Since my second trimester (almost) started, the highlight of my week has been my prenatal yoga class. Every Tuesday for an hour I get to stretch, strengthen my body, and check in with other expectant moms and our very knowledgeable yoga instructor-slash-doula.
However, this past winter and spring, Tuesdays were one of the two nights I knew to avoid at the gym (the other was Thursday). Seeing the happy, glowing pregnant women
smugly, I thought waddle their way into the studio tore me apart inside – especially when one miserable evening about a month after my second miscarriage, I overheard a woman enthusiastically talking about her pregnancy. We would have shared a due date if I hadn’t miscarried the first time, and there she was, eight months along, huge, happy, and completely oblivious to the fact that I was trying really hard to not hyperventilate. I managed to make it into a bathroom stall before I burst into tears. It was awful, and I was really careful about when I went to the gym after that. I also made the executive decision to, in the future, not blab all around in public (or on facebook) about pregnancy – because I would never know who was listening, and I knew I never wanted to cause another woman the kind of grief this unsuspecting mama had caused me.
But lo and behold: now I am one of those happy*, glowing pregnant women making her way down the hallway, belly first, toward the yoga studio. It’s been weird for me – the whole process of being pregnant after so much loss. I still identify so much with my pre-pregnant self and it’s hard to let that go and accept the fact that I am pregnant and it’s okay to be excited about it. Yoga has played a big part in that. On the elliptical or treadmill (sob) I can at least attempt to ignore my belly while I work out, but prenatal yoga is all about the fact that you’re pregnant. It’s designed to help us prepare for labor, to help us connect with our babies, and to ease the aches and pains brought on by pregnancy and our growing girth. There’s no getting around it. It’s honestly kind of jarring.
But I think that’s good for me. I really do need to try to move past this block – I have a really hard time believing that any of this is real (like, any of it, any of the last year) and practicing yoga has really helped me to at least peek around the block in a way that’s accessible to me, and not just overwhelming. I know I am never going to get the blissful and innocently excited pregnancy experience that people who’ve never had a loss get to have, but I think that makes it even more important that I actually make peace with the fact that something good is happening to me.
(Hi, baby! You’re real! You’re not just theoretical!)
For some reason it’s easier to work my way through this conflict by flowing from downward dog into camper’s pose into half moon. I don’t actually know why, but I think it has to do with my body moving independently from (or is it in sync with?) my brain — as well as the fact that this isn’t really something that I can just think my way through. All the thinking in the world isn’t going to bring me peace. But somehow when I leave class at the end of the hour, or roll out of savasana on my mat in my living room, that mental block of embracing my own pregnancy seems a little easier to chip apart. So yoga, I think, is going to be one of the most important aspects of my pregnancy in the coming months, and from what I can see it’s valuable to me in a different way than other forms of exercise are. (Knowing this makes it much easier to forego running for the next six months, for one thing.) It’s helping me see myself differently, and more compassionately, and I know that will only make me a better mother.
* I mean … relatively speaking, of course.