34 Weeks Pregnant: Commitments to my Daughter

February 9– February 15: 34 Weeks 0 Days – 34 Weeks 6 Days.

I nearly titled this post, “Commitments to my Future Daughter,” but “future” doesn’t seem to apply any more. She has grown big and strong, has visible and frequent movements, and even responds to Richard’s voice. On Monday, I read BabyCenter’s 34 Week Pregnant blurb, which included the following:

…you’ll be happy to know that babies born between 34 and 37 weeks who have no other health problems generally do fine. They may need a short stay in the neonatal nursery and may have a few short-term health issues, but in the long run, they usually do as well as full-term babies.

The message I got: I could have a perfectly healthy baby tomorrow. Woah. I cried at least six times that day. It didn’t feel like “I’m not going to be able to do this” crying or “I don’t have enough support” crying. It felt like coming into acceptance crying.

34 weeks pregnant

Bump update: I finally grew into my “I ate a seed” shirt. Everything takes more energy now. On Sunday, I went for a swim, then took Foxy to the beach, then had to have a three-hour nap.

Yogic Musings

When I did my first yoga teacher training, the instructor was against having kids. Her opinion was that our evolutionary instinct to love our kids above all others and protect them at any cost destroys our spiritual practice. Instead of seeing all beings as equal, as the same as ourselves, as one, having a child pushes us to create division, strongly differentiate between yours and mine, and to even start wars. However, at the same time, this teacher had a beautiful view on how mindful romantic relationships can actually accentuate the spiritual practice. I like to think that having children can deepen the spiritual practice in a similar way.

Before Richard and I started trying to get pregnant, I did a stream-of-consciousness journaling exercise from The Four Desires by Rod Stryker. Through this, I unearthed what parenthood meant to me and what I hoped to get out of it. Here are my thoughts (as a mother-to-be with no real experience): I believe that children crack us open, unleashing overwhelming feelings of love, connection, and protectiveness that may have been inaccessible otherwise. I believe that children awaken a power and courage within us to become the people we want our little ones to have as role models.

If we can look past the haze of fear, defensiveness, and possessiveness, I believe that our children can be our windows into the universe; we begin to see our children in other people, inciting our deep seated love, compassion, and acceptance for our children to seep out beyond the confines of our families and embrace others. Through meditation we recognize that if we truly love our children unconditionally (right down to the point that we’ve peeled away all the transitory labels and only that which we all have in common is left), we must love all beings unconditionally.

This does not mean that we don’t give our children special treatment. Our children are our little pieces of the universe to tend to, and we have a duty and responsibility (not to mention an unshakable desire) to bathe them in care, security, attention, and affection. However, when we cultivate unconditional love for all beings, we bear in mind that although we care deeply for ours and our own, they do not inherently have any more worth than others. With this insight, we raise our children to be moral, responsible, generous, socially conscious, and ecological. We hold them accountable for hurtfulness, dishonesty, and apathy, and don’t completely shelter them from feeling the consequences of their actions.

I believe that as our children age, we recognize that through raising them, we have grown just as much ourselves. As our children become more independent and require less care, attention, and protection (or start to outright shirk it), we may take the energy we have radiated toward our children and the deep-seated love they have inspired us to cultivate, and redirect them to the rest of humanity. Parenthood ignites within us a potential, fierceness, and power that we can then harness to fulfill our life’s purpose. I don’t consider raising children to be my dharma (life’s purpose)—I consider it to be part of my moksha, my spiritual development, my pathway to freedom from the internal barriers, limitations, and misconceptions that may hold me back from my dharma.

Addendum: Having children obviously isn’t the only way to find this type of spiritual development. I totally support people who choose not to have children. Also, children are my moksha, but someone else’s children may be their dharma (purpose), artha (means to achieve life’s purpose), or kama (pleasure), which is amazing. For me, it helps to be clear on how my children fit into my life when thinking about things like my career.

Commitments To My Daughter

As the birth of the baby approaches—maybe tomorrow, maybe seven weeks from now—it has become strikingly apparent that there’s a piece missing from the musings above: they are all about what I hope to get out of parenting, but speak nothing to how I aspire to serve my daughter. When people get married, they recite commitments to treat each other with honor, respect, and love. If this ritual is important in a wedding between two consenting adults, I feel it’s a paramount part of birthing a helpless, vulnerable, unconsenting being into a lifelong relationship with her parents. When Richard and I wrote our wedding commitments, we called them “affirmations” rather than “vows,” and I use the same language here. This means that some of these commitments are loftier than they’d be if I had to pinky swear that I’d get it right on my first try, but they engender who I aspire to grow into as a mother.

To My Dear Daughter,

These are my affirmations to you:

I see you, hear you, and feel you for who you truly are so I can communicate love and support in a meaningful way. (This line is from Daddy and my wedding affirmations, so I guess it’s one of our family values now). In turn, I am authentic with you so you can genuinely know me.

I protect you when you are defenseless. As you grow and develop independence, I teach you courage, assertiveness, diplomacy, compassion and self-confidence to set you up to fight your own battles. When that time of independence comes, I support you with messages of trust and empowerment, and avoid interference.

I love you even when you hurt me, hate me, or make choices I don’t agree with. However, loving you doesn’t mean I enable destructive behavior. I have the insight and courage to discern between when you need support and compassion, and when the most powerful thing I can do is to step back.

I discipline you intentionally and consciously, not out of anger, resentment, or anxiety.

I care for my own physical, emotional, and mental health so I show can show up energetic, present, and joyful for you.

I instill in you acceptance, honor, and respect for your body, and stand against messages of shame. I hope that developing a positive body image will inspire healthy choices, especially when it comes to choosing partners when you’re older. I [do my best] to give you space to experiment, to fall head-over-heels in love, and even to experience profound heartbreak. I can’t make any promises about what Daddy will make space for.

I will probably dress you in frilly dresses and oversized floral headbands for as long as you’ll let me, but beyond this I treat you with gender-neutral respect, confidence, and expectations. Just as I don’t deny you anything simply because you’re a girl, I don’t give you special privileges just because you’re a girl. I [try to] keep Daddy from spoiling you, but I suspect he wont be able to help it—you are his dream-come-true.

I trust Daddy to take care of you in every way so that you two can have a strong, healthy bond. I make space for him to share his passions and interests with you.

I give you enough structure for you to develop security and trust, and enough freedom to explore, express your creativity, and make your own mistakes. I allow this balance to shift as you grow and develop.

Although I am responsible for you and care deeply for you, I hold onto no disillusion that I possess you, control you, or am entitled to anything from you. I cherish anything you offer me—whether it’s physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual—as a gift. I set you up to achieve my best understanding of a successful life, but ultimately trust your intuition about what success means to you.

As I get to know you, I’m sure these affirmations will evolve, and I’ll probably come up with many, many more. I am so excited to hold you in my arms and to see who you become.



Write in a way that scares you

I had this post completely written well before Monday when I normally publish, but what I wrote definitely falls into the category of writing described above. It took me a few days to muster up the courage to make the final edits and share with the world.

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!