Entering week 31, another doctor’s appointment.
The nurse comes into the waiting room.
Can you give me urine?
Are you kidding me? I’m 30 weeks pregnant! I’ve been sitting in this office waiting room for the past 20 minutes fighting the urge; a bipolar urge that swings from I can wait to MUST GO NOW as Max uses my bladder as a trampoline.
OF COURSE I can give you urine!
I’m in the third trimester now and that means doctor visits every 2 weeks. I guess so they can keep an eye on me. In case I get too pregnant. The nurse takes my blood pressure and it’s the lowest I’ve ever seen it in my life; 90/54. I ask the doctor why it keeps going down and she tells me it’s because I’m in really good shape. Finally all of this swimming, biking, walking and ellipticizing is getting me somewhere.
Because it ain’t keeping me skinny.
As far as workouts go, in the third trimester I’ve had more energy than ever. I keep waiting for the big blanket of fatigue to hit me – the one that everyone says is coming – but so far I feel energetic and zippy. I’ve been working out longer but I think that’s because the workouts now are at a lower intensity. Not that any workout in pregnancy is intense but when you are approaching size HUGE you really don’t move as nimbly as you used to.
Every day I do something. Trust me, there are many excuses and reasons why you shouldn’t move in pregnancy – I’m tired, I feel off, I would rather eat, I’m going to gain weight anyways but there is something empowering about choosing to move and keeping the commitment with yourself.
STICK WITH IT.
Right now, I’m walking, ellipticizing, biking, swimming and strength training. I’ve actually been enjoying workouts more in this trimester because I’ve started to mix them up. I’ve spent nearly 8 months doing the same things – slower and slower. Time for variety.
One day I did a gym brick where I did a different machine every 15 minutes for an hour. It was just short enough that by the time I got bored of the machine, I got to switch. I’ve also become better friends with the elliptical. I put it on the random setting and chug away for up to 60 minutes. I’ve tried the rowing machine, the stair master, even – gasp – the spin bike. It’s reminded me that you don’t have to strictly move in the swim, bike or run. There are many ways to move.
I’ve changed up my strength training to include more weights. I also do a lot of single-legged moves. I figure if I can single-legged squat on an upside Bosu at nearly 30 pounds heavier, that has GOT to count for extra leg strength when I get out of pregnancy. For core, I do a lot of standing rotational moves; holding a medicine ball while twisting back and forth; holding a pilates ball overhead while moving side to side; holding kettlebells while stretching my side up and down. Ball squats are also important; put the stability ball against the wall and squat or hold isometrically for as long as you can.
Back in week 25 my sports doctor suggested I stop running before I hurt myself. In his words, “you’re too pregnant.” How frustrating. I wanted to be one of those women who ran through the entire pregnancy. But it wasn’t in the cards for me. So, I let it go and switched to walking instead to keep up an impact activity (which is important for bone health). I head over to the Arboretum and walk for up to 90 minutes. On these walks, I completely disconnect – no phone, no headphones, just me getting lost in my own thoughts. Don’t write off the power of a walk until you try it – it’s energizing and helps me reset myself.
I’ve also started biking more. Outside. I realize that it’s risky to ride outside. It is also risky to drive a car and walk across the street to check the mail. There is risk everywhere. Heck, I’ve nearly sent myself stomach first into the kitchen floor while tripping over my own two feet. Enough said. Chris put some high bars on my mountain bike and I’ve been riding for up to 90 minutes on the local paths. No cars, no streets to cross – mostly it’s just me and my bike. Of course I carry a phone and wear my Road ID. I realized, though, that it’s missing the most important condition – pregnancy. I considered writing PREGNANT across my belly in black Sharpie (BODY MARKING!) but figured at this point if someone can’t tell – they won’t be much help to me anyways.
At this point I have to wear Chris’ cycling jerseys and the only ones that ever seem to be clean are the Kona finisher jerseys. Perfect. I can only imagine how ridiculous it looks to see a woman 8 months pregnant riding a Mary Poppins-style mountain bike in an Ironman jersey. Really, I think my mountain bike cried when Chris installed those bars. Insult to injury – he still hasn’t sawed off the extra length on the bars so the bar grips stop about 2 inches short. I realized how bad it was as I was riding toward the latrines and got stuck behind some girl wearing a tank top, no helmet, running shorts, headphones and riding a bike with similar handlebars…that’s when I admitted to myself…these are my people now. I might as well be wearing run shorts, pedaling at 8 mph and talking on my cell phone.
I still swim. I can’t say that my motivation for getting to the pool has been high because it’s been so nice outside. I swim for up to 75 minutes at a time. I’m tired of freestyle so I mix up the strokes as much as possible. Masters is on break so mostly I swim solo. I don’t look at the pace clock and I don’t swim intervals. There will be plenty of time for that again in the future.
Most of my workouts are alone. It’s my slice of time during the day that I get to escape from work, even escape from pregnancy. When I’m moving and doing what I like to do – I feel like myself. If you are pregnant, don’t give that up. You owe it to yourself to keep doing what you love to do. Don’t think of it as how much you can’t do, rather look for all that you can do and then do it. Sure, I would rather be running but….let it go. Actually, it’s something that everyone can learn from. If you are injured or pregnant – if you can’t do something, rather than lamenting over it and dragging everyone else down into your pity party of “I can’t”, press your reset button and get over yourself. There are so many other ways to move out there.
I have no idea how many hours I work out each week. I don’t keep track. I really don’t care and I don’t think it matters. I’m growing, the baby is growing. That’s all that counts. In pregnancy you can feel like there are limits or restrictions but…no one really knows. No one knows what is too much for you or too hard or too fast. Your body will let you know. Pregnancy is the ultimate exercise in learning to listen to yourself. And after years of becoming increasingly obsessed with pace, power, miles, what does all the data mean…honestly, it’s refreshing to just listen to my body again.
And right now my body is saying BABY IS KICKING! Little pulses in my belly, I think Max is getting a sugar high from the honey and almond butter sandwich I ate before my appointment.
Feeling any movement? the doctor asks.
Yes, lots. Max is constantly on the move. He is most active when I lay down at night. She feels around my stomach and shows me where his back is. Right now he is face down with his back against my stomach which explains why I feel all sorts of head butts to the cervix, punches to the belly button and kicks to the ribs. And the other night around 11 pm he had the hiccups, rhythmic beats in my belly that were accompanied by angry make this stop right now mommy flailing arms.
He had the hiccups the other night.
She tells me that is a sign of fetal well-being. Then, she scans my chart.
So, you’ve gained some weight since last time.
I blame the kid.
Yeah, I think I’ve gained 3 pounds.
On the doctor scale. Which is never right. EVERY woman knows that.
She doesn’t say anything else, instead leaves me in a confusion of is that an acceptable weight gain or should I slap a jumbo sticker on my ass. But, honestly, at this point do I even care? Here’s the thing – in pregnancy you gain weight. I work out every day. I eat very well. I’ve gained 25 pounds.
Life goes on. Get over it.
Your ankles look good, no swelling.
I’ve been trying really hard to avoid the cankles. Trust me – it’s not a good look and one that creeps up easily when pregnant. I keep my legs elevated when I work and I get lots of exercise. I’m not sure that’s the magic formula but so far, so good.
The visit is over and I set another appointment in 2 weeks. Which will be 2 weeks closer to my final ultrasound. And 4 weeks closer to the weekly visits. And 8 weeks closer to….BIRTH!
Until then, I’m going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing because I can, because it feels good, because I'm healthy and because I think Max likes it. The only time he kicks me while moving is when I’m biking. Maybe it’s because sometimes when I’m out there on the path I become not only the crazy pregnant lady in the Ironman jersey but the crazy pregnant lady talking to myself.
Do you hear that Max? (and yes, at this point he can hear everything) That is my favorite sound in the world – the sound of wheels spinning.
And I take that as a sign that one day he will have strong like daddy legs, a freakishly high power to weight ratio, and time trial his way to victory in some very important stage.
A mother can dream, can't she?