Maternity Monday: Swollen Feet

It happens to most women. That moment when you catch a glimpse of your feet (which doesn’t happen that often) and you realize you don’t know where you calves end and your feet begin. Even though you know it happens to everyone, it still gets you.

If you ask around on how to reduce the swelling you get answers like, “You must have preeclampsia” or “it happens to everyone, it goes away at birth.” Not helpful, not helpful at all.

Before I was pregnant, my hands and feet would swell if I exercised too much and got dehydrated. At those points, I would drink a ton, ice my feet and rest. So I tried all these things and no dice. Then I asked the mommy forums on Facebook – that was the right thing to do. So if you are battling swollen feet and/or legs, this is what worked for me:

  1. Compression socks: Yup. You read it correctly. I refer to them as my old man socks. You can find them at any drug store (except for Target, apparently) for about $10.  They roll up to about your knees and they are most definitely not kidding about the compression. I had to have El Hombre put them on for me.
  2. Elevate your legs: This was supremely uncomfortable for awhile for me because I cannot lay on my back. But I figured out that I could drag a stool up to my favorite chair and put my feet (with my new compression socks) up on the chair. This is pretty much how I watched all the Heat/Hornets games.
  3. Rest: Pregnancy makes this a bit easier for me, but I am not good at sitting still. And I definitely notice a huge difference if I am on my feet all day. If he could, I think El Hombre would put me on bed rest. How to get through this? Binge watch Rome on Amazon Prime.
  4. Epsom salts: Yeah, you aren’t really supposed to take hot baths while you are pregnant, but you can soak your feet.  This was advice that I can’t believe I didn’t think of myself, as I believe epsom salts are the answer to everything.
  5. Ice: I mentioned above that this didn’t do much, but it did stop the itching. The extra fluid on your joints can be maddeningly itchy and ice does help quell that feeling. In combination with everything else, it’s useful.

After a day of all of this, my feet and calves look and feel normal again. When I feel it coming on again (generally I get itchy in my feet and legs when the swelling is about to kick it), I start the whole process over. And then I take a deep breathe and think, “Six and a half weeks left until the real fun starts!”

What you see isn’t always the truth

I live in one of the most image conscious cities in the US. Miami, the land of the beautiful, the rich and the famous. When you think about Miami, you generally think of South Beach, music videos and people with perfectly chiseled abs. You think of tall, tan beautiful women with perfect (sometimes modified) curves and men in their top physical peak. It’s intimidating. Not an entirely accurate view, but intimidating.

Funnily enough, when I first moved down here 11 years ago, that didn’t faze me. Of course, like any other girl in my 20s, I thought I was chunky (god, how ridiculously wrong I was) but that never stopped me from donning a bathing suit or shorts. It never sent me convulsing in to a fit of insecurity. So I didn’t think I had a problem with body image. Even though when I ended up losing too much weight from a nasty cold, I immediately flipped from thinking I was too chunky to way too skinny.

Now, as my body is changing and growing, I am realizing that body image issues haunts everyone in some way. Maybe you don’t hate yourself because you don’t look like whatever pop star is hot right now. But maybe you do find yourself criticizing the size of your thighs or stomach or boobs or muscles. I’m starting to realize the difference between staying committed to a healthy and balanced lifestyle and self hating. Because I exercise (or did) quite frequently and eat well does not mean I should lament when I don’t feel or look skinny enough. Chances are, I will probably look back on pictures 5, 10 or 15 years from now and realize how ridiculous I was being. More than likely I will also be concerned about how my children view themselves in the world around them.

Do I want my children to feel this way about themselves? No. Do I plan to try to combat this somehow? Yes. However I think it’s normal. I think it’s part of emotional growth to go through self doubt. It’s part of confidence building and understanding who you are and what your limits are as a person.

Roll your sleeves up

Sometimes there’s nothing more relaxing than throwing on my most scruffy clothes and spending an afternoon in the garden.

We’ve had a lot of work done on our condo, and as a result my back patio turned in to a bit of a disaster. So today we rolled out of bed late, fired up the grill to make lunch and something sparked.

Hours later, my nails, hands and lower legs were black from dirt and I’m feeling so buoyant. They say that gardening lifts the spirits, and I swear it’s true. Creating small pockets of beauty where I can sit and read while sipping Pimms Cups gives such a feeling of accomplishment.

We still have a ways to go, but here are some progress shots:

   

 

Stick a pin in it – 5 things I’ve learned about Acupuncture

If you had told me a year ago that I’d start routinely getting acupuncture, I would have laughed in your face. No joke, I hate needles – as do most people do. I’m still that person who has to look away and scrunch my eyes shut when getting blood drawn. But this has been a weird year for me, in terms of my health. I’m not unhealthy… I just haven’t felt well. Between loads of stress with work, pre-wedding stress, exercising to deal with stress and poor life decisions related to cute footwear and cobblestone hills in the South of Spain, I have had some issues with pain.

When my knee started giving me trouble after Spain (cute footwear is totally overrated when it comes to climbing hills, I can’t say this enough) I went to the doctor and they wanted to run all sorts of crazy tests on my back and on my knee. I ran in to someone from my karate class and he swore up and down by acupuncture.

Seriously, you have to be pretty desperate to be willing to let someone you don’t know stick needles in your kneecaps and your legs.  But I was in a lot of pain and x-rays, MRIs and EMGs are expensive, draining and unnecessary most of the time.  I know, I have injured myself enough times and spent more money on orthopedics and PT than I can count.  Three sessions of acupuncture and my knee was better.

Today I woke up with a killer kink in my neck, and I was on the fence on acupuncture. It worked on my knee, but needles in my neck? That’s another story. Halfway through the morning, I couldn’t take it anymore. I got an appointment in the afternoon and I feel like a whole new person. This is for real.

Before I started acupuncture, I always stayed away from it because I thought it was hippy-dippy and I hated needles. Now that I am fully on the bandwagon, I tend to get a lot of the same questions about what it’s like, so I thought I’d answer them here:

1. Do you feel the needles?  

Sometimes. I generally feel a slight pinch on one or two at first, but generally you don’t feel them.

2. Isn’t it weird?

Well, yeah. You’re letting someone stick needles in you and you are probably allowing this to happen because you are in pain. But after a few minutes, the weirdness goes away.

3. What does it feel like during a session?

Honestly, each of my sessions has been different. You have to sit pretty still, and I am not good at that. I also focus a lot on my breathing to calm the anxiety about the needles, which tends to put me in a meditative state.

4. How does it feel afterwards?

It’s almost like a slow release of tension. After the doctor pulls the needles out, it’s not this immediate rush of relief. It’s more like a good massage – where you feel like the tension gradually falls off after the session is done.

5. What does your doctor do during a session?

To preface this, I tend to have pinched nerves so my sessions might be different. My acupuncturist is an actual medical doctor from China, and he is really good at locating the initial sources of pain. Once he puts the needles in, he may also put some strips of cloth with herbs (kind of like a tiger balm) around the area. He also hooks the needles to a machine so that there’s a small pulse that makes the muscle contract and jump. Sometimes it’s annoying and at first it freaked me out, but it forces the tension out of the muscle.

Hope this helps! Have you ever tried acupuncture? What were your experiences like?

Moving zen…

This Friday, El Hombre and I celebrated 7 years of our lives together by dressing up for Halloween and hopping on bikes to join the Critical Mass ride.  Say what you will about Critical Mass, but ultimately there is nothing like sailing through the streets at night on your bike, surrounded by other people who are totally in to bike culture.

In our 14 mile jaunt that landed us in Wynwood, I kept thinking about how there’s truly nothing like the feeling of bike tires on asphalt, the soft clicking of the chain of a bike and a cool night-time wind. I don’t ride my bike as often as I like – my neighborhood is not so bike-friendly – but nothing helps me unwind like peddling through the streets and scoping my town out from a different vantage-point.

Rainy days of summer

Happy June 1st everyone.  It’s officially the first day of hurricane season and it was ushered in with lots of clouds and rain.  Sometimes you just need days where it’s dreary and rainy, and you spend the day running from awning to awning with friends.  We spent the day with two of our friends in Coconut Grove, having drinks in Mayfair Village while we watched people and the rain.

As we watched it downpour, subside and downpour again, I couldn’t help but hope that the rain in some way washes away last month.  Huddling near my husband and planning brunches and trips with our friends, I couldn’t help but feel like new beginnings are just around the corner.

Goals & resolutions

I may have mentioned before that I don’t really like the concept of “resolutions” – I prefer goals.  There are a few reasons for this.  When we talk about resolutions we can’t help but associate them with New Years. That means that a few weeks down the line, they are forgotten when life gets in the way.

This is why I prefer to set goals. Plus I think the concept of goals is less frightening for most people – inherently you know that you aren’t going to make all of them, but you try anyways.

Last year I set several goals for myself on January 1st.  I met some, I exceeded others and I flat out missed on some.  Those goals were:

  • Pay off at least 1/3rd of my student loans (This is part of my long-term goal of getting out of debt)
    • I paid off all my loans – possibly the greatest feeling ever.
  • Travel to at least 3 new states (tentatively on the list: Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont)
    • We had a lot of great travel this year.  I made it to Vermont and Minnesota.  New Hampshire and Maine were a bust because of weather. I wouldn’t change anything about my trips though.
  • Travel to a new country
    • I finally visited Canada.  We spent a few days in Montreal, which is a fantastic city
  • Complete another 5k
    • Done, and with that I have finally established a running routine.
  • Complete a 10k
    • This was a miss but I am ok with that. I did run my first mud run, which was a blast.
  • Be more regular about my checkups
    • Done
  • Continue to stay on track with writing
    • This is sometimes a struggle for me, but I think I have gotten better. This is an ongoing goal.
  • Learn a new skill
    • I don’t know if I have learned anything new, but I feel like I am continuing to improve on existing skill sets, which is possibly more satisfactory
  • Cook a new dish a month
    • Done, but if you asked me to replicate any of them I might be at a loss
  • Start sparring again
    • Sadly this is a miss, but it’s on my list for this year
  • Improve my photography
    • I have taken little gains, but not as much as I would like

I feel like 2014 is going to be a good year, with lots of exciting things in store.  Some of the things I would like to do this year are:

  • Start sparring again
  • Work on my writing
  • Learn to stick with my priorities and not let life throw me off so easily
  • Visit a new state
  • Visit a new country
  • Run a 10k
  • Run a few 5ks
  • Build up a 4 month reserve now that I don’t have student loans
  • Continue to improve my photography

What does this year have in store for you? What kinds of goals are you setting?