I thought that I would take a moment to share my experiences (so far) with pregnancy. Whilst I am certainly no guru and have entered this journey with humility, I merely wish to share a little of this passage towards motherhood in the hope that it might help some others to find their feet in pregnancy and parenthood.
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I was a slower starter to the idea of becoming a mother and so too was my husband. We have been together for over eleven years and married for three of these, living an adventure-filled life running our own business, travelling frequently with our work, living in Australia’s adventure state called Tasmania, and enjoying a life in sync. So, what was a child going to do to this freedom of movement and choice? The question remained unanswered. It was easier to sweep it into the corner of my heart, mind and spirit rather than confront it head on. However, over the last two years I could feel myself shifting into a slightly different space.
Having seen so much of the world and ticked off so many of my bigger dreams (for now), I wondered how I would continue to find challenges and intoxicating experiences that would keep my life feeling rich. I never doubted the love that I had for my husband, but my love tank began overflowing and I felt this urge to share it with others. In time, I recognized that I was beginning to feel the urges to share this love with a mini version of us. A little human who would teach me to look at the world through even more playful eyes. An individual who would want me to keep stepping up to ensure that the planet we leave them custodians of is as rich as it can be. In my heart I heard this calling and knew it was pulling me towards motherhood. But it does take two to cross the fence and wade amongst the long, confusing grasses on the other side.
It was hard to discuss openly the emotions and urges I was feeling about becoming a mother. I have always wanted to ensure that I never clip my husband’s wings because it was his sense of freedom and adventure that I fell in love with in the first place. Even in friendship, some twelve years ago, we urged each other to inspire one another, to live a life that made everyday a dance. So, asking him to cross into parenthood and potentially give up a little of his gypsy spirit was terrifying! But I am so glad I found the courage. Not only did these conversations draw us closer together, but within minutes of finding out about the pregnancy, we both declared how super right it now felt.
Our journey has not been a smooth one. Mere hours after I discovered and confirmed the pregnancy, and just 6 weeks into this new world, I spontaneously began to bleed, lots. It coincided with my husband’s return from work that day and his surprised look as I rushed to the bathroom. I stood in the shower watching red water stream into the white bath below me. I howled and grieved the child I had only just emotionally met. We sat together on the couch then, staring into the wide-open spaces beyond the window, wondering if we would ever walk this path again. However, as a new day dawned my body still felt different. I sensed the strength of life deep within me and a test later confirmed this. Not only was I pregnant but our unborn child’s heart was already beating with ferocious willpower. Then the events unfolded all over again. Now at 9.5 weeks I once again stood in the shower, tears and redness streaming down into the drain. Another trip to the ICU only to confirm… the three of us were still safe and well.
In these weeks of tentativeness and concern, I found myself opening up to less black and white thinking. I began to believe that if I stepped up, somehow, something out there would keep us safe. I picked up any rubbish I begun to see, profusely thanked anyone for their acts of kindness no matter how small, took a moment to express my gratitude at the end of a day, tried to walk gently on the planet and told our growing child every day how extraordinary he or she would find this world awaiting them.
The most confusing part of this pregnancy has been how to juggle my ferocious will to play and enjoy the wide outdoors with a need to channel energy to our growing Kiddo. From as early as 7 weeks I was told many times over that I was carrying precious cargo. I was asked endlessly, ‘have you stopped running yet?’ or warned not to twist, bend, swivel or exert. Don’t get too hot. Don’t exercise too hard. Don’t do too much. Don’t go too hard. Don’t lift anything. The rules were endless and overwhelming. But in my heart of hearts I truly believe that all the work I have done over previous years to come to know myself and hear the intuition of my body has begun to pay off during my pregnancy. Despite the intense nausea that lasted all day, every day, as well as breathlessness and fatigue for the first 12 weeks, I found that when I listened quietly to the whispers of my own body I begun to discover what felt right, and what didn’t.
In the first twelve weeks I was extremely breathless and fighting fatigue, nausea and a change in palate. This made fueling and energy for exercise more challenging. However, whilst I had no urge to push myself, the fresh air and movement was a saving grace for the nausea and so I moved as much as my body willed me to. Often this involved shorter walks or jogs multiple times a day. I found that my pre-breakfast jog was the lifesaver to the nausea, whilst the evening walks or e-bike rides helped me to feel calmer and more peaceful heading to bed. I snacked frequently and focused on listening to my body’s random cravings and aversions. This intuition seemed to keep me in sync and our kiddo growing happily. From week 7 of the pregnancy I stopped wearing a watch and instead tried to move by feel. If I was done I was done. If I craved more then I did a little more. Occasionally I set a challenge just to keep myself mojo’ed. But most of the time I jogged and tried to remain as present as I could, sharing it quietly with Kiddo as we slipped through the day.
Status: Having trouble stabilizing female hormones. Irregular or absent menstrual cycles but otherwise feeling super health and very fit.
Approach: Aimed to reduce stressor loads. Reduced work to 4 days per week. The days I was at work were fuller but it allowed my body to catch up strongly for 3 days afterwards. Increased creativity with art classes and associated homework. This balanced my sense of wellbeing. Reduced exercise efforts to ‘Base Training’ approach with no sense of expectation. Played but not too hard. Missioned but not too wild. Exercised every day but not with a training mentality.
Example: Daily exercise mostly focused on running at a talking intensity and either solo or with individuals who made me feel buoyant. Up to 2hrs of exercise per day. Balanced this with plenty of yoga and yin yoga as well as maintenance strength work.
Result: I fell pregnant!
WEEKS 1 – 6
Status: Unaware or somewhat curious that I might be pregnant. Feeling a little ‘off’ and tired but nothing to alarm me.
Approach: Maintain routine from pre-pregnancy but backed off volume even more.
Example: Daily exercise focused purely on being outdoors. Occasional longer run but all at talking intensity. Reduced strength training and increased yin yoga & meditation. Walked on days when I felt too tired. Morning jogs mostly limited to under 90-minutes. Found other ways to enjoy being outside, such as working in our garden, picnics, walking to work etc. Rested as much as possible and spent many car trips napping!
Status: Found out I was pregnant at 6.5 weeks but accompanied with heavy bleeding and again at 8.5 weeks. Feeling apprehensive yet excited, increasingly nauseous and fatigued. Sleeping lots! Very breathless.
Approach: Completely stopped using a watch. Only exercising on feel but with an aim to be outdoor and active for at least 60-minutes per day. Also participated in something low-key but active in middle of day and again at end of day. Stopped yoga completely as was advised not to do too much bending or deep rotations, a classic feature of the yin yoga that I enjoyed. So, I substituted this with more time mindfully walking, self-massage and creative arts. Tried to avoid setting an alarm.
Example: Minimum 60-minute morning jog but after a light, salty snack and drink of water. Always taking sports nutrition with me on runs. Midday jog-walk if possible with a shorter walk or e-bike ride in the afternoon for the fresh air. Meditation and journaling at night where possible.
Status: Bleeding now completely stopped but fatigue and nausea are greatly elevated. No longer so apprehensive about exercising alone. Increased urge to urinate when exercising, especially on the downhills! Breathlessness subsiding.
Approach: Continue to avoid a watch and gently increase the effort of my morning jog to an aerobic run. To reduce discomfort of bladder, easily jog on the uphills and flats, and gently jog-walk on the downhills as required. Also return to strength training with a focus on safe body weight activities as guided by an exercise physiologist. Begun 1 swim session per week up to 60-minutes in length. Continue to jog-walk in middle of the day on some days, and also additional walks or easy e-bike rides in the afternoons for fresh air. Reduced exercise with others and more solo approach so that I can intuitively listen to my own body. Continue meditation, journaling and art to harmonise myself.
Example: Minimum 60-minute morning jog but growing in confidence and distance. This was always after a snack and some fluids. Still eating and drinking during the runs. Very short midday jog if possible with a short walk or e-bike in evening. 2-3 light, short gym sessions per week. Meditation and journaling frequently. Return to work in retail environment and still guiding some trail running tours.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.