On Being Anxious and Pregnant

My masseuse doesn't speak often and when she does, her voice is soft and measured. "You carry a lot of tension in your hips," she tells me.

"I know," I sniffle into the face rest, willing the sheet to soak up the feelings leaking from my eyes before I have to flip over.

I have felt it for weeks. The slow build of tightness that starts in my chest and stretches across my entire body until it feels like my joints may snap if I move too quickly. I scheduled a massage in a last ditch attempt at self-care. My weeks have been full of doctor's appointments and blood tests and scans. Pregnancy after pregnancy loss is fraught. Pregnancy after cancer is harrowing. (I say that knowing there are many people who would jump at the chance to switch places with me. I know I'm lucky. I'm not trying to start any sort of Pain Olympics here.)

I spend my 90 minutes on the massage table willing my fetus to be alive. It's not particularly relaxing but firm resolve feels better than haphazard fretting.

Spoiler alert: I had my regularly scheduled (not panic-attack induced) OB appointment yesterday and heard the heartbeat and everything looks great. We're approaching the halfway point. At some point I'll relax, right?

Fabletics

Have you tried Fabletics yet? I signed up in January and I've loved it since. It's kind of like a subscription service for workout clothes but you can skip as many months as you like without penalty.

I signed up for the VIP program because I earn reward points with every order and there's no obligation to make a monthly purchase. Every month I get outfits suggested for me based on my preferences (sport, colours, lengths, etc.) and I either make a purchase or opt out for the month. Easy peasy. Also? You don't have to buy an outfit they suggest. I've purchased outfits outside my referral range (because I wanted to try a different type of bottom) and I've purchased single items without committing to a full outfit. The program is extremely flexible.

I was concerned that the quality of the product would be low but I was happily mistaken. The leggings and bras are thick enough to provide ample coverage. The colours are bright and hold up to intense washing (I am ruthless with my workout gear. If I sweat in it, I'm washing it on the heavy setting.)

I've found a few annoying sizing discrepancies but nothing so serious as to warrant a return . For example, a pair of shorts I ordered one month are slightly smaller than the exact cut I ordered a different month. They're a bit tighter but not unwearable. It's possible I'm just being too picky (never!).

You can try Fabletics here (referral link! I get credits to use for future purchases if you complete a purchase using this link!) and if you sign up for the VIP program not only do you earn reward points you can use for future purchases, you can get your first outfit for only $25. My first outfit was a bra, tank, and capri leggings. For $25! And if you don't like the service, you can cancel immediately.

My favourites are: the Moro Short (I find this runs small so order up a size), the Forward Tee II (I have this in three colours and I wear it all the damn time. For working out, to work, around the house. I super heart-eyed smiley face love this shirt), and the Juneau Bra.

Do you use Fabletics? Do you love them as much as I do?

Boudoir

My friend Justine is an extremely talented photographer so when she offered up a boudoir photoshoot in order to build her portfolio I was intrigued. The boudoir aspect was intimidating though. When I think of boudoir photography I think of corsets and platform heels and strands of pearls and false eyelashes and red satin. There's nothing wrong with any of those things. They're just not me.

Justine had something else in mind entirely. Her goal was to use light and shadows and keep things really natural.

These photos were taken a week and a half after my second surgery. I almost cancelled because I was still a sad, stressed out, puffy mess but a small part of me felt like putting on lace knickers and forcing myself out of my comfort zone, and pretending for a couple hours that I wasn't a frumpy housewife, would at the very least provide a nice distraction.

I wasn't expecting to have so much fun. Justine is hilarious and made me feel so comfortable with a body I struggle to love. I'm awkward and a bit nerdy but Justine made me feel relaxed and beautiful. At one point she told me to "channel my inner sexy" and I couldn't help but laugh because please, have you met me? But then I saw these photos and I'm beginning to think that I may have an inner sexy and Justine found it.

I sometimes hate this broken body of mine. It's difficult not to when my scar is so prominent and unavoidable when I look in the mirror. Hormone replacement therapy and comfort eating has earned me twenty extra pounds in the last two years (I'm cringing as I type that). My deflated baby bump is visible in these shots. My hair is patchy and my skin is dry. But I don't see any of that when I look at these photos. I see a balance of strength and softness that I didn't know I possessed.

I don't mean to get all "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" on you here but I honestly feel differently about myself after doing a boudoir shoot. It's not about stripping down and taking photos in my bra and underoos. It's about loving this broken body and celebrating all it can do instead of hating how it fails me and how I fail it (I say as I eat another brownie.)

If you're interested in boudoir or family or wedding/engagement photography, I highly recommend you check out Justine's work. She's a damn ninja with her camera as well as being a genuinely nice person.

Justine B Photography / Instagram / Facebook

Hair

I do not love my hair. I never have. My cancer hair is especially grim (says the lady who already feels weird cancer guilt for not losing all her hair to chemo, so really, no need to tell me how lucky I am, thanks.)

Wonky hormones have resulted in dry, brittle hair and some patchy hair loss. Something needed to be done.

So even though I was feeling depressed (a ridiculous time to cut your hair significantly, I know) I decided to chop it all off.

The result isn't what I asked for. I don't LOVE love the cut but I do love that it's different. I feel a bit peppier. Getting rid of the mop of stringy, frizzy, dead hair has made me feel lighter (and less stringy, frizzy, and dead in general.)

Sometimes I can be such a chick.

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