Holiday Hullabaloo

It’s a week til Christmas and the Holiday Hullabaloo is in full swing!  Isn’t hullabaloo such a great word?  Technically it means “a clamorous disturbance.”  So yeah, the holidays are a temperamental blend of being enjoyable yet chaotic.  Add a high-risk pregnancy to the mix, and keeping your sanity can quickly become a real struggle.  Here are some tips on how to gracefully handle survive the season.

Lower Those Expectations

Even in my pre-pregnancy life, I was never one for big, fancy Christmas parties.  The schmoozing, forced mingling, and awkward moments of silence with party goers you don’t know always gave me an uneasy feeling.  I will say this, though, I have perfected the fake laugh for when a saucy uncle or drunk coworker makes a lame or inappropriate joke.

Really? Did you just say that?

Really? Did you just say that?

So when you’re preparing yourself to either host or attend a holiday party, don’t freak yourself out by anticipating the worst.  Remember that if people know you’re pregnant or have health issues, the only thing that’s expected of you is to answer cliche questions (“So are you excited?”), ignore weird comments (“Enjoy this party, ’cause fun is over after the baby comes!”), and dodge the belly-rubbers.  Don’t hold yourself to unrealistic standards and don’t let anyone give you a hard time about it.  They should just be happy you’re wearing pants.

Let It Go (don’t take it personally)

When people make offensive remarks, treat you differently, or otherwise cause you to feel uncomfortable, try not to let it get under your skin.  The sucky part is, most of the time it’s those closest to us that can say the (unintentionally) worst things.  While your partner, in-laws, and best friend may mean well, a simple “You don’t seem like yourself; you were acting weird at the party,” can cut deep.  Your hormones are at an all-time high, so even the most innocent observation made by a loved one can make you feel like you’re a high-risk pregnancy alien.

Buster knows how I feel

Buster knows how I feel

So while dignity and grace may seem like qualities of the past, a little poise can go a long way.  Sure it’s hard to muster a diplomatic smile when your pelvis feels like it’s slowly being crushed into oblivion, but flipping out on your aunt for saying it looks like you’re smuggling a watermelon isn’t exactly keeping in the holiday spirit.  Trust me, as awkward and weird as you feel about all the changes happening to your body and psyche, those around you are grappling with how to connect with this different and new you, too.  Cut everyone the same slack that you would like them to give to you.

Accept Help & Take Shortcuts

Yes, you are superwoman.  No, you don’t need to prove it.  Put down the casserole dish, slowly back away, and nobody gets hurt.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: bravery and pride are not the same thing.  You may be like me and you don’t want to admit to yourself that you are no longer able to do the things you once did.  Or you may be like thousands of other mothers who have fallen victim to the expectation that pregnant women should be able to “do it all” and better look good while doing it, too.

Thank you, Society.

Thanks a lot, Society.

With so much on your plate already, joyfully accept any and all help offered to you during the holiday season.  And don’t feel bad if this year your pumpkin pie is of the Sara Lee variety.  Be vocally appreciative when someone provides assistance and remember that help comes in many forms.  It can be tangible, like a home-cooked meal, or it can be something meaningful like running an errand for you or just giving you a shoulder to cry on when you realize that cute dress doesn’t fit you anymore.

Comfort is Key

Speaking of clothes that don’t fit anymore, for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t squish yourself into an uncomfortable festive frock for appearances’ sake.  I made the mistake of cramming myself into a pair of stockings for a holiday occasion.  Granted, they were really really cute stockings, but after fifteen minutes of yoga-like positions trying to get them on, the end result was that my pudgy preggo legs looked like they were stuffed into very sad sausage casings.  I also forgot that, as a living human, I would eventually need to eat.  I’m truly surprised my stockings didn’t spontaneously burst.

Sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping!!!

Sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping!!!

Needless to say, after I peeled off my stockings, I promised my poor body I would never subject it to such cruel abuse and torture ever again.  Now, a sparkly headband is the extent to which I choose to express my holiday cheer.  Dresses or over-sized tops and sweaters paired with stretchy leggings will be your best friend during this season.  You’re already in enough discomfort with your pregnancy and health issues, so don’t make it harder on yourself by sporting high heels and painfully tight attire.

Emotions… OH GAWD THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!

If you haven’t already, you will at some point inexplicably cry over something that isn’t actually that sad.  The holidays will put your emotions to the test.  Now I’ve never been particularly maternal or girly, so the sensation I felt when watching a Kohl’s holiday commercial where a young couple secretly decorates an elderly widow’s apartment seemed foreign and strange.  “Are my eyes leaking?  What’s happening?!” I thought to myself.  But I soon found out that this was totally normal and even non-pregnant humans tear up when evil marketing execs concoct intentionally sad commercials designed to render you emotionally vulnerable and more inclined to buy their products.  My emotions were all over the place in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Yup, pretty much

Yup, pretty much

So try not to be embarrassed if you find yourself getting weepy at the dinner table when relatives are reminiscing about a loved one.  Or you could even get emotional over something really trivial and that’s normal, too.  I had a minor breakdown when I not only couldn’t get my turtleneck on, but then I got stuck and couldn’t get it off either.  My husband’s laughter only made my rage induced blubbering swell even more.  Try not to get hung up on the negative side of the emotional roller coaster.  Remember that the holidays are a time of love, celebration, and really awesome food.  Enjoy the moment (and take plenty of leftovers).

I’ve Got the C-Section Blues

First off, apologies for the gap in posts.  As I’m sure any mom or mom-to-be out there knows, sometimes life happens and things can quickly get overwhelming – especially during the Holiday season!  All that aside, I wanted to write a post today about my impending c-section.  It wasn’t by choice, but that doesn’t make it a pill any easier to swallow.  So here’s the candid, raw look into the sometimes messy world of a caesarean section birth.

You are not alone

Michael Jackson had at least one thing right.  No matter how odd I thought something was in this pregnancy, after a little searching I would always find that I was not the only one having that experience.  Recently, I’ve been struggling with having to get a c-section.  In some weird way I felt like less of a “real woman” because I can’t give birth to my son the way the good Lord intended.

Sometimes you need a good snap

Sometimes you need a good snap

At the admonishment of many of my much saner friends, I very quickly realized that having a c-section in no way changes the status of your womanhood.  Some of the ways in which I’ve heard women describe a c-section: cop-out, quitting, failure, last resort, giving up, losing the race, have to throw in the towel, etc.  All of these words just create a cage in which we women put ourselves.  You and I are not wrong for having these feelings and moments of doubt, but we are not correct in giving them validity.   You are doing and have done everything in your power to make sure that this pregnancy is as healthy as possible.  So don’t beat yourself up in the homestretch.

No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus

This would be the most accurate way to describe what it felt like when I was told that my connective tissue disorder (and frequent hip dislocations) would prohibit me from having a natural birth.  Part of me was like, “Bones?  Who needs those?  I can totally have a baby naturally!  No pain, no gain, right doc?!”  My doctor did not find my jokes (or my overcompensating nervous laughter) very funny.  Whatever, his loss, I’m a freaking genius comedian.  But honestly, behind the awkward sweaty smile was a kid who just found out Santa was really a middle-aged, pillow-wearing, wino just looking to make some fast cash at the mall.

Sometimes you just need a minute

Sometimes you just need a minute

One of this biggest reasons why I was having a freak out session was that I just had this very clinical, impersonal image of what a c-section was in my head.  This is my first pregnancy, and I honestly don’t know if it will be my only pregnancy.  So I want the birthing experience to be meaningful, special, and something I will be able to look back on fondly.  But to me, getting a c-section was reminiscent of the time when the DJ played the wrong entrance song for me and my husband at our wedding.  Sure the rest of the day was amazing and it was an awesome ceremony, but anytime anyone brings up the awkward moment when the song from “Beverly Hills Cop” inexplicably started playing, I can’t help but cringe.

Plans are for the crazy and the naive

Sometimes I happen to fall into both of those categories.  If you know me, you know I love nothing more than planning and projects.  But just like clockwork, I would find with alarming consistency that my well-intentioned plans never seemed to work.  I would drive myself bonkers trying to make my pregnancy look and feel like how I thought it was supposed to be.  Okay, so maybe it takes me a little longer than most to admit defeat when a plan just isn’t working.  But c’mon, when so little is in our control during a high-risk pregnancy, is it really so bad if we lose it from time to time when things don’t go the way we wanted?

So help me, I will make this work!!

So help me, I will make this work!!

 Allowing myself a mini pity party when I found out I couldn’t have the natural birth I wanted was actually one of the best things I could have done.  I let myself be bummed, and then I shifted my attention to regrouping and adjusting my plans.  It still gave me something to focus on.  If I had just smushed down my disappointment and slapped on a shiny, happy veneer, you can bet good money that a small town could easily be destroyed by the ensuing floods when my emotional dam inevitably ruptured.  So don’t ignore feeling let down, but don’t let it consume you either.  No one wants the deaths of imaginary townspeople on their conscience.

C-Section ≠ Meaningless

At the direction of a good friend, I discovered the wonderful world of family-centered, natural caesarean birth!  Though it is still more common in Europe than at home here in the States, it is gaining popularity.  And why shouldn’t it?  Every mother deserves to have the birthing experience she wants.  In the natural c-section, just a few minor changes allow for a more personal mood in an otherwise cold and clinical setting.  They do thinks like placing the IV in the non-dominant arm, putting the ECG dots on the shoulders, ribs, and back to leave the chest area clear, delivering the baby more slowly (mimicking the pressure from the vagina) to squeeze out liquid from the lungs, lowering the screen when the baby is delivered, delayed cord-clamping, and getting the baby onto the mother’s skin as soon as possible.  This is what my husband and I want, but it’s not for everyone.  The point I want to make here, though, is that you don’t have to give up your vision when you must have a c-section.  With the exception of sudden medical emergencies, most doctors will be surprisingly open to your desired birthing experience.

In the end, I may not have entirely shaken off the c-section blues, but I certainly don’t feel as hopeless and helpless as I did in the beginning.  In all honesty, I probably won’t be able to fully let out a sigh of relief until my baby is here, in my arms, safe and sound.  Keeping my focus on the happy end result will definitely keep the blues at bay, though!  So if you are feeling bummy about getting a caesarean, know that you are not alone and that you can still design your birthing experience.  In case you’re interested, here’s an excellent video describing what a natural c-section is 🙂