Next week will mark my sixth month of pregnancy. An exciting and joyful time for sure, but also a period of time filled with fear, anxiety and disorder. As it turns out, pregnancy can be a really tough time for those of us who like to have a firm grip on the proceedings of our lives. I’ve never really been one to just “go with the flow”, you see. More like manage and direct the flow, then get upset when the flow is disrupted.
This is my first pregnancy, which means there’s a great deal of peering into the unknown. And while that can be invigorating for some, for me it’s mostly just confusing and frustrating.
I have quite a few women in my life who have experienced relatively mellow pregnancies, so I had already set parameters for myself about what my own would entail. I would carry on with my life as usual…I’d just be harboring a human inside me. No big deal…right?
First trimester kicked off with crazy all-day nausea coupled with aversions to my favorite foods. Many of you know that along with being a yoga teacher, I’m also a nutritionist. Not being able to eat my normal healthy foods really threw me for a loop. Gone were my daily spinach smoothies and kale salads. I was grateful to keep anything down, which often meant bagels with cream cheese and plain pasta. A nutritionist’s nightmare, really. My repetitive negative mind loops sounded something like, “I’m going to gain so much weight”, “My baby won’t get the proper nutrients”, “I can’t do this for nine months”. Oh, and because of the nausea, I couldn’t attend yoga classes or really even do much asana on my own. Fortunately, that was short-lived.
Second trimester rolled around bringing with it more energy and much less sickness. I started running again, attended regular yoga classes, and (for the most part) could eat my normal foods. I fell right back into stride with my normal routine. And then the fatigue and dizziness set in. A couple of minor health concerns prompted the doctors to tell me I needed to slow down, do less and get lots of rest. I was really, really upset. Doing less is not exactly my thing. I started getting down on myself, feeling frustrated with my pregnancy and body, feeling a little bit like a failure and a lot like a wimp. This wasn’t the way I had planned it. I have my routine, I have a particular way I live my life and do things, and that’s that. Periods of my pregnancy crippled that. And for a little bit, I almost let it cripple me.
BUT then I circled back to the practice that I teach called yoga. The practice that sometimes has so little to do with the postures we place our bodies in, and so much to do with everything else. The practice that teaches us to let go of what we think we know, and simply be with an experience – without judgment or attachment. It has been said that yoga begins when you want to leave the pose. When things get a little bit sticky, everything in us tells us to bail. The real work is to stick with it, to experience the fullness of the situation, even if it’s not all good. Because it IS all good.
Understandably, pregnancy as a blog topic isn’t relevant to everyone. But the underlying lesson here is. We’ve all been in a situation where we seemingly have no control: an overlooked promotion at work, an unexpected rent increase, a loved one falls ill. Losing control of a situation can make us feel like we’ve lost control of our life. But while we cannot always control what goes on outside, we CAN always control what goes on inside.
Life (and pregnancy) is marked with both peaks and valleys. That much will always be true. It’s not those peaks and valleys that dictate our life, however, but how we learn to navigate the terrain. The ups and downs and ebbs and flows don’t define us. Our attitude to the shift does.
So really, all this slowing down stuff is my yoga. It is my lesson: letting go of my preconceived notions of pregnancy; releasing expectations I put on myself and my body; trusting that everything that’s going on is perfect for me. I imagine that the remainder of my pregnancy will contain even more highs and lows, and it’s up to me to determine how I handle them. It’s up to me to enjoy not only the ups, but also the downs. After all, it is all my journey. It is all good.