Pregnancy Books Retrospective

I have not read a full book in months and months; hence, the lack of book reviews on my blog. But I did want to share books that I read, even if in pieces and not in whole, that I thought were helpful for pregnancy.

1) Mindful Birthing. I LOVED this book. It covers an adaptation of the 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) to pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenting. It was full of helpful exercises related to pain practice, meditative techniques, etc. It was the first book that made me feel relatively okay about giving birth.

2) The Birth Partner. Technically a book for “dads and doulas”, I found this helpful to read myself. It provides a really great overview of various stages of labor and what techniques may be helpful to get through each. A little more anti-epidural that I’m into, but you can get a lot of good information.

3) Headed Home with your Newborn. A very, very practical guide to early weeks with a baby. I especially liked that the recommendations were not just grounded in science, but what’s actually feasible. For example, they take the line that you don’t have to bathe your baby that much before they start crawling because they aren’t getting that dirty.

4) Expecting better. A data-driven book, it has very concrete statistics re miscarriage rates, whether sushi and drinking are actually bad for you during pregnancy, and pros/cons of various birth interventions.

I tried to read many, many other books and I found them to be almost universally fear-mongering, not grounded in science, or just totally insane. So thought I would share the few that stood out as helpful resources 🙂

Pregnancy: 17 Weeks

I had my 16-week appointment this week, which was fun. I was super anxious about it because I heard 3 separate stories about month four miscarriages and also had been having a lot of pain/cramping in my uterus that I wasn’t sure was normal. Spoiler alert: totally normal.

The appointment itself was funny. The Doctor always checks the heartbeat of the baby using the doppler but every time she would push down and catch the heartbeat, the baby would move elsewhere. Rinse and repeat. But everything looks good and our next appointment is the 20-week ultrasound/anatomy scan.

Physically, I am feeling pretty okay. Okay-ish is what I’ve been telling people. My energy is definitely starting to slow down in a lot of ways, like sometimes I feel too ehh to even want to go for a walk after work, which isn’t usual for me.

I am finally starting to show a small bump. I had two days of lots of cramping and then – ta-da! – the bottom of my stomach was pushed out. So I guess it was some sort of internal re-arranging.

I have felt very into nesting – just this constant thinking about being in and cleaning and organizing my apartment, which I find much more interesting that being outside. I assumed we would take a babymoon because we are in the exact demographic of people who would do that but I…just don’t want to. I mean, if someone organized a trip to the Bahamas (now Zika free!) for me, I would probably take them up on it, but the idea of going to the airport, traveling, finding food, etc., etc., just sounds totally exhausting.

I also cut my lifts back this week to work out at more of a 7 than a 9, which I think will be good in the long-term.

I was in a wedding this weekend for one of my besties and juuuuuust squeezed into my dress. Which was already a bigger dress than I had originally purchased. Like, literally, it was zipped – I bent down to take my shoes off – and the hook flew off and across the room.

And last but not least — I discovered the joy of maternity clothes! I was really reaching the point of just straining out of and looking super unattractive in all of my regular clothes. And now, I have clothes that fit my new shape and have the bonus of being really flattering and comfortable. Yay!

Monthly Review: August

Here is my monthly review for August. If you want to read July’s, check it out here.

1. What went well this month?

  • Re-discovering my mindfulness practice. I had been feeling very disconnected from my mindfulness practice this summer. I stopped my daily sitting and basically just stopped being mindful altogether. I couldn’t figure out if it was hormone related, heat-related, or something else. I didn’t force myself and this month got really into practice again. I started reading this amazing book, Mindful Birthing, which I love. It’s a childbirth-focused class of the eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program R and I did and feels really right with my philosophies and mindset. There’s a whole set of working through pain practices in there that I am (kind of!) excited to try.
  • Weekends of leisure. After a busy July and with an upcoming busy September, it was so nice to have almost every weekend free this month. We went to Maine, went to the beach a lot, and had a lot of free time. I found myself enjoying it even more because I know we won’t have free weekends like this in a long time, and it was a nice way to connect with myself and with R.

2. What didn’t go so well this month?

  • Working out.  I have kept up my standard exercise routine – two days of lifting, a day or so of yoga, almost daily stretching, and walking a lot. But man, has it been hard to recover. I decided, though I have been crushing my deadlifts recently, I’m going to drop my weight down and go to higher reps in all my lifts. I can complete every workout, but the recovery time has been getting longer and longer and I’ve had more feelings of – I just don’t want to do this. So I’m going to take it a little easier and listen to my body. I started this in an open level yoga class yesterday where I opted out of just about every advanced variation. Normally I would have a lot of ego around that but I focused on being loving and mindful of where I truly was at the moment, and that was a nice practice to add-on.

3. What did I work on last month and how did it go?

  • More intentional time usage. Honestly, I’m not sure how this went. It’s not really a thing I’ve been thinking that much about. I almost see it as I’m not using my time as well/efficiently as possible because I’m…just really tired. And that’s fine, isn’t it?

4. What am I working toward?

  • At-home productivity.  I have completed 40% of my pregnancy (!!), and am starting to get a little panicked about all the things I have to do/want to do to prepare that we just haven’t moved forward on. Basically getting our apartment in order, having whatever furniture we deem necessary, having maintenance do some basic repairs, etc. I want to do a house walk through with R and just make put everything on a giant list that we can focus on.
  • Maintaining/increasing mindfulness. My daily practice has been great, and I want to continue mindfulness in other daily activities. I’ve been doing this pretty consistently on the subway instead of listening to a podcast or reading, and while walking, but want to focus on incorporating 1-2 more mindfulness practices into my life (maybe mindful eating and something else).

Pregnancy: Week 15

I felt like I was crushing it this past week. Had a ton of energy, my digestion was a lot better. I honestly feel almost 90% not-pregnant (which is, itself, sort of stressful and worrying in some ways). But all of my tests have come up normal, I have a doctor’s appointment in two weeks, so I’m just enjoying it while it lasts. And, I have to say, I have been crushing it at the gym with a set of deadlifts at 185 this week. I have been chasing a set of 200 pound deadlifts for many months and am so close, I can feel it.

Pregnancy Week 12

This week went by in a blur. On Friday, we went to our 12-week ultrasound which was insane. The baby was super active — flipping around, kicking its legs, etc. Everything looked good and healthy which made me realize, a little bit more, that this is really happening. Cue some anxiety and angst, especially when we went to Target to try to acclimate ourselves to baby gear and left disgusted by consumerism.

Physically, I have started to feel better. I have been more active and napping less, and was happy that I didn’t gain any weight in the last month because I was ravenous a lot of the time. But summer has helped with focusing on eating fruits and veggies. My mind feels a little settled too, like I am almost ready to go back to my daily stretching and meditation practices.

Pregnancy Week 11

Okay, because I still can’t understand how pregnancy weeks work, this is dated at the start of my 11th week (I think…). I thought I would write short weekly synopses to document my experience.

This week I felt mostly fine. I got to spill the beans in person to one of my closest friends which felt really, really nice and we got to have a long conversation about parenting, pregnancy, birth, etc.

There were several nights where I slept 12 hours and then still needed a nap the next day. My workout motivation was looooow — I hit my walking goal every day but couldn’t get myself to yoga. Just felt very low-energy in general.

Emotionally, I started to feel a bit better and less irritable. I attribute it to fish oil in the forms of salmon, sardines, and capsules, but could have been something else too.


So…my two blog readers (Hey B! Hey R!) both already know this, but I am pregnant. Currently in week 10, though part of my brain has stopped understanding how weeks work since I’ve become immersed into pregnancy weeks. If your first birthday is technically celebrating the closing of your first year of life, is the 10th week of pregnancy celebrating the closing of the 10th week?

I have been feeling pretty ambivilant. I’ve written a fair amount about fertility anxiety here, so I was initially very thankful it happened naturally. Physically, I have been feeling almost fine. Just like a 80% version of myself most days, meaning instead of doing anything after work, I’m prone to just vegging out, very often laying down on my sofa half-listening to a podcast. I haven’t felt very nauseated (though did more so when it was earlier on), and haven’t felt very different overall.

Last week and this week, I have started to feel very emotionally grumpy. Just not really in the mood to interact with anyone, uncomfortable in all situations for all sorts of reasons (I don’t want to be wearing pants, something smells weird, I could be taking a nap right now instead of doing this). I mostly do not want to hang out with people.

I haven’t been thinking too much about the longer-term yet because when I do, I get very overwhelmed. But am trying to slowly break the news to more people, so thought this would be an easy start.