Anna Maria Locke

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Thomas' Birth Story!

2019Anna Locke
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Ben and I welcomed the arrival of our baby boy, Thomas Adriaan, on Friday August 9th at 10:49pm, one day past his estimated due date! He is named in honor of Ben’s late father Tom, and my dad and brother’s middle name.

A bundle of squishy perfection, I never knew I could be so obsessed with anything. My love for this little human is so intense that it’s been hard for me to process and handle it.

I love hearing birth stories even more now that I’ve lived through my own, and have been wanting to share mine for the last 6 weeks, but of course in true Anna fashion I didn’t want to leave anything out, and new baby survival vortex + perfectionism procrastination is not the most effective combo.

But here we are!

Also in true Anna fashion, I am going to keep it real. I didn’t experience any major trauma and had an overall positive experience so I don’t think I need to add a trigger warning to this post, but if you are currently pregnant and prefer your birth stories filtered with magical golden rainbow light of baby wonder and joy so you can remain in denial of the realities to come (which is TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE!) — you might want to pass on this one for now.

The “Birth Plan”

I didn’t have much of a birth plan because luckily most of my preferences were standard procedure with our hospital’s policies and the certified nurse midwives group I worked with. Things like delayed cord clamping, intermittent fetal monitoring, being able to move around the room in labor, etc. I also loved that the c-section rate of the midwives was 9% (vs 20-30% of typical hospitals in the US) and that our hospital allows you to eat and drink anything you want and also is the first in Chicago to offer nitrous oxide as a pain management option. I don’t have anything against drugs, but knew I didn’t want an epidural unless my labor stopped progressing and I needed to rest. I’ll share more on my epidural stance at the end!

Since we live five minutes from the hospital, I also wanted to labor at home as long as possible, which I discovered is one of those “be careful what you wish for” things.

(my very last bump pictures, on our EDD 8/8)

How it all started

I felt absolutely fantastic until I hit 39 weeks. That Friday (August 2nd) I started to feel a shift in my energy and some light menstrual-like cramping, which I experienced off and on the final week as well as tons of Braxton Hicks and a little more low pelvic pressure as baby dropped. If you’ve ever noticed that dreamy-like zone you feel right before your period starts, it was kind of like that only more intense to the point that I decided to stop driving, stopped walking, basically went into hermit mode. It’s like I was in a constant state of deep meditation and calm. 

Physically, I think I’ve blocked that last week out of my memory because all I remember was feeling really uncomfortable and anxious to not be pregnant anymore!

As any 38+ week pregnant woman will tell you, you hit a point where all your fear of labor goes *poof* and you find yourself googling all the things you can do to inspire baby to GET THE HECK OUT ASAP! Not much is scientifically proven to naturally induce labor, but it felt good to at least feel as proactive as possible even though it’s impossible to tell what “did the trick” since the baby will come out eventually.

Here is what I tried to prep for and naturally induce labor:

-I ate 5-6 dates every day from about 36 weeks on, which is clinically shown to help cervical effacement (it worked! This is the #1 thing I would recommend to all pregnant women in the last month. Plus I have lots of delicious recipes here.)

-I had also been doing “Labor Prep” workouts from the Bloom Method to strengthen my core and pelvic floor connection. This worked too, at least when it came to pushing! Click here for my affiliate link to try a month of their pre/postnatal workouts.

-I drank 16 oz of raspberry leaf tea every day the last few weeks, which is anecdotally supposed to stimulate contractions, and drank this noxious extra strong brew at 40 weeks (to be honest I will NOT be doing that again because my contractions were extremely intense and I can’t tell if this played a role. Plus it was absolutely vile.)

-Walked with one foot off the curb to rock my pelvis and attempt to move baby into optimal position (he was always in a great position the last couple months so not sure if this did anything, but it was a fantastic booty workout!)

-Membrane sweep (THIS ultimately did it! More below…)

Our estimated due date was Thursday August 8th, and Ben’s mom had to fly home the following Monday so obviously we all wanted him to be born before then, although I was trying not to put any unnecessary pressure on myself.

I had a feeling that he would be born the week of his due date, and I swear I had an even stronger and faster intuitive connection to my baby and could transmit messages from him. Yes this sounds nuts, but it was the coolest thing ever. So I asked him if he would come before Pat (my mother in law) flew home and instantaneously heard him said yes, he wanted to meet her.

But as the days ticked by I started to get more impatient and doubt my intuition.

At my 40 week appointment on Thursday (my estimated due date), I opted for my first cervical check and was dilated 1 cm so I decided to get a membrane sweep. This means the midwife/OB sticks a finger inside your cervix and manually detaches your amniotic sac from your uterus, which can stimulate labor but isn’t guaranteed. Yeah it’s uncomfortable, but at that point I was so uncomfy in general I didn’t mind at all and figured we might as well give it a shot. I had more cramping and spotting the rest of the day but I wasn’t sure if it was actual pre-labor or just side effects from the sweep.

That afternoon my friend Amanda came over, I chilled on the couch chugging my swamp water aka labor day tea and binge watching Say Yes to the Dress to get the oxytocin flowing.

(Amanda will want to interject that her presence is what triggered labor, since we tend to be together during all times our uteruses spazz out, anything from miscarriage to IUD clots.)

That night around 9:30pm as we went to bed I noticed the cramping was starting to align with my BH, and the cramps woke up at 3:30am, when I went to the bathroom and passed a bloody chunk of mucus, which was really exciting to me because it was a sign that things were happening!

Side note: during and after labor your body will eject every imaginable kind of discharge: mysterious liquid, blood, clots, slime, poop, urine, so be prepared for it and just surrender to losing all control of your bodily functions. Laugh about it if you can. If I didn’t know about the mucus plug, I think I would have freaked out.

I tried to go back to sleep but that was obviously impossible. Every book that tells you to relax and sleep through early labor has obviously never gone into labor.

A little after 5am I felt my first “real” contraction, which was significantly different than the general menstrual-like achiness. I can’t describe lt except by saying that it felt like a brick wall hitting my entire uterus, it was unmistakeable and I instinctively recognized what was happening.

Everyone says that during labor the front part of your normal rational “thinking” brain gradually shuts off as your primal animal brain takes over, and that is 100% accurate.

My next instinct was to hop in the shower to wash my hair and put on make up so I felt somewhat normal and not a complete hot mess and could maybe get some semi-cute post delivery pictures. HAHAHAHAHA. I do recommend showering because it feels good, and washing your hair because it might be the last time that happens for the foreseeable future, but if you are planning for a first time unmedicated birth just prepare yourself as if you’re about to run an Ironman triathlon because that’s how you will probably look and feel afterward (if anything, waterproof mascara!)

Around 7 am I woke Ben up with the classic “I think I’m in labor!” moment, and he sprang out of bed and proceeded to panic clean the entire apartment while I continued to lay on the couch watching “Say Yes to the Dress” to distract and get the oxytocin flowing. I also remember finishing packing my hospital bag with random shit I wouldn’t end up touching, and remember Ben telling me I looked really good. So I guess the make up was worth it for that moment.

Laboring at home

I was prepared for the sensations of early labor, mainly irregular contractions many minutes apart, with periods of rest in between. For some reason which will eventually be revealed, my early labor felt like the description of active labor which was extremely confusing.

My contractions were intense enough by mid morning that I couldn’t talk through them, lasted 45-60 seconds, and my uterus never released in between so I had a hard time knowing when one contraction began and ended but they seemed to be hitting 2-4 minutes apart. I wasn’t able to rest and relax in between so it was hard to distract myself.

My favorite position was bouncing on the ball, or laying on my side in bed with my top leg drawn up to my chest with a pillow under it. I tried to remember the whole point of labor is to be as uncomfortable as possible because that means the baby is descending and things are happening. This is tough mentally when all you want to do is find relief from the discomfort!

This continued allllll day. I knew I should eat as much as possible but felt like I was in the middle of a race, my appetite was gone and all I could tolerate was juice and smoothies.

Our doula Celia came over around noon and tried to mentally prepare me that this “early labor” could last a while, potentially days, and I didn’t know how I would make it!!

She had me try a walk with Ben to keep things progressing and we made it one block and 2-3 contractions before I could barely move anymore.

I was so in the moment that time actually passed much faster than I anticipated, and I remember looking at the clock at 5pm and being relieved and excited I’d made it 12 hours at home. For some reason that felt like a milestone, and I knew that it wouldn’t be too much longer.

Since things seemed to be progressing really fast, we called Celia again and she came over and had me run a bath. Before I stepped into the tub I sat on the toilet to pee and with an immediate GUSH my water broke! Ben was relieved he didn’t have to clean it off the floor. I was proud of myself for having such great timing and aim. #winninglabor

I immediately knew I didn’t want to sit in the tub because I couldn’t move, so I got out after a couple more contractions and more of my mucus plug dropped out like a jellyfish onto the bath mat. Good times.

Contractions started coming fast and furious after this and I was experiencing more and more pressure as baby’s head dropped into my pelvis, so I knew I NEEDED to head to the hospital and things started to feel extremely urgent. Celia told Kate (the other doula we worked with who took the evening shift) to meet us there. The car ride was rough but not unbearable, thanks to our proximity.

It was around 6:30pm at this time.

Check in and triage was rough, as I was having nonstop extremely intense contractions. Apparently it was a busy night for babies and they had to wheel me to 3 rooms to find an empty triage room to take my vitals and check on baby. Apparently during this time Ben drove the car back to our street so he didn’t have to pay $4 for hospital parking, and then sprinted back to the hospital — he has no idea why he thought this was important when his child was about to be born, but it’s kind of funny.

I met the midwife on call, Kim, who told me I was 4cm dilated but 100% effaced — YAY DATES! I wasn’t discouraged that I was “only” 4cm because I think I knew things would move fast from here. How could they not??

Our doula Kate had me walk to the delivery room to encourage the baby to keep moving down, which felt like the worst idea ever and I was that stereotypical pregnant woman moaning in agony, doubled over every few steps as another contraction ripped through my body. Did you ever notice there are railings on the halls of the hospital? NOW I KNOW WHY! After walking what felt like miles, we made it to the delivery room and I felt a bit of emotional relief, like yay this is finally happening.

Kate encouraged me to try different positions with Ben and her for support, which all felt like torture and the worst idea ever but I went along with it and my fave was sitting on the bouncy ball leaning over one of them sitting on the bed.

Before labor (“BL”) I assumed I’d like to lean up against the bed or be on my hands and knees, but by this time I was much too exhausted and shaky to do any position with my legs supporting me. I even ended up getting an IV since I felt so depleted and lightheaded. So it turns out I didn’t need or even want to move freely around the room at all (my “birth plan”) since I labored so long at home.

All I cared about was wanting to know that I was progressing, and I remember I kept begging Kim to check me every time she came in the room. I think I was checked at 6 cm not long after?? Before too long I started getting an all-consuming urge to push, and Kim came in and said contractions seemed to be extra intense, I think she told me to do 3 more of those “push” contractions before checking again.

By then I was at 7cm, and baby’s head was just really really low. I was using the nitrous to try and get some pain relief, but not sure if it helped at all?

Kim told me we needed to wait until I was fully dilated at 10cm before I could start pushing, so my cervix didn’t get injured. It felt completely unbearable to go through the most intense transition contractions while resisting my body which was going into “MUST PUSH NOW” overdrive.

This is when I hit the wall of self doubt, and didn’t know how I would make it.

Kate tried to remind me to focus on one contraction at a time, instead of freaking out about how many hours were left, but it was impossible not to panic and feel trapped in the unsustainable all-encompassing pain.

I mean, I had no illusions about childbirth going in but nothing can really prepare you for it. My entire body was wracked with the intense pressure, and still I felt like I could never get a second of relief in between contractions.

My mind gave up and I decided to toss my idealistic “natural” birth plan out the window and ask for the epidural. In the back of my mind I remembered learning in birth class that you shouldn’t ask for pain meds at the peak of a contraction, so like a good student I waited until one ended and made what I considered a really well thought out case for myself, LOL.

I remember cry/yelling “THIS IS AN EMPOWERED CHOICE!” to Kate and Ben.

So the nurse took my bloodwork and started the process, but Kim was great at encouraging me to stick with my natural birth plan and try different positions etc, reminding me I’d only been admitted like 3 hours earlier (obviously the last things I thought I wanted to hear). I knew I didn’t want to get back in the tub, I just didn’t wanna move, everything was excruciating.

Looking back, I appreciate having the support of Kate and Kim so much. Kate and Ben played the role of support, “do what you need to do,” while Kim played devils’ advocate while still honoring my decisions.

Since it was such a busy night in L&D I’d have to wait at least an hour for the anesthesiologist, and when they told me I’d need to hold still for 10 mins for the insertion I knew I wouldn’t be able to since contractions were wracking my entire body almost constantly. (Kim knew we wouldn’t have time before I was ready to actually push).

I distinctly remember bouncing on the ball with my head in our doulas lap, deciding to ditch the epidural, “OK let’s do this!!!”

This was my most empowering moment, and when my own energy and adrenaline started to shift.

So I got back the bed with a peanut ball between my legs and continued to suffer (doula reminded me birth is supposed to be survival mode) through a few more contractions while resisting the urge to push. I can’t even describe how intense this was, and it’s hard for me to type it out in words. Still couldn’t find any relief or rest between before the next wave hit. Had to scream through the peak, then breath nitrous, then horse lips to blow out urge to push, but I also knew by now that the end was in sight and I had a goal to work towards.

Basically this was the “gone primal” moment, and my voice was hoarse for two days haha.

While in my dying animal zone I kind of registered a rush of activity as more nurses came in and the incubator was turned on and I knew we had to be close which gave me another surge of confidence and motivation.

Then Kim told me I was at 9.5cm and just had a small cervical lip getting in the way of the baby’s head. She offered to try manually pushing the lip to the side while I tried a push and that sounded like salvation and ended up being my favorite contraction. IT FELT SO GOOD. Like, you know when you have to poop sooooo bad but it’s really huge and so the gas/size of the poop painfully stretches your rectum but also is the best relief? Imagine that x100. Like your poop log is 6 inches wide. And coming out of your vajay, not your butt.

And it worked! And then it was push time!

I was so relieved to finally be able to let my body follow its instincts I’d been overriding. I didn’t fully realize the double pain of this phase since you push during the most intense kind of contraction plus feel your baby’s head stretching you beyond all limits, but I welcomed the burn as a familiar kind of pain I felt I could actually handle.

BL I had assumed I would want to push on my hands and knees or an “alternative” hippy position but by that time I was so beyond exhausted I don’t know how I could have even moved, so it actually felt best to push on my back. I assume the bed was tilted up a bit for gravity to assist?

Ben and Kate grabbed my legs (so Ben’s plan to stay by my head kind of got trashed too), I grabbed the railings and pushed with literally my entire body. I was so ready to get this baby out I would have pushed nonstop for as long as it took, but Kim reminded me to take a break between contractions to let my body stretch and I appreciated her coaching because I had no idea what was going on down there.

Around this time it occurred to me that the love of my life and father of my child was also in the room, and had a distant thought “I should look up at Ben to share the moment” (like you see in the movies??) so I did for like one second, then went back into my zone. Hilarious.

What does it feel like to push? First it felt really weird to feel the bulk of my baby’s body moving through my pelvis, and also felt like my rectum was literally turning inside out. I definitely pooped on the table, and think I said “I’m pooping!” and Ben and everyone reassured me it was no big deal assuming I was embarrassed, but how could I be embarrassed after everything that had already happened? HA! Mostly I just felt concerned about laying in my own shit. Somewhere deep inside under all the intensity and adrenaline and pain I wanted to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation.

At each contraction I just desperately wanted it to be the last. It felt like I pushed for hours and just wanted to hear the cliche “there’s the head!!!” but all I heard was Kim say “oh, it’s a hand” and then all of a sudden I saw my baby being pulled out of me, screaming and covered with blood and dropping his load of meconiun (tar like newborn poop) all over me as they placed him on my chest.

Apparently I pushed for 15 minutes and the baby was born with his hand next to his face!

Thomas Adriaan, born 10:49pm the day after his due date, weighing 7 lb 8 oz and around 19 inches long with curly hair.

We had two hours in the delivery room to deliver the placenta, do skin to skin while I got stitched up (getting shots of lidocaine in your inner lady parts that had just been ripped apart was unpleasant but after going through labor I didn’t even care), attempt breastfeeding, allow the nurses to run Thomas through the battery of newborn pricks and prods, and help me hobble to the bathroom to pee (they like you to prove your bladder still works) and teach me how to assemble my mega pad/ice pack creation.

By the time they wheeled us over to the postpartum recovery room it was about 2 am and I was still pretty much delirious. I remember sitting in the wheelchair and looking over at the bassinet holding my baby being wheeled next to me. 

The most surreal experience of my life!

We ended up spending only about 36 hours in the hospital, and I barely slept an hour for about 4 days straight. I remember almost panicking because I didn’t know it was humanly possible to go that long without sleep and not die, but the adrenaline and mother instincts are fierce. The hospital stay is a complete blur to me, I remember the gush of blood and fluids every time I stood up to go to the bathroom (and the subsequent murder scene when trying to pee), feeling insanely weak and dizzy (I barely had the energy to pee and re-assemble my pad, much less pose for those awesome “look at my postpartum bod in my awesome mesh undies!” selfies you see on Instagram), and asking for endless cups of ice water. Out of all the things I meticulously researched to pack in my hospital bag, I ended up using only the juice boxes and snacks, make-up, toothbrush, and body wipes to feel somewhat human, annnnd that is literally all. I couldn’t even fathom taking a shower until the day after we got home (no energy), and since I was still leaking so many fluids didn’t really want to change out of my hospital gown. 

And Thomas’ grandma Pat was able to come visit us at the hospital and again at home before she had to fly back, yay! 

Things that surprised me the most about labor/delivery:

-Your contractions//early vs active labor might not feel like the textbook descriptions you learn about. This shouldn’t be surprising but it was.

-ALL THE BODILY FLUIDS. Mucus plug, blood, amniotic fluid that would gush at each contraction, urine, poop. So messy. But you won’t even care.

-I spent so much time figuring out the perfect items to pack in my hospital bag and literally touched NONE OF IT except a couple toiletries. You are going to be discharging so much bodily fluid and doing skin to skin/non stop breastfeeding, you don’t even need clothes just wear the hospital gown and rock the topless look, tres Euro chic.

I have so much more to share!

But I’ll save it for future posts since this is already a novel.

I thought I’d miss being pregnant, but although I cherish the memories it’s a huge relief to have my body back, and to have my baby here! What a wild rush.

First Trimester Recap and Recommendations!

2019Anna Locke
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Happy March! I’m writing this from my cozy home office on a gloomy rainy Thursday but the days are noticeably getting longer, the birds are starting to chirp, my energy is slowly starting to come back, and I’m feeling little tiny pops inside my belly. If you’re reading this you probably follow me on social media and know that yes, I’m pregnant and due in August!

It’s been quite the journey to get to this moment… the word “journey” always sounds cliche but it’s really the best word.

I’m sharing my daily pregnancy related updates over on my wellness Instagram account @annainspiresjoy, so follow me there if you want more, but also wanted to write an official first trimester recap. As of today I’m 19 weeks, almost half way ! and every single day is a new learning curve. I know this is just the beginning.

So let’s take it back to the start…

Ben and I decided to officially start trying to grow our family back in October 2017.

We went through all the phases of trying to conceive (TTC):

  1. The initial excited “let’s stop NOT trying” and ditch birth control for a few months.

  2. Realizing that even though I track my period and phases of my cycle, I should probably start tuning into my fertility aka if and when I am ovulating. By now I’ve learned that women are only fertile a few days every month (despite everything we learn in high school health class and the fear of pregnancy we constantly live with throughout our 20’s).

  3. Chart my basal body temperature (I used the Kindara app), pay a bit of attention to my cervical fluid (egg white discharge = sperm highway), start to use ovulation predictor strips, basically turn my body into a science experiment!

  4. Start wondering how we had so much energy for sex back in our 20’s. Ahhh youth is wasted on the young.

  5. April 2018, find out I am pregnant!!

  6. May 2018, lose the embryo at about 9 or 10 weeks

  7. Summer of 2018: all the grief, all the healing, all the margaritas (do you know tequila is the only alcohol that is not a depressant??)

  8. August 2018: repeat from step 3.

  9. Learn the hard way that even when you are healthy and “fertile", there is only a 30% chance of conception at any perfectly timed time. Insert ALL THE VARIABLES. (Again, why do we spend so much emotional energy freaking out about avoiding pregnancy in our 20’s?? This shit is hard.)

  10. December 2018: feel all the signs, pee on a stick, here we go again!

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How I found out:

A day or two before I was due to start my period, I went to my friend Juliana’s apartment downtown for a girls night. I was drinking straight kombucha and water instead of wine, so the girls were technically the first to know. My energy felt a little woozy and dreamy, just like it usually does right before my period, but I also felt different. I had a suspicion I was pregnant because it was the same type of jet lag//sore breasts feeling I had when I confirmed my first pregnancy, but I didn’t want to feel too paranoid just in case I was wrong, since I’d been hyperfocused on my body for the past 3 months and every time I got my period again it felt more and more emotionally draining. When you’re actively trying to get pregnant, it’s almost impossible not to obsess during the two week wait aka the time between ovulation and when you get your period.

I waited a few more days to see what would happen (still no period) so on December 5 I woke up early and went straight to the bathroom, and sure enough, line!

Ben was still sleeping but I ran back to bed and told him the news, and we were both a mixture of excitment, disbelief, and “here we go again.”

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Sharing the news

That next weekend I took the train down to central Illinois to visit my family and see my little sister perform in her high school Madrigals, and immediately told my mom the news because i knew no matter what happened, I wanted her support. I somehow made it through the rest of the weekend without telling the rest of my family, but ended up spilling the news to my dad over Christmas after I refused his offer of wine for the 3rd time (very unlike me, lol).

I wasn’t able to schedule my first doctor’s appointment until after New Year’s when I would be about 9 weeks pregnant, which stressed me out a bit because that was around the time I had my miscarriage, and I was anxious to know that everything was developing ok. The first few weeks of pregnancy (they actually start counting “week 1” as the first day of your last period, so by the time you get a positive test you’re at least 4 weeks along) are so fragile and early miscarriage is way more common than we really know. Sometimes the embryo doesn’t start growing, sometimes it doesn’t have the right chromosome combination, sometimes something random goes wrong. There’s nothing we can really do about it, and early pregnancy loss is NOT. YOUR. FAULT. Your body is simply doing its job.

But still, even knowing all that, it’s impossible not to get emotionally attached to this little lentil. The hormone surge is pretty intense right off the bat as well.

Keeping the secret was honestly easier than I expected. After my miscarriage I assumed I’d want to share right away if I got pregnant again, but once it finally happened I wanted to keep the news close to my heart. The hardest part was keeping the secret from my health and wellness accountability groups and coaching team, and also having to stop sharing my cycle updates on Instagram haha. I’m normally such an open book on social media and hate not being able to be honest.

Also, while sharing the news with friends and family is exciting, it also is a lot of work and takes a bit of time to get hold of everyone! Once we had told our immediate family and closest friends, Ben finally with many eye rolls let me post our “baby Benanna” reveal on social media :) I was overwhelmed by all the support we received and it put me on a high for several days!

My best friend the couch - where I spent most of my time from December through February.

My best friend the couch - where I spent most of my time from December through February.

Frequently Asked Questions

-did you do anything differently the month you conceived?

Not really! It took us 4 months to conceive this pregnancy, and this is when I had a clockwork regular ovulation and “timed” sex just right (the days before and during ovulation). I read that there is only a 30% chance of conception at any given time even if the timing is perfect, it just depends on the sperm and egg, lol. And if I think about my friends who have gotten pregnant, probably 30% of them made it on the first or second try.

-did you feel “pressured” to get pregnant again, since I was sharing my journey so publicly?

Not at all! I love sharing menstrual cycle awareness and teaching women how to tune into the energetic and creative shifts we experience throughout the month, and I am very open about sharing what’s up with my own body. I didn’t feel external pressure to get pregnant right away because I didn’t share the specifics or details of when we were trying again. Honestly the hardest part was NOT sharing details about my cycle or period during the first trimester, before we spilled the news, and pretending everything was normal. I’m sure a few people who watch all my IG stories guessed what was up :)

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-what pregnancy tests did you use?

When we first started trying to conceive 18 months ago, my best friend recommended this Costco sized giant box of ovulation predictor and pregnancy tests. You get 50 OPK and 20 pregnancy tests for $16.50 on Amazon Prime, they lasted me the entire time and I still have some left! They’re super basic, but seem to be pretty sensitive and accurate. If you want the fancy test that says “pregnant” go for it, but I would rather spend my money on cute baby stuff or pregnancy books.

-what are your favorite pregnancy books?

I have always been a bookworm and obsessed with learning and collecting knowledge about things I’m going through, so it has been a fine balance between learning and not wanting to overwhelm myself with other people’s opinions. I want to make sure I’m tuning into MY body and intuition at all times.

However, here are a few of my fave books I’d recommend for holistically minded mamas!

-are you still working out?

I’m so grateful I’ve been able to stay active all throughout my pregnancy. I was working out 6-7 days/week before I got pregnant so my doctor said it was fine to continue what I was doing.

I’ve had to scale back intensity and make some modifications simply because my body won’t let me push myself as hard as I used to. As long as nothing is wrong, I don’t think we need to worry about pushing too hard or doing something to harm the baby during exercise because our bodies have their natural limits… just make sure you listen to what feels good.

I’m a huge fan of home workouts because the mere thought of going to a gym or studio right now makes me feel exhausted. I can only handle 20-30 minutes at a time, and being able to roll out of bed, eat breakfast (because I am ravenous and blood sugar crashes more easily), then get my workout in at home has been so convenient.

I was so exhausted and fatigued that I tried to get out for a walk a few times a week, but since it’s been so cold and icy outside I’ve mainly been hanging out at home, and feel like my 20-30 minute workout is plenty.

I’m still running health and fitness accountability groups and am about to open a special community for pregnant or new moms! If you’d like more info, click here to apply to join us!

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-what food aversions and cravings have you had?

I know that cravings are a huge stereotype of being pregnant, but I’ve had more aversions than actual cravings. Everyone knows what it’s like to have a craving even if you’ve never been pregnant before, but I don’t even know how to describe the weirdness that is a food aversion. Even now I’m out of the first trimester, my body physically rejects meat and veggies. If I force myself to eat something that I don’t want, it tastes gross and I feel nauseous.

I couldn’t stand the thought of meal planning, cooking, or eating leftovers. My strategy was to wander the aisles of Aldi and see what looked tolerable, because the aversions and tolerances shift on a daily and weekly basis.

Overall I’ve felt like my palate has reverted back to my 8 year old self, which Ben thinks is hilarious. All I really want are sugary processed kid comfort foods, basically the 180 of my usual non-preggo health nut.

Actual cravings:

  • Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza and breadsticks

  • margaritas (SADNESS)

  • tortilla chips and bean dip

  • cocoa krispies

  • raisin bran

  • muffins

  • smoothies! SO HAPPY I’ve been able to keep drinking my vegan superfood smoothie, which has probiotics, fiber, and lots of plant based nutrients.

Tolerable foods:

  • citrus fruit and pineapple

  • yogurt and granola

  • pancakes

  • smoothies

  • veggie or cooked sushi

  • tacos

  • pasta

Aversions:

  • chicken or pork

  • pretty much any vegetable, especially cooked veggies

  • most regular “dinner foods”

  • curry or tomato based foods

-how have you been feeling? Any symptoms?

PHYSICAL

I am so incredibly grateful I never threw up! However, I experienced the most annoying nausea ever. Imagine feeling a combination of extreme jet lag, plus bad motion sickness. Eating food only made the nausea worse. That was my 24/7 reality for the majority of my first trimester, and it gave me so much empathy for people with chronic health conditions.

Weird changes in the first trimester:

  • feeling bloated

  • digestive muscles slow down, so feel full super quickly (overeating triggers more nausea)

  • hormonal breakouts

  • luscious hair

  • constipation, alternated with Poos of Epic Proportions (keep a plunger handy!)

  • boobs! Went from 34B to 36C. nipples are doing weird things.

  • feeling like I needed tons of personal space and didn’t want my husband to touch me (sorry Ben)

MENTAL/EMOTIONAL

I was prepared to handle all the weird physical changes, but didn’t really consider the mental and emotional challenges of being newly pregnant.

First of all, physically feeling like crap is a downer and I’ve always been a wimp about feeling sick. Add to the fact you’re probably keeping a secret and need to suck it up and pretend everything is normal! I usually deal with a bit of seasonal depression in the winter, but combined with all the changes happening in my body, December through February were extremely challenging months.

I’m going through a crash course in learning how to slow down, being ok with having a limited capacity for productivity (humbling my ego!), prioritizing self care over achievement, working slower but smarter in business, honing in on what is actually important, saying no and setting boundaries, letting go of control, and not to mention the mental component to embracing the physical change!

Emotionally I’ve definitely gone through some major mood swings, and cry a lot. But crying is how I’ve always expressed strong emotions. I feel like my heart has cracked wide open, I am so vulnerable because I have so much to lose, and I can’t even imagine what it will feel like once this baby is actually born.

Random things that have made me cry: singing We Three Kings at church (??), a lonely little Smart car parked outside our window, watching Cat Walk on Netflix, THE F&!*ING NEW DISNEY DUMBO MOVIE TRAILER JUST NO.

Energetically, the first trimester felt like my left brain decided to walk out. Lots of brain fog, memory lapses, can’t hold a train of thought, inability to focus or “get shit done” mode, kind of like how you feel the day before your period x10.

-are you finding out the baby’s sex?

Yup! We actually did the NIPT genetic testing that gives you sex via chromosomes of the mother’s blood so we already know what we’re having, which is surreal! Are we going to have a “gender reveal” party? HARD NO. Haven’t decided how or when to publicly spill the news. If you know me in real life and are dying to know, send me a text and I’ll tell ya :)

-are you using a doula/midwife/birthing center/epidural/etc etc etc?

We’re figuring things out as we go. I will share what feels comfortable along the way but I also want to keep some personal decisions private. Basically, I am keeping an open mind about everything and on a Crunchy Mama Scale of 1-10, would say I am probably a 7. I love traditional holistic wisdom, but also love science, and am grateful to live in a big city where I can find pretty much anything to have the birth experience I want and need.

First trimester bloat is REAL. 8pm vs 8am.

First trimester bloat is REAL. 8pm vs 8am.

Body Image Stuff

Even though first pregnancy bumps don’t start to officially show until you’re into the second trimester, during the first trimester your metabolism goes into an anabolic state…. Which means your body basically becomes a fat storing machine to stock up the energy you will need later on as you literally grow a human from scratch, an entire organ (the placenta) from scratch, and then give birth and potentially support new life with breastmilk.

What does this mean?

BLOAT CITY, BABY!

I didn’t gain more than a couple pounds during my first trimester, partly due to my appetite being really off, but I felt like a puffy blob thanks to all the bloat and a slower digestive system. I also started gaining curves and cellulite around my hips, waistline, my rib cage expanded, and I went up 1-2 cup sizes almost right away.

My best body image tip is to accept the changes, appreciate your body for what it’s doing, and most of all put away any clothes that start to feel a little tight! Investing in some larger stretchy yoga pants that actually fit your new expanded waistline so you can feel comfy in your skin and clothes is a huge confidence boost.

Fabletics Cashel Leggings great for early pregnancy.jpg

My fave leggings when you are in the “are you pregnant or have you just gained weight??” pre-maternity phase:

  • Note: I ordered a pair of Motherhood Maternity leggings with the front bump panel when they were on sale, but they are thin, feel itchy, and are not my personal fave.

9 weeks to 12 weeks. This blows my mind!!

9 weeks to 12 weeks. This blows my mind!!

-What is it like to be pregnant again after miscarriage?

I have SO many thoughts and feelings about trying to conceive and being pregnant after pregnancy loss. Everyone is different, but it’s so important to share our stories and the REAL reel, not just the highlight reel, so we can feel less alone and empower each other and ourselves through the ups and downs of being a woman, and this is why I’ve been so open about my experiences.

I honestly feel like my body needed the miscarriage to reset and heal my hormones. After coming off the pill in 2016 my cycles were longish and not super regular. After the m/c, they were CLOCKWORK. Ovulated on day 19, bled the first of every month. It was awesome!

Pregnancy loss doesn’t mean your body is failing you. It means it’s doing its job.

Emotionally, it was pretty rough. We waited 3 cycles to try again, and then it took us 4 more cycles to conceive despite clockwork cycles and my faith in a quick redemption story. This was hard yet cathartic since every bleed I would process/release more grief and deepen my intention to have a baby.

It was extra stressful that I couldn’t get to the doctor until 9 weeks, over a month after I had a positive test and also the same week I lost baby uno. And couldn’t drink my tequila happy juice to chill out, haha. Seeing a healthy 9w4d bean on the ultrasound was literally an otherworldly experience!

I will say that knowing what it’s like to have a miscarriage is a double edged sword. On one hand, I was LESS afraid because I knew what to expect and that I’d be able to get through it, but on the other hand it was literally the worst experience of my life, so I wish I DIDN’T know what it was like.

Tips for first time moms navigating early pregnancy

My biggest sanity tip is to find community with other women who are in a similar place as you. I’m lucky that several of my friends and family are either currently pregnant, going through miscarriage/TTC, or have just had a baby too so I’m leaning on them for camaraderie and wisdom! New mom friends are the best when you’re pregnant because they are so happy for you and will be super excited to hear all about the nitty gritty details of everything you’re going through, and will let you snuggle or babysit their baby for practice :) If you don’t have anyone in your inner circle, this is where social media can be incredible. Use hashtags, search for local Facebook groups, and also leverage your local network! I’m planning to start going to a prenatal yoga class and join some local meet-up groups for new moms. Your hospital might have a new moms group too!

Overall I’ve been focusing on self care and SOUL care, healing my inner crap and preparing myself energetically and spiritually to bring a new human into the world while at the same time letting go of control and surrendering my own timeline, trusting my body, my baby, and most of all God’s bigger vision.

Sometimes it seems like everyone either struggles with “infertility” or gets pregnant on the first try and has a textbook experience... I don’t think it’s easy for anyone but wanted to share my story of being somewhere in between.

No matter where you are on your own journey, you are never alone 💗

xo Anna

**this post contains affiliate links, so I may receive a small kickback if you purchase something at no extra cost to you!

13 weeks pregnant… is it bloat or bump?

13 weeks pregnant… is it bloat or bump?

Life lately - summer updates, recovery, and behind the scenes

2018Anna Locke

Happy August!

I know my last post was a bit heavy, but before I re-launch the blog back into "business as usual," I wanted to share a life update and behind the scenes on what I’ve been up to this summer and how I’ve been feeling. To remind you (and myself) that it’s ok to feel like your life is a hot mess. That it’s still possible to seek meaning and joy and work towards your dreams and business goals while processing grief and loss and all the shit too. Big love and hugs all around!

Our deck has become my happy place.

The weather has for the most part been cool and glorious and I love spending my mornings camped out on the wicker loveseat Ben gave me for my birthday, reading and journaling and thinking and be-ing. Feeling the breeze, watching the squirrels turn the power lines into their circus arena, watching the airplanes glide into O’Hare, trying to ignore the occasional wafts of summer trash smell coming from the dumpster right below.

Sometimes our neighbors across the alley blast mariachi music.

My little sanctuary in the city.

May and June were a whirlwind. Loss and grief as I went through the miscarriage, the high of our annual coach Summit, travel to Florida and Tennessee, bills on bills on bills. Between losing a pregnancy and having two new biopsies done on abnormal spots I have been an expensive human being this year.

So how have I been feeling, really?

Some weeks I’m doing great and flying high, but for the most part I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other and enjoy summer and not drink too many margaritas and keep my business afloat and serve my clients and be a good friend/wife/daughter and not be wracked with uncontrollable envy when I see my pregnant friends. Because everyone and their mother is apparently pregnant right now, did you notice? I am happy for you, I truly am.

They tell me I am being so strong and I say “well, life happens!” and change the subject before I start crying.

But a piece of me likes playing victim and pity party too. I hear that the only cure for miscarriage grief is getting pregnant again, but at the same time I am terrified of losing all my energy and losing my body and being exhausted and can we even afford this? Am I actually ready to be a mother? FUCK I DON’T KNOW! They all say it’s worth it, in tired strained voices as they bark at their misbehaving toddler in the same breath.

I recently took the Enneagram personality test (here is a great free version!) and was “diagnosed” as a 4, which apparently means I'm good at processing grief, experiencing melancholy, and don't just have feelings ... I AM my feelings. YOU DON'T SAY. I feel like I suddenly understand myself so much better. I feel it all.

When July hit, I was desperate for a fresh start and threw myself into the pursuit of “reclaiming my joy” and my body.

But this week I had a fleeting thought: I think I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself.

I want this year to be my year so bad. The year my business finally blasts through the stable comfy plateau it’s been sitting in. The year I grow into myself. Confidence, gratitude, give zero F’s, overcome fears. The year we start a family.

I want this to be the year that good things happen. That life isn’t so hard. (Ha!)

My biggest fear right now is that I won’t be able to grow a baby and grow a business at the same time. That we won’t be financially prepared for this next step. That we won’t be able to afford to buy a house until we are 40.

But so what if we need to stay in our little apartment for a while longer? I can claim a plot in the community garden down the street.

I tend to focus on what's missing from my life, so I'm making an effort to practice gratitude and look at what is already here. Because overall I'm pretty much living my dream, and life is good.

And as much as I've been craving nature and mountains and wilderness...

Chicago isn’t too bad.

ACS_0257.jpg

A sneak peek behind the scenes:

Even though I tend to go into hermit mode, I’ve been making an intentional effort to get together in person with friends and family as much as possible, and create more coffee dates//networking opportunities with other coaches and entrepreneurs here in the city and I am so immensely grateful for the support and love and connections I have in my life.

I went to Iowa for my college roommate’s daughter’s baptism.

I went to my first Tony Robbins event, Unleash the Power Within (and the power was unleeeeeeashed). You can watch my re-cap video here!

My friend Amanda and I launched our workshop and wellness event business, Empowered & Free.

I've been running the beta round of my Cycle Sync Your Biz program with a small and awesome group of women.

Ben and I started LIIFT4, a new strength program together.

My mom in law Pat came to visit. We went to a concert in the park and other summery things and it was really fun.

I've been getting back into yoga, getting back into church, and spending lots of downtime reading Game of Thrones and watching Bachelorette, Nashville, and Real Housewives.

 

August Intentions

Heading into the final stretch of summer, here are my intentions!

  • I want to continue to focus on in-person relationships

  • launch my Cycle Sync Your Biz program! (email me if you're interested)

  • get back into a blogging groove

  • be intentional with social media consumption (loving the Facebook News Feed Eradicator plug in)

  • turn my piles of fabric into headbands and scarves for the fall season in the Etsy shop

  • dive back into the baby making journey without stress.

  • add more free resources to this blog!

Notes to self/you:

-it’s ok to be solitary, to dive into projects and work (I don’t have to be present on social media every day)

-it’s ok to have enormous goals and feel like there’s no way I can do it all. (lean on trust and faith and baby steps)

-don’t be afraid to show up and LEVEL UP. Do the work/hold the space/life the life/claim the energy as if I am already there.

-take action before I feel ready (I’ll never feel ready)

I'm excited about what's to come, but at the same time I'm content with how things are right now. I think that's a pretty good place to be :)

xo Anna