Lessons in Humility (Part 2: Pregnancy)

Part 1 of my Lessons in Humility is here.

After a hospital and a doctor, the first thing I organised when pregnant was a personal trainer at the gym. I’d just finished a round of p90x, had finally sorted out my digestive issues with the FODMAP diet, and there was no way I was letting all that hard work go to waste. Plus, I’d heard pregnancy and giving birth were pretty hard on your body and I wanted to give myself the best chance to get through it all in one piece. So I did prenatal yoga, I swam until 39 weeks (wasn’t game at 40 lest my waters break…in the water), I did a 5km fun run at 20 weeks, I did weights and dance classes until 35 weeks, I walked the dog every day. I felt rather smug about all this physical effort, to be honest. I’d had the usual first trimester nausea and every trimester tiredness, but I’d done my best. It didn’t help that everyone kept telling me how awesome I was and how they or their wife had spent their pregnancy beached like a whale on the couch. Yes, I would tell myself. For a non-supermodel non-athlete public servant, I’m basically the best ever at being pregnant and this will surely pay off. But at the end of the day, to put it bluntly, despite all this effort and smugness, pregnancy kicked my ass.

I didn’t get weighed at the end but several weeks before Emma arrived I’d gained 17 kilos. When you’re not very tall, this is a lot.

That ‘morning’ sickness business had me on the couch living on saladas and other starchy, salty fare for a good six weeks. I think Toby thought I was going to turn into a salada, all blocky and white. He was nice enough not to say anything until the phase passed.

At 26 weeks, third trimester hit me like a ton of bricks, a few weeks earlier than expected. Suddenly I was exhausted all the time and ended up using a bunch of leave days to take every Friday off. Yes, I couldn’t even work five days a week. Lame.

At 35 weeks I started getting dizzy spells and had to give up weights and dancing. I was sad I’d never be at the gym and have someone ask when I was due and be able to say “today”.

At 37 weeks I had to go and buy a new pair of sneakers without laces because I was sick of having to tie my shoelaces just to walk the dog.

The whole time I kind of thought I wasn’t too huge, but looking at (rare) photos now I can see why people looked twice in Bunnings the weekend before Emma arrived. (They didn’t just look twice, by the way. One woman looked back and said loudly to her husband, while pointing, “She’s about to pop,” and he responded by looking at me and guffawing. Thanks total strangers.)

I’m sure none of this is unusual in pregnant women, but it was a good reminder that it almost didn’t matter what I did, because my body was no longer mine. For ten years I’d trained it and groomed it and been(mostly) proud of it. And it wasn’t that I wasn’t proud of my pregnant body, but that pride didn’t come from anything I’d done. No willpower or hard work had led to this point. This was nature taking its course, and I just had to watch it happen.


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