“Iâ€™m so good at running downhill!” I thought as I floated down Annadel State Park’s Canyon Trail, a wide, rocky dirt road. I checked my running watch to see my pace on the mile dropping steadily, heart rate moderate at 143, approaching a total of 7 miles.
Resplendent in my new Lululemon running outfit, it was an afternoon filled with love and triumph. I’d jogged past a pair of turkeys involved in a mating dance, and even ran into my husband out biking with friends. I returned my gaze to the trail, soaking in the beauty around me, the wonder of the world. High on life and feeling rad for my 22 weeks of baby on board.
And then it looked almost exactly like this, only without the lashes, and with sneakers:
My right knee hit first, square on a rock, then the left, then the left palm, then the right, and my momentum carried me into a little roll. I saw my iPhone rocketing away from me, still blasting some cheerful disco. My Vanderkitten water bottle was rapidly rolling off the trail. Had one of the other trail users been taking my picture, I would have hissed, my mouth in the dirt, “stop fucking taking my picture!”
I got up and knew that Baby Mayhem was fine; he probably had a wilder ride when his parents recently consummated their marriage than he did from my 3 mph somersault. But my knees hurt; I was stunned and humiliated.
Naturally, as soon as I got up, a super rad chick Iâ€™d recently met appeared on the trail, climbing up Canyon on her mountain bike. My dusting of dirt revealed the ugly truth. We commiserated briefly, high fived like Carrie and Heidi, and off I went, wallowing in shame: Pregnant! Dumb! A bad mommy! Slow! Clumsy too!
Being pregnant makes you clumsy, only I’ve been way too arrogant to admit it. Even the great Pink tweeted about her preggo clumsiness.
So, now what? I shouldnâ€™t mountain bike anymore, and now I’m so clumsy I can’t even run. I could run laps between my house and the grocery store, on nice smooth pavement and from one potty to another, but how fun would that be? And what if I had rolled over, belly first, onto a pointy rock?
I was really starting to enjoy trail running. I was discovering an empowerment similar to that I felt while improving at mountain biking, and motorcycle racing, the kind of flabbergasting joy that comes from seeing yourself do things you never thought possible. Now, my knee took such a blow I couldn’t even run or bike for several days, making me a whiny, cranky wreck.
“Just…slow down,” said James. â€œEnjoy being pregnant. Youâ€™re making a baby! Thatâ€™s pretty rad. Itâ€™s only a few more months.â€
â€œYeah,â€ I said with a sad smile, thinking to myself, â€œbut you don’t understaaaaaaaaaand.â€ But I wasn’t sure that I understood either. I’m not afraid of losing my body. I can get that back. I’m not afraid of losing my fitness (well, maybe I am a little).
I’m afraid of losing my soul.
A friend recently posted a Facebook link to coverage of Rebecca Rusch doing the latest astonishing feat of pain and endurance on a mountain bike, and posed the question, “have you ever strived to be something bigger than yourself?” My answer to that is always, well, “always,” but my next question was:
Why am I not content to simply be myself, and settle on pursuing fulfillment in doing something I’ll always be better than the boys at?
I still don’t know the answers to WHY. People ask me what keeps me going, why I’m doing so much, how do I find the motivation. I’ve exercised, either biking or running, 8-12 hours a week since I got knocked up (albeit all at a lower intensity). Why? I honestly have no idea.
Because I have to. I love it.
Because it makes me feel good about myself.
Because I like seeing myself improve; I like finding out how hard I can push, what I’m made of.
Because then I feel stronger than other people. Harder. Faster. And that makes me feel happy.
Because I’m too competitive. And donâ€™t have anything other than sports that I draw self esteem from.
Because my career is in this weird transition point between real job, consulting, and mommyhood, and I’m kind of just drifting along in the universe looking for meaning.
“Well, why not just draw competitive satisfaction from the fact that you even got pregnant?” a friend asked. “Most women would be jealous! To get pregnant so quickly at 37 is kind of like its own QOM.”
“Being pregnant is like a hobby for some women,” another friend explained. “They get attention, gifts, they start reading all the books and really get into it.” I’ve never understood this. We are people. This is what we do. Why should I be admired for doing what is expected of my species? Teenagers with double digit IQs get pregnant. It happens all the time.
This, however, does NOT.
Neither does winning motorcycle races with sixty stitches in your hip (from a bicycle accident):
Yes, yes, yes, pregnancy is a wonderful, miraculous, amazing thing. That just so happens to happen EVERY DAY and has for HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS. It’s incredibly exciting when it happens to a loved one, but it’s incredibly boring in the macro, history of the world sense.
And it’s incredibly exciting when it happens to me. I am excited to bring a child into the world. I just sometimes wish that someone else could bake this bun. Would I really hire a surrogate? No. But my body is how I express myself, how I experience the world, how I have fun, how I make my own little life seem less insignificant. But it’s someone else’s body too right now, which makes me a little cranky and sour sometimes. Not only is my body Baby Mayhem’s body too, it even feels like it belongs to James, and in a weird way, with how judge-y everyone is about pregnant women and mothers and how we, as women, so often internalize these real or perceived judgments, to the world.
I recently went on my honeymoon to Maui. It was super awesome sitting around being pregnant and watching James drink mai tais and ride his bicycle up and down volcanoes.
But this too shall pass, and I’ll have an amazing baby boy at the end of it all who I’m sure I’ll love more than drinking mai tais and shredding trails and glory all rolled into one. It’s only three more months, and with the way time is flying, it’s going to be, like, tomorrow when he’s graduating from kindergarten.
I promise that I’m following doctor’s orders about what’s safe for baby and what’s not (if the speed limit is 65…I go 65…point five). I’m pleased by my new status as breeder. I’m thrilled to have James in my life, and I’m overjoyed by his excitement and how he loves to snuggle me and feel the baby kick.
So I’m making myself enjoy the quiet moments while I still can; in three months’ time, maybe a little more, my world is going to get a lot noisier. A lot less “alone.” It will be a lot harder to just pick up and go to Annadel for a run or a ride. I guess it’s just a bit of a surprise to me how it feels like this little dictator is already ordering me around!
How far along? 25 weeks
How big is the baby? Rutabaga, according to BabyCenter.com, but given that a few weeks ago he was already almost a week ahead of schedule, and with how huge I am feeling, I’m pretty sure he’s at least a head of cauliflower by now.
Weight Gained: 15 pounds. REALLY feeling it going uphill on my bicycle.
Waist Size: 36″
Maternity Clothes: Pretty much living in stretchy workout shorts and pants, and my new favorite Lululemon Cool Racerback tank tops: long enough for a long-torsoed pregnant lady, and super cute. Also have some gorgeous maternity friendly summer dresses.
Exercising: Still biking and running an average of 8-12 hours per week. Rode 80 miles this past weekend! Here’s my friend Kelly and I after crossing the finish line on the route of the Amgen Tour of California:
Stretch marks? Please, please, please, no. My abdominal muscles have separated though, it’s this freaky thing called diastasis recti. If it doesn’t return to its original condition after birth, heads will roll.
Symptoms: Massive, unrelenting congestion. Allergies are kicking in HARD up in Sonoma County too. As if being pregnant weren’t sexy enough, my husband wakes up to find me snoring, or mouth wide open, fast asleep. Emo. Experiencing the delights of a slowed down digestive system. Starting to feel waddly.
Sleep: 7-8 hours a night
Best moment this week: Snuggly, happy moments with my baby daddy.
Miss Anything? Drinking, shredding, hot tubbing.
Number of times I get up to pee each night: 2-4
Food cravings: pizza, waffles, pancakes
Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope.
Have you started to show yet: Yes, a week ago a stranger asked me if I was pregnant!
Labor Signs: No
Belly Button in or out? Partially out!
Mood: Not loving being pregnant. Getting uncomfortable too.
Looking forward to: Not being pregnant, having a baby, and being on the road to recovery back to a normal human!