24w7d – I didn’t mean to stop exercising during this pregnancy. Really, I didn’t—I get how important breaking a sweat is for making labor easier and reducing potential complications during birth and keeping at bay excessive pounds that can increase chances for big babies, etc. etc. etc. I get it.
But I’m scared.
Sure, if you question me, I will tell you honestly about how my midwives told me to take it easy, really at first, and how my acupuncturist casually recommended I stay off my feet as much as possible for the first few weeks, given my history of miscarriage. Yes, I have read that there is limited scientific validity to such advice, and I do know at least a locker room’s worth of women who kept on playing competitive tennis/ training for triathlons/ showing up for Zumba during their first trimesters and went on to healthily have equally hardy infants. I high-five those sinewy gals in awe—and then yawn involuntarily, because even thinking about walking to the mailbox was enough to nap-blast me during weeks five through 15.
But even after the exhausted delirium of the first trimester lifted, I hesitated to lace up my boots (hiking being my preferred sweat-production method). Despite having made it past the weeks during which I’d lost my two previous pregnancies, despite having my midwives’ blessing to resume moving about the planet, despite even my dog’s morning guilt sigh (“Seriously? That couch, those stained pajama pants, those saltines, again?”), I was afraid that any sudden or sustained movement would, uh, knock loose that which had evidently done such an excellent job implanting and thriving.
It is nutso and unfounded, and I know it. But I also know that I’m not alone. One of the first blogs I ran across during some 2am attempt to find someone, anyone, on the web writing about the aftermath of miscarriage was Erica Kane’s at Health.com. And after getting pregnant this third time, I occasionally checked her backlog of posts for any resonant observations about her own third pregnancy after loss. There, I found this:
I have an (irrational) belief that if I jostle my belly too much, the baby will come out too early. I have no faith in my body’s ability to retain a developing embryo or fetus — even the mighty mucus plug doesn’t impress me. After my two miscarriages, I became hyper-conscious of every movement I made during the subsequent pregnancies. I felt that if I shook or tilted my uterus, the baby would come falling out.
PRECISELY. The day before my first miscarriage, I had spent an entire afternoon raking fall leaves, naively pondering nursery colors as I stretched and huffed and piled towering leaf-heaps around the yard. The day of my second, I’d woken at dawn to prep our kitchen and yard for an Easter shindig for 20 people later that day. Both times, I swallowed painkillers for my sore muscles as I took to bed to wait out the bleeding.
Did body strain cause these losses? If the abysmally low levels of progesterone I later learned that my body produces are any indication, likely not. Still, the correlation haunts me, and as I sit here typing from my dining room table, watching the strapping snowshoers and cross-country skiers cross the frozen lake behind my house, I think, not today. Let’s be honest: Likely not tomorrow, either.
That temperatures outside haven’t been above freezing for over a week doesn’t help this lazy case, either. But in a move of self-preservation, I’ve decided to spend the entire frigid month of February with my parents in Arizona, where I will have no less excuse to stay sedentary as I careen into my final trimester, given the regular sunshine there … and two dogs requiring walking … and parental exercise buddies … and 2,600 miles between me and my bad habits.
I’m all about your second-trimester exercise motivation tips today—please post ‘em!