Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baby Shower!

I have the best sister in the world! She threw me a baby shower on Sunday and it was amazing!

It was so nice to see everyone. Being hormonal and more emotional/sentimental than usual lately, it was hard not to burst into tears every few minutes. Luckily I had a lot of laughs as well. And with a room full of Mommies there was a lot of advice, support and encouragement. I need it right now because as much as I'm excited about my baby's big arrival, I'm also terrified!

It was nice to have a day with just the girls. No boys allowed! Except little Reggie of course! Everyone was there with their daughters. It made me feel even more blessed to be expecting my own little girl. Being surrounded by them just confirmed what I already knew -- Girls are the best!

I can't wait to meet my own little girl! (Well actually I don't want her to come too early so I can wait honey! It won't be long now. Please don't come early or late. Just right on time!)

With most Moms I see a strong resemblance with their children. My cousin's daughter is absolutely her clone! She has the exact same eyes, face structure, everything! It's like seeing Tricia as a child again. It's uncanny!

I'm hoping that my girl will be a mini-me (as opposed to being a miniature of her dad...) Both M and I were fair with blue eyes so I'm guessing she'll have blue eyes. M was blond. I was actually born platinum blonde and later turned strawberry blonde/auburn. M had commented how beautiful our child would be. Too bad for him he didn't stick around to meet her.

My sister had organized a series of games. The first was a quiz where you had to name different nursery rhymes and lullabies based on the descriptions. Some of them were really tricky. I managed to get most of them. More than some of the Moms were guessing. Maybe because I've been singing lullabies and looking at baby books or maybe because I'm still a kid at heart.

One  of the games I wasn't overly thrilled about was guess the circumference of Ann Marie's big ole belly! Oh joy! So everyone was given a roll of this pregnant measuring tape thing and had to cut a piece off to try to fit around me. Interestingly no one guessed smaller than I was. Everyone guessed larger. Some much much larger! (Gee, thanks guys!)
Someone asked me if  I had measured myself. Ummm no! Of course not! Why would I? I haven't even worn a bra in months. I don't know what size I am. I know that I used to fit into a size small-medium and now I'm large-extra-large. I know that I used to be a 6-8 and I outgrew size 13 pants a while back...I like stretchy, loose things with drawstring waists. I've outgrown a lot of the clothes that used to be big on me and that I thought would carry me through but it doesn't make sense to buy more clothes now when I'm nearing the end so I just have to make do with what I have for the next month. Hopefully I don't get much bigger. Although I haven't actually seen a muumuu in the stores they are starting to sound very appealing! 

Shannon guessed spot-on and won the game! Clever girl! I'm going to keep that length of tape as a souvenir to remember the pregnant belly and compare when I get my flat stomach back again (notice how I say "when" and not "if"! Trying to remain positive. Though there are a few stretch marks I am hoping to bring my bikinis out of retirement someday...) I miss my old legs and feet too. Not that I ever really liked my feet but they are particularly hideous these days. Big, bulbous and turning various colours from red to purple to black. Some people at the shower were concerned about my swollen feet but I told them the doctor had seen them and didn't seem too worried. She just said to try to keep them elevated as much as possible. Sure. Unfortunately I don't have anyone to do things for me and the chores don't tend to do themselves so putting my feet up is not always an option!

One of my most unique gifts was this beautiful diaper cake that my friend Judith made. She's so creative! It looks like a wedding cake (and may be as close as I'll ever get to having a wedding cake! Somehow appropriate that it will be torn apart and pooped on!) It's almost too pretty to use but I'm sure when I'm changing diapers constantly I'm going to have to dip into it. Someone shared a little statistic with me that in my baby's lifetime I would change a diaper roughly 11,000 times!!! That is TMI! I REALLY didn't want to know that! I've already had baby poo nightmares. Others proceeded to tell me about baby poo that is black like tar, poo that is green, projectile, etc. Again, I really don't want to hear it! I'm trying to focus on the beautiful moments I'll share with my baby girl. The perfect Anne Geddes moments where she's sleeping like a cherub. Where I sing her lullabies and she nuzzles her head against me. Or smiles at me for the first time. Or laughs that adorable, infectious baby laugh. I'm trying not to focus on the feces and the screaming. Though I know those will happen too. Then someone tried to tell me about the belly button falling off. People, please! I'm scared enough as it is!

The girls helped me open my gifts. They were so cute. They helped me tear up the wrap, pull out tissue, untie ribbons and they listened quite attentively while I read the cards, looking at me quizzically when I'd tear up like a sentimental fool.
Shannon made me some beautiful stuffed animals -- a Mama and baby fish and a stuffed cat. As well as a blanket and some pillows. She is so talented she should have her own store to sell her crafts and artwork!
I got spoiled. So many wonderful presents. So many things that I needed. I think I'm covered now for all the major items and for clothes for the first several months. It's such an enormous help because I'm going to be on a tight budget and I wouldn't have been able to afford all these things myself. My sister generously got me this amazing stroller travel system, something I'm really going to need.

Cute little clothes, baby gear, toys and practical supplies, everything I'm going to need. Including 900 baby wipes! That made my eyes bug out. That's a lot of wiping! Hopefully I don't have any more poo nightmares...
The kids were all so cute and so well behaved for the most part. There were only a few tears the whole time (and mostly from me!)

Being the only boy there, Reggie was quite a hit with the ladies!
He's been told he looks like a young Justin Timberlake. And he was looking pretty cool in his hip Hawaiian shirt from his Aunt Ann Marie!
As much as I love kids, everyone has told me that when it's your own child, it's a whole other experience. That it is the deepest, all-consuming and unconditional love. I know that I already love my baby so much before she's even born. I can't imagine how overwhelming it will be the first time I see her and hold her. I know I'll be bawling!
I feel so blessed to be surrounded by loving, supportive Moms. It helps to know I'm not alone and that help/advice is always just a phone call away.

Welcome Baby! Your immediate family will be very small. Just Mommy and you (and Ali cat) at home. But your extended family is big and beautiful and fun and full of life. You'll have lots of cousins to play with, an aunt, uncles and grandparents to fuss over you.

The beautiful cake was delicious and the little souvenir booties have a spot on the bottom to write baby's name, birthday, weight and height.
My sister outdid herself (as usual). I ate way too much (I'm eating for two, not twenty! But I can't seem to stop myself when there's a buffet of food on the go!) I had so much fun.
I am so grateful to my sister for making the day so special. This baby is certainly the biggest event of my lifetime so far and it means a lot to me that she wanted to celebrate it with me. My sister, my best friend, you are truly aMAYzing! I can't thank you enough. I don't know how I'd get through this without you.

I am so thankful to everyone who came to share the day with me, friends and family. I had such a good time. You are a wonderful bunch of ladies! Thank you for the beautiful gifts!

The next time I see a lot of you I will have my baby! It won't be long now!

I was afraid I'd go into labour carrying everything into the house! My Mom, sister and niece helped me load up the car at my sister's place (the stroller wouldn't fit with everything else. I'll have to get it later), but once I got home, I was on my own. There was a lot of panting as I climbed up and down the stairs to bring everything to the nursery but once it was all in there I just sat back and smiled. I am so grateful. I got everything I needed and more than I could have hoped for.

Thank you girls for a wonderful day, for your generosity and kindness, your humour and wisdom. The greatest gift for me was realizing how blessed I am to have my own little girl on the way. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Maternity Portraits by James Harvey Photography

The magic of photographs is that they capture the fleeting and make it immortal. Life is so precious and goes by so fast. To be able to freeze a moment in time and preserve it is truly magical.

An avid photographer myself, I take thousands of snapshots, obsessively trying to capture and record the story of my life in images. It's really special once in a while though to have someone who really knows what he's doing take your portrait...

A talented photographer friend of mine, James Harvey, (check out his website at: offered to take some maternity portraits of me. Seeing as this is likely the only time I'll ever be pregnant (this baby was an unexpected miracle as it is!) it only makes sense to commemorate it with images. I think this shot in the doorway is my favourite. With the light behind me it's like a gateway to the unknown. Light, symbolizing hope. A bright future, full of promise. I like the expression he captured here. I look a little nervous but expectant, happy and hopeful which basically sums up my feelings as I approach my due date.

I also like this profile one, looking at my belly. Some days I really don't feel great but these photos remind me that being pregnant is a beautiful thing. And I know that one day I'll be very grateful to have them and be able to look back on this time and see my metamorphosis into a Mom.

When my sister was pregnant with her first child, my Mom snapped a photo of her on the stairs just as she was on the way to the hospital. I was so glad that we got that photo! I didn't remember her being that big! She was such a tiny thing before she got pregnant. At the time she had gained the weight gradually but looking back at that picture, you just see the end and it's a bit of a shock.

I know that one day I'll look back at these pictures and think "Wow! Was my belly really that big?!"

We even got some close-up shots of the belly. James had mentioned doing maternity photos a while ago but I wanted to wait until I was at my biggest, when my belly button popped out. I think I'm there! I can't imagine getting any bigger than this or I may explode! My skin is already stretched to the limit. I never thought I'd let someone take shots focusing on my bare belly (especially when I'm carrying an extra 45 lbs!) but I wanted souvenirs of this stage in my life. Voluptuous. Full of life.  

Given that I'm a huge fan of Scrabble (and M, my baby's father and I, used to play often) James and I thought it would be fun to do a couple of shots using Scrabble letters... 

"Coming Soon!" It's hard to believe that in a month or so my baby Michelle will be making her debut! Time is going by so quickly. The past 8 months really have flown by. It's still so surreal to me that in a month I'll be holding her in my arms. I can show her these pictures one day "Here you are in Mommy's tummy!" Hopefully she won't be mortified by them when she gets older. (But kids are always embarassed by their parents, aren't they? Or maybe I'll be a "cool Mom." Sure. Could happen!)

"Do you know what you're having?" curious stangers ask me and I very enthusiastically answer "A girl!" I was so excited when I finally got the news (at a 32 week ultrasound) that it was a girl. My doctor was still cautious about the results. When I visited her afterward she cautioned "Well, you can never be 100% certain. It's 99.9% a girl." "That's good enough for me!" I told her. At the 19 week ultrasound they could only tell me there was a 60-70% chance it was a girl because baby wasn't cooperating. Not knowing was killing me. I already had her name picked out from the beginning because I'd felt in my heart that it was a girl all along. We'd done the ring test and it always circled. Everyone had given me baby girl clothes. If it had been a boy, he would have been nameless and stuck with hundreds of pink sleepers. He also would've been stuck with a girlie girl Mom who's not into sports and has no idea how to be a Dad. (Being a Mom will be challenging enough!)

I usually don't like myself in pictures and it's hard to get one of me smiling a natural smile. James captured a couple. I am happy and excited about my baby and wanted that to reflect in the photos. It's been quite a journey so far but I really feel that it was meant to be. When I go through difficult days, I just have to remember that the end reward, holding my baby, is more than worth it. I want James to get some photos of my baby girl and I after she's born. We can juxtapose photos of me holding the belly and then holding the baby.

James wanted to get a couple of shots of me with my artwork. The nursery, as I've mentioned before, has an ocean theme and I painted a series of canvases featuring mermaids and babies. Once I put the artwork up it really started to feel like the nursery. Of course I'm still waiting on the furniture (My sister has graciously offered me her furniture now that my little nephew is getting bigger. I will have to twist my brother in law's arm to bring it here in his truck soon because I can't wait to see the room finished!)

We were heading down the stairs to go outside when James asked me to turn around for a moment as I stood on the landing. I love this shot. I have kind of a sweet impish grin and this angle, from above, really shows off my belly. It looks like I'm cradling a beach ball! After that we took some shots in my backyard, in natural light. He captured a very sweet expression there too. I was surprised at how much I liked myself in the photos because usually I look for my faults. James did a great job of making me feel like a proud, beautiful Mom. That's the gift of a good photographer.

James got a little artsy on me with these cool black and white photos with a shot of colour. To me it's very symbolic -- I'm blossoming, as a Mom. My baby will be my most beautiful flower and will bloom very soon!

James had also brought some blocks to spell out Michelle, my baby's name, and balanced it on my tummy. I really like the photo though I have to admit it's a challenge getting up off the floor these days!

I'm so grateful to James for doing these portraits for me. Though I've gotten several snapshots throughout my pregnancy (from family members or even just snapped myself) they don't compare with these pictures. These are very special to me.

James has done some amazing photos for me in the past when I was playing music. He snapped these at my CD release party for my album Magnetic in October of 2008. It was a magical night and I am so happy to have these shots to remember it by. James, you rock!!!


When I came back from Nashville and was writing country songs, James did this country girl shoot with me outside a barn...It was fun working with James and he always has a knack for making me comfortable and for capturing my personality in his images.

Looking back at these it seems like a lifetime ago. I couldn't possibly have imagined at the time that one day James would be taking maternity shots of me! My life and my dreams have changed rather drastically. Writing will always be a part of my life. And I will still be singing, but now I'll be singing lullabies to my baby.

This is why photographs are so important. They allow you to look back and cherish each step of your changing life journey. Life is short. Photos are forever! Seeing these pictures transports me back to those moments. I felt like a rockstar! And a country girl...

Preserve the moments that are special to you. If you're looking for a great photographer in the Guelph/tri-city area, give James a call. He specializes in portraits, baby and maternity photos and even does weddings. Here's a link to his website: 

Thanks again James!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Hot Mess!

Well it was the first official day of Summer and it was HOT. Record-breaking hot. 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). Over 45 with the humidex. Normally I don't mind the heat. Last Summer I would have been in a bikini, heading to the beach. This year, I'm 8 1/2 months pregnant. The idea of wearing a bikini isn't too appealing. And long road trips aren't as fun now that I'm not driving my convertible (which incidentally I still have to sell! Please let me know if you're in the market for a nearly new Mazda MX5!) and my feet and legs are blown up like balloons making driving uncomfortable at all.

It's tough to stay cool. I don't have air-conditioning. Luckily I have a big tower oscillating fan. It is a life-saver. Last night I tried to sleep in the basement but I just lay there for hours so I finally went up to my bedroom, with my big fan next to me and the window open. Thankfully the air had cooled down somewhat and I got a little sleep.

It's not easy. I've heard the second trimester of pregnancy referred to as the honeymoon phase and it was pretty good overall. Well the honeymoon is over! I'm at 35 weeks and I'm a hot mess! The heat certainly isn't helping but it's not all I have to deal with these days. I've been overly emotional, weepy, irritable. I hung up on my mother a couple of times (she's a worrier and can be very negative. I just can't deal with it when I'm already stressed and going through enough.) I still have to sell my car which is a big stress. Finances are a stress. Impending labour is a stress. The biggest change in my life, the unknown is a stress. Not to mention what I'm going through physically.

Whether it's the pregnancy hormones, the stress or the heat or a combination of all three, my skin has been erupting in bumps like never before. I have a whole whack of new skin tags. I've read they are common in pregnancy and are harmless, they're just a nuisance. They have an over the counter solution you can use to remove them but I wouldn't be able to use it during pregnancy. So I'm stuck with them for now. On top of that I'm getting other sore bumps here and there. Pimples and blisters and boils, oh my! It's no wonder my skin gets irritated given that I'm overflowing with hormones, carrying so much extra weight, have developed new folds here and there, am sweating profusely. I have a painful bump on my inner thigh which gets rubbed every time I walk because my legs touch now. I tried to put cream and a bandage on it but it doesn't stay because of the rubbing and the sweat. The only way I can keep my legs from touching is to try to walk bowl-legged which of course looks ridiculous. There are fewer and fewer clothes that fit me now and some of the things I was anxious to wear I am now apparently allergic to. My skin is so itchy (particularly my chest) that I can't stand anything against it that isn't soft cotton. I'm wondering now if a lot of the tops have nylon in them and I'm allergic to nylon. Not all of them have labels to tell you what the fabric is. They never bothered me before but my skin is different now. It seems my skin, and me, are much more sensitive these days.

Sometimes it's just overwhelming. Yesterday I just went down to the basement, curled into a ball and cried. My cat, Ali came to comfort me. She was so sweet. She even let out the cutest little cry. It's a sound I've never heard her make before. It's like she understands. She purred and snuggled up next to me until I felt better. Sometimes a good cry is all you need. Just a release. And I know a lot of it is hormones. I did some reading online and everything I was going through (the stress and the tears and the bumps) was all normal. That helps somewhat.

I met a friend for brunch today which was nice and then did a bit of shopping. When I waddled into one store from outside the clerk shook her head and smiled at me "You poor thing. You must REALLY be feeling this heat." "Oh yeah. And I don't have A/C at home."

In another store the cashier said "Pregnant in the Summer? You didn't plan that very well!"
"Honey I didn't plan it at all! Biggest surprise of my life!"

I was walking back to my car and was worried I would spontaneously combust so I ducked into a furnishings store just to get a breath of refreshing conditioned air. I guess my breathing had them a little worried and they asked me to sit down. It was a relief to sink into a soft chair in the cool store. "Ahhhh." The problem was it was hard to get up afterward!

Carrying this belly around is the biggest challenge. I have a hard time getting up. It's almost impossible to bend over. I have trouble breathing. Climbing the stairs is rough. I swear there are more stairs now somehow. Baby Michelle is moving much more aggressively. It's kind of fun to watch but sometimes I worry she's going to put a fist through my belly or just walk out of me when she's kicks really low.

I've reached a number on the scale that I never thought I would see in my lifetime. I know it's only temporary but it is still rather surreal. I try to keep my sense of humour about it. I'm thinking of learning to speak whale. (If you don't know Dory from "Finding Nemo" this won't really make much sense to you!)

Speaking of whales, I love this little Whale nightlight I got from the people at work! I had been wanting to find a sea theme nightlight for the nursery and didn't have much luck. This one is just perfect!

I also love this pink stuffed whale they gave me. She even plays music. I can't resist when I see any cute fish themed items to add to the nursery. I'm glad that people were paying attention and found some more ocean treasures for me.

I'm happy with the nursery. I can't wait to have the furniture (when my brother in law brings the crib, rocker and change table in his truck) and see it finished.

Of course I was obsessed with the ocean long before I started decorating the nursery. My Mom asked if my dreams of living on a tropical island were gone after suffering through this heat. I said no of course not. I won't always be pregnant (actually I would venture to say that I will likely NEVER be pregnant again! This miracle baby is my first, last and only. Unless I meet the most incredible man on Earth and love him so much that I'm willing and/or insane enough to attempt it again if he had his heart set on a child. Did I really just say that?! OK. It is HIGHLY UNLIKELY. But if there's one thing I've learned about life it's that it surprises you. My experiences in the past nine months have all been highly unlikely and against the odds, but here I sit. You just never know!) Anyway, no Mom I am not giving up on the whole island thing. I would still love it. Besides if I lived right near the ocean, the heat wouldn't be such a problem. I'd jump in right now! I suppose I could still drive to the beach here though there isn't one all that close. I should hit the beach at least once while pregnant. Just for kicks. I have a tankini that accommodates the belly... 

I used the heat as an excuse to go for an Oreo McFlurry. I just couldn't resist. My Mom suggested I have popsicles on hand to cool me down. I found these ones that are supposed to have real fruit juice in them, so presumably a little healthier. They're pretty good. Very refreshing. I'm not a big fan of plain water but I have been drinking more ice water. I have to stay hydrated when I'm sweating so much. I like water with a little lemon. Lemonade is delicious but loaded with sugar of course. I do love my sugar but I try to get my fix through fruit. I ate a bunch of grapes, an apple and some cold, sweet local strawberries to die for. 

I had almost forgotten I had these gel slippers hiding in the back of the fridge. The cool only lasts a couple of minutes but it's a nice treat for my hot, bloated feet for those minutes let me tell you! With the weight of my belly on top of the heat, my feet are blown up more than ever. So puffy they look like they're going to explode. I almost laugh when I see them. They don't even look like my feet. They look like the feet of a 400 lb man! Even elevating them doesn't seem to help. (Not that I put my feet up too often. I should be taking it easy but I usually don't. I always think of something else I should do.)
Another trick to stay cool is keeping my pjs in the freezer. Like the gel slippers, the cold only lasts a minute but it's soooooo refreshing for those brief moments it's worth it.

I'm starting to get a little tired so I think I'll grab my jammies from the icebox and hit the hay! At least the air outside is a bit cooler so I should be all right with the window open and my biggest fan next to me (one of my exes referred to himself as my biggest fan. He was pretty cool. He oscillated too. But it was never easy to sleep next to him...) 

They're calling for a thunderstorm tomorrow. I sure hope we get it. The lawn and garden need a drink. It would be a relief for me too. I think I'd almost be tempted to dance in the rain at this point. Then it's supposed to cool down on the weekend and next week it's going to go down to 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) which will be a nice break.

Despite some of the physical (mental and emotional) discomforts, I know that I'm very lucky to have had a healthy pregnancy and that everything has been pretty normal throughout. Being pregnant is a unique adventure. It is a gift. After all, I'm carrying a baby in this big ole belly! How amazing is that? It's all going to be more than worth it once I hold my baby in my arms. I know that I can look forward to future Summers at the beach, my little girl and me. And I may even look back a little wistfully at the Summer when I was pregnant. Especially since it will (probably) never happen again.