Friday, November 30, 2012

Relinquishing control during pregnancy

Pregnancy is fascinating. And heading into my 18th week of my pregnancy, I'm constantly reminded how much control you have to relinquish while you grow a little person inside you. It's no secret that I have a strong Type A personality, and those of you that know me well, know that I am always trying to assert control over things in my life. It's a challenge for my obsessive and controlling personality to step aside and let things do what they need to do.

It might be a girl thing, or maybe it's just the pressures we get nowadays from the social media and each other, but I grew up with an image in my mind of what it would be like to be pregnant. Always an athlete and constantly working on making myself stronger, I wanted one of those fit pregnancies. The pregnancies you see in magazines and swear you hear your friends talk about. Those pregnancies are real and do exist, but I am not that woman and I'm thinking it's far from the norm for most people. Whether we want to face the reality or not, every woman's body handles pregnancy differently, and we just need to take care of ourselves as best we are able and accept what our bodies need to do to grow a healthy baby.

My pregnancy with little r was anything but easy. It was also void of many things I had always envisioned my pregnancy would be like and full of crazy things I swore I would never have to deal with. Because of the high risk of my pregnancy and the hypertension issues, I wasn't permitted to exercise other than walking. No yoga, no running, no gym. My job was intense and exciting, and my personal life kept things interesting as I lived in DC on the weekdays and went home to Richmond to Big R on the weekends. This time around I'm healthier, more fit, the pregnancy is going much more smoothly, and I do not have the stresses that come with working a full time job as an attorney. Things are different this time around, definitely, but my body is still keeping me in check and I'm not able to do all those things I had hoped or envisioned. The bottom line is, we really don't know, do we?

I'm reminded of all of this now as my belly bump is showing proudly and the weight is piling on far quicker than I want it to. You talk to friends that had the easiest time with their pregnancies, stay fit as a button, and recovered right away after they had their kids. Some don't show until well after their 20th week, and others never had to wear maternity pants. And our most common, yet horrible, question to each other as we're expectant mom's is always, how much weight have you gained? Why we do this to ourselves is a mystery to me. I suppose the competition is too tough to pass up or maybe we are worried we aren't in that "normal" range that you read about in all the "what to expect" books and guides.

What I realize I need to do is focus on myself. My friend, K, has something she preaches in her yoga class where she says to "keep your eyes on your own mat," or in other words, "mind your own business." Yoga is one of those practices that you can benefit from no matter your level, flexibility, or ability. Everyone and every body is different, so keep your eyes focused on your own goals and do not compete with others in the room. I think this is an excellent mantra for expectant mom's, especially those like me that obsess over numbers and how well I'm fitting into a norm. The truth is, you have no idea what it's going to be like until you are pregnant. And that's just the bottom line. Period.

I wanted to run my entire pregnancy, but my body had other ideas. Eating right is a common goal for most of us growing a baby inside, yet fighting those food aversions and cravings is like no other. And doing an hour of yoga with a migraine or eating healthy when all you want is bread and starches to curb the nausea is something that gets easily put aside. Pregnancy is also not the time to push yourself. It is important to listen to you body. If you are tiring easily, you need to slow down. (This is something else I find incredibly hard to do being that I push myself constantly otherwise.)

So, as my belly grows, I plan to embrace the changes and keep my eyes on my own mat. I'll try to stop obsessing about the weight gain and just focus more on keeping myself healthy. The daily yoga practice I've been keeping is helping me feel strong despite what the scale says. I also never anticipated the headaches would be so fierce or the anemia issues I'm fighting requiring god-awful iron supplements that make you feel utterly fantastic, let me tell you. I'm excited about maternity clothes and showing off my belly to the world even if I swell up like a hippo the way I did last time.

What was your pregnancy like? Did you have similar thoughts or struggles trying to relinquish control over your body? Why do we let ourselves obsess over such strange things?



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