12 Years of Yoga: The First Pregnancy

CAUTIOUS

That’s the best word I can use to describe the way I approached my first pregnancy. I wanted to stay active, but I was scared. I had been told that I had miscarried once before when I was younger and I hadn’t been able to get pregnant since that point, so I was terrified that any wrong choice and I’d be S.O.L. again.

7 1/2 weeks. Fishing away the summer with no nausea during the first pregnancy. All smiles and glow!
7 1/2 weeks. Fishing away the summer with no nausea during the first pregnancy. All smiles and glow!

When I first found out I was pregnant I started eating a little better and continued my exercise routines. I had been teaching 4 classes a day 2x/week and so I kept up with that over the summer by running…..until I started having headaches and fainting spells. So, I dropped the runs. This was mostly due to the high temps we were experiencing in NC early that summer. I taught both yoga and fitness walking over the summer while I helped develop a new LPAF course for the fall that would include many different types of activities. I was so nervous about the yoga teaching and all of the rules that I wouldn’t do anything that was in a supine position, even in my first trimester. I wasn’t taking any chances at all!

At the end of the summer I made a trip home to Iowa to celebrate my engagement, my pregnancy, to give up my Great Danes, and (unexpectedly) to say goodbye to my grandfather. I had called him when I was pregnant and told him that I was making him a birthday present (I was due the day after his birthday), but that he’d have to wait until January for it be done. He immediately knew I was pregnant and asked what I would name “him”. We never found out we were having a boy, but I had my heart set on one, so I think my grandpa made that happen for me. I was nervous about the long travel and I did what I could to not stress about sitting for long periods of time.

I had planned to be super active while at home and do lots of yoga to keep up with everything, but the turn of events kept me pretty low key with maybe a few walks here and there. When I got back to NC again it was time to start training Graduate Teaching Assistants in all of the different forms of exercise that we’d be teaching that fall, working on my research project, continuing with my internship, and getting through my second year of grad school while planning a wedding and for a baby. I tried not to think about the baby as much because it was the one thing I couldn’t really control. I kept trying to stay in tune with my body throughout the whole process. I ate a lot of spinach and drank a lot of OJ and water. Twice a week I met Rebecca at the pool to water walk and do yoga in the deep end. I tried riding my bike until the belly started to get in the way and just in general tried to stay active.

I taught two classes a day twice a week this time around and it was always something different. I remember teaching one step aerobics class to a class of about 17 college guys one day. We were doing some fun over the top and around the world moves and some rear lunges and one of the guys asked me, “Can you do that with that baby in there?” YES! You can do a lot with a baby in there! My baby loved me being active and quietly slept as I taught ultimate frisbee, step aerobics, interval training, jogging/fitness walking, weight lifting, yoga and a host of other classes.

13 - 8 months 10 days
8 months 10 days in and still a ways to go. About 2 weeks after I stopped teaching for the semester.

Yoga was my savior throughout all of it. I was stiff when I didn’t move and the baby didn’t like it either. I spent so much time in Pigeon Pose that I should have taken flight myself. The body awareness I had from my practice kept me from having the duck waddle and the severe sway back. Listening to my actual body cues for hunger and thirst and rest kept me healthy and happy and whole throughout. The two things I regret not spending more time on before the big day were more meditation to help me with my mindset during delivery and more hip opening/squatting poses like Garland (Malasana) as I had planned to deliver in that position. You know that saying, “Perfect practice makes perfect”? Well, I should have lived it a little more.

I was done teaching about 6 weeks before I had my baby. I kept walking and doing yoga at home during that time. The last two weeks I bounced and rolled on a physio ball almost all day trying to get the baby to come out. And the day it finally happened was a surprise.

I’ll spare you the long story of it all, but the condensed version sounds a little like this. My labor started out easy, but didn’t go anywhere. And despite my preference against it all, I ended up with a pitocin drip that made me violently ill and have multiple contractions at once. Without a break, my energy and focus waned and I was told to push way too early. Using the birthing bar in that squatting position was ineffective and I exhausted myself before it was time for the baby to come out. I had a struggle with the medical staff (my midwife could not be there to practice at that hospital) and was eventually allowed to push my own way (not laying flat on my back). With a little help (a suction) my baby boy was out and I was a mom.

Yoga and walking were where I started again when I was allowed to go back to exercise. And eventually running and other body weight training became the norm. I met a group of ladies that fall whom I walked with on the regular and tried to lead them in a little yoga. I was graduated, married, and being a stay at home mom. Life was far different than I expected, but I started to feel more centered and connected to the world because of this little man in my life. Becoming a mom has probably been one of the most yoga things I’ve ever done. It’s that moment of universal and true love for one being in which you look into their eyes and see yourself wholly….all of your good….all of your love….reflected back at you. Yoga is more than just a physical practice and now my heart and head both knew that.

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