Don’t Call It False

I started having contractions last Saturday night. Exhausting, painful contractions. In the week that has followed, I’ve had them nearly nonstop. And the worst part is that I probably have three more weeks of this to look forward to. I’m only 37 weeks. It’s not “real” labor… or is it?

In my Internet travels, I have discovered that this is a whole different category of labor. I am not a midwife, doctor, or doula, but according to everything I have read and my consultations with birth professionals, I have learned that prodromal labor is real labor. It is NOT Braxton-Hicks. Braxton-Hicks contractions are a painless tightening of the uterus. These painful contractions start and build in waves, then ebb. They contribute to dilation and effacement. They are just… really slow. This is how my body prepares for the main event, and I need to learn to relax and deal with it.

I had these with Henry, and I remember being frustrated with them. But this time, I’m older and have a three-year-old to chase after. I’m tired. Doing anything physical causes these things to get into gear, so I have to take frequent breaks. I’m also psychologically tired. I don’t know how I will deal with three more weeks of work, but I have to work because I want to save my time off for when the baby is actually here. (Although at least I’m not scheduled for any more time on desk, so I don’t have to worry about walking patrons to the stacks.) I feel guilty because I don’t want to travel, just in case, but my family all lives far away, and I’m missing out on holiday events. I’m having trouble keeping Henry entertained. And I’m having trouble keeping me entertained – once the kiddo goes to bed, I can’t focus on anything!

So, the answers to all your burning questions: Yes, I could have the baby any day now, but “any day now” could be tomorrow, or it could be December. Yes, I’m in labor… sort of. No, contractions do not mean the baby is coming. And if you are in the same boat, this doesn’t mean you are weird, and you are not crazy! Relaxing is hard, but I’m doing my best – and enjoying what little sleep I am getting, because soon I’ll have even less!

Home Chef Adventures

Since I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, dealing with food has been difficult. I am on a highly restrictive diet, with testing of blood sugars four times a day. My friend Kristy graciously offered to make me dinner one night so I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking, and she made me an amazing recipe from Home Chef. Of course, I immediately wanted to know what this was all about.

Home Chef is part of the growing revolution of subscription products that are delivered directly to your door. They have a few competitors – Blue Apron, Plated, and Hello Fresh are the ones I ran across when doing research. But after having tried the food, I knew I wanted to try Home Chef first. Kristy got me a coupon, so my first delivery was less than $10 for three meals. They send them to you once a week, unless you skip a delivery or pause your account.

Check out this lovely unboxing video that my husband and I made. You can see everything that comes in the box, including the stay-fresh ice packs, recipe cards, and everything you need to make the meals.

I made the Brasserie-Style Steak with Green Beans and Frites. This is a meal delivery service, but the catch is that you actually have to cook the meals yourself. I like to cook, although I haven’t been able to do as much of it since I had Henry, and I imagine when the new baby comes, I’ll have even less time. I am not a very good cook, either. My version of the recipe did not look nearly as beautiful as the picture on the recipe card, and we had to throw the steaks back on because I didn’t cook them long enough. Still, the recipe was easy to follow, and the food was incredibly tasty. I liked having the ingredients perfectly portioned and dummy-proof, and I liked that there was food I wouldn’t normally think to buy. I also tend to skip on ingredients from recipes if I don’t think they’re necessary, but I’m afraid I have been missing out on flavors and combinations I didn’t know about before.

I’m excited to cook the other meals for the week. I have to skip next week’s delivery since I won’t have enough time to cook due to other commitments. Plus at about $10/serving, the cost is comparable to eating dinner out – I don’t think I could do this for three meals every week. But I will definitely check my account weekly, at least until the baby is born. It’s nice to have something to fall back on in case I’m not sure what to eat, since they have low-carb options, and the food is very good. The week of my birthday, there is a blue cheese steak!

UPDATE: We have now made all the meals for the week. My favorite was the rosemary chicken with roasted squash and apples. I just finished eating that, and it was amazing. I can’t wait to make it again. I never thought to roast squash and apples – it was so easy! I have reviewed the meals for the rest of November and have decided to order twice this month, once for my birthday week and once for Thanksgiving. I’m excited to see more of these awesome meals.

I did not receive any compensation or free items from Home Chef. Just a curious consumer.

Practicing Gratitude: The Struggle is Real

A while back I read a book called The Gratitude Diaries, in which the author spent a year learning to practice gratitude in the various areas of her life. Her experience was uplifting and powerful, and I wanted to learn to practice it myself, in addition to my other mindfulness and meditation studies. So far, it’s been difficult.

I have been resentful a lot lately, just because September has been a busy and stressful month. My credit card number was stolen, my house is bug-infested, I’ve been busy with my online class so I have little time to clean, and now I also have gestational diabetes. Because of all the extra doctor’s appointments, I had to take some time off work, which produces mega-guilt. Even if I have earned the time, I feel as if I’ve let people down by not being there, and I don’t want people to think I’m skipping out. (I have a bad habit of worrying what other people think of me.) My emotions have been volatile and all over the place, mostly because of the GD. Even in my limited down time, I haven’t been able to relax. All I do is search for more information on GD and how to fix it. So then I feel resentful that I’m not doing anything for self-care.

You know those people who, whenever you say that something is hard, they respond with their own problems? You feel frustrated because you don’t feel empathy from the other person. There may be sympathy there, sure, but suddenly the conversation is all about them. That’s how I’ve been feeling lately about myself. Why should the internal conversation be all about me, all the time, about my worries? I don’t want this to transfer to the external world. I don’t want to be the person that everyone hates being around because all she does is complain. So to do that, I can only be grateful, and spin things to the positive.

I have GD? It’s not my fault. It’s my pancreas and the placenta not getting along. I’m monitoring it because I want to have a healthy baby. I’m doing everything I can to create the best start for my son. I didn’t do enough with Henry? I didn’t know I had GD till after he was born – I just barely passed that 3-hour sugar test, and I didn’t realize I should have been watching it more closely than I was. But we did the best we could, and he’s an active, healthy child now, and I’m grateful for him. My medical team is giving me conflicting information? Well, GD is a complicated thing, and every person is different. You can’t make a blanket statement about it for anyone. My medical team is caring and compassionate, and committed to helping me get through this, and I’m lucky I have access to this kind of care.

Practicing gratitude is hard, but when you take the time to break it down, it can be powerful and intense. Everyone has something to be stressed about. You might think you have nothing to be grateful for. You might say it’s easy for me to be grateful, because of my income, my job, my spouse, whatever. Some people have even said I have no right to feel certain emotions about my life. But each of us has the right to feel our own emotions, and we should, so that we don’t tuck them away in a corner, where they will eat us. But then, each of us also has the power to create our own happiness. For some, it is harder than others, and yes – the struggle is real. We are all fighting our own battles, and some of us struggle with severe depression and anxiety, where the mere thought of being grateful seems like a pipe dream. Gratitude is not the answer for everyone, and for every situation. But if you can, if you feel a moment of joy, take another moment to be grateful for it. Build it, moment by moment, until it has become part of you. At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.