Saturday, January 5, 2013
As I leave the second trimester behind....
Happy New Year’s! 2013 marks the end of the Year of the Dragon and beginning of the Year of the Snake. While the past year was supposed to be a year of vigor, the new one is symbolic of shedding skin and starting anew. Since this will be the year of the baby for us, I have been delving into what characteristics a person born in the year of the snake might have. The element of the year is water so those born in this year of the water snake are influential, insightful, manage others well and tend to be good for organizations. They are motivated and intellectual and, like the snake, slither easily through their problems determined to find success. Their defining characteristics are charming, gregarious, introverted, generous and smart.
Of course right now it’s still just a 27 week old fetus full of endless possibilities in what it could be…including if it’s a boy or a girl. We opted not to find out the gender considering I feel one has so few true surprises in life. This marks the last week of my second trimester. Next week I will begin the third trimester, the homestretch and the end of one journey. I can tell the luxury honeymoon phase of this second trimester is coming to a close as my body begins to change more. Since the constant I am asked is how I am feeling, I thought it appropriate to share just exactly how I have been both in body and mind. I hope that others can relate or know what they might be in store for when navigating these uncharted waters like I have done.
As my skin grows it has become itchy and yet as the days pass I am increasingly more comfortable with the body that stares back at me in the mirror. When I step on the scale at the gym I still cringe but I don’t let the number staring back define me. My first three months were about acceptance of this pregnancy and the changes and letting go of expectations. I am still pretty good at hiding my bump when I want too but for the most part people who didn’t know before are starting to figure it out. I had one brave gentleman on the plane as if I was sporting a baby bump the other day. Many of my students at the gym, fresh from their holiday vacations stop me after class and offer their congratulations saying, “I had no IDEA!” I have learned how to safely modify my yoga practice and find blocks to be my new best friends. I cannot stress enough how important it is to work out during your pregnancy (as long as your health care provider does not restrict you). Not only does working out calm my mind and make me feel better about my body, I also hear from students and fellow classmates that I motivate them. They see me working hard and it pushes them to do the same and when they see me back off it allows them to know that’s OK too. As a teacher I now rely more on my students to demonstrate rather than trying to do it all myself which in turn empowers them and forces me out of my comfort zone. If it were not for teaching and exercising I do not think I would have had the confidence to embrace the changes of my body as I have.
While mentally I can embrace the way I look it doesn’t mean I am having the easiest time with the new found side effects that come with almost 7 months of pregnancy. As I said my skin itches. The heartburn has crept in. Over Christmas it got so bad I was throwing up popcorn in my mouth – lovely I know. My mom had to run to Walgreen’s to buy me some Tum’s. With the baby so high up I find it hard to breath at times which isn’t so bad unless you are trying to talk and teach spin and sprint on the bike all at once. My hair has grown in thickness which is a plus and I enjoy having boobs now although it does create a problem with my built in bra workout tops and has forced me to buy a bigger bra all together. What fits one week sometimes does not fit the next so I just retire that item of clothing to the back of the closet. Kegel’s are another exercise one must start practicing so you don’t run the risk of peeing yourself with every sneeze. The relaxin my body is releasing just makes everything on the inside go soft in turn creating new challenges for me. I have been experiencing excruciating charley horses in my calf muscles that strike in the middle of the night. I literally wake up crying in pain as it feels someone is stabbing my calf while giving me an Indian sunburn at the same time. I thought I would be lucky and not have any sciatica nerve pain but a few days ago it struck me so bad I could barely walk. If you’ve never experienced this, the sciatica runs along your left butt cheek and can cause your whole leg to go numb from the low back all the way to the ankle. I spent much of this week teaching half pigeon in yoga class just to stretch it out with my students. Sitting in the car can be painful and the 2 hours I spent at the salon the other day were uncomfortable to say the least. Basically the body I am in is not comfortable anymore. I have a hard time sleeping on my side so I tend to roll on my back gasping for air. I believe the body must make you accustomed to lack of sleep to prepare for the months ahead after the babies arrival.
As humans I believe we are creatures of comfort. To move out of the comfort zone brings much anxiety and a feeling of loss of control. And yet I am starting to welcome the challenge. Since I cannot take off my body at the end of the day and hang it up on the rack I must find a way to make the most of what is given to me. To modify, adjust, and sometimes just approach the situation with a new attitude. If I can learn to do this in my mind and body that I feel confident I can approach the uncertainty of the year ahead in the same way. We all have hang ups about our selves. There are always things we wish we could change or aches that we wish away. But I find the more I strengthen my mind the more in touch I can be with the strength of my body. I look at it like a machine, a vehicle for my soul. It may not be perfect right now; it may ache, stretch, fall apart or fail me. But it’s uniquely mine and if I don’t love it how can anyone else?
There is a quote I love that pertains to my favorite past time of hiking 14ers, “What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.” It reminds me that you might be content to not climb high and do what might appear difficult but you will never get the view from staying on the ground. Leaving another year and 2/3rds of a trimester behind I am reminded that the view can only get better the higher I intend to climb. I already know what’s below me, it’s time to unfold what is above….