Dear Mama-To-Be

(A letter to the future me)

Author: Weiting Bollu | Date: January 30, 2022 | Updated May 2022

Context

Vishal and I were beyond ecstatic to find out that we were expecting a little one. This piece is a letter to myself so I can review it sometime in the future when I am officially a 'mom'.

We tried in early 2021 and it turned out to be an unviable pregnancy - an ectopic. The egg didn't land in the uterus to determine it was viable for further growth. 1% of pregnancies are ectopic and we happened to fall into this 1%. In fact, it could have ruptured my fallopian tubes. It is one of the top reasons for maternal death. Read my piece where I am Talking about the ectopic pregnancy that I went through.

Dear Future Weiting,

I had the urge to write you a letter. I tried sitting down a couple of times and for some reason, I don’t know what to say. Or, maybe I have so much to say that I don’t know how to put it into words yet. When baby Kian arrives, this might be the biggest shake-up in your life. Not a bad thing! I have many mixed emotions, so let’s see where it leads us.

I’ll break up this letter into:

First, the journey today while carrying baby Kian in my belly.

Vishal and I had discussions where we planned out what it could be like to start a family. When we found out that I was pregnant again, it was a very beautiful moment. We kept holding in our excitement until we got triple confirmation from blood tests and ultrasounds to ensure it was a viable pregnancy. As many know, we had an Ectopic Pregnancy Q1 of 2021 which deemed me as a high-risk individual.

After the triple confirmation where the ultra-sound technician advised she was able to detect a heartbeat this time, we were absolutely thrilled. At that moment, there was a rush of happiness that just made me smile from ear to ear. Even writing about it now brings a few happy tears to my eyes (and I don’t usually cry).

We celebrated by heading to Tim Hortons for a very quick small Ice Cappuccino, each. Yes, it continues to be our go-to way to celebrate wins - big and small.

Fast forward a little bit, we continue to meet milestones and get a step further than we did the first time. Each time we have gone to an appointment so far, it has strengthened our bond with the little one.


Naming this little one

Very early on, Vishal started picking names to ‘get ahead start’. We landed on Kian because it has multiple ethnic origins of Hindu, German, Persian, Arabic, and Gaelic. It has several meanings such as Royal, Ancient, and King. Being interracial as we are, I was sold on the former.


Physical Body Changes

At the time of writing this, I am just over halfway there at 22 weeks and 5 days. Over the course of this time, I’ve noticed my body go through changes that I didn’t think was possible. The main one is the stretch of my abdomen. I stare at it in shock as it starts to stretch outward. What is going on?! OK, don’t answer that. What I really mean is that I know what’s going on but I still can’t believe this is even possible.

The next thought in my mind is how is my body going to go back to where it was before? What I read is that it might never go back to where it is and that is freaking me out.


Emotions and Mental Changes

Watching, hearing, and reading stories of women going through their journey of raising a family makes me scared but also optimistic for the future. Many will tell ladies that you can’t do both - have a family and build a career. If I’m being honest, there have been many moments where I question if I can still have a fulfilling career and be a great mom. I have some mini-existential crisis moments where I ask myself if this is the right time - even though I’ve planned for this.

While I'm still here, it seems my body and mind have no plans to slow down yet. While working a full-time job in Product Management and part-time property management, I decided I have an appetite to do a little more. With that in mind, I took on a client for a great consulting initiative, I started a venture to build a hardware product, and I took on more responsibility with more direct reports at work.


Lifestyle Changes

Exercising Routines

Prior to finding out I was pregnant, I was on a roll with minimal equipment harder exercises about 3X a week. Those involved a lot of movement such as jumping up and down, laying on the belly, and even some physical bruising. Hold on, before your mind wanders off in the world of “is she okay?!” Rest assured, I am fine. I used to train in Krav Maga with Kru Dan Novak at Elite Martial Arts, Toronto. Krav Maga in-person sessions are quite intense and very often than not lands me in some light purple bruising because we’re role-playing real-life street fighting. Now that I’m pregnant, none of that gear can protect me so it is advised pregnant women tread with caution (or eliminate altogether).

Now, I do light yoga, meditations, walking, and low-impact cycling. I don’t sweat the same way as I used to. I'll tell you now that it's not every day. I can't commit because sometimes, I'm just not that into it!


Food intake

Prior to finding out I was pregnant, I was having lunch and dinner while regularly missing breakfast because I was “too lazy” to get some food in me. I didn’t eat any sweets nor did I munch on too many snacks each week. It was usually an intentional treat when we buy edibles outside of veggies, meats, and fruits. The treats in shops are usually too sweet for me or I was just not interested.

Now, I have a systematic breakfast every single day followed by my prenatal vitamins. I will have my lunch sometimes delayed and dinner sometimes delayed. It’s all dependent on how hungry I feel during that moment. II do more snacking throughout the day than I used to and if I eat too much, I feel extremely bloated.

I can’t lie, there are moments when I have more unintentional treats like sudden urges for bubble waffles or chips. However, the majority of my treats are still my FRUITS! I have a solid amount of cantaloupes, strawberries, mangoes, oranges, apples, berries, and bananas - all are my go tos when they are available at the grocery stores for a discount.


Trimester One List of Symptoms

  • Nausea

  • Hunger

  • Sleepiness. (I end up waking up in the middle of the night)

  • At 7 PM I'm just so tired. (I feel like I want to sleep right after dinner)

  • Bigger belly, noticeable (Starting at 12 weeks)

  • Wanting to use the toilet to pee almost every other hour

  • Loving my Cantelope fruit 🍈

  • Intense smell. (I can smell everything)

  • Some slight food cravings (though not much different from before)

  • Very vivid dreams

  • Clumsiness

  • Brain-farts with incoherent sentences

  • Forgetfulness, even more so

  • Bloated; if I eat too much my stomach feels like it will explode.

  • Aversion to water at room temperature. (Weird, right?)

  • I love ice.

  • Skin on the face feels smoother. (It’s not as dried as before as I had dry skin)

  • Get tired after climbing like 10 flights of stairs. (It's sad, I know.)

  • Stuffy nose. And then suddenly a runny nose.

  • Random pelvis, leg, or abdomen aches and cramps.

  • Occasional frustration or sadness emotions.

  • Insane caffeine reactions. (e.g. Had masala tea on Christmas Eve, now it is 2:13 am and I cannot fall asleep for the life of me. I've been trying to sleep since 9:30 PM. Not good.)

  • Plus, some that I'd declare as TMI!

Trimester Two List of Symptoms

  • Kian is kicking or moving in the stomach and I feel it every day starting Week 19.

  • Sleeping on one side for too long hurts the bottom leg. Bad to sleep on the back so I try not to...

  • Cycling and my crotch would be numb after the session.

  • Occasional hunger after 11PM

  • Have started to really enjoy meditations

  • Ankle swelling

  • I've started to feel leg cramps.

  • Numbing tingly when I cross my legs (I used to do this all the time...)

  • Numbness in the pelvis after a cycling work out

  • Have a lot more energy than last trimester or even prior to pregnancy where I am awake at 12AM. (This is unheard of in the last few years because I am in bed by 10PM on the majority of nights without a special occasion)

  • Occasionally, I don’t feel hungry at dinner time.

  • Generally, I am very happy and content.

Trimester Three List of Symptoms

  • Leg cramps - many leg cramps, and they hurt!

  • Ankle swelling - sometimes 5 days in a row, sometimes both legs

  • Belly tightening - Braxton Hicks contractions (at ~38 weeks)

  • Pelvic soreness

  • Enjoyed the sweet stuff like red bean sticky rice,

  • Really really enjoyed the pizzas and salad (these are two I never enjoyed prior to pregnancy)

  • Acid reflux

  • Hot flashes or sweats

  • Sore bottom half of my body after I sit for a long period of time (> ~1 hour)

  • Can no longer sleep on my back, at all. Definitely need that pillow!

  • Getting up sometimes 2-4 times a night to use the bathroom. It all depends on how much water I drink before bed.

Second, an appreciation note to my future self

In my ideal world, I will be able to do it all. With no mistakes and only perfection. I’m a human being and I’m never going to be perfect. I don’t need to be.

I’m relearning how to appreciate my mind, my body, and me as a whole. Over the last decade, I’ve grown to love myself first before I can love anyone else. However, being pregnant has put this to the test where I need to revisit this and ensure that I truly know what that means to me.

I recently picked up a book called 366 Meditations of Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living. Each day, I’m discovering and rediscovering the what, where, who, and why of me. Do I have clarity about who I am and what I stand for?


This blurb was extremely powerful to me about the 7 functions of the mind

“The proper work of the mind is the exercise of choice, refusal, yearning, repulsion, preparation, purpose, and assent. What then can pollute and clog the mind’s proper functioning? Nothing but its own corrupt decisions.” — Epictetus, Discourses, 4.11.6-7.


What does that all mean?

  1. Choice - to do and think right

  2. Refusal - of temptation

  3. Yearning - to be better

  4. Repulsion - of negativity, of bad influences, of what isn’t true

  5. Preparation - for what lies ahead or whatever may happen

  6. Purpose - our guiding principle and highest priority

  7. Assent - to be free of deception about what’s inside and outside our control (and be ready to accept the latter)


Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk from the book “Darling, You Can’t Do Both reminds women that each person’s path is different. It will be okay.


So let me tell you what's okay yesterday, today, tomorrow, and tomorrow's tomorrow.

  • There will be peers or colleagues who surpass us while we go a slightly different direction to get to the final destination. There will be more opportunities for those who seek it. It’s okay.

  • There will be times when you’re going to miss a soccer game - it’s okay.

  • There will be times when Kian catches a cold - it’s okay.

  • There will be times when I can’t, and shouldn’t, stay late at work - it’s okay.

  • There will be times when you’ll miss a promotion - it’s okay.

  • There will (or will not) be a time when you are thinking about a sibling for Kian, whichever way you choose - it’s going to be okay.

  • There will be people who will talk behind my back - it’s okay.

  • There will be people who judge me as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a sister, as a woman, as an Asian, as a leader, as a human being - it’s okay.

  • There will be times when you are going to be very hard on yourself, remember to take a step back and find ways to be a little kinder to yourself. When it happens, don’t beat yourself over it. - It’s okay.

  • There will be moments where you will feel angry, frustrated, incapable, imposter-syndrome, not good enough, too old, too young, and insert-all-of-the-negative-words-here. Know that you’re not the only one. It’s okay.

  • There will be moments, knowing you, where you might be taking on too much yet you ‘want to do it all’. Take a moment to reflect. Really reflect. Revisit the 7 functions of the mind. When you have to drop or say no to 1, or 2, or 5 of those extremely high priority items (I am being sarcastic here), please be reminded to tell yourself that it’s okay.

  • There will be moments when Kian might be a little extra. e.g. is going to scream at the top of his lungs because he wants something. You’re going to question your parenting skills. Remember, it’s OK.

  • There will be times when you feel Vishal and you haven’t gone on enough date-nights, or don’t do “what you used to it”. In these moments, sit down together, and think about how you can make a small date-night happen. And then, do it. It’s okay.

  • There will be times when you just need time for yourself. Declare it and do it. It’s okay.

  • There will be times when you just wish you had more time in a day.

  • There will be times when you are going to be so overwhelmed with emotion so that you break down and cry. I saw it coming. It’s okay.

  • There will be times when you look at your body and think “what have I done you?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”. Breathe. But seriously, scroll up and see what you went through in these Trimesters. You got this. It’s okay.

  • There will be times when you make mistakes. It’s okay.


Whatever it is, IT IS OKAY TODAY. IT WAS OKAY YESTERDAY. IT WILL BE OKAY TOMORROW. IT WILL BE OKAY 5 DECADES FROM NOW.

As always, you know that your mental health is of TOP PRIORITY. You do whatever you need to do to keep the brain healthy.

You are a fantastic mom and human being. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


XOXO,

Weiting (Xu) Bollu on Sunday, January 30, 2022