As I approach my 6th month of pregnancy – ok I’m going to stop right there. 6th month of pregnancy? Everybody told me it would go quickly, but that’s just crazy. Only 3 more months til I can drink a bottle of wine and run 10km again.*
These are genuine life goals.
*Not at the same time. Obvs. Unless it’s a trail run on a wine farm. In which case, never say never.
Anyway, nearly 6 months in and apparently now the tough part starts. I set out on Monday for what I assumed would be a normal training run – a 6.5km loop up and down Boyes Drive, a beautiful but fairly steep hill near my house. I managed about 800m, including the easiest part of the incline, before I had to walk. At this point I had a profound disconnect between my body and my brain.
I have a noticeable baby bump but it’s not huge. In fact, I’ve just worked out how to disguise it so I don’t look pregnant at all (I need a whole other post on this, because it is an art form waiting for a masterclass to happen). So although I feel heavier, especially when I run, it’s not that limiting. Or rather, it wasn’t that limiting…
I started up the hill and felt my muscles immediately turning to lead. My brain, ever the sarcastic cheerleader, tried to override this sensation. “Pfff, it’s just a 400m hill,” she said rolling her eyes. “One you’ve done 100 times before. Stop being such a wuss and haul your ass up there.” Normally I would heed this advice without pause. If you’ve ever done any kind of cardio race, you’ll know it’s necessary to let Brain take the reins here. Otherwise we’d all be strolling over the finish line sipping wine through straws (not a terrible idea though). So I injected an extra bolt of energy through my limbs and hauled ass. Only, ass didn’t go anywhere.
“Seriously,” huffed Brain, “what is the matter with you? I’m ashamed to power these shameful excuses you call legs.” Determined now, I took a deep breath and gave it all I had. I managed one step, two, three…and stopped. Brain closed her eyes, folded her arms and turned her back on me. I couldn’t run and she was mortified.
My mental game is on point. Put me in coach, I’ve got this. It’s mind over matter, my gymnastics coach used to say to me, there’s no such thing as can’t. Except what you’re growing a damn baby in your uterus. Then there’s a can’t and a won’t, an unprecedented meltdown of the physical capabilities that you relied on before. And there’s your belligerent mind, having a throw-down tantrum at not getting her way, because, like, she’s the sergeant and your body parts her soldiers. Because sudden weakness where previously there was strength is, it’s own small way, quite devastating.
Less of an insult to my ego but still a small bruise is my new thing of being singled out in gym class. You know at the start when they ask if there are any injuries or pregnancies, and it’s like they don’t really expect anyone to put up their hands, shy and retiring people that we are (why does everyone go mute in front of gym instructors? It’s like a genetic condition). But now I do, because a) who wants to be that awkward person who makes people guess whether she’s pregnant, like, surprise! and b) baby is big enough now that I need to make adjustments.
So there I am, crunching away during a particularly energetic mashup of Gotye vs Vanilla Ice (legend tune by the way) when my instructor changes the exercise and hones in on me. “YOOO!” he shouts in his French accented English, as the windows rattle. “YOOO must not do thees one. YOOO do THEES.” By now the entire class has turned around to see who YOOO is and you can see them trying to figure out why I have a special exercise all to myself. Some of the less experienced ones get such a fright at the YOOO that they think he is talking to them, and scramble into obliques position when they’re meant to be doing seated leg lifts. “Not YOOO!” roars our instructor, as birds in nearby trees take flight. “HEEER!” His eyes seem to rest on everybody at once, adding to the confusion. By now half the class are doing leg raises and the other half, completely panicked by the shouting and omnipresent gaze, are oblique crunching at double time in an effort to make up for not knowing what the fuck they’re meant to be doing.
So yes, I am also that person, causing mayhem in unsuspecting gym classes by virtue of being pregnant. With another 3 months to go, I have a feeling things will go even more pear-shaped before it’s over…