Preggo Adventures in Not Real Sports

Two and a half weeks until my due date and my baby on board is breech. Meaning, instead of readying himself the traditional head-down way, he’s mostly been hanging out in a kind of diver’s pike position, a baby-sized “V”, pointing his little butt towards the door.

I’ve been trying every alternative method known to woman to get him to turn. The gist of most of these methods are to get yourself upside down and confuse the baby as to which end is up, hopefully startling him into the correct ready position once he assumes it. So I stack up four thick pillows on my couch, sit on it, and then let my upper body lean back onto the couch. I get on my hands and knees on the end of the couch, then lower my upper body onto the floor. I’ve also been seeing a chiropractor for what’s known as “The Webster Technique,” a series of adjustments designed to open up the pelvis and uterus, giving the baby more room to maneuver.

My doctor, not a quack or goofball or alternative medicine man, but a legit Kaiser doctor who has the 2013 Bike Monkey calendar up in his office and loves riding his mountain bike at Annadel, also suggested moxibustion, an eastern medicine technique related to acupuncture that involves the burning of mugwort root over each pinky toe. I have actually been doing this. Once I got past feeling silly, I started to enjoy the peacefulness of sitting in my newly trimmed up backyard, lighting the little nubs of packed up root, and watching my cats eyeballing me from the living room.

Dr. Sacher also suggested dolphin dives in the pool, and it’s long been known that swimming is a great late pregnancy workout. I’ve been wondering if the gentle touches of my thighs on Baby Mayhem’s house walls while pedaling two hours a day has him thinking that’s not a good place for my head, so, I decided to go swimming yesterday.

Swimming is like a sister sport to cycling and running, the trifecta of true fitness domination; it all makes me think of this scene from Eastbound and Down:

“I play real sports…not try to be the best at exercising.”

Too bad I don’t know how to swim. Too bad I don’t like the water. I don’t like getting my head wet or submerging it. I like to wear makeup and keep it mostly on while I exercise. My hair is fragile and my skin is pampered; chlorine is the devil. And swim caps…ugh.

I know how to not die from drowning, but I don’t know how to swim a freestyle stroke. During my pregnancy I’ve been keeping an eye out at my gym and in the community for swim lessons for adults, and have found nothing. There’s abundance of swim lessons for kids, but how is a grown-up supposed to start from square one? We have all sorts of cycling lessons and clinics out there, as well as friendly bike shop employees who’ll help get you started when you buy a bike. What gives, swimming?

In a fit of optimism about turning this baby, I went to REI and bought a purple TYR swimsuit and a swim cap (I already had some goggles from a previous failed attempt to become a swimmer). And then yesterday, I showed up at my beautiful gym barely knowing where the pool was. I slithered my whale-like pregnant body into the swimsuit and waddled outside, listening for splashing noises and following them.

I also don’t like cold water. I found a lane with a child on a kick board in it, the other lanes being populated by actual lap swimmers, and I dipped a toe in. I got in up to my neck, felt a quick, cold rush of unpleasantness, but once it passed, I was comfortable. I started out with the only way I really know how to maneuver through the water, and that’s a sort of casual breast stroke, head resolutely above the surface.

After a few minutes my arms and inner thighs were feeling the strain of the new body movements. I looked around at all the other swimmers, observing their strokes. Stroke-stroke-breathe. So I tried a half lap of flailing freestyle at first, then a full lap. It was exhausting, and I constantly felt as if I were sinking. I tried some kick board. Some more breast stroke. People were not friendly.

It felt like I’d been swimming for hours, but only five minutes had passed. I kept swimming. I’d originally planned to swim for an hour. The child on the kick board continued to swim circles around me, carefully avoiding the splashes of my helpless, jerky movements.

About 15 minutes in I stopped on the side to do a manual measurement of my heart rate. I was out of breath, so surely I was doing work, but my heart rate was barely 100.

“This is stupid,” I thought. I missed my bike. I sneered, in my mind, at the snooty swimmers, thinking about how much they would suffer on a mountain bike. It made me feel a little bit better, but not much.

When I was done, I found a woman standing on the side of the pool who looked like a coach of some sort, and asked her about private lessons. She said to leave my name and number at the desk and she’d be in touch. I’m not optimistic, I’ve actually done this before, and never got any calls.

Again, I ask, “what gives, swimming?”

It’s hard enough on your self-esteem to be pregnant in the first place. Going swimming yesterday, by myself, no support from friends or anyone, and then sucking horrifically, might be the hardest thing I’ve done in a while. Like a fish out of water, or a lost bike monkey who fell in a swimming pool, this chick definitely did not belong.

Annadel XC 2013 Promo from Bike Monkey INC on Vimeo.

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