My Flexible Pregnancy
There was a lot of thought (read: years of analysis) before attempting this second pregnancy. Last holiday season I was nearly 100% sure I was completely done, and absolutely ready to raise PJ as an only child. Then, as they do, things shifted. Nothing is ever 100%, sometimes just a "mostly ready" feeling is ready enough. I mean, deciding to bring a human into the world... I'm not sure the reasons any of us hit the yes button.
And I entered a contract with myself before we agreed to try to have another baby. Among other things I gave myself full power to...
- Schedule a C-Section
- Stop breastfeeding when the time was right for us
- Not run a step during pregnancy if it didn't feel right (but not shut down)
I know, I know. At first it sounds like the direct opposite of the go-go-go woman power rally of "natural birth", "breast is best", and "we can do marathons at 8 months pregnant". I'm not trying to bring us back to the 50s. And I might still do the whole labor thing and breastfeed until this kid is 2. But I also believe the power we've earned is the right to live and tell our own stories. So while I think it's so important to show people that pregnancy isn't an illness or injury, that you can run and lift and carry on while you grow your human. Those stories are vital. But it's also okay if that isn't your story.
I needed to be clear with myself that I would be comfortable doing this my way, even if that way happened to be something different than I thought it would be. When I broke down what I was afraid of going into the attempt of a second kid it was the pressures I felt last time, and the shame I felt when I "failed". And the sleep deprivation induced hallucinations, and the fear of what if I'm not a good enough mom, and what if the world ends in nuclear war, and what if we go broke, and ... but that's it's own thing.
With PJ, I went to the midwives to have the Ina May Gaskin natural birth experience. I had a plan, I would ride the waves of pain, I would use an exercise ball — I had an outfit and a soundtrack! Listen, I was ready. Hell to the no I would NOT get on pitocin. NO epidural and definitely NO C-Section. God forbid! Spoiler: things went sideways from the start, and I did all three. And I learned there are bigger things to be afraid of than pooping on the table. PJ and I spent our first hours together with antibiotics pumping into our IVs. Because modern effing medicine. It saved our lives.
Someone asked me if pregnancy, birth and motherhood made me tougher. No. It's made me flexible. I was already tough, I knew how to knock my head against a wall. But I didn't know how to bend when I needed to, how to pivot, how to adapt. I'm still learning those skills, but PJ's arrival on the scene from the moment she was a bundle of cells, has been a practice in surrender and flexibility.
This pregnancy kicked off with me crawling into bed for about 2.5 months. That gave me a bit of a hole to start in. Getting back in running shape at 11 or 12 weeks pregnant was tricky. I can't say I didn't try, I did get up to every other day, but then I got some very clear 'back off' signals from my body. Specifically my knees which are in so much pain at the moment that I can't bend and straighten them without using some of my birthing class breathing exercises.
And to clarify, the reason I want to run during pregnancy personally is that it's my outlet, my anti-depressant, my anti-anxiety, my happy place. Not because I'm afraid I'll get out of shape or not be able to come back to marathoning. I will get out of shape and I WILL come back to marathoning. Because pregnancy, and because love.
Last time running was pulled off the table slightly later, but it was a show stopper for me. I just stopped. Stopped doing much of anything. If I couldn't run, well then I'd sit on the couch and eat cereal thank you very much. And I went radio silence for the most part, because I felt ashamed. My mom ran until the day she went in to have all us kids, everyone on IG seemed to be doing great #fitpregnancy, so why was my body putting up the stop sign? Because it's my body. That's why. And not my mom's and not @runnermomwhoever's.
This time I vowed that if running was a no again, I wouldn't waste a bunch of time or energy forcing it for the internet, I'd find other outlets to breathe and sweat and get some endorphin hits.
ACTIVITIES THAT WORK FOR ME
(at week 18)
Last Sunday was a perfect sunny day, and I was itching to have an 18 mile run on my schedule. I could just imagine how good it would feel, all that achy elation. I took a long walk instead, and it wasn't the same, but I know I'll be back on the roads when the time is right. And I know I still have big goals waiting for me, and I'm excited for the chase.
* You guys! Dance Cardio is the so humbling. Please. PLEASE look at this example of a routine "we" do. You cannot imagine how terrible I am at it, or how much fun I have doing it.