I, on the other hand, morph from a relatively smart, functioning woman, to a vomiting, sobbing and snotty mess. I didn't eat healthy at all in the first few months. I followed the "white" diet - white bread, white pasta, and maybe some ice cream. I was sick constantly, and my moods fluctuated like this unseasonal March weather we're having. I also developed what I called the Crazy Ear Disease (otherwise known as Patulous Eustachian tube, a very rare disorder that seemed to be triggered by the pregnancy hormone Relaxin), which followed me right through to the birth.
Add to that the fact that dear daughter was an unplanned pregnancy. Yes, of course I'd thought about children (I was 28 years old after all); I just didn't think it would happen 3 months following my wedding, at a time when most couples are excited to spend their honeymoon phase travelling or saving money to buy a house. And despite my age, I knew very few friends who were pregnant or had given birth. So there weren't a lot of people to turn to in the months following conception.
One morning, after my routine of dry heaves and soda crackers, hubby brought me his local business newspaper - a publication that highlighted business news in the Ottawa area. On the front cover was an announcement that a local massage therapy practice had hired their first Massage Therapist who was trained in pre- and post-natal massage. Her name was Anna Belanger.
I booked myself a massage, and arrived not quite knowing what to expect. I had been for massage therapy in the past, but never with a growing belly. Anna introduced me to her special "pillows," which allowed me to lie on my tummy, with my belly and breasts hanging comfortably in the curves of the pillow.
Well let me tell ya': that first massage was an eye opener. I left the clinic practically floating to my car. And not only did I feel good physically, but I also felt a renewed sense of hope. Finally, someone got it. Someone was able to relate to my nausea and vomiting, my pregnancy neuroses, and my anxiety over becoming a first time mom. As a mother of four, Anna could relate to all of my worries. She not only helped to reduce these worries, but added some much-needed humour to the situation.
I continued to see Anna throughout my pregnancy, and then in a moment of fate, asked her to be the backup doula for my birth. The woman I had asked to be my primary doula was going away to a wedding 3 days following my due date. Anna's spidey senses told her that she would be the one attending my birth, and she was right! Anna provided continual support throughout the birth of my daughter, and got to witness even more of my puking, snotty self :) In the postpartum weeks, she was the one who taught me how to breastfeed lying down, as we practiced right on her massage table! Newborn babies are always welcome in Anna's clinic (although let your hubby take the baby away after the cooing and ahhing is over - you need to enjoy your postpartum massage!).
In the years since that first massage, I have remained one of Anna's devoted clients, and have watched her small business grow into a booming niche-clinic in the Glebe. And although you'll hear some occasional selfish complaints from me (e.g. I have to wait how long to see you again??), I am over-the-moon with joy for her and her associates. It was because of Anna that I am now a doula myself, and share her passion for working with women.
So when I peed on a little stick several weeks ago and saw this.....
|The lines kinda fuzzy, but it's there :)|
....I knew who I needed to call. I'm excited that Anna will be able to attend the birth of baby #2, and I'm also thrilled that I now have an excuse to book a monthly massage (not that I needed one!)
As women, we are destined to live through such a multitude of scary, joyful and heartbreaking experiences, and it's a must that we surround ourselves with people who "get" us. Some of us are experiencing loss. Others are dealing with the ravages of infertility. Many of us are moving through pregnancy and birth. Some have no interest in babies at all, but are struggling with other physical and mental health concerns. And some are witnessing the drastic hormonal shifts that occur as we say goodbye to our childbearing years. In all of this, a gentle hand and a kind word is all we need to be able to take a deep breath, and relax into our bodies - as imperfectly perfect as they are.
So if you are a woman living in the Ottawa area, do yourself a favour, and book a massage with Anna Belanger and Associates.
And join me in taking a deep breath...here we go again!!