When I first got pregnant, I didn’t know if my pregnancy would be successful. There were so many complications and when I was put into the “high-risk” category, I was really worried that I wouldn’t actually get to meet my little one.
I also had some friends go through miscarriages and I figured that if it happened to them, it would happen to me.
My pregnancy became all about survival. Survival for my little one and survival for myself.
I spent so many days throwing up, sleeping, staying in bed, feeling like absolute crap, spotting, etc. I tried my absolute best to stay positive during this time but pregnancy was really rough.
Then the third trimester hit.
It’s almost as though the hallelujah chorus began to play because at this time, I could finally see the light.
Sure I was developing new symptoms – recurrent nosebleeds, nausea in the morning, spots when I stood up too quickly, sugar lows and highs – but I was also experiencing pure bliss. I started to feel the baby kick ALL the time. I finally knew that he was okay and developed an attachment to him. I started to feel like I was losing it, because at times I would even talk to him.
My bump also got bigger in size and random people began asking when I was due. I could feel my face light up when I said “Feb. 19th, 2020.”
I also started finding a mommy tribe. I’d start conversations in the elevator/in the grocery store with pregnant women or with women who just had babies. I became determined to make new mommy friends where we could support one another through this time.
I also celebrated Christmas feeling happier than I ever have. Although I have always loved Christmas, it could sometimes be a time of loneliness for me. This year was so different as I felt the little one kick through all of the festivities.
After Christmas, we celebrated my shower (I will write about this next week), and I was completely spoiled. After each gift I opened, becoming a mom felt more and more real.
Before I left my hometown after Christmas, I reorganized the room for the baby and just sat down on the bed (because my energy level is ridiculous) but it also allowed me time to think. The next time I would be coming to this space, I would have a little one in my arms. OH MY GOD.
Then New Year’s Eve hit and I went to a family party and danced the night away (taking copious breaks) celebrating the fact that this was going to be my last NYE where I would probably stay up until midnight and be able to leave my house.
“Happy 2020” people kept saying. “Your baby will be born this year.”
“AHHHHHHHHHHH.” Then it hit – my baby is coming in a matter of weeks.
Now it is feeling soooo real.
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and for the first time in this pregnancy, I want to yell “STOP.”
Every night when I go to sleep now I wonder “will this be the night I go into labour?” Yes, I am only 33 weeks but I am watching as some of my friends that are due in Feb have already had their babies and it is freaking me out.
At my last OB appointment, I was handed a document called “My Birth Plan.” I was asked to figure out who would cut the cord, give skin to skin if I wasn’t available, come into the room if I needed a C-Section, etc. It completely freaked me out. Had I planned this far ahead? NO. For most of the answers, I just wrote “anyone.” The nurse can be the first one to put on the diaper – it’s not a big deal to me.
I am taking in all of the sleep I can get right now and enjoying every single minute of it. I am soaking up as much time to myself as I can have. Every time I attend a movie by myself I think “this may be the last movie I get to see on my own.”
Now my fears about losing the baby have turned into fears about labour and the health of my baby when he is born. I keep trying to control the process but have zero control. I feel terrible having my sister and Mom on standby just waiting for my phone call to ask them to be there with me.
I just want to stop time right now.
Pregnancy felt like it was lasting forever and now it feels like I will be meeting my little one in no time. Am I really ready? Is anyone ever really ready?
On the outside, I may look ready (things are organized for the most part) but on the inside, I have no idea what to expect and it is freaking me the F out.
I keep reading Mom blogs and birthing stories and have decided that I just need to stop. The more information I have, the more anxiety I develop.
So now I am surrendering. I have no control and for someone with anxiety, this is the most complex task in life. I feel like I’m about to have a huge exam and I have not prepared for it, yet here I am. You know those dreams where you are writing a test, haven’t studied and wake up in a sweat? That is me right now.
Overall, this pregnancy has challenged me in so many ways (physically and emotionally) and continues to challenge me in new ways every day. It is totally getting me prepared for motherhood and the lack of control that comes with it. Every time I feel like things are under control, something new comes up and challenges me in a new way. Shout out to everyone who has gone through this. Fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood require a whole new version of bravery that I was not prepared to have.
I feel like after this blog is done, the universe is going to mock me and I am going to go into labour. Haha! We shall see what happens but just know that I am taking it all in and savouring all of this time right now because things are about to change in the most exciting, challenging and beautiful way possible.
And if “Cats” is the last movie I have seen by myself, I am going to be really depressed.
Every year around Christmas time, I get so excited to see Oprah’s Favourite Things. She used to do this on her television show but now does it in her magazine. She outlines her favourite products as gifts for the holidays but I usually can’t afford almost all of them. It’s so nice to look through the beautiful things though.
Since Christmas is just around the corner, I thought I’d create a list of my favourite things that I have used during my pregnancy. Some were given as gifts and some I just bought myself. Please know that I am not any type of influencer so I haven’t been paid by ANY of these companies to show you any of this.
These are just my favourite products and some are pregnancy-related and some are not. Hopefully, you will find something in here to give to a pregnant friend, a Mama, or just something to buy for yourself.
These are the products that have put a smile on my face even after vomiting for a lot of my pregnancy. Haha! These are also in no particular order.
Throughout my pregnancy, I have spent a lot of time (especially in my first trimester) watching television. One of my friends bought me a subscription to Amazon Prime Originals and I absolutely love it! Ask around and see what subscription service the soon-to-be-mama does not have. Netflix, Crave, Amazon, Hayu (Reality TV), Apple TV, and Disney Plus, are great ideas.
Now I would suggest getting a meal-delivery kit but during my first two trimesters, most foods made me gag. It took everything in me to eat and at one point the OB suggested that I just eat whatever I was craving because I couldn’t keep anything down. I had so many food aversions (especially to any form of meat). Plus, I was getting sick so much that preparing a meal became an arduous task.
One of my friends gave me a gift certificate to uber eats (you can send an e-card online) and it was so nice! Most places all over the world have uber eats but just google it and double-check that it is in your area. You could also buy a giftcard to Foodora and/or Skipthedishes as well.
The other day I was at the Diabetes Clinic and I walked by a woman who was wearing the same shirt as me. We instantly stopped in the hallway and discussed how much we loved the shirt. They have very low stock of it at GAP right now so if it isn’t available, try something with the same material.
The material is so soft and we both said that it has been our most favourite shirt to wear while pregnant. You feel like you are wearing the softest pyjamas of life.
I keep buying these pyjamas for everyone (pregnant Mamas and my family/friends). Search out the material called “modal.” The material is a LIFE CHANGER. It is the softest material that I have ever worn in my life.
They have the modal material for t-shirts, lounge pants, robes, and pyjamas.
Just buy them. They will be the softest thing you ever own. I will give you a warning though, they are not flattering. If possible buy them in dark colours because the light colours show everything. If you care more about comfort and less about pyjamas that flatter your body, these are the ones to buy.
When I was pregnant, my sister bought me a pair of these jeans and I fell in love. They also have them in “tall” if you are 5’10 like me. They come in three different panels (I had no idea what this meant when I was first pregnant). It basically refers to where you want the elastic band to be. Do you want your belly fully covered, somewhat covered or not really covered at all?
Right now I am wearing the “full panel” because it covers my entire stomach. I found that this meant they were less likely to fall down. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on jeans, wait for these to go on sale (sometimes at half price). They have just the right amount of spandex in them to be stylish and comfortable.
I have never been so obsessed with lotion in my life. My skin is dry AF and I don’t know if it is just because of the winter weather or if my pregnancy has changed my skin. Normally, I just lather on Nivea Body Lotion (for extra dry skin), but now I want something a little stronger.
At night, I use Palmer’s Stretch Mark Lotion (it was an amazing gift from a friend). I am not really sure if it is helping my stretch marks to disappear as I have spotted some. It just feels really good on my belly.
I am also obsessed with different hand creams and received some as a gift that I adore. Highly recommend using these as a special treat.
After my friend had her baby, I signed up for FabFitFun and sent her the box in the mail. She called in tears and said it was the perfect gift. Use a different email address and find a really good deal so that it doesn’t cost you too much. They advertise that it is $49.99 but that is in the U.S. and you also have to pay for shipping. It can soon turn into something like $89.00. Just be sure to get a deal. FabFitFun has a bunch of full-size products in a box so it actually becomes a very substantial gift.
This was by far the best gift I received during my pregnancy. My friend created this amazing box with all of her favourite items (her own FabFitFun box). She put together her essential items that helped her through her pregnancy. Now, this gift was massive and you don’t need to do something this complex. Just create some sort of self-care package – face masks, magazines, lotions, etc.
Although I do have benefits for some things through my work, I have already gone through most of my allocated allowances for some of these amazing things (chiro/massage). I highly recommend giving a gift card for a chiropractor (I see mine weekly right now because of sciatica), massages (there are so many weird pains throughout the body while pregnant), facials, and manicures/pedicures.
If you don’t know what the person may want, you can always go with a WaySpa gift card (available for a lot of different spas). Before you buy a Wayspa gift card, google the places you can use it. I know in Toronto there are a lot of good places but I have googled it in smaller towns and they don’t have a great list. So if you know of a place the mama-to-be loves, get a gift card to that specific place to allow her to do some pampering.
My friend sent me these and we can’t stop texting one another about how much we love these. When I first started asking people for maternity clothing suggestions, this was at the top of the list.
These lounge pants are the best because they are soft and they have a panel that will hide your bump at any stage. You can decide how much of your bump you want to cover up. You can even decide to not have it cover up anything.
These are also supposed to make great hospital pants, postpartum pants because they are so comfortable and can be covering as much/as little (depending on a c-section or a natural delivery) of your stomach as possible.
This is different from the self-care kit because it contains everything that you may need that has to deal with the medical side of things.
I highly recommend buying Tylenol, Benadryl (I took it for my cold), Kleenex, Tums, Preparation H, Nipple Cream, Adult Underwear, Stretch Mark Cream, Imodium, Lotion, and Lip Chap. If you want to make it even more special, buy a cute little hospital bag to put all of these items in. These are all items that I have used/will be using during my pregnancy/delivery.
Pregnant Mamas talk about this book all the time. During pregnancy, most women start to become a little anxious (or a lot anxious if you are me). Can I drink a glass of champagne at a wedding? Can I drink coffee? What are the chances of me having a miscarriage? Can I colour my hair? All of these questions are outlined in this book. I found that if I googled the questions, there were so many answers and about 99.9% of the answers were on the conservative side.
This book takes in a lot of research and looks at what is recommended today. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Be careful with this one because you don’t want the mama to be to receive too many of these. You also may want to get her this as soon as she announces she is pregnant (before she buys one of her own).
Find something that is gender-neutral and spend the extra money to make it a really special book.
My sister got me a Pregnancy Journal Book that I absolutely adore. Throughout my pregnancy, I have tracked everything and have attached so many amazing pictures. I have heard that once the baby comes, it is really hard to track everything and that this can seem time-consuming. Nevertheless, I bought myself a book from MushyBooks. I can’t say enough about this Canadian company because they make books for couples, same-sex parents, single moms, etc. They recognize that the term “family” is changing and I have a special page in my book that has my donor’s information.
You still want to look presentable during your pregnancy which is why you may want to spend a bit of money on maternity clothes.
Just before the first snowfall, my sister presented me with this amazing maternity jacket for my birthday. It is from Motherhood Maternity and I have fallen in love with it. It has an extra flap that you can put in when the bump gets bigger. There are so many coats that can make you feel like a snowman because it is so baggy but this coat makes me feel amazing.
The other night my colleagues/friends presented me with this beautiful ornament. It took everything in me not to cry. When I texted my sister about it, she showed me an ornament she received from her mother-in-law just before she gave birth. An ornament doesn’t have to be too costly, but it so sweet and will always remind me of this Christmas just before my little baby was born.
As soon as I was pregnant, I wanted one of these shirts. I am so proud of being a Mama that I love to wear my shirt all the time.
There are so many amazing companies on Etsy that make things like this. You can even search Instagram for some amazing companies that make these as well.
When I started seeing people I follow wearing the “Mama Collection”, I suddenly wanted to purchase things. I was totally influenced but this brand is legit. The clothes are so soft and they are made in London, Ontario.
Finding the perfect legging is tough. For this reason, I am going to give you four brands that I see popping up again and again.
Blanqui (more expensive but have heard it is worth the price).
Lululemon Align (people swear by these).
Aerie Leggings (over the past month I have fallen in love with everything from Aerie. These are the leggings that I bought and they feel so soft. I love these so much so watch for sales (especially when they are 50% off).
Old Navy Compression Leggings (people say amazing things about these as well).
I never thought I’d be the person in leggings all the time, but here I am. Don’t worry – I wear really long things to make sure my butt is covered at all times).
Leggings are just perfect to wear (especially for pregnancy/postpartum) because your body is constantly changing and so many times things don’t fit. You also want to be comfortable during pregnancy because your body is going through so much. Buy an oversized sweater (or sweatshirt, tunics from Old Navy, etc), and you can still feel pretty while having so little control over your body.
So hopefully those suggestions can really help people. Is there a product you loved but don’t see it listed? Please place it below in the comments because then everyone can see what you have written.
I also tried to make this a top 10 list but couldn’t narrow it down.
Thank you again for all of your support throughout my journey. It has been so lovely connecting with so many of you through Facebook, Instagram, or via the comments on here.
I will be taking the next two weeks off to really enjoy the holiday with my friends and family and will be returning January 5th. By then, I am sure that I will have many stories to tell you.
Little Health Update:
In terms of my little one, he is 3.5 lbs and is measuring perfectly at 31 weeks (he is in the 50th percentile). He is kicking like crazy but I don’t mind it at all (well at least so far). My pregnancy is really starting to feel real especially because during my research ultrasound this week, I got to see his face. So crazy. I wasn’t sure if he looked like an alien or cute baby so I just went with a cute baby. When I sent the picture to my sister she said “well that is something.”
In terms of my health, I am finally feeling better. I usually have two appointments per week and my gestational diabetes is completely in check. So far, all of my numbers have been good and they don’t think I will have to go on insulin throughout my pregnancy.
I have been told that I will either go into labour or have my induction by Feb. 19th 2020 (because of gestational diabetes). I have no idea what waits ahead but I am trying my best to go with the flow.
I am also not throwing up anymore which is AMAZING. I just feel nauseous every morning and have still been sleeping a lot. I make sure to go for walks every day and my sciatica continues to get better. Seeing a chiropractor and booking massages have really helped my sciatica which is incredible.
My OB still won’t allow me to go back to work because it triggers my spotting, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, nausea, high blood pressure, vasovagal (fainting) episodes, so I am still at home relaxing as much as possible. Being home has been the greatest gift because although I am bored as hell, it has allowed me to really put my baby and my health first.
Wishing everyone an amazing holiday and a Happy New Year! 2020 is going to be one amazing year!
While walking home from my OB appointment I couldn’t believe how cold it was. I tucked into the mall to take a shortcut back to my apartment.
A little girl caught my eye – she about eight years old. She was wearing beautiful black shoes, white tights, and a beautiful sparkly black dress. Her mother was by her side holding her jacket and they were about to go into the bookstore.
“Mom, do you know what I really want for Christmas?” she asked.
I couldn’t help the smile from appearing on my face. It was just such a magical time of year and I really wondered what she was going to say.
“A Dad” she said.
I froze and could feel my eyes widen. I was not expecting that response.
All I wanted to do was to stay to hear the mother’s response yet I continued on my walk through the mall. I hadn’t even been able to capture the mother’s face after her daughter had said those words. It had all happened too fast.
I put my hand on my baby bump and thought about my little one for a minute.
Would he say something like this in the future? How would I even respond to a statement like this if he had asked me for a Dad for Christmas?
My mind started spiralling.
He has a Dad whom he’ll be able to meet when he turns 18.
But he will only see his Dad in a book that I have created. Does that even count as a Dad?
He may have a Dad in the future. I could remarry again.
Imagine dating again when you have a child? It makes everything so complicated. What if my son falls in love with a guy I am dating and our relationship doesn’t work out?
During my walk home, I was in deep concentration and nothing could take my mind off my thoughts that soon turned into obsessive thoughts (better known as anxiety). I started worrying about everything and whether or not I would have the right things to say when tough situations came up.
How did other mothers without a partner answer this question?
Whenever there is a question that I don’t know the answer to, I turn towards my community on Instagram. There are so many supportive people on there and a lot of them are doing the solo parent thing.
Here are just some of the amazing responses I received:
“Not all dads are great ones. Supportive men are everywhere…grandpas, uncles, family friends, cousins. They can act as a Dad. I wouldn’t know what to say either, but thinking about this in advance is why you’re already an amazing Mom Sarah.”
“I know baby but you do have a dad. He helped mommy make you from far away. Unfortunately, I don’t know him, but I wish I did so that you could know him. We can look at pictures of him together and maybe one day we can know his name. For now, it’s just you and me.”
“I wish that you had one too because I always want you to have the things that make you happy but I wanted you so badly that I made the choice to have you even though there was no “dad” in my life. I just couldn’t wait and having you was the most important thing in the world. We are so lucky though because you are loved even more than a lot of people who have dads (some of whom aren’t so nice). People saw you and were able to see how perfect you are and wanted to be part of your life so that they could love you too.”
The last message I received was from a former student I taught years ago. She is now in her mid 20’s and wrote me this:
“I actually grew up just Mom and me as well. I’ve never actually met my dad or anyone on his side of the family. I’m positive that I asked my Mom a question like that at some point – not just about having a father but also about his side of the family. I don’t remember her saying something specific but I just remember feeling really loved after we talked about it. She said something like ‘I was just so excited to have you here. I love you twice as much.’ So I guess it doesn’t matter what you specifically say because your little one is going to feel so loved.”
People were sending me messages telling me that they were taking screenshots when I posted some of these responses because they wanted to be ready to have beautiful answers when their child asked them about a father.
Here’s the thing though – kid’s love questions and it is only going to be a matter of time before these questions start coming up.
When I have announced my pregnancy to some people, a few have said: “I didn’t know you were seeing someone Sarah.” That’s when I respond that I am “doing it on my own.” But here’s the thing. I am not really doing it on my own.
I am living with my parents, I have my sisters and my brothers-in-law, I have two sweet cousins for my little one to meet, I have an extended family, and so many friends. Plus, I have this amazing community that I would have never met had I not started this blog/social media account.
Some people have sent me messages asking me how I respond when people say that being a single mother by choice is “selfish.” How can one possibly decide to bring a baby into the world knowing that there is no father or male role model?
I have realized that you can’t plan how to respond to situations like these or even situations when a child asks for a Dad for Christmas. Every time that I get asked a question I try to never respond in an angry or aggressive way. I take a deep breath, and let the right answer come out. Sometimes I am shocked by how I answer questions or statements. A lot of people just say things because they don’t understand enough about the situation. I take it upon myself to use these moments as teachable moments.
When I say teachable moments, I don’t mean that I act as a “teacher” and teach them what is “right.” Instead, these moments are when two people exchange information and truly try to understand one another. Nothing is said in a hurtful or harmful way. Instead, you speak from the heart.
I’ve found that as long as I speak from the heart in all of the questions I have received since beginning my journey, people can’t really be that hurtful in response. Sure, some might be more aggressive but as long as I stay cool and calm and just speak from the heart, things have never really turned that ugly.
For the past couple of days, I can’t get the image of that little girl with her mom going into the bookstore out of my mind. She was so angelic and I am sure that her mother answered her question in a beautiful way. Mama’s somehow know how to answer the tough stuff. In times when they don’t, they can always come back to the question and answer it how they wished they would have from the beginning.
So when it is my turn, what will my answer be? I have no idea but I promise my answer will come straight from my heart and will be full of so much kindness, grace and love.
I always thought Toronto would be my forever home.
It is such a beautiful city full of amazing people, amazing food, so much diversity, and always full of so much to see or do.
Unfortunately, Toronto will not be my forever home and I am feeling so many emotions because of it.
As a single mother by choice, I just can’t afford to live in the city that I love. The average cost of an apartment in Toronto is $2,260.00 (blogTO). I’ve looked into daycare for my little one in downtown Toronto and it ranges from about $2,100 – $2,300. You can apply for a subsidy but it just doesn’t help me enough.
I’ve also had a look at what life looks like after my labour and have realized that I need a lot of help. My OB has mentioned “c-section” several times and I know that I won’t be able to stay in my apartment by myself after this procedure (or even after having a vaginal delivery).
As some of you also know, my Mom was going to come to Toronto and help me out after the baby was born. A couple months ago, she was in the intensive care unit with some heart issues, and I started rethinking my plan.
Luckily my Mom is doing A LOT better. She still takes care of both of her parents in a nursing home and really needs to be in her own home with my Dad. I needed to find a solution where she was not as stressed out commuting from her home two hours away (especially when she is unable to drive right now because of issues with her heart).
For all of these reasons, I have decided to say goodbye to my beautiful apartment.
I love my apartment so much and moved here about seven years ago. Truthfully, I thought I’d be living in it for just a couple of years and then moving in with someone special.
No matter what happened in my life over those seven years, my apartment was there for me.
It felt like my safe space when so much was going on in my life. Friends and family that visited always commented on how the place felt so friendly and relaxing. It was a very girly place – full of chandeliers, cozy furniture, pictures of friends/family, lovely blankets/pillows, and even a pink bathroom.
After I give birth, I will not be returning here and instead, will be with my parents driving two hours to their home.
There are so many emotions that I feel moving back home. Is it a failure to move in with your parents at the age of 39? Am I a huge burden to my parents because I am asking so much of them? Will I lose all of my friends when I move away?
I’m also not sure how long I am staying with my parents – it could be a week, a month, or even a year.
They have been the most supportive parents and have allowed me to stay in the basement making it my little home once the baby arrives.I’m going to try to do as much as possible as a new Mom and I really don’t want to burden them.
The hardest thing in this entire process of being a single mother by choice is knowing that I need help and having to ask for help.
I love my independence and try my best to do everything on my own. I looked into hiring a doula for after the baby is born, and I just can’t afford to pay for a doula, rent, daycare, etc.
Luckily enough I have a lot of family and friends in Toronto so I’ll be visiting a lot (perhaps even coming back for a bit of time).
After that, I am not sure where I will land.
I’d say I am about 95% content with this plan but there is still part of me that is a little afraid of what is to come. I worry about where I will live especially since places outside of Toronto (in the GTA) are becoming so expensive.
The one thing I do have is time. Luckily in Canada, we get one year of maternity leave so I don’t have to worry about housing/my job until Feb. 2021.
My love affair with Toronto will always remain but I know it is time to move on. I want to provide the best life I can for my boy, and I just can’t afford the life I want on maternity leave/paying for daycare and living in Toronto.
The other day I was listening to Kaitlyn Bristowe’s podcast (Off the Vine) and Sarah Nicole Landry (thebirdspapaya on Instagram) was her guest. Kaitlyn asked Sarah “what is the one thing that you are most proud of yourself for?”
Sarah stated that she was most proud of her “willingness to move in with my parents and decimate my entire life in order to rebuild it.”
I was shocked. WHAT???? She didn’t see moving in with her parents as a failure?
She went on to explain that she was in a toxic marriage and had three children and knew she had to get out. She said she “walked away from everything that was validating for her – a picture-perfect family, all of this stuff that looked good on social media that wasn’t making me happy. To lose all of that and to walk away from it all with no car, no job, no money, with zero dollars. Legit. Walked into my parents’ house and was the happiest I ever felt was the coolest moment of my life.”
Kaitlyn then went on to say that many of us feel lost at certain times in our lives and that she was proud of Sarah for knowing what she needed in order to be a good Mom.
Sarah then stated that “there is no failure. There is no going back.” She calls this a “rebuild.”
Now please know that I am not in Sarah’s situation and she had a lot going on. Like her, I chose to leave a toxic marriage but I did have my job and the safety of this apartment. But now I am ready for a change.
I know that this life I have right now in Toronto does not afford me with what I want in the future.
My life has changed so much and I have a feeling that like Sarah, I will be so happy walking into the house with the support and love of Mom and Dad.
Without the support of my family, I don’t know how I would have been able to have a baby on my own. I’m sure I’d be able to physically do it but I can’t imagine the debt I would accumulate or how much my mental health would be affected.
I constantly receive messages from women who want to be an SMBC but some state that they don’t have family support and it breaks my heart.
After listening to Sarah on the podcast, I have decided that this time in my life is going to be my time to rebuild. I’ve had a pretty damn amazing life so far but I feel as though there is a lot of change that is left to come.
The other day I was chatting to my sister on the phone about how everything around me is changing – my priorities, my body, my relationships, etc. She told me to look down at my tattoo with the word “change” on my wrist. Change is scary but change also means that something amazing is happening.
So Mom and Dad, not only do you get one roommate but you are getting two. Hope you can put up with us and hope everything goes okay.
Thank you for your support and for being there when I need you the most. I love you.
A pregnant woman is usually tested for Gestational Diabetes around months 24-28 to see if she has GD. After taking two tests, I was 0.1 above the cutoff line so I was placed in the “GD” category. At first, they didn’t know if I would be placed in the program at Sinai since I was so close to a “pass” but then they called and said I got to be part of the program.
8:30 am on Wednesday November 27th
I enter the building at Mount Sinai and expect to be greeted by hundreds of women in a lecture theatre ready to learn about GD.
There was a small classroom where there were about eight people. The instructors hadn’t arrived and I was incredibly anxious. They told me the session would be at least three hours and I didn’t know how I was going to sit through a session like this. Needles, medical issues, etc., are the topics that really elevate my anxiety levels. I immediately looked around the room and decided who was going to be my friend.
Most of the women had their partners with them but Preeti didn’t. I began talking to the women in the room by saying “can you believe we all have this? How are you guys feeling about all of this?”
Suddenly we became closer and most of us shared out stories. There was one woman who was very private and her and her partner spoke in hushed tones all day. They probably thought I was too much (which I totally understand).
“I can’t even believe this has happened” said one of the women. “I work out, I eat super healthy. Why me?”
“Why any of us?” I asked.
The instructor came in with a doctor and the doctor sat at the back of the class taking notes.
“We are joined by a resident doctor today” said the nurse practitioner. “She is just going to observe the class because she wanted to see how we teach the patients.”
We were all given our GD starter kits (as I call them), booklets of info followed by our own little diabetes kit.
We talked about what GD is, how to manage it, etc., for about an hour and then we moved on to the hands-on task. We learned that GD is where women develop high blood sugar while they are pregnant. Usually after the pregnancy, a woman doesn’t have GD. 4 out of 10 women who have GD during their pregnancy, go on to have type 2 diabetes in the future.
When we got our little needle kits, it all felt real and I could feel my hands begin to warm up and get clammy.
“So now I am going to show you how to take your blood sugar. Then you will show me that you can do it on your own.”
My own? I was not ready for all of this.
“I’ll come over and help you” said the resident doctor. She was so nice and could see that my hands were shaking. Together, we took my blood sugar which was 4.4 (has to be below 5.2 so I was happy). Pretti (my new friend) checked hers and it was 10 or something. Immediately, I felt blessed and like things might be okay.
“I am leaving you now” said the nurse practitioner/instructor. “The dietitian will be in to discuss eating habits with you momentarily.”
Another couple walked into the room two hours late. It was crazy. People kept coming late to this course and it was driving me crazy. The instructor would get angry but the people didn’t have to come back to another session. I became angry because I could have slept more.
“I wish I just would have come in late” I said to Pretti.
“But you wouldn’t have all of this information” she said in such an honest and heartfelt way that I started to believe her.
The dietitian came in and gave us all new booklets on what to eat and how to read a label. I was expecting to have to cut out sugar and carbs from my diet but she told me to do quite the opposite.
“The baby needs carbs. You feed the baby first and then protein and fats are just an added bonus. Stick to the number of carbs you should eat (15g X 2-3 for three meals and 15g X 1-2 snacks).
“That is a lot of food” I said. “What if I throw up the food, Will that influence my blood sugar levels?”
“Your blood sugar levels may actually increase” she said. Your body recognizes throwing up, the flu, a cold, etc., as stress so even though you may not have food in your system, your blood sugar could be high.”
After she was with us for about an hour, two women came into the room.
“You all have appointments with your new doctor who will be monitoring you.” They ushered us to a different part of the building.
I looked at the time and it was 12:00. I had an appointment with my OB and I became frustrated. They kept telling us about how important it was to eat but how was I going to eat lunch when I had another appointment before my OB?
We all had to sit in the waiting room at the Diabetes Clinic and I talked to Preeti the whole time. We talked about our pregnancies, the best stroller to get, what our experience had been like at Sinai, etc.
At 12:45 I finally met my new doctor (yes another doctor to add to my list) named Dr. Feig. We discussed how I would be taking a food log for four days that I would later send in to my dietitian. We also discussed how I had to take my blood sugar four times a day and send in my numbers every Sunday to the nurse practitioner. If my blood sugar was too high, I would be enrolled in the “insulin” class (65% of pregnant women with GD have to take insulin).
We also discussed how I needed to come in next week for another appointment.
At this point, I am starting to feel like I live at Sinai.
1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday November 27th
I leave the Diabetes Clinic with such a mixture of emotions.
I am proud of myself for taking in all of the info and remaining calm. I am thankful for all of the knowledge I have learned.
I am also late.
I am late for my OB and my research ultrasound which makes me anxious.
“I am so sorry I am late” I tell Celine at the front desk of Dr. Snelgrove’s office. “I was at the diabetes clinic and I have a research ultrasound…”
“Sarah. It is okay. Go get your research ultrasound and we are here when you are done.”
Celine was super kind and I suddenly felt like all of my students who arrive late to my class while being full of excuses and super stressed.
I had my research ultrasound and my little one was so well behaved. The doctor was shocked at how still he stayed throughout the ultrasound.
“He must have been bored by the GD presentation he attended” I joked.
Then I saw a closer look of my little boy.
“Are his legs supposed to be that long?” I asked.
“He does have long legs” said the doctor. “He is 2.5 lbs and is measuring in the 50th percentile. He is one healthy boy.”
Wednesday November 27th from 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
I wait for about 1.5 hours to see my OB and in that time I do my first blood sugar test on my own. It took me about 20 minutes because I was scared and somehow had forgotten everything I had been taught.
Dr. Snelgrove walked into the room just as I was taking my blood sugar.
“So I see you have GD” he said.
“Guilty” I laughed. Why was I always making jokes? So awkward.
“Well because you have GD, you will have to have more ultrasounds.”
“What?” I asked. “I am part of the research study and get them done all the time.”
“You will need a new ultrasound every two weeks” he said.
“I live here” I said.
After my appointment with Dr. Snelgrove, I had to go to Mount Sinai Hospital to get my blood taken one last time for GD.
“Can you please take your blood sugar right now” asked the nurse.
“I am not good at it. Plus, I just took it at the doctor’s office and it is 5.1. It needs to be under 6.6 so I am fine” I said with a smile.
“You have to take it now as well. I need to see the number.”
I was super nervous to show her what I had learned because I thought I was doing it all wrong.
“You are a pro” she smiled.
“My number is 4.6” I said.
“See…it changed” she smiled.
“So I can eat now?” I asked. I had a super small lunch before my research ultrasound and was hungry again after fasting for two hours.
“You can eat” she laughed.
I went down to Second Cup to get something. What holiday drink would I get? NONE. What gluten-free snack should I have? NONE.
I ordered a decaf latte with skim milk. Normally I’ll put cinnamon on top of it, but not anymore. I reached in my bag for some almonds and realized this would be my new snack.
Wednesday November 27th at 5:00 p.m.
My doctor had given me a prescription for needles and for test strips so I had them filled at the pharmacy at Sinai.
I could feel pain from my leg going to my butt. My OB told me that this was “sciatica” and I realized that my body was just feeling exhausted and that I needed to go to bed.
I was completely drained – physically and emotionally. Somehow I had spent 8.5 hours at Mount Sinai on Wednesday.
With so much knowledge and so many appointments, I felt like I was finally in control of things (as much as I could be).
That night, I went home and started tracking everything. On Thursday I started my food log, and my numbers have all been amazing. I can’t wait to send in my info on Sunday night and hope I’ll get a gold star. I don’t want to go to the insulin training session (happens every Wednesday) and I really want to avoid insulin by being careful with my diet. At any time throughout this process I may have to get insulin, but this week, I think I have avoided the class.
I’ve realized that GD is quite common (1 in 16 Canadians) and that I am not a failure for having this. If I just eat as healthy as possible I have a chance of reducing my risk of preeclampsia, a low/high birth weight of the baby, and a c-section.
I have been eating really well and haven’t felt as sick as I had been feeling. Yes, I still get sick here and there but things are manageable. I also force myself to go for a walk every day which has helped to keep my numbers down.
Through this fertility process, I’ve had six doctors – Dr. Yu (family doctor), Dr. Jones (fertility doctor), Dr. Whittle (high risk OB), Dr. Snelgrove (low risk OB), Dr. Kingdom (in charge of research study), and Dr. Feig (my new diabetes doctor). Some people can’t find a doctor in Canada and somehow, through this pregnancy, I have had six doctors.
The care I am receiving is the best of the best and I really want to thank Mount Sinai for everything. On this journey, I am constantly learning and the support has been incredible. If you or someone you know has GD and wants to reach out, feel free to email me anytime.
When you have complained about having a “difficult pregnancy” or “hating pregnancy”, I secretly became annoyed.
I said some harsh words in my head about how lucky you were to “even get pregnant” and that if I were to ever get pregnant, I would never “complain because I would be so blessed.”
Thank you for being so open and for sharing your feelings. A lot of people think that pregnancy is all sunshine and roses and you gave me a warning about pregnancy. I just didn’t listen to your warning.
The other day I was talking to a friend and I was explaining that my pregnancy was a “gong show” because I had lost full control of everything related to my pregnancy. I discussed some of the issues I went through in pregnancy and she listened and explained that she completely agreed. She then stated that “pregnancy was a privilege” but that even with this privilege, it didn’t make pregnancy any easier.
In fact, I find it really difficult to talk about my pregnancy because it has been tough but I am also so lucky. Whenever I say something that can be seen as negative, I am quick to then state that it is a total miracle (because it is the biggest miracle and privilege to even be able to conceive.)
That’s when I realized that I could have both feelings – I could feel the luckiest I have ever been in my life while also physically feeling like garbage.
So today, I want to talk about both feelings – privilege and difficulty. I am going to share the super happy moments and the most difficult moments of my pregnancy for the past 27 weeks.
Privilege: Getting Pregnant
Difficulty: Health Concerns with Twins
This topic still brings many tears to my eyes when I talk about it. It’s so tough.
The happiest moment of my life was when I found out I was pregnant (so cliche but so true). I wanted to have a baby so much (like a lot of other men and women). Even though I was not able to have a baby on my own, with the help of science, my fertility doctor, luck, and an amazing donor, I was able to conceive.
I am crying right now as I type this because I picture that girl in the session with her social worker stating that if there were twins or triplets, she would have them. She was so naive and such a beautiful person.
When I was placed in the actual situation in having twins, things began to change.
Unfortunately, after speaking with several doctors, it was determined that because of health reasons, I had to say goodbye to one of my babies.
Some will say that “baby” is not the right word because the baby was not follow developed, but it felt like a baby to me. I’ll always wonder about him (I totally think it was a boy) and know that I have a lot of work to do throughout my life to forgive myself for this.
Privilege: Having a job where I can take time off work
Difficulty: Feeling like absolute garbage
Although I felt like absolute garbage for the entire summer, I still taught summer school. In between throwing up anywhere from 5-8 times a day, I would still teach online lessons to students. It was a lot but I made it through it. Work always gave me a sense of self-worth. I felt like I was able to help others and was doing something beneficial to society.
On the first day of teaching, I looked composed and put together. I remember smiling a lot and talking about how happy I was to be there at work.
When I threw up in the bathroom at work and started spotting, I knew I was in trouble. After discussing my health with my OB, he stated I needed to be off work until he felt I was healthy enough to go back.
What a lot of people don’t know is that I haven’t been able to work since September.
It has been hard letting go of a job I love that makes me so happy.
Could I be at work? I honestly couldn’t be working if someone paid me a million dollars each day. I am still throwing up and have a variety of other issues which only lets me have the energy for a couple of hours in the day.
I also think about other women who are working full-time and I feel so guilty. How is it that they can work so hard, and I can’t get out of bed a lot of days (especially during the first 5 months). I also talk to my work friends and feel like I am letting everyone down because of all the guilt I have with taking so much time off.
Privilege: Seeing the baby on an ultrasound
Difficulty: Finding out I have a cyst
We are so lucky to have such an amazing healthcare system in Canada. I have been to so many appointments (about once a week since I was officially pregnant).
During my first anatomy ultrasound, the tech knew something was off and had to bring doctors into the room to investigate what was wrong.
At first, they thought my appendix burst, and then they recognized that it was a cyst which formed because of the fertility medication that I went on while trying to get pregnant. I took five pills and injected myself with one needle and sure enough, I will most likely be getting my cyst removed while having the baby.
I also had a tough time with the anatomy ultrasound. My little boy wouldn’t stay still and I had to go for three anatomy ultrasounds. Each ultrasound was over an hour in length and I just felt terrible for the nurses that had to stay so patient with me and my little one. Didn’t even how what an anatomy ultrasound was (a lengthy ultrasound done at 20 weeks to make sure the baby is growing in a healthy manner) and now I feel as though I am an expert.
Privilege: Having coping mechanisms for anxiety
Difficulty: Having major anxiety during pregnancy
Before I had my first IUI (sperm inside the uterus), I had been off anxiety medication for a couple of months. My doctor had weaned me off the medication and I felt great.
Just before my first IUI, my panic attacks (that I seldom had since having my first panic attack at aged 25) came back. It was really tough. I remember sitting in my doctor’s office and crying because I knew that I needed my anxiety medication while trying to conceive.
I thought she’d say “no” because the anxiety medication might harm the baby. She left the room and had me fill out a questionnaire about how I was feeling and I scored really high (on this test the lower you scored – the more healthy you were). The tears couldn’t stop coming down and I thought she would think I had depression.
When she came back in the room, she looked at my responses, talked to me a bit more about what was going on, and then determined that I did not have depression but that my generalized anxiety was back. She put me on 10mg of Cipralex.
For about five months I was doing pretty well on my medication. Sure I would get anxious, but I could use the coping mechanisms I had been taught in therapy to get me through the days.
Then the coping mechanisms stopped being enough. I found myself having panic attack after panic attack and didn’t know what to do.
I sat down with my doctor about a month ago and talked to her about everything that was going on and she decided to increase my dose of Cipralex to 20mg. She said that it was okay to take the medication while pregnant because if I stayed in my panicked state, it would harm the baby more than taking the medication.
I know most men and women are anxious about having a baby, but when the anxiety makes it difficult to cope, it is so important to ask for help.
Privilege: Being healthy
Difficulty: A vasovagal episode
A couple weeks ago, I finally decided to get out of the house and see my friends. We had finished our brunch and were just talking. We had probably been sitting for 3 hours, really enjoying our time together. During this time, I did not get up from the table once. As someone who constantly has FOMO (fear of missing out), I didn’t want to miss a moment.
On hour 3, I finally decided that I should hit the washroom. When I stood up, everything felt great. When I came back after using the washroom, I immediately sat down in my chair and knew something was off.
My friends were speaking but I was no longer engaged in conversation. My body was heating up and everything was getting blurry. It felt so different from a panic attack, and I knew something was wrong.
“I am sorry ladies. I have to leave” I said as I rushed out of the restaurant.
I sat outside in the cold and debated calling an ambulance. Luckily, my friends all made sure I was okay and later said that I had turned so pale in just a matter of minutes.
I spent about five hours at Mount Sinai Hospital where they told me I had a vasovagal episode. It meant that I almost fainted because of an issue with blood flow. I was encouraged to use a prescription for compression socks and was encouraged to constantly get up and move instead of sitting for long periods of time.
They said that a lot of women experience this during pregnancy and that some have one of these episodes while others have many. I have been blessed to be one and done.
Privilege: Having amazing friends
Difficulty: Being a “bad” friend
Before I became pregnant, I was out almost every night with a friend. I would often be the first at a party and the last to leave.
People could count on me to show up at all events because I didn’t have to check with my partner and didn’t have a baby.
As an extrovert, I get my energy from people so I loved teaching all day and going out for dinner, book club, a drink, etc., with friends.
When I am not around people, I become anxious. My anxiety causes me to start thinking too much and then I start questioning everything. Through therapy, we have worked on me just “being.” This includes being by myself and enjoying my company.
Well, let me just say that this pregnancy has forced me to become extremely isolated and I have way too much time on my own. I can’t get together with friends because I am still getting sick and have major issues with energy. I’ve also become that flaky friend who you can’t count on because one hour I am feeling okay, while the next hour I need to be in bed.
I have been so mad at myself because I want and expect more from myself and my body. Unfortunately, I just can’t be the person I once was.
I am learning so much in being by myself. Not all of it is negative because I am learning to be okay with me and to listen to my own voice instead of the voices of others around me.
I also think I have been burnt out for years constantly working and being out with friends. By being “on” all the time, it has really made me wonder who I really am.
I miss my friends though. Now I hear about times they have met and spent together and I have not been able to be there. It sounds so petty and ridiculous. I used to pride myself on being that person that would show up. Now I feel like friends are drifting because I physically can’t be there as much as I wish I could. I miss them so much.
Privilege: Always having food on the table
Difficulty: Gestational Diabetes
This week I received the call that I had gestational diabetes. I had failed two tests by 0.1 on both tests. At first, my heart sank when I heard the word “fail” because I was trying so hard to have a healthy pregnancy. I have since been reminded that a failed glucose test (or two in my case) does not mean that you are a failure.
Gestational diabetes is where a woman develops high blood sugar during pregnancy. Pregnant women are screened in Canada between 24-28 weeks of their pregnancy. Having gestational diabetes increases the risk of preeclampsia, depression, and C-Section (Diabetes Canada).
About a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (no gluten) and now I also have to watch my food intake because of gestational diabetes.
This Wednesday I am going to a three-hour workshop. From there, I will get a device to take my sugar and will have to go in every week for an additional appointment. I’ll also have to make a list of my sugar count each day for Mount Sinai so that my blood sugar levels can be monitored on a weekly basis.
The fear with diabetes is that there may be a possible “birth injury” due to the baby’s size and difficulties during pregnancy (Diabetes Canada).
Dear Pregnant Woman or Mama,
I was wrong to judge you in the past. They say to never judge anyone unless they are “in your shoes” and that is so right.
I am pregnant and blessed. I honestly am the happiest I have ever been and really don’t want people to feel sorry for me.
I just want people to know the truth. Pregnancy is a lot of work. It’s a lot of learning and a total loss of control over your body.
Some women go on to have the most beautiful pregnancies and some struggle.
Pregnancy can be the best feeling in the world and pregnancy can also mean spending months in the bathroom getting sick.
I am sorry pregnant woman or Mama.
I really messed up. I get it now and I am learning.
For the past several years, every time I have blown out a birthday candle I have made a wish to find someone to build a family with.
Since I was a child, birthdays have always been a big deal. My Mom is the super creative type so every birthday we would get to pick a theme. From there, all games, decorations, and prizes were related to that theme. Some of my fondest memories of growing up involved having so much fun while being surrounded by those I love on my birthday.
In University, and in my 20’s, my birthday was always a big night out. It fell at the perfect time – midterms were done and/or Halloween was over and we needed an excuse to party.
My 30th birthday was one of my most favourite memories – my boyfriend at the time proposed while I was surrounded by all of my closest family and friends at my party. My birthday cake came out with the words “will you marry me?” It will always be one of my favourite moments in my life.
After all of those incredible birthdays, nothing could live up to the past.
My birthday suddenly became a time where I reflected and realized that my biological clock was ticking and time was running out.
It seemed like with each passing moment, I was getting further and further away from my dream.
I like to be in control of everything. It just seemed like I couldn’t get in control of the type of life I wanted to lead.
I wanted the husband and two kids and it felt like the more I tried looking for it, the more it was further away from my grasp.
Every year I blew out a birthday candle or every year I celebrated New Year’s Eve, I would tell myself that “this would be the year.”
But the year would come and go. Perhaps I had a relationship at that time but it had never lasted. I would put so much pressure on myself because I really wanted my plan to work.
It had worked for other people but then I wonder if it really had.
I knew people who lied to their partners about being on birth control to try to get pregnant.
I knew people who got pregnant so that they could get engaged.
I knew people who were in horrible marriages who were just sticking it out to have kids.
I knew people who lied to themselves and tried to pretend their partner was great because it meant that they were getting closer and closer to their dream.
I also knew people who were in loving, beautiful, relationships where they had made a decision with their partner to have a child.
On my 38th birthday, I didn’t wish for a man to have a child with. I realized that my dream was going to come in a different form and that for the first time ever, it didn’t involve a man.
As soon as I took the pressure off myself to find a man, I became happier. I had to grieve the fact that I was never going to find a partner to start a family with, but it was still going to be okay.
My 38th year was the absolute best year of my life. Don’t get me wrong – it was the most challenging year of my life as well.
Going through the trying to conceive journey was tough as hell. I give credit to absolutely anyone going through the journey because it is not for the weak.
If I didn’t have a supportive family, friends and a really good therapist, I don’t know if I could have gone through with it.
At 38, I became pregnant though which has been the biggest blessing to have ever happened to me.
On November 7th, 2019, on my 39th birthday, a cake was placed before me and I just kept staring at the candle. What could I possibly wish for? I had everything I had ever wanted – I was pregnant with a baby boy.
“I just want my baby boy to be healthy and happy” I said.
This was my first birthday in eight years where I haven’t felt sad. I was surrounded by my sister and her family and it was everything. I looked around the table at my niece and nephew and just thought “life really doesn’t get better than this.”
Who would have thought that being pregnant at 39 would give me so much joy?
Years ago, it would have been my nightmare. A baby without a husband? Gosh, I have changed.
People sent me beautiful messages on my birthday such as “you’ll have help blowing out birthday candles next year” or “this will be your last birthday on your own. Make sure you celebrate it well.”
I had the best birthday and I didn’t need anything special. All I needed was family, a gluten-free brownie cake, and the knowledge that this year was going to be a year unlike any other.
I am 39, single, and pregnant and have never been happier in my life.