Pregnancy, a gallbladder diet and how I’d cut off my right arm for a cheese pizza

If you haven’t yet run into me on the street, at the store or via text/Facebook/any avenue in which I can complain, then you may not yet know that for the past eight weeks, I’ve been dealing with gallbladder attacks.

I miss you, Peanut Butter.

I miss you, Peanut Butter.

My first attack happened when I was working at the local college. Suddenly, a wave of pain crossed the top of my tummy and I found myself lying in the fetal position on the bathroom floor when I wasn’t vomiting. Classy. I know. I got myself home and 1.5 hours later, the pain subsided.

I initially thought it was a severe indigestion attack, but I later learned that gallstones attacks are pretty common in pregnancy and it can be passed down from your family members. So when I learned my mom suffered from gallbladder attacks when pregnant with my brother, it all made sense.

Two more attacks came along and I was sent in for an ultrasound. The ultrasound confirmed I have gallstones, but removing the gallbladder during pregnancy won’t happen unless there’s an emergency situation (e.g., it’s leaking bile into my liver and we’re all going to die).

For me, gallstones attacks always come on following a meal, and my doctors, including Dr. Google (P.S. don’t ever, ever Google image search ‘gallstones’), tell me that diet changes can at least lessen the likelihood of attacks. There’s no cheating, because it’s like playing a game of Fear Factor when I sit down to eat, as I’m terrified another attack may emerge.

So – what do I eat now? As the ER nurse said: “You’ll be eating twigs and berries”.

I have to cut fats from my diet, because that’s what can spur on an attack. I’ve thus cut out dairy, high-fat meats, caffeine, egg yolks, nut butters, nuts, oils, healthy fats and refined sugars from my diet.

So – again – what do I eat now?

I’ve been trying to be creative with my meals and snacks. I’m eating a lot of veggies, fruits, hummus, egg whites, multi-grains and low-fat meats to get through the rest of the pregnancy.

Every morning for breakfast, I eat an oatmeal pancake, which includes half a mashed banana, quick oats, egg whites, baking powder and vanilla extract. It’s delicious and filling and makes me feel half normal.

Ultimately, it’s good for the baby as he/she isn’t snacking on garbage.

Although, usually when I go on a clean-eating kick, I don’t crave bad foods after about a two-week cleanse. But pregnancy cravings don’t work that way. I would actually chew off my right arm for a cheese pizza or a slice of chocolate cake. Even an avocado would be great at this point.

I’ll likely get my gallbladder taken out before Christmas once the baby is born. Following that surgery, I plan to eat my face off.

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If you have some low-fat or no-fat meal ideas, then I’d love to hear from you! 

You Google image searched ‘Gallstones’, didn’t you?

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How Robin Williams has helped me talk about my pregnancy experience

I think it’s safe to say the entire world is saddened by the news of Robin Williams’ death. Not only because of his legacy in show business, but also about how his life ended. There’s a lot of internet chatter today about mental health, eliminating the stigma and how we can bring it more out into the open.

For weeks now, I’ve wanted to write about my actual pregnancy experience here on the blog. But, I haven’t. So I’ve instead stayed silent.

And it’s due to a couple of reasons.

First, I should be so lucky to get pregnant and be blessed to have children. I truly do feel blessed and fortunate to be able to have kids, especially with such a ridiculously supportive husband. Seriously – that guy has more maternal instincts than I do.

Secondly, I have also felt that it’s something I’d be able to talk about once the pregnancy is all over and we’ve welcomed our second child into our lives. I thought it’d be better timed so that it didn’t seem like I was whining while in the midst of it all.

But why not talk about it now?

So…here goes. I’ve struggled with prenatal depression.

I don’t feel like myself. It’s hard to get work done. I’ve felt anxious. I just wanted to stay in bed. And for a while, I was sad a lot of the time. There were a lot of tears.

As parents, and especially as women, we’re expected to be thrilled about the pregnancy and there’s a lot of talk about having ‘the glow’. Fortunately, there is an increased awareness and dialogue about postpartum depression. But according to some reports, one in four women deal with some level of prenatal depression.

I ensured I communicated a lot with my husband about it as well as my doctors. I’m guessing the blues had a lot to do with being so sick in the first half of the pregnancy. It’s hard not to feel down about things when you’re spending a lot of the day hugging the toilet. It could have also been related to the medication I’ve been on to help reduce my vomiting and nausea. Since the nausea has reduced, so has my anxiety.

I had some of these same symptoms with my first pregnancy, but not to this degree. As soon as Alex came into the world, I felt like myself again.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s okay not to enjoy it. I don’t feel like myself when I’m pregnant, and that’s okay. Instead, I’ve tried to take it one day at a time, and reflect on what the outcome will be: welcoming yet another love of my life into the world.

Baby Alex

The news about Robin Williams made me think about how silly it was not to talk about my experience, especially if it is relatable for other women. When I learned of a mutual friend having suffered from prenatal depression, I reached out to her and she immediately made me feel ‘normal’ for facing such struggles. That kind of support goes a long way.

I’ve been scared to talk about it on the blog, because I think it sounds selfish when people ‘complain’ about pregnancy. But sometimes there’s a deeper level to it. And we should be able to talk about it.

 

 

Parenting with your partner in the early days

I’m very proud to announce the arrival of a new member of our family: Baby Grace! No, I didn’t go into labour 18 weeks early: my brother and his fiancee had their first child: Grace Ellen.

Seriously cute. The baby, of course.

Seriously cute. The baby, of course.

My mom and I headed down to Toronto to visit Grace and her parents overnight.

Although my son is only 18 months old, it’s amazing how quickly you forget about all the work that’s involved with a newborn. My brother compared it to starting a new job when you have no idea what you’re doing. And that new job is in Germany.

So, so true.

The long nights and little sleep make you mildly crazy all while trying to heal from the birth and learning all about your baby’s needs, cries and poops. So. much. poop.

Meeting Grace reminded me of what I learned about working with my husband to ensure the baby’s – and our! – survival.

Working as a team with your partner is crucial to survival, and here are some things I do remember from those insane newborn days:

1. Spell each other off for naps. There’s no sense in both of you being awake.

2. Keep talking to one another.

3. Don’t play the sleep comparison game. No one wins.

4. Don’t ignore your partner’s suggestions. You’re both the parents, so each opinion is just as important as the other’s.

5. It takes about 6-8 weeks before you finally feel like you’ve gotten into a pattern. Hang in there.

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What are some tips you’d give to new parents?

 

What’s going on in our household

In case you’ve been on standby since my most recent post, a few things have gone down in the James’ Household:

1. I did not get my sh*t organized. In fact, that photo of the basement has turned into a tremendously worse image. I’m pretty sure there are trolls now living among the toddler tower of clothing bins down there.

2. I’m pregnant.

3. Hence, why number 1 never got accomplished.

First thing’s first: we’re so, so ecstatic to be expecting our second child, who is due Nov. 2. We feel fortunate that we can have children and that our family continues to grow. The kiddos will be 23 month apart, which means they’ll be best friends for life and can share the household chores. Ha! I’m so naive.

"Can I get an Alleluia?!"

“Can I get an Alleluia?!”

(This child really has no idea what kind of damage is about to be done to his world).

Second thing’s second: pregnancy and I are not very good friends. I obviously LOVE the outcome of pregnancy, but the process itself has been troubling for me. Since Week 8, I’ve been getting sick 1-3 times a day and that’s when I’m on medication for the nausea. Boo hoo, I know.

The good thing is that I have a full appetite, which means I can at least consume salads and vitamins for the little one before throwing it back up. I’m currently approaching the 17-week mark, and the sickness has eased up, which means the endless consumption of toasted English Muffins and Cheez Whiz (yes, don’t judge me) topping has been reduced to twice daily.

So what’s in store for the next five-six months, as we wait for the arrival of our little Bike (the nickname)?

I can tell you one thing: I’ve thrown up, err, out all my to-do goals for the year.

Instead, I’m really working to chill out and to actually breathe. I can work to get my sh*t together and try new things every month, but I really need to just learn to focus more on the present and to not be overwhelmed with what life’s about to throw our way.

Easier said than done, right?

P.S. If there are grammatical errors, I blame prego brain. And the trolls.

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If you have young children, how do you keep it all together?

What was your “go-to” pregnancy eat?

Put the Fu#%ing Books Down: And other unsolicited baby sleep advice

It’s hard to believe we are already creeping up on Alex’s first birthday, which is Dec. 8.

For the past few weeks, when rocking him to sleep each night, I’ve reflected on the past year and what I’ve learned as a new mom when it comes to sleep. From the struggles to the successes, there have been many ups and our share of downs.

If someone was about to “poop out a baby” (my husband’s words), here’s the unsolicited advice I would give regarding babies and sleep:

"Sleep problems? None here. Now go fetch the soother I chucked across the room."

“Sleep problems? None here.”

-Put. the. fu#%ing. books. down: When Alex was a week old, I picked up the Baby Whisperer Book for the first time, and I tried to implement her tactics. Yes, when he was a week old. I tried the whole napping/feeding/playing approach. It was when I looked at Alex and said aloud to him: “How can you play?! You can’t even keep your eyes open for more than 10 minutes!” I continued to read and research crying/sleeping/feeding advice, often tuning out my own intuition and my husband’s insight. It took me about four months to finally put the books down and read my son’s cues rather than take the experts’ advice. Reference experts’ advice, but it’s not Gospel and every baby is different.

– Sleep habits always change: When I told bragged to my momma friend that Alex started sleeping through the night at three months, she kindly said, “the thing is, their sleeping habits always change.” I thought she was silly until I quickly realized she was right. Biotch. Alex continues to have up and down nights. He’ll sleep through the night for a week and then be up every night for two. It’s exhausting. So whether he’s in a good or bad phase, I get neither confident nor frustrated about his sleeping habits, because, as my (biotch) friend said, they’ll continue to change.

-It’s only a sleep problem if you think it’s a sleep problem: When stalking parenting advice on the internet during those first few months, I did come across a really good statement about sleep. The sleep expert stated: “It’s only a sleep problem if you think it is a problem.” For instance, if your baby needs a soother to go to bed, and you don’t think it’s a problem, then it’s not a problem. Alex likes to be rocked to sleep. ALL the sleep experts say that’s a short-term solution when creating ‘healthy’ sleep habits. They’re probably right. But then I thought to myself: I have limited time when I can rock this little man to sleep and I love it. So, for now, it’s not a problem (ask me this same question in six years)….

-Cut the guilt trip. I could not believe how easily guilt sweeps across me as a mom. Whether it’s because I’m frustrated that he won’t go down for a nap or not realizing that he needed a burp, I am constantly feeling as though I’m failing or letting Alex down. It’s an issue I still struggle with as I’m constantly suffering from mom guilt. This week my sister sent me a note and said: “Thinking of you and feeling guilty doesn’t help anything or anybody (especially you). I, of course, learned this the hard way, after years of GUILT, so trust me on this one! Lol ;)”.  Now that’s some good advice!

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Question: What’s the best sleeping advice you’d give to a soon-to-be new parent?

Hot Tip: You don’t really POOP out a baby.

The Bank Account

A willow tree, beautiful weather and one cute kid helped make a wedding we attended this past weekend just fabulous. Friends of ours were married in our hometown and we got the opportunity to have a night out on the town.

Hearts A Lot

There was good wine. Delicious food. Sloppy dancing. Even some karaoke (don’t worry; I didn’t belt out my beloved AC/DC song).

Most importantly, there were speeches. I love, love, love wedding speeches. This is mostly because I love to learn more about the couples as we’re given perspective from their loved ones. I also soak up the insight and advice that’s given to the newlyweds regarding marriage.

Such was the case this weekend when the bride’s father compared marriage to a bank account. He said, you should be depositing more than you withdrawal. In other words, you should give more than you get from your partner. That’s the key to marriage.

I have definitely been in major withdrawal mode these past days. I feel like I’m constantly needing Toby to help walk me through work, personal and mom stresses and he’s taking on more around the house as a result.

  • Alex is up at 3 a.m. each night; then I’ll give him his bottle tonight.
  • I have four deadlines that should have been submitted 20 minutes ago; then I’ll do the bedtime routine.
  • I can’t fit into my jeans; then go for a run.
  • I can’t get the new Katy Perry song out of my head; then stop having such terrible taste in music.

See how much he helps?

I know it’s all give and take. I took Alex out Sunday night so Toby could have a few hours on his own. Instead, he spent the time fixing a leaky faucet in our bathroom.

Following another “I have a deadline today!” meltdown yesterday evening, Toby calmly asked me: So how can we simplify this situation for the future? We discussed strategies and solutions to bring about a more streamlined workflow. Instantly, I felt better and again thought about that bank account.

So, how you gonna deposit more into that bank account, Cathy? That’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it?

Well, I haven’t really thought about it. An afternoon out golfing? A full day with the house to himself? Having him paint the entire living room next Saturday?

I’ll try to make more effort doing those little things that add up: getting dinner organized; doing bedtime routine; buying him Pepsi; showing him the paint colours I’ve considered for the living room; and many more ways to prove my love.

In all seriousness, I think the asterisk to this piece of marital advice is this: Don’t keep tabs. Don’t look at how much you’ve put into the account and don’t point out how little you’ve received in return. The more you give the more you get.

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Do you give or take more from the bank account?

What’s the best piece of relationship advice that has stuck with you?

Can I borrow five bucks?

 

Getting Our Veggie Basket On

Have you ever seen the South Park episode when the smug yuppies drive hybrid cars and think their poop doesn’t stink? So much so that they smell their own farts?

This is us. Right now. Except it’s because we’re buying farm-fresh veggies.

How about I start from the beginning?

There is only one person in the James family household who loves vegetables. And that’s our eight-month-old son, Alex. I’m quite confident he got switched at birth. He hates bananas, blueberries and apples but loves butternut squash, zucchini and green beans. Who is this child?

Rather than return him to the hospital, Toby and I thought we’d follow his lead.

Because Toby and I are brutal with our vegetable intake – unless chips count – we decided to make another attempt to get our 5-10 a day. So we signed up for a veggie basket program.

Cue the fart-smelling!

Miller’s Bay Farm is located less than 10 minutes from our house and each Thursday afternoon, Alex and I drive out and pick up a basket filled with vegetables.

Last week our basket included six corn on the cob, a large basket of potatoes, an onion, zucchini, cucumber and a bunch of carrots. We also had the option to bring home a 5-lb zucchini. I did, and gave it to a friend who loves to make zucchini muffins and lasagna. What an awkward gift. The vegetables are so fresh and we look forward to discovering what’s inside the basket each week.

We joined the program a bit late, but we estimate the “Basket for 2” costs us $11 each week.

And? Success.

Here’s why:

  • Because we’ve paid money for the program, we’re keen not to waste our funds;
  • The basket sits on our kitchen table all week, which means we actually do something about it;
  • As each Thursday approaches, we do an inventory on our remaining vegetables and use them up before the next basket arrives;
  • It’s farm fresh; and
  • It’s local.

Alex is also cashing in:

Miller's Bay Farm

They send us a weekly email to give us produce updates and tips on how to use the veggies. This week we’re going to get kale. I’m nervous. I tried Kale chips once and they didn’t go over well. But this is why the veggie basket is such a great idea. We’re trying out veggies we’d normally avoid in the grocery’s store produce section.

And hey, if I don’t like the kale, perhaps Alex can have it and I can have chips.

Just for one night.

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How do you get your 5-10?

Do you smell your own farts? Gross.

Yogurt and Spoons

Conversation last night between Toby and Cathy:

(Toby in kitchen, Cathy on couch)

Cathy: Hey, are you getting a yogurt?

Toby: I am.

Cathy: Can you get me one? Please?

Toby: Did you want a spoon as well, Cathy?

Cathy: That would be helpful.

Toby: Do you think you’ll ever be grateful for the times I ensure you try to think about everything you need in a situation?

Cathy: Yes. When we’re sitting across from one another at the lawyer’s.

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Update: The yogurt was delicious. Thankfully, I had a spoon.

Seven months and 14 days: Remembering the things I love

I just read a friend’s blog who cited some of her conversations with her children. It reminded me that I shouldn’t wait for landmark days to pen milestones and funny happenings with Alex. So here are the things I love about Alex, who is seven months and 14 days old:

-I love when we place him on his back in the bathtub,  he kicks so much he splashes water in his face. He laughs, screams and kicks some more. When I take him out, he cries.

-I love when he hears someone’s voice on the speaker phone, his eyes light up and he smiles. Then kicks. Especially if it’s Toby or my mom on the line.

– I love how if there was a rugby game going on in our living room, it wouldn’t matter to Alex if he spotted our dog, Tux, walk into the room. He is obsessed and talks at Tux when he sees him.

'Hey! Dog! Over here!'

‘Hey! Dog! Over here!’

-I love how every so often, I let him play with his food. It’s worked against me as he now always wants the bowl. But who cares?

Finger foods

Finger foods

-I love how he loves to swim.

-I love how he can look so different with every photo.

Alex bed

'Got any Yellow Sun?'

‘Got any Yellow Sun?’

-I love how he is now trying to make US laugh. Whenever we ask him a question, he’ll shake his head furiously with a smile. Then he gets a bit dizzy. Or when I try to get him to say “MaMa”, he smiles and replies with “DaDa”.

– I love how whenever I pull out a book, he smiles and kicks his legs.

Alex book

– I love how singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat soothes him every time he fusses on the change table.

– I love how his bottom lip pops out when he gets scared and bursts into tears. It melts my heart.

-I love that he already has a sense of humour (or so I think).

Alex funny man

 

(Sidenote: He rolls to the curtains each day to play peak-a-boo with them. While kicking his feet. I'm not a bad mom. Promise.)

(Sidenote: He rolls to the curtains each day to play peak-a-boo with them. While kicking his feet. I’m not a bad mom. Promise.)

– I love putting him to bed each night.

– I love that I miss him and can’t wait to see him again in the morning.