Expectations…I have had a lot of them over the course of my life, and it has been no different with pregnancy. I started running about six years ago and kept up with it throughout my first three pregnancies (which ended, sadly). I lost 40 pounds and kept it off through exercise, eating well, and diligence. More recently, I had been practicing “warm” yoga (93 degrees), and at my best, exercising 5 days a week. My expectation while pregnant was that I was going to be getting out for my 5 mile walks (decided not to run this time) and continue on some level with yoga (although not the warm kind). I was going to have a “fit pregnancy” and only gain 20-25 pounds, which I would lose through vigorous exercise after the baby was born. Maybe I would even be one of those super fit ladies that became superstars after having kids, you know, in between making my own baby food and sewing baby clothes.
In my real life (read: non-pregnant), I’m an environmentalist that has become more interested in food issues in these last years. I have been involved in the raw milk movement and various farm shares as part of my whole foods diet and in support of local, organic farming. I helped lobby for legalization of the products in my state. I’ve developed a relationship with my Amish farmer. I know how he raises the meat animals that I choose to purchase. I started a composting program at work. I am an avid recycler and re-user. I gauge my life on how productive I am, and how well I live by my ideals. I drive myself to get as much done as I can in a day.
Well, you can imagine how this has all gone during pregnancy. In the first trimester, I could not meet my expectations and could not continue my life as it had been these past years. If it didn’t have to do with food or laying on the couch, it was on the back burner. I started passing off my duties and pet projects to others. Exercising has fallen by the wayside, not only because I had been exhausted but because I have been afraid of any potential negative impacts that could have to the baby. Now, even though I no longer have morning sickness, my drive and energy isn’t what they were pre-pregnancy, and it is so hard to get back into a good workout routine. [I do make it to yoga occasionally or slip in a 2 mile walk, but that still doesn’t seem “good enough” to me.]
A lady at work took over the office composting I had started. I stopped drinking raw dairy. My vegetable intake has been more limited and will pick non-organic food up, including, but not limited to, Taco Bell. I have even eaten chicken flavored ramen a few times. I got (gasp!) a flu vaccine, which I would never typically opt for. Instead of cleaning the whole house on the weekend, things don’t get done unless the situation is out of control. My husband has gotten back into making sure the kitchen is clean and has been cooking us meals. If it isn’t a direct priority involved in making it through the day, it is off of the “to do” list.
Over all, pregnancy has been a true exercise in mindfulness for me. I have had to let go of many of my neuroses and living up to many of my expectations -- I just don’t have the energy for them anymore. I have had to radically accept that my life has changed and if I have a dirty house, don’t pick cans out of the trash, throw an orange rind away, don’t take a walk, or don’t eat purely organic food, that’s ok.
Pregnancy is a time of letting go and adapting to change. Your body is changing. Your mind is changing. Your emotions are changing. Your activity level fluctuates. You may be experiencing symptoms one week, but they’ll change the next. Your priorities may be changing and what you were previously interested in may be waning, as you take on new interests. Either let go or get dragged. I have a sneaking suspicion that pregnancy is making way for baby in more ways than one (you mean I might be too tired to exercise two hours a day, cook beautiful, organic meals every day, AND make my own baby food, while working?).
Stay tuned for my next post, in which I will answer: Will I or won’t I be cancelling our trip to Aruba in light of the Zika virus scare?