30 AND PREGNANT

When asked what I did for my 30th birthday this year, I usually reply with, “I got knocked up.” (But I also got grey hairs. A lot of them.) Now coming from someone who doesn’t typically care to celebrate her birthday, you may find this odd. In reality, however, it’s actually not odd at all considering that I wasn’t, in fact, celebrating. Well, I take that back. I wasn’t celebrating my 30th birthday per se, but I guess you could say that I was celebrating something- the fact that I no longer hated my husband. A (stupid) fight that commenced the night before my turning yet another year older, ended the next day with a kiss and makeup scenario. That morphed itself into a baby.


In hindsight, I always said that I wanted to be at least 30 by the time I got pregnant. And like most people would tell me (and like most of you are probably thinking now), “30 is just a number. You’re never really ready to have a baby.” But I have to say…I couldn’t disagree more. You see, 30 isn’t just a number to me. 30 is a significant moment in time, or in my life, rather, that has a number of significant, pre-meditated meanings. For example, 30 meant that I would have 1 year of owning a business under my belt. 30 also meant that I would have officially been married to my wonderful husband, Jared, for 5 blissful years. Years that consisted of but were not limited to: travel, wining and dining, and of course making up. But most importantly, above all the rest, 30 meant that I was one decade older, one decade more intelligent, one decade more mature, and 3 decades less self involved. All things (I’m guessing) that need to uphold when caring for a child (that’s yours).


So there you have it, I turned 30 and suddenly found myself pregnant, grey haired and desperate for answers (the 2 biggest ones being, “Are you really not supposed to pluck greys?” and, “Does coffee really hinder a growing fetus?”)


The moment I realized I was pregnant was the same moment my life took on a whole new meaning. And not the, “I’m growing another human inside of me” meaning, but rather the “Who am I, really?” concept that left me inquisitive for some strenuous self-searching. And I’ll tell you exactly when that moment occurred.


It was the day after Christmas, we were finally home from family house hopping, and I was tucked tight into bed when I suddenly smelled a fire. Upon telling Jared that he left the stove on and/or our neighbors house was bursting into flames, he looked at me like I was crazy (which happens a mere 5-7 times a day) and said, “I just blew out the candle in the kitchen.” Paranoia immediately set in as I wondered if A. he was secretly trying to kill me (and the dog), or B. our neighbors needed saving. So pretending like I needed to pee (a lie that anyone who knows me would DEFINETLY believe), I jumped out of bed, opened the bathroom door, and threw myself into the tub to peer out the window that sits above it. Sure to find 2 young children and a questionable rat terrier gasping for air amongst black fumes, I imagined what heroic move I would make next. But instead, to my surprise, I saw nothing but a dark, sleeping house. With half my body in the tub and the other half hanging on the windowsill looking like the female version of a peeping Tom, I realized…. I was pregnant. And that Jared actually wasn’t trying to end Sasha’s life and mine and start over from scratch.


In predictable fashion, I bought a pregnancy test the very next day and decided to take it at a rather inoperable time, when Jared was booking our upcoming, much talked about ski trip. We were approaching southwest.com when I said, “Brb, I have to pee.” And this time, I was telling the truth, considering I’d been saving up to take a test that held the potential to forever change our lives. I came back in the room moments later with the whole, “we can’t go skiing because I’m pregnant and way too competitive to go horse shoeing and drink hot chocolate while you and my brother hit the slopes” saga. Jared held me close, kissed me, but also admitted that maybe he didn’t believe it to be true, subtly inferring a false positive. (No worries, my dear hubby, the test of a lifetime came with 2 urine detectors.) So the next morning promptly at 6am, with my shower water running and Jared deep into his morning ritual, there we both sat, in the bathroom, clothe-less, waiting for the answer of a lifetime.


Cue the anxiety. Did I have what it takes to be a good mother? Was Jared going to love me as much? Was my business going to remain successful? Was I going to be able to care for my patients in the same way? Were they going to view me in the same way? I have an image to uphold, would this hinder my growing practice’s image that I’ve worked so hard for? Do I finally need to hire help? Could I color my greys while pregnant? Does decaf have the same effect on a pregnancy that regular coffee does? I was only 30 for like a second, wasn’t I supposed to join a co-ed soccer league? Wasn’t I supposed to accomplish more? Wasn’t I supposed to enjoy myself more? Wasn’t I supposed to meet Jennifer Aniston by now? But most importantly, was I ever going to love this child as much as I love Sasha, my Labrador/daughter/reason I live and breathe? And the calmer Jared acted about the whole thing, the more anxious I grew.


Just as the stress set in, and my “soul searching” continued, so did the vomiting. The first couple months of my pregnancy were equivalent to book titles called, “Puke Covered Walls”, “This Is My Life In Hell”, and “I Used To Think The Sound Of A Fart Was Funny Until I Got Pregnant”. As the vomiting reared it’s ugly head and roared to a 3x/day minimum, I thought…this shit is for the birds. Jared came home daily with varying, socially accepted nausea antidotes like saltine crackers, chicken noodle soup, and pressure point wrist-bands (he was convinced those would cure me). Unfortunately, I was in need of something far deeper than what looked like a sweatband from the 70’s as an ultimate cure.


The last and final time I threw up represented my pregnancy moment of serene epiphany. I had just downed a strawberry smoothie and was sitting at the foot of the bed when I started to feel “the path”- AKA: the smoothie slowly working it’s way back out of my system. At this point, I was over throwing up like you’re over reading about whether or not to vaccinate your children. Then suddenly, I recalled the infamous “mind over matter” concept and decided to give it a try. After all, I ran track in college, which is like 80% mental; I can totally will myself to NOT throw up. So bring on the brainpower…I’m not going to vomit. I’m not going to vomit. I’m not going to. Shit. Just as soon as the previously consumed strawberries hit the back of my throat, I was sprinting to the bathroom. And wouldn’t you know, this was the ONE time Jared decided to put the toilet seat (and cover) down. As I lifted up the toilet cover, the vomit came all in one projectile surprise, but rather than making it in the bowl as planned, it bounced off the toilet and painted the bathroom walls red.


Evidently, my vom rocket was loud enough to send Jared and Sasha running from the kitchen. Upon their arrival, Jared asked 2 questions: 1. “Did that just come out of your mouth?” and 2. “Why did you aim for the walls?”


Immediately deciding to ignore both inquiries, I hurried out of the room to rinse my mouth and rid my person of strawberry debris. By the time I returned, it was as if I had walked into a hue of golden light and angels singing. Jared was cleaning what I can only imagine he previously feared to be blood off of the bathroom walls, and Sasha was helping by licking off what little substance had made it onto the toilet.


And this. THIS was my wakeup call. These two people (yes, Sasha is a people) love and care for me so much, and they were going to love and care for this baby even more. It was about damn time I got on board and stopped worrying about material ideologies that were solely tainted with vanity and self-involvement. It was time I realized what an indescribable blessing this baby already was to my family and me. It was time I became a mother.


And that I did. I threw myself into what I know best: research and study. I geared my focus on positive thoughts, meditative like states, and relied on the things I could control rather than fear the unknown. I started taking care of myself more than I’d ever practiced before, in the forms of both mental and physical, but most importantly, nutritional. I concentrated on forging an in-womb connection between the baby and me. There was a tiny human growing inside me, and it was up to me to care and nurture him to the best of my ability.


Now I know how the human body works, but what I didn’t know is what it meant to develop a growing fetus. And for those of you who know me, know that not having answers doesn’t sit very well. So what did I do? I found them. The answers, that is.


As it turns out (and as I’ve written on before), the human body was designed to eat and digest certain foods, just as the female specimen was designed to carry a budding child for 9 months in womb. And it just so happens that our physiological response to certain food groups has the same aiding affect to a developing fetus.


Although, might I point out boldly, simply and immediately: it seems as though the most important thing to do as an expectant mother-to-be is to eat. Eat a lot, eat frequently, and eat well. Depriving oneself of food in fear of gaining weight or lingering on gestational diabetes is certainly not what your baby ordered. Nor does it make any physiological sense (unless, of course, you’re only consuming oreos, canola oil and salad).


More specifically, however, eating foods like butter, coconut oil, eggs, cheese, milk, FRUIT, beef, bone broth, potatoes, carrots, beets, chocolate, to name a few, as well as doing your best to avoid polyunsaturated fats during pregnancy increases thyroid activity, lowers cortisol production, and increases progesterone levels (also known as “pro-gestation hormone”) while simultaneously decreasing excess estrogen. Incidentally, all things in line with growing a human.


The physical aspect of exercise remains crucial to maintaining a healthy pregnancy as well. However, in the contrary, over-exercising never did anybody any good, particularly the pregnant woman. Adequate rest, when possible, is the ticket to a healthy mother and baby. Though it appears that weight bearing, spinal protective movements in conjunction with not only the postural aspect of your own body but also the profound physical changes that a pregnant woman undergoes represents the best form of prenatal exercise. Diaphragmatic breathing techniques, SI joint mobilizations and specific fascial stretches to restore physiological awareness seem necessary as well in order to prevent those common pregnancy woes such as back pain, pelvic pain, and sciatic nerve entrapment. According to Anna Bernard, pre/postnatal exercise specialist, contraction-based interval training and pelvic floor recruitment exercises also remain at the top of the list.


So as the inflammatory estrogen took a backseat and progesterone kicked into high gear, I slowly acquired my pregnancy vibe. I’ve been working my normal full schedule, eating like a king, and lifting weights 3x/week. I can honestly admit, into my now third trimester, that I have never felt better. My energy level is high, my physical function is in tact, and my digestive system is golden. Now while I realize I’m not at the end quite yet, I have not, thus far, experienced a single pregnancy “symptom” since the red room escapade. Although, if you ask my husband, he MIGHT say that my brain has been affected since pregnancy. But who cares if I decided to put the cheese in the dishwasher one day.


Our little dude will be here in just over 2 short months, and we are thrilled to soon be adding to our family. No matter how much we read, study, or discuss, we know that we are not prepared for what is to come. But what we do know is the amount of love we already have for him and are anxious to shower him with when he makes his debut. Pregnancy can be a terrifying and apprehensive stage in our lives, but it can also be incredibly fulfilling in a number of humbling ways. If we let it.


{Disclaimer: Everything in this article really happened and is not exaggerated. Except for one thing. Jared is very respectful when it comes to toilet seats. He never leaves them up. The writing just flowed much better if I blamed the red room entirely on him.}

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