Category Archives: Pregnant Wildebeest

Paradigms & Pain

December 27, 2012

I’ve been thinking about physical pain a lot lately. It may have something to do with the sensation of hauling around an extra 25 pounds (some of which wriggles on its own accord), and the extra stress that it puts on my back, my neck, and my butt (sciatica, anyone?). But mostly I’ve been thinking about it because in about 10 weeks I will be giving birth. I always assumed I would be flat-out terrified at this point. I pictured pregnancy as a train whose breaks have gone out just as it makes it over the top of a hill–think bareling, steam filled, shrieking panic to the valley below. But it doesn’t feel that way at all. In fact, I feel calm.

David and I have been attending hypnobirthing classes during the month of December and I’ve gotten all sorts of new looks at childbirth. I’ve watched several filmed births that involve no screaming, swearing, or (magically) epidurals, and I’ve wondered, could that work for me?

I’m not of the opinion that epidurals are evil. In fact I feel modestly annoyed when “natural birth” is toted as a girl scout merit badge to be won only by the truly womanly. When women feel strongly about giving birth without pain medication–and give birth–I think it’s incredible. When women opt for epidurals–and give birth–I think it’s incredible. Bottom line, the goal is a healthy baby who is no longer fist pumping your ribs, and there are many ways to achieve that.

As part of my hypnobirthing training, I have spent the past few weeks practicing relaxation and  listening to positive affirmations in the soothing voice of Marie Mongan (we just refer to her as “Marie” around here). It’s pretty great. It has really made me think about how my paradigms affect other experiences in my life, and I’m pretty darn curious about how hypnobirthing will play out on D-day. My main goal is to have a calm, peaceful birth, regardless of whether or not I opt for an epidural. No, that’s not true. My main goal is to get Baby Sam here safely. And if I can do that without panic, so much the better.

For the past few years I have considered myself a person with low pain tolerance. This doesn’t necessarily add up with my previous life experiences. I’ve never been bugged by things like shots or getting blood drawn, and as a teenager I would dance until my feet literally bled through my canvas toe shoes. But when I was 21 I had and experience that changed my perception of pain. I was in Mexico and while walking in the ocean I stepped on a piece of glass. It slid right into the bottom of my foot and for a few seconds I felt nothing but the slicing sensation. Then the pain seeped in. Pulsed in. Crashed in?

Anyway, it was horrible. I walked through the sand and salt for what felt like a half hour and basically cried and screamed as a few unbelievably unhelpful Mexican lifeguards assured me I was completely fine, and an American nurse (who just happened to be lounging on the beach near me with a kit that included equipment for impromptu stitches) bandaged me up. I was basically hysterical for about 3 hours–it hurt so badly.

When I finally stopped crying and fell asleep I was positive that I had just proven myself to be the biggest baby in the world. Yes, I’d cut my foot. But crying for 3 hours? Geez.

So for years, I’ve looked back at that experience as proof that I simply cannot tolerate pain. Then this year on Thanksgiving a new family friend told me about the time he stepped on a stingray in the ocean. He talked about how badly it burned and what an incredible amount of pain he was in. I joined in with my story of stepping on the glass. And then he asked me, “Did you see the glass?”

Well, no.

“Then how do you know it was glass?”

I didn’t.

In fact, our description of how the pain felt was remarkably similar–down to the several hours of horrible pain following the accident. And suddenly I realized. I don’t have a low pain tolerance. I just had a really painful experience. 

It was strange how completely that one realization has changed the way I see myself handling pain and, subsequently, birth. It was like that weird moment on The Parent Trap when the twins realize they are more than just arch-rivals. (Okay, it was nothing like that.) And now I’m wondering, what other false premises am I working under? Yes, this is a bit heavy for 2 days after Christmas, but so is this baby who woke me up at 4:30 this morning…

Exercise That Isn’t For Weight Loss

November 27, 2012

Being pregnant sometimes feels like one big departure from regular life. Things I never thought about are now a big deal (what position I sleep in, taking a multivitamin, putting on my shoes) and things that once mattered a lot, don’t. I’ve had a lot of mental shifts in the past 6 months, and one of the biggest ones is exercise.

I’m the first to admit that except for a brief stint in college when I exercised mainly to deal with depression and anxiety (did you know that 30 minutes of cardio a day is oftentimes more effective than an antidepressant?), I have always been an “exercise to look good” type of person. And although I’m glad I’ve remained active, I now think that my original approach was wrong. I also have a hunch that the popular reason for exercise (at least in our culture) doesn’t seem to be providing the motivation most of us need. (Think fitness centers packed in January and deserted by Valentine’s Day.)

After a lot of reading and personal experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that “exercising to look good” doesn’t seem to work as well as we’d like. Many people find that an increase in exercise leads to an increase in hunger and they eat the extra calories they work so hard to burn off. Others choose workouts geared towards looks only (think body builders) that don’t actually give them functional strength–just silly muscles designed to bulge when they point towards the gym. Others get highly motivated for a few days, then completely burn out after a few days of sore muscles. And some people think that it has to be all or nothing–a 6 mile run or it’s not worth lacing up your shoes.

(BTW, I am 100% not knocking anyone who has made exercise a part of their life for any reason–there are so many people who don’t do it, that any motivation that gets your heart pumping is well worth the effort.)

Before I got pregnant I was regularly working out to the point of exhaustion, or nausea, or both. Some days that was fun. Some days it wasn’t. But that changed immediately upon seeing that second pink line. I didn’t know what was safe and felt nervous going to my regular classes. In the early weeks of my first trimester I read a popular book that suggested avoiding exercise altogether because regardless of how hard the bump and I worked out I would a.) Still gain weight, and b.) still look terrible in workout clothes. For a few weeks of extreme sickness I enjoyed this philosophy, because frankly I could barely shower, so exercise seemed to be off the menu. But that all changed the first day I got in a pool.

I was on a research trip to gather info for my dad’s upcoming book in The Walk Series (shameless plug!). I can’t remember what city we were in but I woke up early one morning and went to the hotel pool. It was small, but empty, and I decided to break my exercise fast by doing some water aerobics moves I’d learned in my one ill-fated attempt at a prenatal water aerobics class (it was basically an hour of one participant complaining about foot cramps and the rest of us having to do foot stretches with her). I didn’t have music or a clock, but I decided to move as long as felt good. When I got out of the pool it had been 45 minutes and I experienced one of the least nauseating days I had in about 3 months.

At that point swimming became non-negotiable. It is the half hour a day that I am weightless, cold, and moving without things aching. I don’t swim very fast or well (just ask the well-meaning lifeguards who have tried to offer me swimming tips). Some days I dread it like you wouldn’t believe. My hair and skin hate it, my goggles always fog up, and I despise seeing band-aids at the bottom of the pool after the facility has had a swim meet. And here’s the weird part–despite my daily exercise, I just keep gaining weight. Lots of it. Most of it centered around my abdomen but also appearing in my breasts, butt, thighs and arms.

And still I go!

In other words, for the first time in my life I am really, truly exercising for a reason that does not involve vanity. I am exercising because it improves my mood. Because I enjoy feeling cold and weightless, and the happy wriggles of what I’m assuming is a half-fish baby. I am exercising to stave off gestational diabetes and to give myself a chance to unwind, and to entertain the lifeguards with my valiant attempts to swim laps with my gigantic maternity swimsuit never quite cooperating.

And I’m wondering, can I take this new mentality with me post-baby? Can I exercise because it feels good and makes me happy? Can I give up bootcamps and workout that leave me exhausted rather than energized? We are made to move–absolutely–I’m just wondering if a lot of us have lost sight of the fact that it is supposed to be enjoyable, not punishing. That we are supposed to feel our blood pumping and our breath moving through our body–but in a way that feels good to us. Long walks. Stretching. Bike riding. Those are things that feel good to me–but there are about a million different things that could feel good to you.

Am I alone on this? Does anyone else exercise for a reason other than burning calories? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Lemon Bar Mania.

November 14, 2012

Last night I went to bed on an empty stomach.

No, that’s not really true. I went to bed on a stomach full of perfectly good things like three-cheese tortellini tossed with roasted vegetables. I guess what I mean is that I went to bed with an empty heart. A heart that yearned–nay burned–for something more. And what was missing? What could I possibly desire with such an otherworldly intensity? A lemon bar. A silky, tangy, gooey ray of light to soothe my pregnant soul.

But it was not to be.

For one thing, when the craving hit it was past 10 PM and any conceivable lemon bar vendor was closed. So I looked to my own kitchen. Yes, it was true I had plenty of butter, sugar and even a glowing orb of hope sitting in my fruit basket. But I was exhausted. David had a test the next morning, which meant no demanding he put on my red-checked apron and learn how to make me some lemon bars. And as talented as our canine roommate means to be, he had worn himself out trying to interest our new handyman (who spent the evening hauling away a third of our storm-damaged tree) in playing with his squeaky penguin.

Shoot. I just realized I should have asked the handyman if he had any experience with baking. Next time, handyman. Next time.

So I did what any pregnant desperado would do–I tried to substitute what I really wanted (nirvana through butter) with something I had on hand, which happened to be a gorgeous bowl of pomegranate seeds. It almost did the trick. But I had to promise myself a silky smooth breakfast of what my heart desired.

So guess what I did first thing this morning? (Hint, it was not brushing my teeth.)

As I prepared to bake I congratulated myself on my excellent decision. But then the mania started. Here is an incomplete list of things that went wrong in the Welch Kitchen this morning:

  • My original recipe vanished from the internet. Vanished.
  • I realized I was missing my 8×8 pan
  • Butter exploded in the microwave and dripped like a summer rainstorm when I opened the door
  • Had the wrong size of eggs. This seems to matter
  • Wiped a handful of caramelized red onions through my hair

And finally, as I lovingly pulverized an entire lemon to create the filling (try this!):

  • My food processor sprang a leak and drowned my kitchen in a custardy river of disappointment.

And yet I carried on. I cobbled together extra ingredients. I fashioned a pan out of tin foil. I scraped filling off my counter. And somehow, somehow, they turned out. Gloriously. Hopefully. Tartly. I promptly served myself 1/3 of the pan and am now bathing in the afterglow of certain sugary bliss.

Here’s the recipe–best of luck to you. It was absolutely, one-hundred percent worth the effort.


Some things I love about being pregnant.

November 12, 2012

Several days ago we got home from one of the dreamiest trips I’ve ever taken: Costa Rica.

One of my best friends grew up there and after a few descriptions of the waterfalls and tropical storms and overall lushness I put it on my bucket list. When a TravelZoo deal too good to pass up popped up a mere week or two before we found out I was a Pregnant Wildebeest I may or may not have talked David into putting the whole thing on our credit card and paying it in reverse (you know, rather than the more practical, save-up approach). On the 8 hour flight over I watched my feet swell to the size of melons and then spent the week cooing at toucans, swimming in waterfalls, yelling at David to slow down on the ridiculously windy roads. It was amazing.

People in Costa Rica were not shy about my pregnancy. Granted, I suddenly have a Buddha belly and feel like I am lumbering everywhere I go, but for heaven’s sakes, no one here directs me to the Special Needs line at customs (1-hr line avoided, yes!). I wore plenty of horizontal stripes to show off my new shape and rubbed my belly way too much. I think I may be in the honeymoon stage of pregnancy. Here are some of the things I love about being pregnant:

1. Maternity jeans. Yes, this is number 1. I’ve always preferred yoga pants to a pair of Lucky’s, but now I get to wear jeans with a stretchy waist band. And they’re adorable. Someone may need to wrestle them from me post-baby.

2. Doting strangers. People like pregnant people. When I swim laps water aerobics ladies tell me about the 10 children they birthed. Neighbors touch my belly and refuse to apologize. People I never would have spoken to previously suddenly want to be buddies. It’s kind of like having a new puppy.

3. No more awkward conversations. Pregnancy is the ultimate conversation starter. People want to know about your pregnancy and they want to tell you about theirs. I recently went to a party that had the potential to be a full night of awkward conversations. But literally every conversation I had was about pregnancy and ended with both parties smiling. This is a huge improvement to conversations that start with “So what’s new?” and end with “…Well, good to see ya.”

4. Husband doting. David has always been rather attentive, but now I’m not allowed to lift economy-sized boxes of cereal or drag my own rolling suitcase. Adorable. He also talks to my stomach constantly–I’ve even caught him talking to the baby when I’m asleep.

5. Body image. I love this change. When you’re pregnant you give up the reigns on your body. Yes, weird and uncomfortable things happen, but you also get to let go a bit. No more crazy boot camp workout classes. No more diets. No more trying to assess if your stomach looks big in your new shirt (because the answer is always “yes”). This feels like a mental break.

6. Sleep. I know this will change as baby gets bigger, but I am sleeping like a baby. And my nightmares about misplacing a baby in a grocery bag or David impregnating other women have (mercifully) disappeared.

7. Feeling baby move. I love this. Barrel rolls, hiccups, and general unruliness seem to be constantly emanating from my belly. He is an active little guy and I love knowing he’s there.

8. Getting a sense of the baby. I don’t know if  this is a shared experience, but I feel like I’m getting a sense of the baby’s personality. I am also craving a warm little peanut body to cart around everywhere I go. We have about a thousand things to do before we’re ready for him to get here, but sometimes I wish he could be here now.

Pregnant Wildebeest Series Part 2: Obsessive Reading

October 19, 2012

I’m going to be totally straight with you: my first trimester sucked.

Friends would call. They’d say things like, “Hey! Haven’t seen you in a while. Do you guys want to go hiking/out for sushi/to a movie?”

And I say, “Gee, I’d love to, but I have to stay home and throw up.”

Actually, I’d lie and say things like: “Sorry, but I really have a lot of work to get done.” Or, “Can’t, I need to work on my ribbon-dancing routine.”

And then I stayed home and cried into my bowl of organic mac and cheese because I was so hungry and nothing would stay down. (Okay, that was just one night.)

(Friends, this is me officially telling you that we still like you. It was just a rough few months.)

And then I stayed home and read. Obsessively. It brought me back to the days when I devoured Goosebumps books under my dad’s book signing table (I could read 1.5 Goosebumps during an average book signing. All I’d have to do is remember the title and page number and I could pick up where I left off at the next book store.)

I’ve alway been a fast reader (and my job necessitates it) but pregnancy has made me a scary-fast reader. One particularly sick week I read 3 books in 4 days. Another night I read a novel (and found its grammatical errors–careful with quotation marks people) in the time it took David to go to a party for a couple of hours and come back. I told David I think I might be a savante.

He said that also explains why I no longer have any contact with the outside world.

Want a list of books to read? Here’s all I can remember from my first trimester reading, and I am sparing you the pregnancy books (mercy):

  • Turn of Mind, by Alice LaPlante (Read this!)
  • Drop City, by T.C. Boyle (All sorts of sexy hippies in this one. Unbelievable writing.)
  • Miserly Moms, by Jonni McCoy (Trying to learn the art of frugality.)
  • The Piano Teacher, by Janice Y.K. Lee (Excellent.)
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness (Book club choice, and very interesting.)
  • Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell (I just realized that the author’s first name is Rainbow. It made me like the book even more.)
  • Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan (Great.)
  • Sugarhouse: Turning the Neighborhood Crack House Into Our Home Sweet Home, by Matthew Batt. (Intimidating.)
  • St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, by Karen Russell (Weird. Very weird. You should try it.)
  • The Gap Year, by Sarah Bird. (Enjoyed. Except for all the talk of food. That almost did me in.)
  • Don’t Breathe a Word, by Jennifer McMahon. (This is a book about spooky fairies that I enjoyed. Enough said.)
  • My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet), by Toby Devens. (Please don’t ask me why I read this one. I just did. And besides some weirdly off-color language throughout I rather enjoyed it.)
  • The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, by Gary D. Chapman. (I really recommend this.)

And: A sexy book about a cowboy and a woman whose son is deaf. I can’t remember the title, but it had something to do with “Blue.” Google was no help in this matter.

I think it’s time we sign up for Comcast. I could really go for some reality TV right about now.





Pregnant Wildebeest Series Part 1: The Dr. Brewer Diet

October 16, 2012

I could easily write 1,000 words on how bad my morning sickness was. I could tell you I cried 3/4 days, had serious depression, and ended up on an IV at one point because no one–not even a Pregnant Wildebeest–can survive on half a pack of Skittles and approximately 3 oz of water a day.

But I’m really trying to forget it. And a particular incident at the SL Airport Park & Wait. I am working diligently to forget that too.

There’s a funny thing about morning sickness: no one has anything new to say on the subject. Approximately 99% of the Internet will tell you to sniff ginger. (You have no idea how angry that particular tip made me.) I also started getting very angry about all the “cute” morning sickness stories. You know, told by a woman bouncing a gorgeous, totally-born baby on her hip, “It was the funniest thing. I always had tuna fish on Thursdays. But that particular Thursday I took one look at my sandwich and couldn’t stomach it!”

Cute. Very cute.

But then there’s the 24 hour nausea that straight up won’t let up. I started having a hard time even thinking about a baby, because clearly being a mother makes me violently sick. I was also furious that no one told me it could be this bad. Wasn’t I supposed to get some kind of warning? Like, “Hey, Jenna, you may end up bawling at an Instacare when the check-in lady asks what you need to be treated for. And you’ll be so sick and dehydrated you won’t even be embarrassed.”

Was that 1000 words yet?

So one Sunday morning I woke up in total despair. Most days I had about a 15-minute grace period before the straight-up misery rolled in. This morning it was there to greet me even before the sun. I curled up in a ball. I prayed–hard–for help. I had said it for the last 3 weeks straight, but I could not possibly get through another day of sickness.

Then I got on the internet. I read about 3 articles on sniffing ginger and then found a blog by a woman with 10 kids. I liked the looks of this woman. She was pretty, had a nice house, and had 10 gorgeous kids. She also seemed rather pulled together. She had several amazing posts on mothering which made me cry. (I’m pregnant, remember?) She also said she liked to eat using the Dr. Brewer method.

A frenzy of research began.

By 7AM I had a plan. And I started eating. It was horrible. But for the entire day I made myself eat something with protein every TWO HOURS. I ate insane amounts of dairy. I choked down a yogurt halfway through church, hiding out in the parking lot. And here was the amazing part. I only cried for 20-seconds the ENTIRE DAY. You have no idea what an improvement that is. By the end of the day I tallied my eats. I’d eaten 8 times and consumed almost 100 grams of protein and 2200 calories. I’d also eaten a lot of fruit, and gotten plenty of calcium. I had even–wait for it–eaten 1.75 oz of grilled chicken and 1 cup of green beans. The italics are not an overuse. I hadn’t kept anything like that down in weeks.

Yes, I’d been nauseas 9/10 of the day. Yes, I’d puked a few times. But I felt so much better. I baked a batch of ginger cookies (no relation to the ginger sniffing articles). I took my dog on a 3 minute walk. I talked to my mom on the phone about something other than how hellish my life felt.

And for that, I love you Dr. Brewer. For even that one day of respite, I raise my slice of cheddar cheese (containing 10 grams of protein) to you.


Let’s get reacquainted.

September 21, 2012

I think it’s time to get reacquainted. Possibly over tea and wafer cookies. (I’ll wait while you go get them.)

Now let me tell you a little story. There once was a girl who seemed to enjoy making strange observations about everyday life. You know, taking the mundane and turning it into large, overblown blog posts. This is her:

Don’t ask why she took this particular picture. It isn’t important. But it is important to note that this is the last time she wore that knit sweater before its little holes stretched out enough to officially become Lewd And Obscene.

This girl (we’ll call her Green Lemon), had a cute husband and a dog that occasionally could look normal in photos, like so:

(She likes to call this photo “Man or Muppet?” after one of her favorite songs.) A much more typical picture of her dog is something like this:

So one day this girl was minding her own business, and this happened:

Followed by this:

And eventually this:


Did you fall for it? Of course not. You’re much too savvy for that. And besides, I haven’t been gone that long.

The baby pictured is Millie. She belongs to my cousin. Unlike my baby, Millie is fully cooked and ready for playing, so I occasionally have to take pictures with her. And make scary monster noises with her. My baby is about the size of an avocado, and in the two ultrasounds we’ve had displays the most delicious pair of chicken legs I’ve ever seen.

So that’s where I’ve been. And no, I haven’t been posting. But I have been writing. I’d like to take this opportunity to present my new series. It is called:


And there’s a whole line-up of posts waiting to be published. Stay tuned.