Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sometimes you've gotta go . . .

where you can kick a little booty.

Yesterday morning, as often occurs, my alarm rang far to early. I rolled over and declared myself unfit for rising - as, also, often occurs of late. Consequently, I missed my swim - again, something that has often occurred. This time, however, I decided to do something about it so, after dinner, Hubby and I headed for my old chlorine haunt, the rec center pool.

Almost exactly a year ago, we headed to this same pool to see what I could do in the water. Though I could swim fine, I'd never done it for exercise and certainly never tried to swim freestyle - or any style for that matter. The only stroke I knew how to do was breast stroke. That day, I got in the pool, knocked out 25 yards and clung to the wall, gasping for air. So much for my runner's lungs. As you now know, however, I kept at it, kept plugging until I could swim 50 then 100 then 500 then 1000 until I could comfortably swim a mile or more without stopping.

What a difference a year makes. Back then, I felt so out of place, watching in awe as swimmers in other lanes went lap after lap with no stopping. Old people, young people, men, women and kids - they could all kick my butt. Last night, things were different.

I walked in, fancy schmancy swim bag in tow and found an empty lane. The swimmers on either side stopped and looked at my bulging confident form with wide eyes. Even the life guards gave me a second glance. I was pregnant and I knew what I was doing. I was toting toys, for goodness sake - fins, pull buoy, goggles and Big Shark cap. They were in the presence of a pregalete.

So, I got into the lukewarm water and stretched myself out for a swim. I lapped the lady next to me until she finally got out. Then, I lapped the dude that replaced her. It was a good feeling - especially in my current, slowed down state. When I swim with the Masters Group, I am routinely served a big rich piece of humble pie. And that's a good thing usually, only occasionally causes nausea, doesn't seem to be affecting my slow weight gain - but sometimes, sometimes, a person, especially a pregnant person, needs a little boost of ego, a little encouragement, a little affirmation that, hey, you ain't doin' so bad, sistah.

I'm a slow swimmer and a slow runner, always have been. I'm even slower now. But its nice every once in awhile to see how I compare with the "average" person (or at least the average person actually making an effort to exercise which, really, isn't very average at all) rather than with the super crazy, kick ass athletes. Humble pie is good for you in moderation, but you can't really live off it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Crunchy Mama

Its funny, motherhood, especially early motherhood (including pregnancy) seems to pull me back to my crunchy granola roots. My parents were far from being hippies but my mom strove for natural childbirth with all her pregnancies and breastfed all of us at a time when bottle feeding was "what people did" and both my folks ran a ski shop in Durango, Colorado, routinely employing long haired ski bums for whom bathing was optional. I had several tie dyed shirts. So, I suppose I come by it honestly. I didn't come into my own as a "Granola", however, until college in a small mountain town in North Carolina. There, theatre people were pretty much one with the hippy types and the attitude and way of life resonated with me. My best friend and I referred to ourselves as hippies with jobs.

Still, in mainstream society - particularly working in a law office - its easy to drift away from the scent of patchouli and the belief that Mother Earth truly has all we need. When I was pregnant with Boy Genius, I was immersed in peace, love, and the joys of natural motherhood. I was determined to follow in my mother's footsteps with a natural birth (I went for the meds after 18 hours of going it alone) and a breastfed baby (my son has never tasted formula and enjoyed mother's milk until he was two). Once he was born, I attended La Leche League meetings monthly, jokingly referred to myself as the Nazi of Breastfeeding (JOKINGLY - I really have no negative judgments on women who choose to bottle feed. If they want to malnourish their babies, that's their business ;) KIDDING!), and fed myself and my family a diet of whole foods. We even did cloth diapers after B.G. got a terrible diaper rash. Oh, and he spent most of his first year in my arms or in a sling. I was a crunchy mama. When Boy Genius headed to daycare at three and I headed back to work, I started to drift away from my hippie sensibilities. When I found a full time job two years ago and stopped doing theatre, I thought the transformation was complete. I still prefer the woods to a spa, but I thought I was over the tie dye years.

Then, the now legendary little pink plus sign. And, suddenly, I find myself longing for the smell of patchouli. I'm taking a Dancing for Birth class - and found myself envious last night when the other preggo in the class told me she was having a Home Birth. Not to be outdone, I'm speaking to my doula about the possibility of a water birth - in the hospital, I'm too much of a worry wort to be able to birth at home. So, here I am again - crunchy. I've pretty much determined to go cloth all the way this time - better for baby butts and the environment. And, of course, unless somebody cuts off my breasts, I'm nursing. Absolutely crunchy. Funny what motherhood does to a perfectly well adjusted professional. I guess its time to start shopping for tie dye - so you think they have tie dye trisuits?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

For Claire

OK, ok, you're right. I take too long. It seems that things come in spurts for me lately - energy, exercise, inspiration, the ability to eat what's put in front of me without feeling the need to gag - stuff like that. So, I'll get a spurt and go nuts then go into hibernation for a bit. Obviously, I've been hibernating.

Hibernation mode totally sucks in the workout department - my body just begs for sleep and, if there's one thing I've learned in the last couple of months, its that listening to my body is not optional during pregnancy. My Drill Sergeant Beast has been sent to her cave for a long winters nap - but she still rolls over in her sleep on mornings like this when the alarm goes off and, instead of getting out of bed and putting on my running clothes, I roll over and set it for an hour later. Beast growls quietly in her den when I do that, imparting the tiniest bit of guilt to usher me back into slumber. But, the body rules right now and I have to trust its wisdom - it really gives me no choice. When my body rebels now, I end up on the floor, or nearly - there's just no arguing.

As for the writing - well, there's times when I just don't feel like I have it in me. At those times, it seems easier to close my eyes when I get a break at work, or peruse a collection of birth stories online, or daydream about what life with the baby will be like. Its not that you guys aren't important to me - you are - its just that, when I'm in "hibernation", it hurts a little to be reminded of where I was just a short time ago. Its hard to see what everyone else is doing and planning, races, training, goals, etc. So, when I'm away for awhile, I hope you understand that I'm just cocooning for a bit, gathering the strength to come back and visit this other life - the one that waits for me at the other end of childbirth, the one I left behind for awhile to complete this important, cosmic job before me.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Embracing the Miracle

I've been struggling, sometimes succeeding, with making peace with this new body. Your encouragement has been incredibly helpful and I thank you for that! Still, though, so often I feel as though my body is betraying me - committing mutiny and usurping any plans I may have had for it. It occurred to me last night, though, that my body is not betraying me at all but offering one of the greatest gifts I could receive. Duh, you say, of course! But, I'm not always the sharpest pencil in the box. It takes me awhile. And the nature of this pregnancy, the surprise that it was, did not allow me to prepare for the changes that would come.

It took me (and Boy Genius' dad - as much as I hate to admit it now, I did have some help) a year and a half to conceive my son. It was heart breaking at times, month after month of being disappointed, but it removed almost all apprehension about the upheaval that would occur when that little plus sign finally made its appearance. Admittedly, I still had a moment of "Oh, shit!" when that first test came back positive. "Now I've done it!" I was suddenly responsible for another human being - and felt completely unprepared. But the pregnant thing was absolutely welcome - something I had longed for for ages - and so I sailed through the weight gain and the discomforts with minimal trauma.

I was younger then, too, though not as active. Still, my younger body dealt with the shifts a little more smoothly, I think. I'm pretty sure my back wasn't killing me at 11 weeks as it is now. And I actually lost weight in the first trimester due to morning sickness - so the scale wasn't climbing until my belly was "out to there" and that made it seem a little easier to deal with. Also, I pretty much hated my body when I got pregnant -sad, true, but at least I wasn't mourning the loss of a physique I had worked hard to attain. Not that my body was "all that" before this little peanut came knocking, but it was certainly in a condition I felt proud of. I was aware of my imperfections but I was still pleased with the overall state of the union. And all that is VERY superficial - except when you consider that I've spent much of my adult life at odds with what my body was, thinking I was "fat" when I clearly wasn't, sitting on the couch and eating when I clearly needed to move, being critical of every dimple, every pooch. So, the feeling of satisfaction I was beginning to foster this summer was a welcome respite from a life of body hatred. And now this.

I think I have the wisdom now to understand that this is yet another lesson in self acceptance and in embracing the amazing things my body is capable of. Just like grade school, though, I tend to resist new lessons, wishing that the last one I learned would be "enough". Truly learning can be a painful process. Yet, here I am.

And I would be lying through my teeth if I said I didn't secretly wish I could have another baby. I had tried to make peace and accept the fact that my childbearing days were over but the emptiness was there. The silent wish that I could do it over. Sometimes our whispered prayers, the ones we don't know we're saying, are our most fervent. And, this time, my most fervent, secret prayer was answered. It would be blasphemy to deny my gratitude. So, I'm straddling the conflicting emotions of overwhelming thankfulness and underlying resentment. I've only gained five pounds, but the beginning muffin top and additions to my hips make me cringe. Then, I see the first picture of my baby, posted on the refrigerator and I catch my breath. My baby. And, for the moment at least, I embrace the miracle and let go of my anxiety. Something I've never dreamed possible is coming true - and I know from experience that that is always a good thing.