these. I will warn you that I fell the first time I wore these guys, but that’s mostly because I’m a klutz and was adjusting to the height. I have not fallen since, and as such, I highly recommend these guys. If you are allowed to wear open-toed shoes at work, these will work well. They are cushy and soft on the sole, and very comfortable and cute. I got mine at DSW. No pain in these guys either …

Earth Shoes

Earth Shoes - Stunning

3. Earth Shoes – I just got these guys last week, and I’ve broken them in after only a couple of wears. They have negative heel technology, which adjusts your posture and is easy on your back. Some of these crazy shoes that claim things like this don’t really work, nor are they comfortable. The Earth shoe really works. I have crazy flat feet that are super painful during this stage of pregnancy, and these automatically lift me into a better posture, and make me feel like I can stand up all day to teach my classes. They have the reverse heel, a strong arch, and toe support. I’ve successfully killed the arch with the flatness of my feet, but otherwise, the support is totally working for me. Tip: try these on in a high end store like Comfort One or The Walking Company, and then order your size on Ebay. You can see Earth shoes run $100+ … but I got them on Ebay for $50.

So these are the shoes I wear most often this summer. I can also recommend for the cooler months:

A pair of knee-high boots by Born – cute, comfortable, supportive … will look great with skirts, dresses, trousers, or jeans. I love mine!

A pair of flats by Clarks Unstructured – extremely breathable, soft insole, and molds easily to your foot. I have two pairs and have worn them until my feet expanded by a half size. Great in winter, spring or summer!

Waterproof knee-high boots by Merrell – excellent design, wonderful replacement for Uggs (which aren’t waterproof!), and will get you through those cold, rainy, snowy months. I have a pair of Merrell knee-highs that aren’t waterproof, and I’ve worn them til the soles have started to decay. I plan to get these next!

Casual shoes by Merrell – super comfort and warmth in winter. Perfect to wear with jeans or trousers … can be worn to work as well. I’ve loved my casual Merrells.

Of course, I also recommend a high-quality sneaker. Walking is great during pregnancy, and although all the shoes above are excellent for mall walking or taking a stroll, you’ll need something dedicated to exercise. I recommend Merrell or Saucony on that front … but you probably already have a favorite brand.

Remember, your feet will grow at least one half size during pregnancy (mine did by four months or so), and maybe more during the hot summer months when swelling is at its worst. So yeah, there’s no getting around it: you WILL need several new pairs of shoes to get you through. Make sure they are high quality, supportive flats or wedges, and not heels, flat-soled ballet shoes, or Ugg types. Try more expensive brands on, and pick one or two items to get you through the preggo season. Try them on at the store, and then search on Ebay! Never hurts to hunt for a bargain …

Happy shoe hunting!


The Pregnant Lady’s Medicine Cabinet June 15, 2010

The pregnant lady must have a medicine cabinet different than that of the non-pregnant lady. It’s a necessity. My pre-pregnant medicine cabinet involved a lot of Advil, the occasional Sudafed, and Alka-Seltzer when indigestive. I quickly learned that this won’t fly when pregnant. I even remember the day when my former coworker told me that you don’t get to take Advil while in a family way. I was stunned, shocked, and indignant. How would I survive? I’ve always had scoliosis and a resulting plethora of back ailments — all of which are aided by yoga, stretching and massage, but often need to be supplemented with Advil. (I actually had the thought today that I would be excited to be able to take Advil again. How sad is that?) Anyway, I’ve needed to adjust. I’ll share my current medicine cabinet with you. For the newly pregnant, I hope this helps!

On a side note, as much as we all wish we didn’t have to take meds while pregnant, you may have to. The list below has been approved by both doctors I’ve seen, my pregnancy iphone app, and several reference books.

1. Tylenol for headaches (doesn’t work as well for body aches) — Keep stocked up on regular strength Tylenol. According to my current doctor, you can really take as many as you want, and it won’t harm the baby. I try to limit myself to two in any given day, and I try not to take it more than two or three times a week. I figure Tylenol is fine for my baby — there’s tons of stuff out there that says it’s absolutely and totally harmless — but I don’t want to overdo it, particularly not for MY liver. When I’ve gotten sick (three times — a bad cold in February, a stomach virus in April, and bronchitis just now), I’ve been a bit more liberal with dosage. Doc says totally safe — don’t worry about this harming your little one. Lots of pregnant ladies get raging headaches at different points in their pregnancy, so get a bottle, and use it when need be.

2. Tums for heartburn and upset stomach — I’d much rather have an Alka-Seltzer right now for this crazy heartburn, but I can’t. Tums and Rolaids taste gross, but they work fast on heartburn and stomach upset, and will be a boon to you throughout your pregnancy. These are again fully approved by the docs, and if you look at the ingredients, they’re just calcium citrate (a highly digestible form of calcium). They’re actually recommended for women with a calcium deficiency, since they readily absorb so easily. They’re pretty much like a vitamin that soothes heartburn. Go to Costco and get a big old pack. (Tagamet, Zantac and the like are labeled OK by the docs as well.)

3. Doxylamine or Dipenhydramine for insomnia and morning sickness — These guys are found in your OTC sleep aids like Unisom or Tylenol PM. Again, labeled totes safe by many different sources. They are both antihistamines that help a lot of people sleep. I know that I have had some terrible nights without sleep, and recently I bought a bottle of dipenhydramine to get me through the bronchitis (since Nyquil is out). I just take a half of one and it soothes me to sleep. Before, I would have used the natural supplement Melatonin (which docs do NOT recommend during pregnancy). Now, this works okay. I don’t take more than one or so a week, and as I said, I split them in half. They make some people a little groggy, so start off with a quarter of a pill if you start having some severe preggo related insomnia. Crazy enough, these guys also work for morning sickness. Doctors recommend taking a half of a pill at night, and many women can attest that this helped their stomachs remain calm in the next day. Pretty cool, huh?

4. Prenatal vitamins for vitamin goodness — You gotta have prenatals! It used to be that doctors prescribed them to their patient, but my doc says the OTC kind are cheaper, and just as good these days. Most insurance won’t cover the prescription kind anymore, so going with the Vitamin Store kind is probably just fine. I checked out a bunch of different varieties, most of which you have to take three or four times a day. Ugh. I can tell you right now I’d never remember to do that. So I picked the Prenatal One Rainbow Light brand. They are all organic, include herbal supplements that calm the stomach and promote milk coming in, and you only have to take one a day! They contain all the same things that the other vites have, and they are exceptionally easy on the stomach. Get ’em on Amazon for a great price here! Take them through pregnancy and breastfeeding, and you’ll be all vitamined up. DON’T substitute a regular vitamin even if they are less expensive — they have too much vitamin A and can harm your baby!

5. Prenatal DHA supplement for fetal brain development and prevention of postpartum depression — I got a few samples of DHA supplements from my first doctor, along with some prenatal vitamin samples. I was all like, hey, I didn’t know I needed these. I then did some research and asking questions about DHA during pregnancy. DHA promotes brain and nervous system development in babies, and helps the mom’s brain and nervous system (as well as her circulatory system and cholesterol!). Nordic Naturals is definitely the best brand for fish oil — before, during, or after pregnancy. This particular DHA supplement by Nordic Naturals is formulated for pregnant women in that it has the highest level of DHA, no heavy metals, and extra vitamin D. (The fish they use is krill, which will have no mercury in ’em since fish with mercury are predatory fish, and krill are just … dinner for whales.) If you are a vegetarian or vegan, check out the Enfamil Expecta DHA supplement. These also have the added benefit of not giving any fish burps (the Nordic Naturals have only given me a few here and there — much better than the regular Costco brand of fish oil.)

6. Pregnancy tea for uterine toning and healthy pregnancy support — I totally recommend Traditional Medicinals Pregnancy Tea. It’s really yummy, calms and soothes the upset stomach, and claims to tone the uterus and prepare it for childbirth. Mostly, it’s soothing. It might not do all that it claims, but it certainly tastes good, and it can’t hurt. A great substitute for coffee drinkers!

7. Morning sickness tea for nausea, heartburn and general ick — Peppermint tea will work, and lemon ginger tea works too. But Morning Wellness Tea is the best stuff I tried. Instantly soothing to the sick stomach. It got me through many days at work, and many nights of nausea after dinner. Can’t be beat.

Start building that medicine cabinet when you first realize you’re knocked up! It will help you so much to have meds, vitamins, supplements and teas to support you through this delicate time …

On a side note, if you are trying to get pregnant, it’s great to start taking your prenatals and your DHA so that you can start nourishing your baby before you know you are pregnant.


The Elusive Waterproof Boppy Cover! June 14, 2010

Filed under: motherhood,nursing,Products — hokoonchi @ 2:26 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I definitely intend on getting a Boppy Pillow for nursing (it supports the baby while he hangs out and nurses). It gets great reviews — both anecdotal from friends and family members, and just through sheer numbers on Amazon. However, I have heard a common complaint — there is a surprising dearth of waterproof covers! One reviewer on Amazon even said she had to cover the whole thing in Saran Wrap.

Non-moms may ask: why does the cover need to be waterproof?

Future mom answers: From what I understand, breast-feeding is a somewhat … juicy process. There are lots of fluids flying about — colostrum, milk, baby spit, baby spit-up, burbles and gurgles. And what does milk do? Even human milk? It spoils and goes sour and smells narsty.

Having recently considered this problem, I started a search for the waterproof Boppy Cover that must surely exist.

Etsy to the rescue! Ladies (and gents), check out this seller:

I think I may have purchased the last waterproof cover she has available in her shop, but I imagine if you email her, she can update you on when she’ll have more available.

You can also find one here. Actually looks pretty cool — might want to check out the other stuff on there too!

For a Boppy alternative, check out My Brest Friend. Some people like one; some like the other. Make sure you find some waterproof covers!