I write to you from my bed. I’ve spent a majority of the day lazying around the apartment in my pajamas, only changing out of them to go for a walk at the park. It seems as though Santa brought me a little chest cold. Last year, I would have ran through it. Not so much this year. You see, the person growing inside my womb is teaching me so much already– mostly how to listen.
There are many things I expected to happen while I was pregnant. I knew I would gain weight and that I’d probably be tired a lot. I knew I’d have to reduce my mileage and speed. What I wasn’t prepared for were all the little other crazy things that have happened to my body in the past 7 months. Each phase of pregnancy has brought different challenges. While I comfortably ran 13 miles the day after discovering I was pregnant and kept up weekly long runs of 2-2.5 hours until about 18 weeks, there were days during the first trimester that turned into giant sleep-athons–running was a distant dream. As the nausea and exhaustion of the first trimester wore off, I felt like I was gaining strength in many ways. While my runs were getting slower and shorter, I could still run relatively comfortably and I could still go hard in the agility class I do a couple times a week at the Y. As the third trimester crept up on me and my belly began to really grow, my “runs” have turned into “run/walk/waddle” most days and somedays I can barely eek out a mile before stripping down, putting on my maternity bathing suit, and hitting the pool to get the rest of my workout in.
Here’s how he’s teaching me to listen:
1) Round Ligament Pain:
This began during my second trimester. When I run (and now sometimes when I’m just walking) I get a horrible jabbing pain in my right lower abdomen. Its similar to a very intense side stitch. As my uterus grows to accommodate a growing little boy, the ligaments in my abdomen have to stretch and thicken. Nobody told me about this! It has by far been the most constant irritant (aside from bladder issues) while running. Wearing a maternity support belt helps some but when its really bad, I just have to slow to a walk…or sometimes just stop.
2) Posterior Pelvic Pain (low back pain)
This also began in the second trimester but has become most painful in the last few weeks. PPP is the most common type of back pain during pregnancy. Its caused by several factors–weight gain, posture changes, ligaments loosening and preparing for birth. Most of the time it is a dull ache that radiates into my butt but every once in a while, when I shift my weight to one side for example, it is an intense explosion of pain. My midwife recommend massage, chiropractic, and wearing a maternity belt– and swimming. Sigh. On several occasions this pain has brought me to a stop while running and forced me to either take the day off or get in the pool. Some nights, the pain feels likes its radiating at a diagonal from one side of my butt, through my vagina, to the other side of my butt. These nights its hard to sleep. Little man in my tummy, you’re worth it.
3) Compromised Immune System
Again, something that I don’t remember being told before I was pregnant. My immune system feels so weak! This is my second respiratory infection in the past few months. This time, I’m doing my best to nurse it early. Keeping as chilled as possible, drinking loads of lemon water, tea, and green stuff, soaking in baths… I’m not super sick, I totally would have ran through something like this when I wasn’t pregnant but the thought of getting sicker sounds miserable when I’m already quite uncomfortable.
4) Bladder Alert!
I get up about every two hours to use the loo now at night. Its like clock work and I’m wondering if the this is his way of training me to wake up for feedings every few hours. I have a routine down now–wake up, waddle to toilet and pee, blow my nose (pregnancy has also made me really stuffy with weird chunky boogers), get a drink of water, and return to bed…repeat every two hours.
5) Emotional Stress and an Onslaught of Advice
I’d heard before that when you are pregnant, everyone and their mom would give you their unsolicited expertise on pregnancy, birth, and child raising. I was still not prepared. Some of this information is useful, a lot isn’t. For example, the lady behind me in line at the coffee shop inside Fred Meyer who kept reminding me that coffee is not good for babies even after I repeatedly told her I was ordering a chai…or our goofy, alcoholic middle aged male neighbor who chastises me for running while pregnant…From names, to birthing choices, to what I should and shouldn’t eat/feed the baby…EVERYONE seems to know what’s best for me and baby.
Sometimes, this really gets under my skin. On a few occasions I have really had to bite my tongue so as not to say something really mea. But, just as with the physical challenges, I’m learning to listen. Not always listen to what the person is telling me (although I try to be polite), but rather, listen to what my intuition and knowledge is telling me about this onslaught of opinions. Listening in these situations takes on several forms. Sometimes, I just try to smile and be polite and then drag the information to the trash bin. Other times, if the information seems worth considering, I file it in my brain to be thought about, researched, and discussed.
The wonderful news is, at the end of the day, really only I get the final say about my body! When faced with the choice to listen to my own intuition regarding my body and my baby or second guessing myself based on the unsolicited opinion of someone else–I’m learning to listen to myself. Awe- Freedom.
Okay, I need to go do a little yoga to see if I can get this baby to move away from my ribs before he cracks the poor guys (Again, he’s telling me something)!