Friday, August 16, 2013

Hidden Princess

I had this whole post planned out. It was a positive post about self-nurturance and positivity. Ironically, today, I am in one of those "grey moods." I think I've noticed a bit of a trend. Since I have Thursdays off, I tend to get a bit depressed on Fridays when I have to go back to work for a day before the weekend. First world problems, right? But I think I'm having a harder and harder time transitioning from my mindset when I'm at home to my mindset at work. I just had a conversation with my boss about slowly dialing it back in my last few weeks of work before maternity leave, but she firmly informed me that I need to continue to meet my billing requirements until my last day of work. I felt like she punched me in the stomach and I lost all motivation to even physically be here today.

But you know what? I am going to go ahead with my previously-planned post, because it actually fits in nicely here. Here's something along the lines of what I wanted to say....

As I've mentioned before, I had a very idealistic view of what it would be like to be pregnant. In some secret, hidden place, I think I hoped that the world would stop and I would become the princess. Wow, I cringe to read that but I want to be honest here. Growing up, my mom used to tease me sometimes about being "selfish." People who know me know usually are shocked to hear that. But, deep down, i still have that little spoiled princess mindset. I just hide it under my save-the-world-psychologist-working-with-underprivileged-children persona. But really, sometimes I just want people to stroke my head and pamper me. So yeah. I think I was hoping for some of that during pregnancy.

But as I said in a previous post, life doesn't stop just because you're pregnant. You still have to work hard. You still have to think about shopping lists. You still have to write reports. You still have to be a nice human being. Damnit. Really?

Part of it could be that, living in LA, I'm not close to a lot family and I don't have a lot of close friends here either (maybe that could be another post in and of itself), so I don't feel like I've gotten a lot of that "oh you poor pregnant woman" attention. I mentioned it to my husband that I think it would be nice if my mom would call more often just to check in and see "how I'm feeling." And he said that my expectations are too high. And then he reminded me of the nice card she sent me in the mail. And then I felt like a spoiled princess again.

The funny thing is, I didn't marry the type of guy that would treat me like a delicate flower. I don't like those guys. In Sacramento recently, one of my male friends kept opening car doors for me and such and, honestly, it weirded me out and I felt a bit belittled. Instead, I married someone who treats me like an equal and respects me and expects me to work hard just like he does. I appreciate that about him. It's just that....lately, I've been needing a bit more coddling because I don't feel that I'm quite up to being his equal.

So I took the advice that I give all of my friends and I told him what I needed. Go figure, right? I hate when women expect men to just read their minds. So I told him I needed more from him and he's been doing his part. He's been helping me with planning healthy meals and getting me out for walks with the dog and tucking me into bed at night (very nice!). Last night, when our hot water heater wouldn't get my bath water warm enough, he literally boiled a tea kettle full of water to warm up my bath. Ha. So yeah, while he may not treat me like a little bird, he is a wonderful partner and he is stepping up.

That leaves me with my own hidden little spoiled brat. The one who just wants to sulk because her boss won't let her back out of her workload early or because she has to go to work on a Friday (the horrors!) or because...well, because the world doesn't stop for me.

So (and here is the REAL purpose of this post), I realized I needed to take matters into my own hands. I need to take care of myself. If I want to feel more pampered during my pregnancy, then damnit, I should pamper myself. This is the advice I give to clients. Why can't I do it in my own life? So I've been thinking on this for the last month or so and I came up with two new things I'm now doing for myself.

The first is going to a pregnancy chiropractic clinic. There is a clinic I found that specializes in only treating pregnant women. They have massage, acupuncture and chiropractic. I've always been terrified of chiropractors (I went as a kid and thought it was some kind of torture treatment), but the pain I was having in my upper back helped me over my fear. Little did I know what a difference it would make. Over half of the appointment is spent laying face down on a spa table specially designed for pregnant women. It really feels like a spa. You strip down to your underwear, climb under soft blankets, and listen to relaxing music. Then the massage starts. Now, it's not "relaxing" massage. It's deep, deep, tissue massage designed to loosen up tight pregnancy muscles and prepare you for the adjustment. It really does hurt. The worst place is when she has me roll over and rubs my rib cage, right under my breasts. Holy hell that hurts. She actually counts down from 5 and does 5 really deep strokes. It makes me want to punch her in the face on every stroke. But you know what? The whole experience leaves me feeling more relaxed, less pain, and better able to breathe. Which, ultimately affects my work day and how I sleep at night. It's expensive...$120 a session (insurance only covers 60%), but hey, this is something I'm doing to take care of myself, right? Oh! And she also does adjustments to prepare your hips and pelvis for labor. Who knows if that works, but if it makes labor any easier at all, then I'll take it.

The other thing I'm doing doesn't cost a dime. I have always loved taking hot baths. As a teenager, I would light candles and take baths for hours, slowing adding hot water as the water grew cold, reading books by Anais Nin or Anne Frank and imagining my future. Nowadays, we have this great, really deep bath tub that I can truly immerse myself in. The problem is, if you read up on pregnancy and baths, you will find it's a no-no. Then, if you read further, you find it's not actually forbidden, you are just encouraged to keep the water temperature below 100 degrees. Until recently I've just been avoiding baths altogether because I am notorious for taking the hottest baths ever (as in scalds your skin painfully as you ease into the water) and I didn't see the point in "luke-warm" water. But then I bought this guy!

You can't tell from the picture, but he has a digital read out on his shell that automatically tells you water temp. Yay! I diligently wait until the water temp dips below 100 and then ease in. Lucky I bought him too, because my idea of what I thought was a safe water temperature turned out to be closer to 105 degrees. Oops. So anyhow, now I can take baths. I light my candles, get a giant glass of water to stay hydrated and then just...relax. I find I don't even need to read a book, I just enjoy being and daydreaming. Baby seems to really like bathtime too because he moves around a lot in the water. Which then makes the water itself move in small rippling waves. I love it because it's a way in which he can affect the world outside my womb.

Another neat thing about the baths is that I realized taking a bath can be just as relaxing (well....almost) even if it doesn't involve a glass of wine. My pre-pregnancy baths always included a glass of red wine. In fact, a lot of my relaxation techniques included a glass of wine. So, it's been nice to see that I can take away my reliance on that other crutch to "take care of me" and to just do it myself. Not that I don't miss my old friend...

So there you have it. I successfully took a whiny rant about my whiny self and turned it into a description of the things I am doing to take care of myself. Most of the time, it works. I know there are going to be days like today where I lose my balance a bit, but I think that just means I need to jump back into the bathtub tonight.

How about everyone else? Pregnant or not...what do you do to take care of yourself? Do you ever find yourselves wishing others would do it for you? Do you find what you need changes over time or do you have old favorites that always work?

 photo f7a381a0-f703-4ba7-9c31-df7689f4f5c6.jpg Out on a walk with Monte. More self-care.


  1. Cliched as it is, a hot bath, candles, and a glass of red are also my idea of decent self-care :) I don't do it often enough though! For me, eating really well is another important and pleasurable form of self-care, not just because of nutrition, but also because I find the act of cooking (and sometimes growing!) my own stuff really meditative.

    But to answer your question on a more serious note too, I have found that since experiencing loss and infertility, I have simply had to realize that occasionally I *do* need more care than I can give myself, and so have had to be really vocal about telling those close to me what I need and how to support/look after me. That's been a huge learning curve, because by nature I am a very independent, self-sufficient person.

    I also want to say that you're very brave for being so honest about the 'pregnant princess' phenomenon, especially given how many of your readers are infertiles. Bravo! I think that cultural assumption (because I don't think it's only you, and I don't think it's because you are 'spoiled'; it's a whole cultural trope), is one of the hardest things for us infertiles to swallow. It's really interesting to hear it in a candid way from someone on the other side :)

  2. First of all, thank you for pointing that out, that not only is it a cultural cliche (so true), but also that it might be hard for some of my readers to read. I truly don't mean to offend anyone with the post, though can definitely now see why it would. I think I was trying to be honest about a part of myself that I'm not too proud of that can come out anytime things are hard (when I'm sick, stressed, etc) but has definitely been present during the second half of this pregnancy. I also hope readers can see that my point is that taking care of ourSELVES, no matter what the stressor, is more important than being a princess.

    Which brings me to the other great point you made. Sometimes self-care isn't enough. Family and friends are so important. And, if I didn't believe sometimes the pain is too much to handle on our own, then I definitely went into the wrong field! Can you imagine a therapist that just tells you to suck it up and take better care of yourself? Ha.

    1. No offence taken at all! Truly, it was interesting, as I said, to read things from your perspective. And I so much appreciate your honesty. As hard as it may be for some of us to read, I do think there is real benefit to be had in grappling with different experiences and viewpoints, because they can also bring us out of the myopia of our own experience, and ultimately that can be what propels us forward, what motivates us to keep going. Thanks for sharing, warts and all!

  3. I have definitely found myself letting my husband do more for me than I normally would- I'm the same, I did not marry someone who opens car doors or runs after me all the time (the one thing he does do- always walking on the side of the pavement nearest the road- drives me NUTS) but I think it's been quite good for our relationship for me to just *have* to let him look after me a bit. In practical terms that means letting him make dinner a few times a week, or asking him to get me a cup of tea when I'm just too damn tired at 9pm. He is much happier when he feels like I need him, and I'm so proud of being super-independent woman I don't let him often. His face when he realised I'd climbed on top of our dresser to fix the smoke alarm last week really tells me all I need to know on that matter...

    But yay for taking charge and doing what you need to do for yourself. And for being vocal in exactly what you need- it's not always that easy in practice!

  4. First, a couple points:

    Monty is so cute! I love German Shepherds

    That bath thing in the picture with the wine glass and the book? Going to ebay right after this to find one for myself.

    I am obsessed with taking baths. For me, they absolutely must have a bath bomb from Lush. There is really nothing better than a good bath to process my emotions and thoughts. But, to work through my emotions, I like to take my dogs for a walk somewhere beautiful. Work up a sweat, take in the scenery. It always puts things into prospective for me.

    I kind of make a mental picture of the process. Last night, Andino and I had some tense moments as we were discussing what to do. When we were done talking, I took a bath, and I imagined arranging all my thoughts into a little package. Today, when I go for a walk, I'll leave the package behind. It makes me feel fresh again.

    Glad to hear you are taking care of yourself. It sounds like you have a great little family already with your hubby and Monty.

  5. First, I was going to ask where that clinic is until you talked about the pain. I do want to get a few massages to pamper myself, but I am not sure I am up for deep tissue painful ones. Now that I am back in LA, I am going back to my acupuncturist (who specializes in IF and pregnancy) to help with some of the discomfort. I want one of those thermometers. I have been a little afraid of taking a bath and I keep hearing how great it is to get into water and feel weightless in the third trimester.
    Second, I totally have spoiled princess tendencies. I think it comes from being an only child. I tended to always get my way as a kid. Now my husband is being extra overprotective and wanting to take care of me during this pregnancy and totally indulging the princess in me, but I find myself getting annoyed. I mean, I am not incapable of doing everything. Sure some stuff is harder but I am not suddenly crippled. I shouldn't be surprised, though. While he treats me as an equal and expects a lot of me, he also has this whole chivalry thing going of opening doors and all that nonsense. It's cute mostly, but sometimes I just need to open the door for myself.

    1. Well, it's not thaaat painful. Do you ever get deep tissue? The only place it really hurt was on my ribcage and also on my left shoulder (but that's my cus I have shoulder pain). But definitely not designed to be relaxing. If you get interested...its And I just got the turtle thermometer off Amazon. It's a baby bath thermometer.

    2. Oh and the clinic has multiple locations all over LA.

  6. I have been pampering myself with pedicures every 6 weeks or so (that's when my toes start to get really icky). So far I have only gotten two but they are well worth it! I would love to get a prenatal massage, but I'll probably wait until a bit later on in the pregnancy.

    As far as the "princess" thing I have caught myself a few times thinking, "ugh. But I'm pregnant- why can't someone do this for me?" And then I think about how many other women have gone through pregnancy and how I should stop whining and just do it. I think that a lot of women tend to get more selfish when they are pregnant because it is something major happening to their body that will change their life.....but I think that a lot of brides also get selfish and tend to think that the world revolves around their wedding.

    Ummm I LOVE the turtle bath thermometer. ADORABLE!!! And Monte is adorable as well!

  7. Enjoy those baths....oh sweet bejeezus do I miss those relaxing baths...I still sneak one in occasionally but that indulgent "take as long as I want" feeling is no longer, so [please heed this advice: ENJOY!!! Pamper the HELL out of yourself. You will never say, "Gee, I wish I'd had less pregnancy massages" after the baby comes. SO excited for you, and would love to have a baby play date!!


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