Common Pregnancy Symptoms
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Periods can be unpredictable.  If you are one of the lucky women who have regular periods, then you may not even be aware of the immense favor you have been given.  Some women’s periods can be as unpredictable as the weather is in the Lower Mainland this March.  An unpredictable period may not be such a terrible thing all of the time, but if you have been sexually active in the month prior to when your period should arrive, a period’s absence can be a rather terrifying thing, especially if you aren’t feeling prepared to be a parent at this point in your life.

Oftentimes, women don’t realize they are pregnant until they are a few weeks into their pregnancy because symptoms may not be significant enough to notice in the beginning.  To complicate matters, pregnancy symptoms may not be identical for every woman. Pregnancy symptoms can also mimic the symptoms of other causes, like stress or menopause.  Most women are tipped off to a potential pregnancy because they miss their period but a late period could also be the result of hormonal imbalances, growth and changes in the body, diet, travel, anxiety/stress and certain types of birth control.

For this reason it’s sometimes not as easy to figure out if you could be pregnant or not based solely on one or two symptoms.  But here is a list of some of the more common pregnancy symptoms that women may experience:

  • Missed period

  • Headaches

  • Frequent urination

  • Fatigue/tiredness

  • Vomiting or nausea (“morning sickness”)

  • Sore or sensitive breasts

  • Weight gain or weight loss

  • Dizziness

  • Moodiness

If you’ve been sexually active and are concerned you could be pregnant, the best thing to do is to take a pregnancy test or talk to your doctor.  Urine pregnancy tests will pick up the pregnancy hormone in a woman’s body 4 weeks from her LMP (Last Menstrual Period) and blood tests can detect a pregnancy around 3 weeks LMP. 

Depending on your situation, you may feel lost or alone, unsure or confused.   We understand.  This is big.  You’re not alone and you have options!

When you come into our centre, one of our trained Client Advocates will take time to sit and talk with you.  She can help you take a free and confidential pregnancy test and talk honestly with you about your options: abortion, adoption and parenting.  She will give you the support and acceptance that you need to process your thoughts and feelings and sort through all of the information.  You have options and being fully informed about all of them can help you make a decision that is right for you.

We’re About You.

We’re About Choices.

We’re About Truth.

Call, email, text or visit us today.

**The South Fraser Pregnancy Options Centre is not a medical centre and therefore does not advise or provide any medical referrals. This website is intended for general education purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice.

 


You Should Go and Love Yourself

It’s the month of love. 

There’s lots of focus on romance and relationships in February.  Some of us may be tired of that focus. Maybe because we enjoy being single or maybe because we are single but waiting for that special someone. It isn’t ideal to see a huge focus on things that you can’t relate to or that give reminders of your potential unhappiness.  Valentine’s Day is usually marketed towards couples and lovers but in the last several years it seems that many people have begun to address singles even more on Valentine’s Day too.  There are more and more blog posts focused on singleness on Valentine’s, but this blog post won’t be about singleness at Valentine’s… or couples things. This post is for everyone.

Regardless of where you find yourself on the romantic relationships front, there is one person that will always be in your life forever, who is worth learning to love and being kind to, through the highs and lows of life…. YOURSELF! There is no time like the present to make sure that you are respecting and valuing yourself so that you can invest with excellence in the world around you!

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So how can you start treating yourself like the special person you are? Here’s some ideas on how to start valuing YOUrself:

Don’t Compare Yourself

Social media has many benefits but it is a comparison trap. We are all unique human beings on a journey of life. When we look at social media we can forget that. Everyone puts their best foot forward on Instagram and Facebook. Often they only share the good moments, the exciting moments or the 700th selfie they took that they spent 10 minutes editing. Next time you’re scrolling through your feed remember to have some grace for yourself and where you are at in life; remember that everyone is unique and everyone has a different story. Celebrate that you are different, celebrate where you are in life and enjoy the little moments you get to experience!

Affirm Yourself

Positive self-talk is important. What are you telling yourself? Is it kind? Oftentimes we are really good at loving and encouraging other people but we would never dream of saying the types of things we say to ourselves to a friend that we care about. Positive self-talk doesn’t mean we don’t recognize the reality of who we are as imperfect human beings, it means we speak truthful encouragement to ourselves. Realistic encouragement can empower us by reminding our brains that we are valuable and that we have qualities and abilities to offer the world.

Find Community

You might think being in relationship with other people is a strange tip when you’re trying to value yourself. But it can be really helpful to find people who love you where you are at but also encourage and support your growth as an individual. Good friends will encourage you in your talents, abilities and strengths, which boosts your confidence. Good friends will also help you achieve your goals and spur you on to become an even better version of yourself. Good friends shouldn’t make this a super painful process for you. Though it may hurt a bit to be challenged, they should also love you and challenge you because they want the best for you. We are all human and part of valuing ourselves is recognizing our weaknesses, struggles and humanity. Being known well by a supportive community will help us grow and be confident in our uniqueness and who we are becoming.

Help Others

Here’s another one that may not immediately come to mind when we consider how to become better at respecting ourselves. It might seem backwards to think about someone else in order to value ourselves but this actually does work. By taking the focus off of ourselves we can actually feel more optimistic about ourselves. Why? It feels good to connect with other humans, help people and see others thrive. It gives us purpose and meaning to invest in other people and that can make us feel good about ourselves for how we care for others.

Set Boundaries

Valuing yourself includes recognizing that you are a special person that has needs as well. You have limits on your time and cannot give your time to everyone. Valuing yourself means taking care of yourself and resting too. Valuing yourself also means that you respect that not everyone can have your time, your body or your compassion. Setting boundaries reserves your attention, emotions and intimacy for those that you have decided to give to. If you give yourself to everyone then you will eventually deplete your energy, drain yourself of emotion and lack the ability to share yourself with those you actually do want to share these aspects of life with. Setting boundaries helps you to feel confident about your relationships and abilities. You will be able to give 100 percent to the people and activities in your life and will feel most fulfilled because you are not drained in doing so. You will also feel confident in yourself because you will be able to give to others with excellence. You may also discover that setting boundaries creates more two-way, give-and-take relationships in your life. These types of healthy relationships will be a benefit to viewing yourself positively too!

What do you do to value yourself? What kinds of things do you say to yourself or do to help you grow in self-respect?

New Year, New Goals: How to Keep Your Resolutions

New Year… new you… new goals! Right?

The new year is a great time to look back on last year and prepare for the upcoming year.  People get excited about making new goals and resolutions and swear they “won’t be doing that again!”; especially when it comes to relationships.  It seems that resolutions related to physical fitness are most popular.  But people also resolve to make healthy choices and routines related to their own mental, emotional and/or spiritual health as well. 

Sometimes it doesn’t last very long though.  Strava conducted research that suggests that January 12 is the day that most people begin to give up on their new years resolutions.  That’s means we are almost reaching the weekend where our best intentions and efforts will begin to wither. 

So how do we keep our resolutions beyond January 12? Here are two tips to try:

1.         Create good goals

Goals are really hard to attain and maintain if they’re impossible to reach to begin with.  Making sure that your goal is SMART will help you keep striving towards it.  If you don’t feel a resolution is manageable or you feel you won’t ever “make it” then you won’t be likely to keep trying.  Make your resolution(s) S - specific. M – measurable. A - attainable. R - realistic. T - time-based.

If you are having trouble with this click here for help.

2.     Pursue accountability

Two are better than one.  There’s nothing like a friend telling you “you promised you would go on a run with me” to get you moving, especially if you’re a people-pleaser.  It’s a lot easier to brush off exercise when it’s not scheduled or planned.  Making your friends or family part of your new resolution can be beneficial.  Whether they reach out to remind you about your goal or they are your ‘workout buddy’, another person can encourage us to push on (or through) when we may not feel like it.  Maybe you’re not a people-pleaser like me so other people aren’t a good motivator.  If that’s the case, find something else that will motivate you and use it.  Maybe you’re also ‘thrifty’ like me and paying for a gym membership will encourage you to actually use the money you spent and not let it go to waste.  Find your motivator or accountability and use it to support your desire to fulfill your goals for 2019.

If you feel comfortable to share some of your resolutions from this year or year’ past feel free. Also, what are some of the ways you find help you stick to your goals?

Prepare Room For Grief

The following blog post is used with permission and taken from Victoria Marie’s blog. Victoria loves to write and uses her blog to encourage others with what she is processing and learning. Her words so eloquently and beautifully speak to the challenges of grief at this time of year. You can find this post and more of her writings and ideas here.

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I’ll never forget the Christmas my brother shocked himself with the electric fly swatter and mooned my Grandma while trying on the new, albeit probably too tight, pants he’d also been gifted. Always trying to make us laugh, and easily one of the most entertaining people I’ve ever known, Alex always seemed to shine at Christmas time.

When I want to remember the best version of my brother I usually reflect on who he became at Christmas. Over the years as he fell head first into depression and addiction, not every season was his best season. Most of the years were marked with stress, frustration, discouragement, and a deep overarching pain that Alex lived daily, and that my family also carried.

The Christmas season always seemed like a sacred space of much needed family unity and rest. I don’t know what it was about the season that helped things to settle, but Christmas just felt like a deep breath after months of barely breathing. Every little revelation we were granted of who my brother use to be before depression and addiction took over allowed hope to slowly step in.

I’m always amazed at the power of hope. Hope pressed us to anticipate something better than what we’d known. It whispered of a future full of peace, joy, and love. Hope instilled a sense of courage to press into, and persevere towards what was coming. Hope carried us forward even when we felt broken.

This Christmas will mark the third we’ve had without my brother Alex. Alex passed away in April of 2016 really unexpectedly, throwing my family into rhythms of grief I didn’t know existed.

So what did Christmas hold for us in the wake of loss?

It could’ve held busyness, and diving into any and every activity, to forget that another year had come and Alex was not here.

It could’ve held forging new traditions so any memory of Alex at Christmas was not easily stumbled into;

It could’ve held anger and sadness;

It could’ve held all these things, but thankfully it did not, and it does not.

We held space for grief, and as we prepared room for the deep sadness we knew would accompany this season, something beautiful happened.

Hope still found a way in. She stepped in, and sat quietly with grief. She didn’t press grief into a corner or push grief out. Hope and grief can live together, I know I’ve hung out with them both.

Allowing grief in during this season is not a sign of weakness, it doesn’t take away from the hope of Christmas time.

My brother was one of my favourite people at Christmas, and because I hold space for grief, I also hold space for him. His memory lives on through stories, pictures, and traditions, where yes he is missed, but also where how important he is can be fully felt.

The hope I get to sit with in my grief is a more matured hope than before Alex passed away. Where hope once whispered, she now speaks confidently of a future filled with peace, joy, and love. She knows what I’ve been through and the heart of endurance I carry. She’s seen love prevail in hard circumstances. She proclaims a brighter future than I ever could’ve imagined for myself and she no longer needs to carry me. I know how much courage and bravery I have, and now she only needs to light the path and remind me there is good coming.

Prepare room for grief this season. Prepare room for your own grief and disappointments and hold space for those who may be grieving around you.

This season is hard, and it is different without Alex. Tears and laughter often find themselves as companions. Grief is heavy, but there is healing in recognizing that grief is a normal and important part of any loss journey.

In a season that is full of so much more than other seasons, remember that “the more” is sometimes grief: prepare room for grief.

-Victoria

P.S. It’s really important to remember that everyone grieves differently, so preparing room for grief will vary for each person and circumstance. It may look like setting aside a day to honour a lost loved one, hanging a special decoration up they would’ve loved, or enjoying their favourite meal. It may also mean letting go of anger, bitterness, and hurt around unfulfilled dreams and expectations and taking steps forward. Surround yourself with people who can help you see hope. Be gentle with yourself and allow for space to find how the rhythms of grief will sit this season.

How To Curb Loneliness Over the Holidays
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Family.  Wonder.  Fun. Hope.  Friends. Peace.  Bright lights.  Giftgiving.  Joy.

This is normally what people think of when Christmas comes to mind, isn’t it?  Fun, excitement… why would anyone dread the holidays?

It seems there’s something inherently peaceful about Christmas time and the origins of the celebrations.  Yet, culture’s focus on Christmas has made a natural shift over the years and become quite solely focused on family and consumerism.  Most holidays have become this way, but particularly Christmas.  Family is definitely not a bad thing to prioritize and celebrate but when the focus becomes heavily centered on community, it often marginalizes those that don’t have it.  The reminders are painful; the loneliness experienced at other times of the year becomes even more palpable. 

In many ways, the loneliness is exasperated because we feel alone in our grief or loneliness, we can feel as if we are the only ones that feel this way.  When we glance at social media or look around in our daily lives we see couples in love, new romances flourishing, families together, engagements, new baby arrivals and many joyful photos popping up everywhere…  We feel like nobody else is experiencing loneliness, that nobody understands our pain, that we are alone.  The reality is this may not be true but the pain, the misery of feeling alone – it’s still there. And it’s not easy to experience, especially at Christmas.

Loneliness is painful, but reaching out or putting oneself “out there” is also scary.  Taking small steps towards community can add value to our lives and, although sometimes scary and difficult, intentional small actions can have long term gain.  So here’s a few tips on how to deal with loneliness during the holidays:

1) Pick one person to deepen your connection with over the holidays

Finding community isn’t about going out and finding as many people to hang out with as possible.  Extroverts may love this idea but for most people, extroverts included, finding deep and meaningful connections fulfills some of the longings of a lonely heart and mind.  A small step to take this Christmas season is to find one person in your life that you can reach out to and build a relationship with.  Perhaps do an activity together, spend some time catching up over coffee or over text.  Make an effort to check in and ask them about their life.  Finding a good friend in this season is important; a reciprocal relationship that is deeper than surface level can add meaning and value to this difficult season.

2) Say yes to one social invitation

Even if you just go for an hour, say yes to one social invite over the holidays.  It’s hard to put yourself out there but it will get harder and harder the more that you isolate yourself.  Many times people who feel discouraged and lonely will believe that an invitation isn’t genuine or that they are only receiving the invite out of pity.  The reality is that oftentimes the person extending the invite genuinely does enjoy their friend’s company, doesn’t feel it’s a bother that they spend time with them and is often happy to extend invites and include friends in their holiday plans.  Don’t overthink; take a risk and challenge yourself to go, even for just a bit.

3) Try something new

Especially for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones during the holidays or those who are discouraged after heartbreak, breakups or family conflict, the holidays hold many memories of activities and calendar dates that can trigger more sadness and pain than happy memories.  It’s important to allow space to grieve and honor memories of loved ones and the happy moments of life, but it’s also helpful to challenge yourself to try new things and create new memories and traditions that will honour the stage of life you are in.  If you are single but grieving the loss of a romantic relationship, perhaps you can go with a friend to a new and fun Christmas event or market.  If you’ve experienced estrangement in your family due to family drama over the holidays you could create a new tradition with friends like doing a White Elephant gift exchange over a brunch.  In any stage of loneliness, you could also serve at a soup kitchen or create a gift basket for someone in need.  Serving others is a great way to give meaning to your time, while also taking the focus off of yourself.  It is a distraction for a time from the loneliness you may feel.  

4) Be honest

As discussed, it’s so important to have authentic and meaningful connections in our lives.  Our loneliness is a craving for intimacy and intimacy involves deeper relationships where we can feel known and loved just the way we are.  We will not feel fully known and loved if we are not open about how we are feeling.  When you find that one person to reach out to – that one friend you trust, that one person in an online community that you feel safe to share with, etc – be honest; take a risk to build a real relationship with someone.  You do run the risk of rejection but starting small in trusting a friend with personal things can help you test out the person’s safety level.  Be honest about how you are really doing when they ask.  “Actually I find this time of year challenging for me. I get lonely.”  Perhaps they may not say much. BUT, perhaps they’ll share they feel the same way, or maybe they’ll invite you to join them in some of their Christmas plans.  What do you have to lose?

Let’s face it, the holidays can be a hard season when you feel down or lonely. What’s helped you make it through?