Mindful Pregnancy Table of Contents

This blog series is not meant to express an opinion about how anyone else should navigate pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting; this is simply the story of how one urban yogi in America moved through her own normal, relatively uncomplicated first pregnancy and childbirth. Although my posts end on positive notes, many parts of the process were challenging for me, and writing this blog helped me stay sane. My hope is that by being authentic about my experience I will empower other mamas to do the same. Because I shared what I was going through, friends from near and far reached out to support me, which made the difficult moments manageable and the joyful moments ecstatic. I thought it would be the birthing process that was empowering, but it was the solidarity from other women that gave me the fortitude to rise fully and completely to the challenge of motherhood. My hope for other mamas-to-be is that you will acknowledge your experience as it is (whether whether that’s blissful, horrible, or somewhere in between), will be unashamed to express that, and will be able to attain the resources you need to navigate your path.

I blogged my whole first trimester after-the-fact (alternating with present day posts), which makes it a little hard to navigate my Mindful Pregnancy posts in order. Here is an ordered week-by-week list of all my posts:

2 – Conception
3 – Pre-Conception Nutrition
4 – First Symptoms of Pregnancy

Bound Side Angle

4 Weeks Pregnant.

5 – Peeing on a Stick
6 – Secrets
7 – Nausea
8 – Surrendering Control (Or Not)
9 – New Joys
10 – Sharing the Joy (And Splitting My Pants)
11 – Hypermobility and Pregnancy
12 – Head Cold with a Side of Morning Sickness

12 Weeks Pregnant

12 Weeks Pregnant.

13 – Ascending From the Haze of the First Trimester
14 – So, What Type of Birth Are You Having?
15 – Beginning to Plan for Birth
16 – So When Do I Get That Baby Bump?
17 – Big Feelings
18 – Pregnancy Firsts

18 Weeks

18 Weeks Pregnant.

19 – It’s a Girl!
20 – Coping with Insomnia
21 – Beyond-The-Basics Nutrition
22- Pregnancy Book Reviews

22 Weeks Bump

22 Weeks Pregnant.

23 – To Work or Not To Work?
24 – Horizontal Growth Spurt
25 – Tis the Season to Dress to the Nines
26 – Baby Movements
27 – Home for Christmas
28 – 13 Misconceptions I Had About Babies

28 Weeks Pregnant

28 Weeks Pregnant.

29 – Nursery Mania
30 – Things I Love About My (Early) Third Trimester
31 – Healing an Eroded Body Image
32 – Birth Prep Class
33 – Dessert Decoration, Dog Deodorizing, and Dutailier
34 – Commitments to my Daughter
35 – “Lightening,” An Early Sign of Labor

35 Weeks Pregnant

35 Weeks Pregnant.

36 – Thoughts About Labor
37 – An Epileptic Mama’s Postpartum Plan
38 – Selfie Photoshoot, Stuck Rings, and Staycation


38 Weeks Pregnant.

39 – Encouraging Labor Naturally
40 – Equinox Firestorm’s Birth Story
40+ – Mindful Pregnancy Epilogue: The Fourth Trimester

13 Weeks Pregnant: Ascending From the Haze of the First Trimester

September 14 – September 21: 13 Weeks 0 Days – 13 Weeks 6 Days.

Just when I was saying I forgot what it was like not to be nauseous, I had nearly three days in a row of no nausea! I got a glimpse of what it was like to be one of those women who loves every moment of pregnancy.

Instead of dragging my butt to Preggo Pilates, I skipped out the front door. When I picked Richard up from work, he told me I was glowing and looked happy (Although, later he wondered aloud if that may have been in comparison to how wan and miserable I’d been the previous week). The nausea stayed at bay even when I wasn’t constantly stuffing food into my mouth (before I was pregnant an excuse to eat all the time sounded like a dream come true, but now that I have to eat all time to stave off discomfort I feel like a slave to food). I had the wherewithal to book a prenatal massage, which was lovely. Able to imagine myself doing some manual labor, I explored two landscape and gardening centers so I could begin to make tangible plans for my new yard. Richard and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary with an Italian dinner followed by chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream topped with Heath Bar pieces—the first time I’ve been able to eat a whole serving of ice cream to myself since I found out I was pregnant (I’ve had an aversion to sugar). For a good friend’s birthday, I got dressed up with make-up and everything, stood on a rooftop patio overlooking the San Francisco skyline and sipped an icy virgin pina colada, and didn’t get to bed until after midnight that night.

The next morning I woke up feeling awful. Maybe it was my body’s way of telling me, “If you’re feeling better, don’t push your luck. Keep eating. Keep pacing yourself. Keep getting enough sleep.

It’s discouraging to feel nauseous and unmotivated to get anything done again, but those three days gave me a glimmer of hope that feeling better during pregnancy is a possibility.

Update: Now at 29 weeks pregnant, I haven’t been nauseous in ages. I can’t even remember what it’s like (maybe I repressed the memories). There have been some new discomforts and annoyances during my second trimester, but their invasiveness in my life pales in comparison to the nausea. If you’re having a queasy first trimester have faith that for most people it gets better and pregnancy overall gets easier!

12 Weeks Pregnant: Head Cold with a Side of Morning Sickness

September 7 – September 13: 12 Weeks 0 Days – 12 Weeks 6 Days.

This week was hard. A multitude of women and pregnancy resources told me that I’d miraculously start feeling better in the second trimester, so I’d been impatiently awaiting week twelve. At eleven weeks and five days I puked for the first time, and the next day I puked again. I was still hoping for a miracle at the twelve week mark.

Early Monday afternoon, twelve weeks and zero days, I slumped defeated at my kitchen table with my head in my hands. I was nauseated as ever and ready to burst into tears. Granted, things have improved. I’m not as fatigued—I can now walk uphill without getting completely out of breath—and the nausea isn’t as debilitating. However, the nausea is definitely still there and it’s unforgiving in the afternoon.

I’ve discovered there are different types of nausea. Earlier in pregnancy my stomach had a dull ache and I felt queasy. Various smells and situations made me feel worse, but only a couple times did I think I would actually throw up. More recently, the constant queasiness is less poignant, but if I encounter an offensive smell, it triggers me to retch. And by offensive I mean, the smell of our new mattress, or the kitchenware aisle in the grocery store (or any aisle in a drug store—gag), or Foxy’s dog treats. There’s a pretty low bar for offensive.

I have an optimistic personality, and after I’ve taken some time to wallow, I instinctively seek out joys, goodies, and pick-me-ups that will get me out of a funk. When I used to run competitively I was motivated to persevere by inspirational songs with a harder edge like, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem or “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor. Too emotionally fragile to absorb anything that harsh, this week I reverted to the last time I was going through a highly hormonal period: teenagehood. As I ate lunch, I YouTube’d sickeningly uplifting nineties songs, such as “Hero” by Mariah Carey, “That’s the Way it Is” by Celine Dion, and “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah. When I was a teen I used to play guitar and sing to blow off steam, but I haven’t been motivated to do so while pregnant because it feels like it’s only a matter of time before I wont be able to reach the guitar strings over my growing belly (Update: I had several months before I was too big to play guitar). Instead, I found sheet music for “Hero” and started to learn that on piano.

Later on Monday I had a sore throat, which I was sure was from vomiting the previous day (And maybe exacerbated by singing and playing “My Heart Will Go On” on piano—a performance that sent Foxy hiding under the desk in the far corner of the room). Tuesday, the sore throat got worse, and by Wednesday I had to admit to myself that I had a cold. I took the rest of the week off work, and, despite my resolve not to lose the money I’d prepaid for my Thursday night prenatal Pilates class, my husband shamed me into skipping it: “All the other women there are pregnant too, do you think they want to get sick like you?

Normally I try to avoid taking medication, but I’ll often make an exception and use a decongestant at night when I have a cold so I can get some healing sleep. However, decongestants are strictly off limits during pregnancy so I had to tough it out. I sniffled my way through a box of tissues, dreading every cough and sneeze for fear it would spur me to puke.

As soon as I knew I was sick, I reached out to friends on Facebook for natural cold remedies. I spent a couple days pretty miserable, but thanks to some friends’ helpful suggestions, I got better in record time! Here’s some of the advice they gave me, as well as some of my own thoughts:

  • Rest. I bought “Mean Streak” by Sandra Brown, which was the perfect combination of suspense, engaging writing, and smut to contentedly park myself on the couch for a day or two.
  • Lemon, Ginger, and Honey in hot water. This also helped me with the nausea, so I drank it nonstop until my teeth began ache from the acidity.
  • Vitamin C and Zinc. I’m sure my prenatal vitamins helped me get better quickly! With those horse pills I’m not lacking for anything right now.
  • Neti. Normally I’m all about the neti, but with the nausea, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Under normal circumstances, my rule of thumb with neti is to do it like crazy the moment I feel a cold coming on—at the hint of a sore throat. In my experience, if I wait until my nose is stuffy, the neti can actually make things worse because the water gets trapped up in the sinuses.
  • Gargle with salt or tea tree oil. I wasn’t reminded of this advice until I was nearly better. My mom has sworn by the salt gargling thing for years, and although it’s one of my least favorite things to do, I do think it helps.
  • Steaming. I took warm showers in lieu of steaming. On Pinterst, I saw a suggestion to hang eucalyptus branches in the shower to add a refreshing, relaxing scent to the steam. Don’t do this. It smells awful! Add soggy eucalyptus branches to the list of scents that make me retch.
Eucalyptus in the shower

Not recommended.

Even if I didn’t spontaneously start feeling like a pregnancy goddess at week twelve, my week ended with a little bit of magic. By Sunday I was feeling healthy enough to go for a walk on the beach with Richard and Foxy, and there was a whole pod of dolphins fishing and playing just off shore.

12 Weeks Pregnant

Twelve (almost thirteen) weeks pregnant at the beach.

10 Weeks Pregnant: Sharing the Joy (And Splitting My Pants)

August 24 – August 31: 10 Weeks 0 Days – 10 Weeks 6 Days.

Forget waiting until twelve weeks. I finally announced on Facebook that I’m pregnant (I hated keeping the secret). Before I was pregnant, I foresaw myself being that pregnant lady who gets a photo in same position and clothing every single day and strings them together into a time lapse YouTube video after the baby is born. Turns out modeling in front of a camera is the last thing I feel like doing while nauseous, so I have very few photos of my first trimester. However, Wednesday morning I had a lull in my nausea, and I mustered up the wherewithal to snap a photo in our backyard to share on Facebook:

Pregnancy Announcement

It was so nice to share the news with friends and get some much-needed support and encouragement around the nausea and fatigue! Turns out I let the baby out of the bag just in time, because I couple days later I had quite an embarrassing event, and I don’t know how I would have coped if I hadn’t been able to share my chagrin on Facebook and laugh at myself with friends.

Saturday was a productive day: All morning I toured the most promising garage sales within a 45-minute drive, and came back with a carful of small furniture items we need for our new house. That afternoon I talked Richard into stopping off at some thrift stores to go desk shopping on our way to Lowe’s (we’ve been chipping away at a long list of home improvement projects we hope to complete before the baby is born). I was wearing a pair of green cargo capris, which were themselves bought from a thrift store years ago. The button at the top of the fly had been replaced by a safety pin, and many of the snaps that close the pockets had become detached; but, they rode low and weren’t skintight, so they were one of the few pairs of pants I still enjoyed wearing.

As I got back in the car after visiting our last thrift store I thought I heard something rip. I shifted from side-to-side and my pants felt intact, so I rationalized that I’d just imagined it. Our next stop was a decorative hardware store, which we were disappointed to find was closed for the long weekend. As passersby strolled behind us on the sidewalk, Richard and I alternately stood on tiptoes or bent over to peer through the windows at the various options they had for faucets and sinks. This time when I got back into the car, I definitely heard something rip. I felt around to my butt and shrieked. There was an enormous split in my pants that ran from my waistband to my mid thigh, completely exposing my lacy lavender panties. When I divulged what had happened to Richard, he howled with laughter and couldn’t stop.

I haven’t gained that much weight during pregnancy—maybe three or four pounds. However, I haven’t been exercising nearly as much, so, because muscle is heavier than fat, I could have easily lost a chunk of muscle and packed on a greater volume of fat to my butt and thighs without gaining an ounce of weight. I’ve had good control over my weight for the last thirteen years, so this kind of temporary shift wouldn’t normally bother me. I gained ten pounds on my ten-day honeymoon in Hawaii; instead of freaking out and enacting a rigorous diet and exercise program when I got home, I simply went back to my normal habits and calmly lost the weight as quickly as I’d gained it. However, something about my butt busting through a hearty fabric like khaki was too much for a pregnant lady to handle.

I saw the humor in what had happened and I was laughing along with Richard, but it was the type of laughter that was a dam restraining a deluge of tears. When he suggested I tie a sweater around my waist so we could still go to Lowe’s, I think he could tell that dam was a about to burst. He didn’t argue when I insisted we go buy me a new pair of pants immediately, and that he come with me for emotional support instead of just dropping me off at the mall. I picked out a pair of loose, low-riding, boyfriend-cut pajama pants, which got me through the rest of our errands.

A day or two later, we went shopping for my first pair of proper maternity pants.

Maternity Pants

My first pair of maternity pants.

9 Weeks Pregnant: New Joys

August 17 – August 23: 9 Weeks 0 Days – 9 Weeks 6 Days.

Our first night in our new home, we ordered sushi for delivery. Pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat raw meat due to potential pathogens (not to mention that many fish are off the table due to environmental contaminants), but we were lucky to find a restaurant with a large selection of vegetarian rolls. Yum! A couple of the veggie rolls were packed next to the fish rolls Richard ordered, which could obviously allow for cross-contamination, but I opted not to worry about it. At some point the stress elicited by obsessively following all the guidelines perfectly must have just as many negative health consequences as being a little more lax about the rules.

I love doing yoga in a hot room, a love hot tubs, and people always make fun of me for wearing sweaters in the summer. Pregnant women aren’t supposed to do things that raise their body temperature, but my beloved piping hot baths have been an ongoing temptation. At our prenatal appointment this week, the doctor told Richard that elevated body temperature negatively affects the baby’s brain development, and ever since then he’s been strictly enforcing the rules. Our first full day in our house, we discovered that the pilot light for the water heater didn’t stay lit for longer than a few hours, which dissolved my fantasy of sneaking into a hot bath behind Richard’s back. (Update: We didn’t get the water heater fixed until I was 16 weeks pregnant, so I didn’t get a hot shower—let a alone bath—for a long time).

Now on my sixth week of relentless nausea, I began having some moments of despair. Before I got pregnant, I had tons of little joys in my day-to-day life. I used to take Foxy on walks up Bernal Hill, which has a fantastic 360 degree view, or for a long walk or run along Ocean Beach. Now I’m too fatigued. I used to love negitoro maki, exotic cheeses, oolong tea, and Philz Mint Mojito Iced Coffee. Now all of these are advised against (Update: later in pregnancy I discovered a Swiss Water Decaf Mint Mojito Iced Coffee). I even read the other day that chamomile and ginger tea, which I’ve been drinking all along, can be risky for pregnancy! I used to get a sugar fix from green tea cheese cake, brownie sundaes sundaes, and sour patch kids, but now dessert makes me nauseated. Even most yoga doesn’t feel good for me any more (I’ll post more on this in a few weeks).

Instead of wallowing in self-pity focusing on what I couldn’t do, I realized I had to shift my daily habits to include joys that I can still partake in:

  • Tea. Rooibos is my new go-to. I make a yummy roobios tea latte with maple syrup, vanilla, and skim milk (before pregnancy I drank nothing but almond milk, but cow’s milk has appealed to me more lately). And, tea is even better when enjoyed with friends I can share with!
  • Light, therapeutic exercise. I cleared some space for my mat and got my foam roller, pinky balls, therapy band, Mexican blanket, and bolster in a convenient location.
  • Yoga Nidra. Translating to “Yogic Sleep,” this practice is done lying completely still. Relax Into Greatness by Rod Stryker is my 35 minutes of bliss. This helps so much with the fatigue.
  • Artistic expression. I used to draw, paint, play musical instruments, and sing—skills I’ve let fall by the wayside. My sister bought me a watercolor kit for my birthday and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much free piano sheet music is available online these days, so I plan to incorporate these joys into my day-to-day life.
  • Connecting with the baby. Up until now it’s been hard to conceptualize the baby. On that first ultrasound, it was just a spec! This week, Richard and I went back in for my next appointment with the OB/GYN and we got an ultrasound that actually looked like something. Well, sort of. What it looked like was an apple fritter. But that’s at least it’s something I can visualize growing and developing inside of me. Also, unlike the first ultrasound I had, the baby’s healthy heartbeat was detectable! The other night, Richard kissed me goodnight then kissed my belly and said, “Goodnight, Fritter.
9-Week Ultrasound

Our little apple fritter at nine weeks.

Look at how much she developed by week 19!