Saturday, June 8, 2013

She's Here!

WoW!  Three months since my girl showed up on the scene.  Josh asks me every second day when I am going to post a new blog, but I have been reluctant to try and tackle this first post since Zoe's arrival.  I mean, HOW can I accurately reflect this new turn in the 'Journey of Joyce'?  Not to mention the fact that the first month to six weeks post-delivery is all a bit hazy.

Zoe; her name means 'life'...

Already I see Zoe could not be more aptly named.  I have always been amazed at the power of naming as far back as that recorded in Biblical times.  And I find this power of naming continues to be true as I learn more about the personality of my daughter - so full of life, so independent already, so stubborn like her *ahem* Dad (okay, okay, like her Mum too).

That sounds so weird - "MY" daughter.  Like she is a possession or something, or as if she belongs to me.  Although I suppose we do believe that to be true since we "gave her back" to God during her dedication ceremony a few weeks ago!  But then comes the understanding that this raising a child business is hard work - not something that can be done alone (at least not well).  Noper, no sirreee bob, no way Jose.  Raising Zoe requires God's guidance, and the support and help of family and friends...  Though I am so very grateful for the support of our two Corps, the struggle of being at a far distance from family and close friends has become even more pronounced now that Zoe has been thrown into the mix.

I struggle to articulate how life has changed since becoming a parent, until I realize;

"there are no words."  

The centre of our little world.
Words fail to describe the intensity of emotion I feel for this little person who grew inside of me and who catapulted into this big bad world in her own time and in her own way.  The girl who is already managing to cause us to do all of those things we said we would never do as parents - e.g. her clothes and her toys are slowly and steadily taking over all of our living space.

Totally cliche, but more notably, she has taken over a pretty big space in my heart as well. I feel fiercely protective of her, like a mama bear guarding her cub.  I feel inexplicable joy when she smiles at me, partially because she makes us work so hard for smiles;).  And I feel overwhelming love as I look at the peaceful version of her while rocking her to sleep.

Nothing profound friends, nothing new or earth shattering from this girl, except to say my daughter is here, and in the words of the Caper that I am:

"I loveS her!"

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Getting Ready!

The last few weeks of pregnancy sure are interesting.  You acknowledge wholeheartedly - and probably tearfully - that the battle to get comfortable is most definitely lost.  Well-intentioned people comment on how big you are getting and that the baby must be big (if you've done the math,... it doesn't add up)!  And, it becomes very difficult for your every thought to not be consumed by anticipating meeting your baby for the very first time.

This idea of "being ready" is fascinating.  I mean - obviously - there are things that you need in order to 'be ready'.  Something for the baby to travel home in (car seat and outfit related), something for the baby to sleep in, something to contain the waste, just to name a few.  All of this energy and effort is invested in getting the baby room ready.  And yet...

And yet, I find the more "ready" the nursery gets, the less "ready" I feel for the arrival of this little bundle that will undoubtedly turn my whole world upside down!

Those who are already parents can mockingly laugh at those soon to be first time parents for the small details they are obsessing about, but let's be truthful.  This is like anything else in life - we're just trying to cope with the unknown by dealing with the known, those things we can control - like having a finished nursery with a completely inadequate supply of diapers, a ridiculous number of onesies, and shelves full of receiving blankets waiting to 'receive' this new life.

"Patience is a virtue" apparently, but difficult to master when you are
excitedly anticipating the arrival of a little one!
With the final item of furniture now set-up - the glider (sidebar:  I must tell you, this rocker is already the most comfortable place in the house for me to be)...  But I digress, as I sit in my rocker in the baby's room writing this, I realize that THIS is as ready as I will ever be, which is not at all ready.

SO - I just want to meet this baby!!!  (And based on the number and frequency of inquiries from family members and friends, I sense I am not alone in this).

Looking forward to sharing the good news in - I hope - the not-too-distant future.  And to my Bible scholar friends - please note the lower case spelling here, I am not implying "THE Good News", but still 'good news', right!?!?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Not comfortable.  

That is how I would define my entry into the final stretch of this pregnancy.  A friend shared a comic of a pregnant woman wearing a sign on her belly that read, "Eviction Notice: Get Out!  Love, Mom."  That is *exactly* how I feel (except I would sign it "Mum"... once a Brit, always a Brit)!

Each day that now passes with the baby still inside of me comes as a surprise.  I just expect him or her to show up literally every day - no real reason for this...  Yes, I still have a month-ish to go, but I just *feel* like it should be time.  And though now amusing, it certainly wasn't funny at the time when after 2 hours of trying to 'get comfortable' in bed the other night I woke up Josh to yell at him, "I HATE being pregnant!"  (Don't worry, I love the baby inside me, I am just ready for him/her to be outside of me).

I waddle. 

Yes, like a duck.  I can't pinpoint the exact moment that it happened - but it has happened.  Most times as I walk, I just try to forget, but there is the odd occasion where I am acutely aware of how hilarious I must look (at least by the number of blatant stares I receive as I am out and about).  Sidebar:  If they think I look funny when I walk-waddle, they should see me try to put on my shoes or zip up my coat.

I am obsessed with my body.

Not in a 'I am worried about stretch marks,' or 'I wish I hadn't gained *that* pound' kind of way, but in a, 'How is it even possible that my body can do this?!?!'  Seriously, the human body - and I will say in particular the FEMALE body - is incredible.  The fact that it can grow and readjust in order to carry another life within it seriously astounds me.  Whenever the baby is really moving or kicking, which is often, I literally stop what I am doing, pull my shirt up and stare at my stomach move around like a bouncy castle!  Disclaimer:  I typically limit this fascination to my own home or when others are not present!!!

The experience up to now continues to solidify my belief and amazement in God and the wonder of creation, and I have yet to meet this new life!  So,... I already anticipate long stretches of time lost to just staring at our baby doing absolutely nothing.

So, in summary: I am an uncomfortable duck that can't stop staring at my stomach...  All jokes aside, this journey of pregnancy has been quite an eye opener - and I am increasingly thinking about the next stop,... Motherhood!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New year... new baby,... new challenges.

The snow we wanted at Christmas finally came with the New Year!
Hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone as I sit here in early 2013.  Along with the new year comes the realization that within 7ish weeks, I'll be a mum!  Also - on a related note - comes the realization that within that same period of time, I will no longer be pregnant!!!  Don't get me wrong, I don't hate pregnancy, but I do recognize that I am NOT anything like that woman on "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" who has that constant pregnant glow, who still walks - not waddles - around with perfect make-up and stilettos, and who only has to give a gentle sneeze in order to deliver her child.

Me in my endless effort to get comfortable...
It is amazing the things that people warned me of, but that I couldn't fully comprehend until I'd experienced them for myself...  Such as the constant - and losing - battle of getting comfortable in the final trimester.  Or there are those things that no one told me about, but I can only deduce must be pregnancy related.  Like my  insanely chapped lips.  Josh has affectionately renamed my lips, 'razors'.  I can only attribute this new phenomenon to my night-time mouth breathing - aka just call me 'Snoring Monster'!  Which, let's be honest, other than the chapped lips has more implications for my husband than for me.

And, I know, I know, there are also those things that no one can prepare you for...  But let's just sidestep that *elephant in the room* for the moment!

A big surprise for me (and likely will be for those of you who know me) has been my loss of appetite.  Perhaps more shocking is my lack luster interest in food.  As a person who has traditionally adored food - this has come as probably one of the biggest surprises of all.  Food and eating has become purely functional - I know the baby needs it (and that I do), but much of the enjoyment has gone from it.  I have heartburn before I eat,... AND after I eat.  It seems unlike many expectant mums I have spoken with, I now have a much smaller appetite than pre-pregnant Joyce!  Even when I think I have sufficiently reduced quantities, it is always *too* much food.  Adding to my general and overall discomfort :D.

Now cold drinks on the other hand, I DO enjoy.  And this particular realization can be written up in the books.  After 5-6 years of the thought of a glass of ice cold milk being disgusting to me, these days,... nothing is more appealing! I feel like I could be one of the greatest advocates for the "Got milk?" advertising campaign, because I genuinely get hyped up at the thought of milk. [Insert pause here while I went & grabbed myself an ice cold glass of milk]. 

All of this to say, I am excited about entering into this next phase - this new year, new baby, new challenge!  And it did strike me last night that even though pregnancy isn't a complete walk in the park, I am pretty sure I will miss my baby giving me a little hoof,... or,... a BIG one.  But then, he or she will be too busy keeping me up all night for me to notice.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The First Snowfall - I am blessed!

As I sit here in our heavily decorated living room, I find it difficult to imagine what Christmas preparations and celebrations will be like next holiday season with a baby at the centre of it all!  Sidebar:  I should also point out that I sit here snugly wrapped in my Snoogle (a genius invention that others may know of as a body pillow designed specifically for pregnant women)!  Best.early.birthday.present.ever.

My 3 current faves: Snoogle, cozy CB throw & hot apple chai!
And I feel especially reflective this morning as I look out at our first snowfall of the 2012-13 winter season here on Cape Breton and think back over the last 4 Christmases.  I can hardly believe how my life - and my locations - have changed.  I've lived in Goderich, ON - in Winnipeg, MB - and now Glace Bay, NS.  I've resided in my family home, a condo, and now my own house.  I've been a planner, a student / cadet, and am now an officer.  I've been single, married, and now pregnant...

Our first snowfall has arrived...  YEAH!
It was only 4 years ago when I became a senior soldier in The Salvation Army that my life really began to change.  And it has just caused me to pause - to take a breath this morning as the sky has gone from to dark to light (with Josh at the gym, I have a quiet moment to do that:)...  I am blessed.

In the busyness of this Christmas season, I will confess to you I have had moments of feeling overwhelmed, and I'll admit, being a bit melancholy.  To be thousands of kilometres from family and friends as I experience this journey of pregnancy and upcoming motherhood without being surrounded by those I love is sometimes tough, combined with extremely long days, difficulty sleeping, blah, blah, blah.

Whine over.  Because it is then, in those low moments, that the baby gives me a significant 'hoof' (far more than a kick) reminding me of the miracle of life growing inside me.  Or Josh shows up with yet another Christmas surprise (how the man can find ways to surprise me when we share a vehicle and work together is beyond me)!  Or, we receive a note of encouragement from someone to say thanks for our hard work in the community.  God seems to give me these subtle - and not so gentle - reminders that He is here with me, that life is actually pretty wonderful in all of its messiness and chaos and disorder.

Within the imperfection of your own life - as I will hazard a guess I am not alone in that - can you find blessing this Christmas?  My prayer this morning is that you experience the fullness of His joy this holiday season!
Christmas at the Downers!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Shop until you drop....

For those of you who knew me in my previous employment, you will know that I was a bit of a clothes horse.  My weakness: Coats...  Shoes....  Purses...  Most accessories.  Okay, I really loved *all* items of clothing.  Thankfully, something changed in me when I became a Salvation Army soldier, and though I still appreciate clothing, my passionate love did diminish, and the majority of my wardrobe now consists of very functional uniform items.

Though I always enjoyed new clothes, interestingly, I was never a big shopper.  I was never one of those girls who enjoyed hours at the mall, or just went from store to store to kill time.  The desire for shopping became even less prominent when the justification for new clothes - and my budget - didn't allow for it.  So I can tell you that with pregnancy, my interest in shopping has been even further diminished...

For any boy blog followers who get awkward at the discussion of changes to a woman's pregnant body, might I suggest you stop reading ... now.

So, Cape Breton is a beautiful island, but I wouldn't say it is known for being the hub of shopping activity.  Don't get me wrong, to date, I have lacked nothing (except the occasional treat from Starbucks).  Everything I have needed, I can find.  Until now...  You see, pregnancy means that 'certain parts' of your body grow...  Resulting in the need for some new basic wardrobe items.

With my mother-in-law visiting, her and I decided to brave the mall in search of a few necessities.  I was shocked to discover after visiting every single clothing store in the mall, including a number of anchor department stores, we found ourselves empty handed and discouraged.  Not a single maternity item to be found...  I can't seriously be the only pregnant woman on the island who needs  something to wear!?!?!

We eventually found ourselves pulling into Wal-Mart, which apparently houses the sole maternity section in the area.  And I use the term "section" fairly loosely since it consisted of literally 2 small racks of clothing: one, included a sweater Josh had already bought for me, and the other, panty hose for pregnant ladies (which I must confess hadn't entered my mind until that very moment, but is PURE GENIUS!).

Actually NOT a maternity shirt, but an old faithful of mine that someone once told me I looked pregnant in when I wore it!!!
This particular excursion did nothing for my dislike of shopping (nothing against the company I should clarify)!  But it did make me MOST grateful to my sister-in-law who does have a love of shopping and who generously shared her entire maternity wardrobe from two pregnancies with me.  The best of every world for me - it feels like a new wardrobe every time I open my closet, without the hassle of shopping, and for a budget price of,... $0!

FYI - I will post an update of me in my maternity uniform when it arrives, 'cos not gonna lie folks, the old tunic is getting "pretty snug":).

Sunday, September 30, 2012


So,... there have been some surprises as I continue to make my way through this pregnancy (which I know is no surprise to many of you)!  Warning to Readers: if you are expecting a BIG surprise like an announcement of twins or something, I suggest you stop reading here - because you will be disappointed friends!?!?!

Stamina & Endurance:  Let me set the scene for you.  On our day off last week - where we were surprisingly experiencing some sunshine - Josh and I took someone's advice to check out a scenic view of lovely Cape Breton, and decided to go for a short, little hike up Ben Eion (a mere 2.5km loop).  Now, in fairness, it is pretty much straight up for the first 1.25km, but still...  I am not lying to you when I tell you that it was one of the poorest showings I have EVER had when it comes to physical activity.  Barely 300 feet up and I felt my lungs burning, every breath felt like searing pain, and I was sure my heart was going to pound its way out right through my rib cage.

So, even though I realized it was probably time for a short break, I was embarrassed to admit to Josh that I needed to stop.  A far cry from our pre-dating runs together!  I kept saying to Josh, "I think something is wrong with me," and he'd respond, "nothing is *wrong* with you Joyce, you're pregnant!!!"  Well, I am happy to report we did survive the walk, and thanks to an Orange Julius gift card from a friend, we also celebrated my 'success' with a mango madness smoothie:).

I also felt somewhat relieved when reading my info pack from the Health Unit later that day which informed me at this point in my pregnancy, my heart is pumping approximately 20% more blood than usual.  THERE IT IS!  The explanation, aka excuse, I was looking for.

Heartburn: not so much a surprise, but for some odd reason I had decided I wasn't going to have heartburn (for no good or logical reason I might add).  I guess because everyone told me once the 'morning sickness' - I use that term loosely - ends, then comes the heartburn.  I sort of assumed since the sickness has yet to end, the heartburn wouldn't happen.  Wrong assumption.  A strange sensation for a person who formerly had a stomach of steel that could handle just about anything!

Attention: There is no other way to say it.  I am not a person who typically enjoys attention.  I enjoy interaction with people, but too much attention on me makes me self-conscious and uncomfortable.  And yet, there is something special about knowing how much this baby is already loved so much by the people around me; the way my church family is so concerned about how I am feeling; and, how everyone is checking in to make sure that I am taking care of "their little Cape Bretoner"!  It is quite endearing:).  Don't get me wrong, I still don't need the attention, but there can be no doubt that this child is already very loved, and that is a-ok by this gal!

Mushy moment:  Thanks to all who have checked in recently - sickness aside, all is well.  And I'm looking forward to many, many more surprises in the future!