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In the season of waiting

red cups

“Red Cups” marking the upcoming Christmas Season and the soon arrival of our sweet baby boy

ad·vent  (dvnt)

n.

1. an arrival; a start or commencement: the advent of the holiday season.
2.
a. (usu. cap.) the coming of Christ into the world.

b. (cap.) the penitential period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, commemorating this.

 

The 2014 Advent Season officially begins Sunday, November 30 and concludes on Wednesday, December 24. Yet this year, I’m living in a season of extended Advent as I await the arrival of another precious baby boy.

Each day my Braxton Hicks contractions are growing stronger and the air is growing cooler. I waddle a little more and by now I’ve fully given up on wearing any shoes/boots with laces, buckles or zippers. I wonder how Mary must of felt as she made the long journey to Bethlehem, over nine months pregnant, with no comfy pillows to rest on at night, no TUMS for her heartburn, no sitz baths for achy hips and no room for her at the Inn. I wonder if she approached her impending labour and delivery with fear or peace? I would assume there was a mix of both emotions, and certain trepidation when she arrived at the stable with animals but no midwives and only her faithful fiance in attendance to catch the baby- the living Christ.

I think of all the people who waited for generations for Baby Jesus to arrive; Simeon, Anna (Luke 2:21-40) and countless others who longed, prayed over and waited-day and night- to gaze upon the face of the promised Messiah. Sometimes the last 38 weeks have felt like a thousand years and the anticipation for our little one’s arrival becomes greater with each passing day. But it is in these quiet moments of waiting that my heart feels tender and I reflect on how Mary must of felt. As we each wait on the arrival of our baby boy and wonder who he will be, what will his character be like and how we can be the best mother for his needs.

The early winds of winter rustle the leaves from the trees and time stands still, as if all the world is joining in anticipation and my body begins yet another miraculous transformation as it prepares for the onset of labour and delivery. I know that God will guide me through this journey, as He has led the countless mothers who have gone before, each bringing new life into the world.

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This is my Canada

It has been a shocking and emotional week for all of us in Canada. I’m still working to process all that has happened in Ottawa with the shootings on Parliament and the tragic attack on Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Perhaps I will write down my thoughts on this horrible attack in the days to come but for now, I choose to remain positive, not to give in to fear or intimidation and I will focus on who we are as Canadians.

On Friday, October 24, 2014, I was honoured to be invited to take part in a roundtable discussion with Minister Kellie Leitch, MP Stella Ambler and Senator Yonah Martin alongside fellow leaders and advocates in Vancouver. We addressed many important concerns in Canada, with a specific focus on ending violence against women, mental health resources, economic development and encouraging women to run for political office. 

Participants spanned many generations, ethnic and religious backgrounds; as I looked around the room I was so grateful for the vibrant mosaic of women that were represented and being heard. This is my Canada. We are not a perfect country but it is days like these that we step forward to becoming a better nation that values all voices and is constantly seeking to do its best to serve the people who live here with integrity and justice. 

It is easy for people to criticize what they do not know and I want people to realize these roundtables take place all the time, all across the country and for all sectors of our government. As Canadians we have the right and the ability to speak directly with our elected leaders and it is a right that I encourage all of you to exercise. Whatever you believe in, whatever you are passionate or concerned about, you can be heard.

In a world where many women’s voices are withheld from public spheres, I am very thankful to live in a country where everyone’s voice has a place at the table and where our elected leaders actively seek out the thoughts, comments and ideas from the people. We are strongest when we work together and I am proud to raise my son in a country that lives out these values.

#CanadaStrong

roundtable oct 24,2014

Hope for Dalit Women Gala 2014

I believe in freedom, equal rights, education, empowerment and the global sisterhood of solidarity that spans across the oceans. This is why it has been my deep privilege to support the work of the Dalit Freedom Network for the last number of years. I had the privilege of speaking at their inaugural gala five years ago, alongside Dr. Beryl D’Souza, worked as an intern in their office in 2011 and have support their work through various projects over the years.

The work of The Dalit Freedom Network is centred upon education for Dalit children throughout rural India and economic empowerment of Dalit women across the country. While all Dalit people are dramatically racially oppressed due to their lowest place in the caste system, it is the women and children who suffer the most. This year, at the Hope for Dalit Women Gala, the focus was on providing quality healthcare to those who cannot afford it and sharing empowering stories of triumph and hope by Dalit Women who have lived with the courage and support to rise above. At the end of the night, $31,000 was raised for medical care for those who cannot afford it. It makes my heart soar to think of the lives that will be impact by this evenings generosity. A sisterhood, indeed!

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Miss Teen BC 2014, Brette Joyal & Miss BC 2010, me!

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 With Dr.Beryl D’Souza. 

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With Natalie Hilder and Ansu Shaji. Baby is a #bigdeal.

34 weeks DFN gala

34 weeks and loving it! Can’t wait to meet this little boy and raise him to be a compassionate world changer!

My Favourite Products for Pregnancy!

Since my pregnancy is coming to an end in a few weeks, I wanted to share a few of the amazing products that have helped me get through the last 35 weeks!

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Boppy Pregnancy Pillow (Not Pictured)

This was one of the first purchases I made and I’ve been thankful for it every.single.night! I chose the Boppy Custom Fit Total Body Pillow because I could adjust the support for exactly where I needed it most and after baby arrives, it can double as a nursing pillow! I’m especially thankful for this pillow now as my body is going through such dramatic changes and my belly, hips and lower back need more support.

Lavender Essential Oil 

I’ve been going to TAP (True Aromatherapy Products) in Fort Langley for years and I’ve always been impressed by the quality of their products. Chris and I really value locally made, eco-friendly and fair trade items; we make every effort to shop and live with these core values in mind. TAP makes pure essential oil products on site and they are always so knowledge about natural healing. Not only is pure lavender oil great for household cleaning, its aroma is relaxing and therapeutic. I love diffusing it at the end of a long day or mixing it with epsom salt in a soaking bath.

Mama Mio “Keep Calm Nipple Balm”

Ahh! This balm is a lifesaver! This perfect blend of medical grade Lanolin, organic Shea Butter and organic Coconut and Olive Oils has saved my sanity as it relieves, soothes and moistures nipples that are going through changes of their own! I will definitely be using this balm when its time to start breastfeeding!

Usana Baby Care Prenatals (Not Pictured)

From the top-rated vitamin supplement company in the world, I wanted to make sure that I was getting pharmaceutical grade vitamins that were free from unnecessary fillers and effective in providing my baby with exactly the right nutrients for his growth and development. I also took additional Vitamin D, Biomega and Calcium supplements to ensure that baby got everything he needed! Get yours here.

Saje Mother’s Wellness Oil

Made in Vancouver with Grape Seed Oil, Apricot Oil, Jojoba Oil and the essential oils of Rosewood, Frankencense, Tangerine and Neroli. Needless to say this blend smells amazing and I never have to worry about what my skin is absorbing. (And so far…no stretch marks!)

Amber Necklace 

You can find these almost anywhere these days but I got mine from Jack and Audrey’s Natural Products in Chilliwack, BC. Made with authentic Baltic Amber from Lithuania, Amber stones are widely known as a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. I’ve only recently started wearing mine and it has made a huge difference in the hip pain that I’ve been experiencing as my ligaments loosen and prepare for childbirth. Seriously, I see why so many parents give their babies Amber teething necklaces to wear!

Lush Fair Trade Foot Lotion

There are so many products from Lush that I could easily gush about but the Fair Trade Peppermint Foot Lotion has been such a treat for sore tender toesies! Honestly, after long days carrying around the extra baby weight, I really enjoy this stuff! And I love knowing who made it, when it was made and who made it. I also love that it supports a group of small scale farmers and if I bring back 5 clean Lush pots, I’ll be rewarded with a fresh face mask. Good for the earth, good for people and good for me! Plus, when mixed with a foot rub from a caring Husband before bed…its just heavenly!

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth 

Finally, the book that is helping me to make the mind/body connection in preparation for childbirth. Seriously, Ina May Gaskin is an absolute genius! I loved reading every positive birth story and strategy. It’s stories like these that remind me to trust my body and know God has perfectly equipped Baby and I to go through this journey together. If there is any book to read during pregnancy, this.one.is.it.

What about you? Any Mamas out there have some of their own favourite pregnancy products to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

What I’ve wanted to say for the last 8.5 months.

This is my every day.

Every.single.day.of.my.life.right.now someone comments on how “small” I am and has from the very beginning. It’s not like I’m surprised, really. I am naturally petite, with a long torso and a half-asian baby living inside my womb so I don’t fit into most people’s ideas of what a pregnant woman “should” look like.

However, my midwives constantly inform me that baby’s growth is right on track and they are pleased with his progress. He is healthy, I am healthy and our size is exactly as it should be.

But when people say that my bump is small, it makes me feel like all the effort that my body has put into growing this little human is for nothing. I feel so unaccomplished every time someone says I look small…and pregnancy is hard work! My body and I have accomplished a lot in the last 34 weeks so I don’t need someone belittling that. I’ll laugh it off like it doesn’t bother me; but it does and I’ll remember your comment next time I check out my bump progress in the mirror. 

(The comments from some people have truly surprised me. A lot of people have argued with me about my size and I even had one guy ask specifically how much weight I had gained so far. Not that the number on the scale is ANY of his business. One woman that I worked with refused to acknowledge that I was pregnant for almost 6 months because she insisted that she was “bigger” than I was. How do you respond to that politely? Such an awkward comment.)

I can’t believe this even has to be explained: Mothers come in every colour, size and shape. Every mother is different, every pregnancy is different. We cannot measure women up against one another, just like we cannot compare the development of babies to one another. Not when they are within the womb and not after they are born. Everyone is unique and there is no “normal”.

Furthermore, pregnancy isn’t an excuse to talk about a woman’s weight, comment on her size or rub her belly. Under no circumstance would you subject a woman who isn’t pregnant to that kind of treatment and it is just as uncomfortable, unwanted and unacceptable for every woman who *is* pregnant.

(For the record, those who are a constant part of my life are allowed to *briefly* touch my belly to feel baby kicks, after obtaining my permission. But if you are a stranger, don’t be offended if I take a step back when you reach for the baby bump. Or else I just might start rubbing your belly in response!)

So *please*, whether you are a friend, family or a stranger, please be kind and considerate the next time you speak to a pregnant woman. Do not ever, ever, ever comment on her size or try to touch her belly without her consent. Instead, encourage her for the incredible, life-changing season that she is in, celebrate with her and be supportive of the transformation that is taking place within her.

I’ve held that in for 8.5 months. Rant over.

34 weeks

Maternity Photos: Iona Beach

During the last week of August I had the absolute pleasure of shooting with photographer Ryan Schroeder  and makeup artist, Gwen Perkins  of Belle and Rebel Beauty. Together we caught the last golden rays of sunset at Iona Beach, Vancouver BC and captured my little bump at 27 weeks.

We’re planning another shoot for sometime in Autumn so stay tuned and enjoy the photos!

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This final one is my favourite, purely for sentimental reasons; not many women can say that they still fit into their wedding dress at 7 months pregnant!

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One day I will miss this precious season of pregnancy where tenderness and strength mix in the holiness that stretches and embodies you to the limits of your earthly soul. For now, I am simply thankful.

Hello Autumn and Hello 3rd Trimester!

The Vancouver sky is grey this morning. Candles are burning, soup brewing, laundry washing and almost as if on cue, September has begun and Autumn has arrived. My growing belly is finally revealing the presence of my tiny passenger and everywhere I go I have people asking when my baby will be arriving. By most people’s definition I still don’t “look” 7 months pregnant but this is what 7 months pregnant looks like on me.

This year, Autumn means big knit sweaters, colourful scarfs, vibrant leaves, Pumpkin Spiced Lattes *decaf*, The Cranberry Festival, Aldor Acres, Thanksgiving turkey, Remembrance Day and… our Baby Boy!

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The Summer went by so quickly. Now that we are in the 29th week and in the Third Trimester, everything feels so much more real. I’m definitely nesting now and baby preparations are in full-swing! The house is getting de-cluttered, the freezer is full of frozen soup, private at-home prenatal classes are booked, placenta encapsulation is set up and the birthing pool is ordered! Yes- we are planning to birth our baby at home with midwives and a doula in attendance…AND I am planning on eating my placenta in all its nutritious glory after birth. #crunchymama

But in all seriousness, I am genuinely looking forward to giving birth. There’s just something so sacred about the whole idea of God using me to bring a new human life into existence and that I would get to carry him into the world. Remarkably, I find myself facing no fear of birth and I am sure that much of that is accredited to the wisdom of Ina May Gaskin and her teachings. I’m learning to trust what my body is capable of and these last seven months have been such a journey of strength. I am amazed at what the female body is capable of! Every single day I am blessed to feel my child as he stretches and squirms within my womb. At the same time I am reminded of the many women who would love to experience this journey yet are unable to or still waiting for the right time; I am eternally blessed and grateful for the journey I am on.

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