Overwhelming Positive Emotion … From a Cold Shower

If you need a lift in spirits, a giant boost to your mental outlook, an enormous dose of gratitude, I recommend blasting your body with cold water for a couple of minutes.

I’m brand new to the Wim Hof Method, but in less than 2 weeks I’m experiencing incredible gratitude and energy and I’m extremely satisfied with my results. I should note that I have pushed myself a bit further than the coursework outlines for cold showers, so it may be giving me faster and stronger results than if you stick to the basics. Week 1 called for 30 second cold showers after any length of warm/hot shower, but I felt good in the 1 – 2 minute range, so I went with it.

Yesterday was Day 2 of Week 2 and I decided to challenge myself to a cold shower only, without any warm water first. I had already taken several 2-minute cold showers (with a hot shower first) so I figured it would be a bit of a challenge, but not a big deal, right? Uh. Wrong. It was indeed a challenge, but much greater than I had anticipated. It turns out that experiencing hot water first makes a world of difference.

My First Cold-Turkey Cold Shower

I turned the cold faucet all the way on before stepping into the shower. I set my timer for 2 minutes and then stuck my hand and food into the stream of cold water. OH. Huh. That’s cold. I began to take deep, intentional breaths and splash the water onto my arms and face. Hmmm. Still feeling like I don’t really want to get in there. It seems, well, really, really cold. A couple more deep breaths and I realize I just need to plunge in all the way. At 36 seconds my head was under the rushing stream of cold and I could only keep myself from bolting the heck-outta-there by enlisting the help of intentional breathing. Then, a simple mantra took over my thoughts: “For my family. For myself. For my family. For myself.” Between the breathing and mantra, and knowing that I CAN be in the cold water for 2 minutes, I sustained. And after the two-minute timer went off, I started my stopwatch. You read that right. I stayed in the cold shower. Because I could. Because it’s helping to change me into the person I want to be. Because it’s for my family. And because it’s for myself.

For several moments the water actually felt warm or at least it didn’t bother me. I continued to rotate under the flow of water and to breathe deeply. When the timer hit 1 minute I put my face into the cold stream one last time and switched off the faucet. And then the emotions bubbled up unbidden.

Awash with Gratitude and Positive Emotion

I started to film myself, knowing that it would not be pretty. It might actually be quite uncomfortable to show myself in such a state of emotion. But I wanted to record the power of the moment. I wanted to expose the possibility. Show what a simple activity can do for your mind. I didn’t just step out of the shower, shiver, and say “Damn, that was cold!” I wrapped my towel around me and as powerful emotion surged through me and brought me to tears. The gratitude for my husband and family, and my fortunate life. Gratitude for the previous day, that was head-and-shoulders amazing above any in the last months … maybe years. The gratitude for the powerful experience; the knowledge that I am taking back control and becoming the body and mind that I want for myself. Knowing that my journey is just beginning, yet so positive and incredible after so little time.

Think about it. Consider whether you need a little more oomph in your life. A little more mental space to be happy, relaxed, and light. Perhaps less aches and pain, and better sleep is within reach- without a pill bottle. Consider whether trying something new in your routine might change your life in just the way you need.

Click here to go to the full video on my youtube channel.

Taking Back Control- Step by Stumble

OK, I’m only one week in, and … I feel like I’m slowly gaining control. I know I’m doing something that is getting results. I have to make the choice. I have to commit. It will take time, but I will get there. I will make my body and mind strong and at peace.

This morning I became flustered. I became negative. I let myself slip into a place I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want that to be me. I wept. I wept because I try so hard and I still slip into a negative mindset and feel defeated. After five days of bigger gains than I could’ve imagined, I stumble back, fall on my butt, and flounder. I cry because I want to be better and I’m impatient. I don’t want to subject my family to my negativity. I was able to go to Rodney and ask for a hug, get the outside support and encouragement that I needed. That wouldn’t have happened a few months ago. As frustrating as it is, the stumble, and then the picking myself back up … it fires my desire and my commitment even more. It makes my inner fire burn a little stronger.

It’s Saturday and I woke before 5am and dozed for almost an hour. Then I got up and stretched and breathed. I got in the shower and after a few minutes of a steaming hot shower, I turned the hot completely off, and the cold completely on. And I showered in cold water for over two minutes. It was exhilarating and refreshing. And it was healing. This is a journey that will continue longer than the 10-week WHM fundamental course. I may find other ways of doing things, other methods, other practices that help me differently or more, but right now: this is what’s working for me, and what is opening up my mind and body to a path forward.

I will become stronger than I think I am.

I will take back control.

If you’re interested, watch this documentary and see if it’s something you might want to look into more. If your interest is piqued after watching, go to the website and read more: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/

Remember: You are MUCH stronger than you think you are!

Wim Hof Method Fundamental Course AND how Rodney is saving our relationship and supporting me to be a better mom, wife, friend, and most importantly … a better Dianna

I decided to commit to a personal growth goal. It’s kind of huge for me.

I am TERRIBLE with routine and the Wim Hof Method Fundamental course is a full 10 (TEN!) weeks of DAILY stretching, breathwork, and cold exposure (i.e. taking a COLD shower EVERY day!). Drinking coffee in the morning is the only daily habit I have ever held (aside from getting dressed, and I haven’t always done that everyday!), but a really strong cup of coffee is more a necessity than a habit. So what’s really wild, and shows I mean business: I haven’t had a cup of coffee in 11 days! (more on that later). All that to say, “I stink at routine.” I would definitely not be on Day 5 already if it weren’t for my incredible partner, best friend, father-of-my-children, and lover: Rodney.

This post should really be titled, “How Rodney is saving our relationship and supporting me to be a better mom, wife, friend, and most importantly … a better Dianna,” however I already typed in the title and I’m not going to change it now. Wait a second … strike that, I’m putting it into the title. Rodney deserves an entire post about how amazing he has been: his effort, choices, and patience are incredibly motivational to me and make me feel well-loved. However, that will have to be a later post, because today I’m sharing a bit about the Wim Hof Method (WHM) Fundamental course that I’ve embarked on.

I want to record my experience with the course and still have time for family and other activities, so I am keeping a video journal for convenience … and sharing it for the world to see. 😳 I created a youtube channel called deliberosity, which is home to my journal and any other videos I make or share. It’s ok for you to poke fun and cringe … because the videos are totally cringe-worthy at times (the intro is ridiculously long and completely painful, and then I cry in the shower and make it publicly available 🤦🏼‍♀️) But other moments are beautiful, like when Pyra makes the “shaka” hand symbol, and when Lars merely shows his chunk body. It is what it is, and I don’t care. This is what I’m doing for ME and I feel inspired to share in case it can help anyone else. The world can take it or leave it 😊

Wim Hof Method

I’ll be brief and if you’re interested in more info, head to the official WHM website or check out one of the documentaries I link below.

The basic idea is that humans are much stronger than we think we are and we have the ability to awaken our “inner fire” to improve our mental and physical wellbeing and fortitude. This is nothing new per se; yogis have meditated their way to control various mental and physical functions for centuries. The WHM is one particular practice that was created by a Dutch man nicknamed “The Ice Man” and has become extremely popular in the last 5 years. Two documentaries have helped to spread the word and pique interest around the world. The Yes Theory documentary is a fun and interesting introduction that grabbed my attention. The VICE documentary was the first to skyrocket the popularity of WHM.

In short, the Wim Hof Method combines mindset cultivation (through stretching and meditation) with intentional breathing exercises and controlled exposure to cold. 

The general benefits of WHM (taken from the official website) include:

  • Reduced stress level
  • Greater cold tolerance
  • Faster recovery
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Stronger immune system
  • Migraine relief
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Heightened focus & determination
  • Improved sports performance
  • Increased willpower
  • Relief from: fibromyalgia, lime disease symptoms, Multiple Sclerosis, asthma, arthritis, auto-immune disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

10-week Fundamental Course

I purchased a video-based online course to teach me the WHM and get me started on a daily practice. Please note that I haven’t completed the course and I’m not sure of the results, so I’m not yet endorsing the course, but I want to provide the information for what I am using and make it convenient for others to look into it.

There are weekly videos for 10 themes which also include guidance for yoga and breathwork. There is a downloadable workbook and an app to help track progress and provide tools. The app is free and available to anyone, but you have to pay for the course or to unlock “premiere” options. I feel there are areas that could be improved to streamline the course and make things more clear, but if I can continue with the program and the resources can help me get the results as they are … I’m in!! I’m working to be less critical when it really doesn’t matter. 😬

Personal Goals and Commitments

Obviously, all of these reported benefits would be amazing, right? Who doesn’t want better sleep and a stronger immune system? My initial goal, however, is to increase my stress tolerance so that I don’t feel overwhelmed so easily. I don’t want to be an impatient, grumpy, and stressed mom/wife/person. I haven’t always been so quick to overwhelm, and I’m determined to get back to a more easy-going self. Rodney giving me time for “me” is a huge influence already, but that won’t necessarily create a lasting effect. The intention is to bring about a physical and mental change that reduces my stress response.

Day 5 is here and I’ve done stretches, breathwork, and a cold shower every day. That was my commitment for Week One, but I plan to continue through the weekend so that I don’t falter. I will complete all 10 weeks, repeating weeks if I feel the need, or tacking on more time if I stumble somewhere along the way. The journal videos and this blog are intended to create accountability for me, in addition to the therapy they provide.

Wrap-up

That’s it for today! Thank you again to Rodney, and a big thanks also to those of you who reach out and let me know that you relate to what I’ve written, that you’re with me, and that we’re all in this together. One foot in front of the other, every day. And it’s ok to just sit still and breathe sometimes. Sometimes for a very long time. 😊

Remember: You are MUCH stronger than you think you are!

I Wish I Were a Writer

I wish I were a writer, but I’m a mom.

For years, I cried tears of grief for children that would never be. I spent days hiding from the world in my bed. Under covers of quilted down and of darkness and of sorrow. I was trapped, thick in the misery of never holding my baby in my arms.

Now I have my babies. They are both crying for me now. I want to be alone, to be in quiet, to be writing. I want to rest my tired arms from holding their sweet bodies close to me. I want to rest my ears from the whining and fussing. But one precious child is on my lap as I type this now, and the other is fussing for me in the next room instead of sleeping.

Like a writer, I sit down with my water, my coffee, and the desire to pour words onto the paper. I pull out my journal and sit down eager to get down the thoughts that have been milling around my mind. But I often bring another tool to the table as well. A breast. A breast exposed and ready to work. A breast prepared to feed and pacify a baby who needs me. The integral tool that affords me five minutes to put words on a page. Currently, my lap doesn’t merely hold my computer, it holds my daughter who blessed our lives nearly two years ago. But part of me – a part I feel rather ashamed of and annoyed with – only wants to be holding the computer.

I want to be a writer. But even more, I want to be a good mom. I want to appreciate my good fortune and especially my children. I don’t want to want to be alone. I don’t want to wish for silence. I had silence and I wished for babies.

I want to feel only grateful and joyful.

Even as I write, I feel the negativity slipping away. I want to hold my daughter and this computer. If it came down to it, I would instantly trade my computer and all my other belongings for just one moment with my babies … so why do I linger over feelings of discontent?

Why do we do this? Why don’t we accept and breathe and appreciate?

We are human. We are animal. We are imperfect.

I am grateful that my almost-two-year-old is here with me, spilling water on the floor, crawling after an unsuspecting bug, licking the spilled water off the terrace, spitting on the floor next to me and squatting to poop in the diaper I will soon remove from her silken, chubby body.

I am grateful for the baby boy who (for the moment) sleeps on my bed, but who will soon fuss to be held and fed and loved. And I will love him. The best that I can. Always working towards improvement.

And with that I will hit “publish,” so that my daughter feels loved and not ignored or neglected. So that I feel like a better mom than a writer.

(Note: Written on Thursday, August 28. I didn’t hit “publish” when I said I was going to, because Baby Boy woke up right as I was typing the last sentence and I didn’t have time to check the settings and add the photo! This paragraph is written with Baby Boy nursing on my lap while Little Girl naps 🥰 )

What I’ve Been Watching – 01

I’m trying to incorporate motivational, inspirational, and informative media into my routine during chores and downtime. I’m going to share the pieces I found interesting and worthwhile for me.

These first two videos are about mental health and ability, specifically the benefits of intentional breathing and the incredible untapped power of mindset.

The third video is about introverts and their value .. yes, I’m an introvert.

“With anxiety, stress, and sleep dysfunction skyrocketing around the globe, it’s time we look at the unspoken reasons why. These debilitating challenges can be meaningfully impacted with ten to twenty minutes of breathing exercises per day. Max Strom,who has taught breath-work for 20 years, reveals his insights into the healing power of the breath.”


“Dislaimer: The following features stunts performed either by professionals or under the supervision of professionals. Accordingly, the producers insist that no one try to recreate or re-enact any stunt or activity performed in this film.

We’ve admired the pioneering work of Wim Hof for years now from afar. This January however we got an opportunity to spend four days with him in the mountains of Poland. We didn’t know what to expect. We had no idea that Wim was at a place in his life where he wanted to push his findings to the next level….we had no clue that we were his experiments in proving just how powerful the mind is.”


“In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.”

I’m Going to Change My Mind

scenic view of the forest during sunrise

I’m not sure exactly which steps I’ll take, but steps will be taken. I’m tired of living with me. I can’t stand the person I’ve become and the person I’ve been for the last handful of years. I don’t know what happened, but I don’t like myself anymore. I have become more and more easily stressed, impatient, and unhappy. Maybe. Maybe I’ve actually always been a bit like this and now I just have to live with myself in close quarters and I don’t like it. I think the latter is probably closer to the truth.

I’m almost 40 years old. This may be more or less the mid-point of my life. I don’t want to spend the rest of my time on this earth with the person that I am now. More importantly, I don’t want my kids and husband to live with the person I am now. My brain has to change. My habits have to change.

I want to laugh and smile and be content the majority of the time. I’m tired of feeling like an ugly person. I want this blog to become the rants of a crazy-happy person, not the rants of a crazy-crazy person that it is now.

I have some ideas, but I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do. I decided only this afternoon that I need drastic remodeling inside my brain … pronto. I’ve been headed this direction for a little while now, but two recent events have catapulted me into action: 1) the effect of this blasted pandemic on my life, and 2) I read a book titled “How to Change Your Mind” by Michael Pollan.

I think the former item has likely influenced many of us to take a closer look at our lives. We’re all experiencing changes and inconveniences due to covid-19, and some may even be experiencing immense loss or grief, so I’m going to skip over this topic.

The book “How to Change Your Mind,” however, may not be so familiar to you. The subtitle is: “What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence,” so I’m guessing that for many readers, this book may not be on your bookshelf or your “must read” list. But I rather think it should be.

It’s getting late and I need to get as much sleep as I can to face tomorrow with as much energy as possible. But here it is: I commit to changing my brain, and in turn, my life. I will become a person I can love; and a gratefulness journal and more caffeine just aren’t enough to get me there. The journey begins.

I Am Grateful

It’s been super rough for me the past few weeks. Let me clarify: it’s been rough being me. Some days are super and I can hang in there with patience and positivity, and generally enjoy my kids, my husband, and my circumstances. Unfortunately, most days I struggle to maintain composure for at least a good chunk of the day. I growl, I snap, and I’m ugly. I’m not the person I want to be. I blame it on lots of things: lack of sleep, trying circumstances due to pandemic, teething toddler who is super-needy. In the end, it’s only me who can make my life what I want it to be. It’s only me who can decide to be who I want to be. It’s a daily, moment-to-moment struggle.

The 28th of June I started writing a gratefulness journal to help me see the positive in every day. I wrote nearly every day for three-and-a-half weeks and then I floundered; It’s been 2 weeks that I haven’t written down what I’m grateful for. Well, now I’m starting again.

  1. I am grateful that this pandemic situation will not last forever and things will get better.
  2. I am grateful that Rodney is such a loving daddy and spouse.
  3. I am grateful that both of my babies are asleep at the same time for the moment …

Pretty much every weekend, Rod and I have been taking the kids for a walk by the river. Every weekend that we go, there are women washing laundry in the river. Their children are playing nearby or helping with the wash. I realized it’s yet another way that I am fortunate. When I got home after one of those walks I wrote a reminder on my whiteboard: “You don’t have to wash in the river.”

*******

I just told my mom and sister that if I had enough money, I would have hired a private plane already and gone back to Alaska with the kids and moved in with my sister. Perhaps though, I would be missing out on an opportunity to grow if I escaped back home. I’ve had a privileged life, and these months are certainly some of the tougher ones I’ve experienced in my life. I have to work on myself diligently during this time if I want to survive with sanity intact, and also enjoy life to some extent.

The newest baby just woke up. If it were here right now, I’d hop on that plane in a heartbeat. But it’s not here. Someday, I hope that I’m grateful for this period of time that I am pushed to work on myself. Right now, I’m grateful for my sweet gift of a little boy … and that he just smiled at me and drifted back to sleep.

(that lasted 30 seconds and then a minute later big sister awoke too)

2 Under 2 – 6 Weeks In!

The first post since Baby Lars joined our family and the world!!

P.S. Photos below!!

💖💕💖💕💖

I just remembered that I can publish a blog post from my phone- so here we are!! I haven’t managed to post from my computer, despite several attempts over the last weeks, so maybe the convenience of the WordPress App is the ticket! 

Baby Lars is 6 weeks old tomorrow and is currently slumbering on my chest. He is a sweet lump of baby boy that I never imagined would become a reality. But man, is life really real with two little ones to care for! I’m so grateful that Rodney is here with me and able to lend a generous helping hand every day. It’s because of him that I’m not merely surviving these challenging days. 
Lars is starting to squirm for my attention, so I’m going to leave this post with what I started to write weeks ago and have unsuccessfully tried to finish several times in the last weeks:

One Poop at a Time: Week 6 Postpartum; Week 15 Coronavirus Isolation 

June 24, 2020: I started this post 2 weeks ago and haven’t sat down to write since. Needless to say, I’m finding it difficult to make time to write. But here’s another go at it:
From June 12, 2020: 3 weeks and 2 days ago I gave birth to an 8.5 lb baby boy on my bed. I’m not pregnant anymore; I have two children under two years old! It’s truly remarkable how time marches on and how often it feels like we’ve gone through a time warp. How is my baby boy (my SECOND child?!) already nearly one month old, when just moments ago I was pregnant and anxious for him to arrive? Moments before that I was battling infertility with injections and diets and a few moments prior to that I was unattached and chasing lizards in Portugal.

However, at this moment, I’m on the couch in our apartment in Ecuador just weeks after giving birth and finding it harder than usual to find the words to express myself … and perhaps I’m not even forming cohesive thoughts. Bear with me as my tired, breastfeeding-in-the-middle-of-the-night brain tries to make sentences that make sense.
I wanted to write several posts in the last 3 weeks, but I am finding it difficult to juggle my various responsibilities and find time to do things like feed myself let alone write a blog post. Right now Py is sleeping and Lars is draped across my chest, alternately staring out at me and then rolling his eyes back in his head as he falls asleep- sweet little mouth wide open. There is no question that I won’t finish this post before Pyra wakes up and I need to go back to priority #1: caring for our children.

I WILL be writing a post about this birth experience, as many friends and family have asked to hear “the story.” I was able to jot down some notes in the previous weeks and hopefully I can get a full account written out fairly soon. I will say this for now: it was all that I hoped it would be, and maybe more. I am forever grateful to our midwife, and feel fortunate to have experienced childbirth in this way. We never left the apartment and barely needed to adjust our daily routine with Rod’s work and with Pyra. My body did just what it was supposed to and has been feeling great. Aside from the stretch marks and little bit of a tummy pooch I still have, I wouldn’t know that I had recently given birth- oh, the huge breasts leaking milk might be a give-away, though.

I (perhaps somewhat foolishly) started a fitness regime 3 days ago that I’ve not been entirely sure I can finish with the rules that I set out for myself (no grains, processed sugar, or dairy; veggies take priority on each plate; daily exercise). I’ve never been good at managing all my domestic tasks and food preparation often falls to the wayside. I often wait until I’m toooo hungry to find something to eat, so I’m scooping leftovers right out of the storage container into my mouth. It’s even tougher now with the new baby and limited resources/grocery opportunities, so I’m not sure what I was thinking. Well, I was thinking that I want to feel GREAT. I want more energy. I want to eat healthier and incorporate exercise into my rather sedentary quarantine lifestyle. I may end up relaxing my rules and just sticking to the exercise program and trying to incorporate more veggie whole foods and less crap … but we’ll see what happens. It’s day three, and I’ll keep trying.

Overall, things have been great since the birth. The first week I felt fabulous. More recently, I’m slipping back into negative thoughts about our situation: missing family, freedom to go outdoors or wherever we want; bored to tears with the “trapped” domestic lifestyle that little kids and quarantine bring about. Thank heavens for technology. My mom and sister responded to my SOS text yesterday, sending love, perspective, and encouraging words that I needed so badly.

Pyra is in love with her baby brother. When I open the door to let her into my bedroom in the morning, she ignores me and has eyes and kisses only for Lars. I do think she is experiencing some jealousy that comes out as grumpy and mischievous behavior, but not any negative actions towards Lars (except pulling his hair once!).
(and PyPy just started to call “Mom! Mom! Mom!” in her sweet little voice)
* * * * * *
OK- back to today. Well, once again, Lars is draped across my chest and Pyra is napping. Not too much has changed in the last two weeks, although now, Pyra can open my bedroom door on her own! She reaches up as high as she can on the tippiest of her tip-toes, and her chubby fingers just barely grasp the handle. But it’s enough to get her inside to see her favorite person in the family: Baby Lars.
I’m going to try to keep this brief so I can actually get it done. A few updates:
I’m still on the fitness band wagon. Week 3 started today and I’m loving my daily exercises. I quickly learned that it’s way more fun to have Pyra as my workout buddy than trying to find quiet time alone. Much easier too! Her pushups and squats and jumping and “breathing hard” like mom suffuse the experience with joy. The harder part is eating healthy. I feel like I’m constantly hungry, but I’ve been eating tons more veggies than usual and I have steered clear from grains, processed sugar, and dairy. I’m not super strict though: I just ate some dark chocolate pieces and I indulge in tastes of Rodney’s desserts and beer! I’m excited to accomplish 8 weeks and see how I look and feel at the end.

I’ve gone out a lot more recently, taking over some of the responsibilities that Rodney had single-handedly been covering on his own when I was pregnant. I’ve started to do some of the veggie/fruit shopping (especially since I’m needing more produce these days!), and have gone to the bank several times to pay rent and bills. I also took the kids for their vaccines, one kiddo each on two different days. Free healthcare for our little Ecuadorians at the local Centro de Salud. Getting there was good exercise for this recently postpartum mom: approximately 2-mile walk there and back. END PREVIOUS POST

Back to Tuesday, June 30- I AM still on the fitness program (wooot for me!) and plan to stick with it. Here’s the end of this post for today- my heart goes out to all my new-mommy-and-daddy friends, dealing with the challenges of new parenthood on top of the challenges of life during the pandemic. 

Someday this will all be behind us and we’ll sit in the sun together, side by side without masks and recount tales from those crazy, stifling days of coronavirus isolation. Until next time,

Much love from Cuenca,

Di 

Pregnancy: Week 41; Coronavirus Isolation: Week 10

Baby Boy must not realize that I’ve been marking off each day on the calendar for the last couple weeks, eagerly awaiting his arrival. He either doesn’t know that his due date has come and gone, or he just has a mind of his own. One way or the other, Baby Boy was “due” yesterday, but clearly isn’t ready to make his appearance yet. So we continue to wait and tonight I cross off another day on the calendar.

The last few days I’ve been walking the stairs of our apartment in a sort of squatty walk “with legs like a frog” as my midwife suggested, and today I spent 20 minutes on the exercise ball swiveling my hips around to encourage the baby to descend and my pelvis to loosen (at least I think that is what I was doing?). I also try to get into an “all fours” position several times a day which is supposed to encourage baby to move into a good position for delivery … and is nice to relieve pressure on the back and hips too.

While I worked on the ball today, I set Pyra up with her favorite “toys” (a handful of dice- see photo below and a couple more at the end of this post) and a Spanish language learning video borrowed on hoopla that she seemed to really enjoy. The video is part of a language-learning program for kids age 0-6 called Little Pim, available for multiple different languages. You can also borrow videos for free through your library, hoopla, or even Amazon Prime, if you’re a member. Pyra loved the images of real babies and children playing and counting and also the familiar objects (i.e. spoons, socks) and animals (i.e. dogs, cats, birds) that she was happy to point out. It was our first experience with the Little Pim videos, and I will definitely be checking out more of them.

Py entranced by the language-learning video.

I’m a little disappointed that I’ll probably need to sweep my floor and clean the bathroom again before I start labor- I was hoping I had done that for the last time before Baby Boy arrives. But I do appreciate that I had enough time and energy to make the blondies that I’ve been craving for months! That 13×9 pan of deliciousness on my kitchen counter will help me get through these last days (or weeks?!?) of waiting for baby. I’ve got a generous corner piece of blondie waiting next to my hot tea for me … and so I think I’ll cut this short. This pregnant old lady is more than ready to recline, enjoy her treat with a Harry Potter audiobook, and wait for Baby Boy ☺️.

Pregnancy: Week 39; Coronovirus Isolation: Week 8

It’s been 51 days since Pyra felt grass under her toes. 51 days since my sociable, sweet girl interacted with another child (in person). 51 days since my active, almost-20-month-old has run around outdoors and climbed something other than furniture or a parent. 51 days … and how many more?

But that’s the question we’re all asking right now, isn’t it? How much longer? No matter what our personal situation is, it certainly isn’t what we’re used to, nor how we want to live for an extended amount of time. You may have acres of outdoor space to romp in, but your activities or income are hindered. Maybe you go to work regularly, but you’re a little nervous about exposure to a virus that will be written about in medical and history books. We aren’t living our “normal,” no matter what our “normal” generally looks like, or even if we like our “normal” or not; but we certainly don’t want this current way of life to become the new normal. On that, I believe we could unanimously agree?

Anyhoo. 51 days of isolation. But here are some other figures that have been knocking around my head recently as well:

  • 38 ½ years old
  • 38 ½ weeks pregnant
  • 51 days of isolation due to a global pandemic

That darn “51 days of isolation” snuck back in there, refusing to be ignored!

My age and maternity situation just boggle my mind sometimes. I’m halfway through my 39th year of life and not only am I mother to a scrappy-sweet toddler girl, but I am also quite pregnant with a child whom we are told will have a penis and scrotum. Incredibly blessed to have the girl-boy combo, but did I mention that I’m 38 ½ years old?! At one point, I thought that 33 years old was sounding a little on the “old” side for starting a family. Ha!! That was back in 2014, when I first became pregnant and was ecstatic to begin our next phase in life; unfortunately, the next phase was “infertility rollercoaster” instead of “joyful life with munchkins.”

Yet here we are! Life is wonderfully uncertain and can always be counted on to throw a wrench – or a whole toolbox – into your plans and lead you down paths that twist and turn unexpectedly, frequently resulting in experiences and circumstances that we couldn’t have dreamt up, but wouldn’t change for all the cheese and bread in the world.

“Where would I be right now
If all my dreams had come true?
Deep down I know somehow
I’d have never seen your face.

This world would be a different place.
Darling, there’s no way to know
Which way your heart will go”

Mason Jennings, “Which Way Your Heart Will Go,”

For me, though, it’s not so much “which way your heart will go,” but where life’s twists and turns will lead you: almost undoubtedly away from your dreams, but very possibly into a beautiful, unexpected reality.

I wish I had been able to start a family when my body was younger, but I couldn’t. I wish I could have had babies without ever experiencing a lost pregnancy, but I couldn’t. But I would never choose to turn back the dial and do it over because I don’t know who I would be or where I would be in that alternate universe … I certainly wouldn’t have Pyra crawling into my lap for a toothy, slobbery kiss. And I likely wouldn’t be 38 ½ years old and 38 ½ weeks pregnant, in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Isolation Report

I don’t really have a lot to say on this front … not much changes over the weeks, except for the size of my belly and degree of weariness. I did leave the house for a couple hours last week- what a momentous and exhausting day that was!

I walked 40 mins (to avoid taking a taxi) to an ultrasound appointment. 40 very uncomfortable minutes because of my dang uterus. I had planned to enjoy a leisurely walk to the appointment as it would be my first lengthy walk outdoors in weeks, but instead I had “false labor” contractions* the entire way, which made the walk quite unpleasant and I just wanted to get there and stop walking as soon as possible. By the time I was a couple blocks away, I also had to pee so bad I was afraid I wouldn’t make it to the appointment with dry clothes. Thank goodness I’ve kept doing kegels now and again. (that means that I made it to the appointment without peeing myself!)

Anyway, the ultrasound went well and the results were reassuring. Baby boy has grown (although still small on the overall spectrum), my amniotic fluid and placenta look great (I didn’t even know that they can detect if a placenta starts “wearing out” but I guess they can!), and overall everything was super. The walk home was much better; my uterus must have been reassured by the good news and had settled down.

The previous day was also unusual and also because of prenatal medical appointments. However that day, the appointment came to my apartment. I was able to book a local hospital lab to come to my residence to take my blood and urine samples using WhatsApp (which is extremely common here as a primary means of communication, much to my delight). I sent the order for the tests by text and the lab even confirmed the appointment (in-person by text, not a robocall) on Sunday evening for the Monday morning appointment. They arrived at 8 am (30 minutes earlier than the appointment- so much for the Latin American stereotype of arriving late, right?) and the two technicians were in full protective gear, down to booties over their shoes. They proceeded to efficiently and painlessly draw several vials of blood for my prenatal bloodwork right at my dining room table, with Pyra and Rodney observing from a distance.

Everything went without a hitch, until they asked me for my urine sample. That is, they didn’t provide me with a sterile container and ask me to fill it … they just wanted me to hand over an already-prepared urine sample. Apparently, I was supposed to get a container at the pharmacy and have the sample ready, but nobody had enlightened me on this local tradition. The lab was kind enough to swing by a couple hours later, which gave me time to pop out to the pharmacy a couple blocks away and pick up the 25¢ sterile urine cup and fill that sucker up.

Can you imagine this scene? Waddling down the stairs of my apartment building with my huge belly, buzzing myself out of the security door and gate, my urine sample held discreetly in a paper towel and hoping that the neighbors all stay put? At least it wasn’t a stool sample, I suppose. Anyway … it all went well, and the results were accessible online by evening and showed everything to be normal. $70 for a lab to come to my home, take my samples, run a full panel of blood and urine analysis, and then have the results available remotely within 12 hours. What. A. Deal.

Recharging vitamin D during a few minutes of sunshine!

The only other thing I can think of to write about is that yesterday we finally inflated a kiddie pool for Pyra, and that has helped to eat up the long afternoon hours. We’ve waited for weeks to bring out the pool because the weather has been quite gloomy and rainy here. But yesterday we had a break in that trend and I blew up the pool. Like most kids, water play is one of Pyra’s most favorite activities, and the pool is the best $10 we’ve spent in months. However, the fun ended abruptly this afternoon when … can you guess what very predictable event happened? When a toddler is freed from the confines of a diaper and allowed to splash in a pool naked? Yeah. The afternoon water play turned into an afternoon of disinfecting the pool and terrace. Whoops. Silly mom. I just love to see her play naked!! But it was enough work for me that Pyra will be splashing around the pool with a diaper on for awhile.

I feel there were probably more interesting things to write about, but I’m done with writing for today. The magnetic force pulling me towards my pillow and bed is too great for me to withstand. I hope this ramble finds you well. Much love to you.

*I am convinced that I have an “irritable uterus.” From what I have read, I get an abnormal amount of Braxton-Hicks “false labor” or “practice” contractions. I had them a lot with Pyra too. This pregnancy feels worse, but I might just be more sensitive to them now. It’s crazy … sometimes I’ll just get one after another, after another, after another with only a minute or two between. And I think they frequently last longer (more like a minute) than “normal” Braxton-Hicks contractions. Usually, they are sporadic and I don’t mind them much at all, but when they keep going and going and I’m trying to do more than just lie around … it’s uncomfortable and annoying and I feel more than ready to be done being pregnant!!