I had a learning experience this past weekend. Ok– maybe a few. Reminders of things I’ve learned before but seem to have forgotten to some extent, or maybe became comfortable with again. So, I suppose I needed that cosmic 2×4 to wallop me in order to be reminded during an important time of someone else’s development that depends on my health and well-being – which must be adjusted from what certain standards of “health and well-being” were held to before, mind you. Maybe my standards have become (or always been) a bit too stringent?
It’s unclear if that can really be answered in a nonjudgmental way by me or anyone else. I’ll give you an overview:
First, I tend to stay busy.
I like to be busy – usually. It makes me feel productive and successful, which seems to be a reflection in my mind of self-worth. Yes, I know how that may sound – basing self-worth off of accomplishment. All it took to be thrown off of that cycle in my career was one job that was endlessly unrewarded despite extreme output, self-sacrificially, until I was depressed, sick, and burned out beyond limits I even knew existed when I started. Anyway, there is still a feeling of a very human need for finishing things that I strive to feel, even if it’s reflected in my home, my body, my spiritual growth, or my psyche. Creative projects, helping a friend feel better, planting a garden, mowing the lawn – it feels good to look at that accomplishment at the end of the day, smile for a job well done, and enjoy a much deserved shower, meal, and cold beer (well, you know – outside of these nine months).
That being said, while I enjoy working as a team (and can thrive with thatenvironment), I typically work alone. Not to hog any glory, but simply because moving so much and living or working as a solo unit over the last many years required it on several occasions and a deeply developed sense of self-sufficiency rose to the surface:
“I can do this as well as anybody with a little time and learning.”
Hooking up a washer and dryer for the first time, changing a car battery, flushing a water heater, turning a “green” pool sparkling again, tending to myself when I was sick (that might be an overstatement), trimming citrus trees, getting a truck off of high-center after getting it stuck, building fires, camping alone, moving… I don’t think anyone has ever helped me pack a moving box.
Everything on that list makes me feel proud and grateful. Eating in a restaurant or hiking/camping alone isn’t even the hint of a big deal anymore. But now that I have a partner in life – an extremely capable, compassionate man with a loving desire to BE involved – I’m having to learn from new experiences. Learn to surrender at times, to release control, be mindful of someone else’s needs and opinions, and honor his long list of skills and talents, as well as accept some help when I could really use it – or when it’s just nice to.
Now that I’m learning how to do these things with Matt, the next phase is to understand that there is a long line of loving family and friends who also want to be involved and help.
They offer, they try, they suggest, and they offer again.
I know I’m very fortunate in this way! Time and again I simply answer with “thank you, I’ll let you know when the time comes,” or “thank you, I’ll keep that in mind,” “thank you, yes, soon…,” but never have taken up anyone on their offer. I feel frustrated when my mom and sister watch me in a time of stress (that I might not even recognize the level of) and begin to sync their schedules to help me with projects and tasks because, damnit, I should be able to do this stuff on my own.
Stubborn? Absolutely. It runs in the family on all sides, thank you very much.
In our world of life and baby-prep right now, we are integrating pets from two households, combining households, deciding whether to lease or sell the house I bought just seven months ago, renovating a few things at Matt’s house to be in a better state-of-the-union for the official Nest, nursery prep, he’s working long hours, I’m learning about a body that I hardly recognize, I’m giving myself deadlines for writing projects that I’m getting closer to without much progress, and the birth of our little one is looming.
Shouldn’t this be the stage where the expectant couple sits back and sighs, nursery pretty much finished, pets all frolicking joyfully together, future papa and mama feeling content and ready-ish?? Ha.
This lesson from this first point is this: either I’m going to learn to accept help from our dear family and friends or none of my “To Do’s” (or “Too Much’s”) are going to be complete by July and I really, really, really don’t want to be moving and painting in the last month of my pregnancy.
Second, my version of body care and exercise is no longer the mode of operandi. Intellectually, I knew that. But as I’ve watched the scale closely and mentally get onto myself for not walking or going to the gym for two days (or, gasp!, three!!) or giving in to having a milk shake because I wanted it and no one was going to stop me, I realized that my mindset into pregnancy hadn’t adapted much to the situation.
Yes, I’d stopped running early on because it just didn’t feel right or particularly good to my body. Plus, it brought on a sense of having to find a toilet for the duration of the run – not so enjoyable.
Yes, I’m no longer trusting my abs to thrust me upside-down in my pole dancing class. Plus, a phenomenon has occurred in which my brain is making my conscience be more careful with my body right now – keep having fun in those activities, but much more safety first!
But when a trainer at the gym told me to keep my heart rate “right around” 140bpm, my mind said, “am I even getting anything out of this?” When hiking up a hill and feeling myself pausing to breathe deeply, my mind says, is it the added weight or more push of blood or because you haven’t been working out like you used to?
One day, while walking on a nature trail near my home, my mind went to old recordings about things to do, fitness needs, etc., when I heard a voice very clearly say, “Mom, quit being so hard on yourself!” Believe what you will, but I feel sure it was our son listening in and finally giving his two cents. After all, my chemistry right now is his chemistry, my energy constantly influencing his energy, my emotions… you get it.
I’m healthy. That’s all that I should be concerned with. Eat nutritious, live, balanced food, get movement in every day if possible (and if not, then tomorrow’s a new day), enjoy sunshine and deep breaths of fresh air, spend time with people and with yourself, and drink an abundance of water.
Uh oh. That last one has never been one of my strong points. And here’s the other lesson that compounds on top of the first:
When stressing yourself out about other things, perhaps getting a good amount of exercise throughout the week but not replenishing with enough water, then contracting a virus of some sort, don’t let it all spin so greatly that you fall on your face. Sometimes literally.
I believe that mental/emotional “stuff” can manifest itself physically – sometimes through illness or injury, sometimes through whacked-out body chemistry or ailments. On Friday, it seems some of my mental/emotional running around caught up with me when I seemingly contracted an unknown virus, woke up to spend the morning “releasing it” from both ends, then promptly blacked out in the bathroom after Matt and left for work.
Waking up, face planted against a wall and chin on the floor, ass in the air is never a very pleasant experience, but it can be particularly bothersome if you’re about 25 weeks pregnant and you weren’t sure how you fell or if you fell on Kiddo. Over the last decade, this had actually happened to me before while not pregnant and I was assured by different doctors that I was “just a fainter” (although I really hadn’t been – ever). So, I slowly sat back, did a quick head-to-toe-systems check, vomited again, and called Future Hubby to not be alarmed but come back home.
After calling my OB, we opted to head to the emergency room to see if my cut lip needed a stitch and whatever else they might find. My doctor’s office had called ahead and I was whisked into a gown and a room, given bracelets, and asked the standard multitude of questions. Then, the down, middle, up test: blood pressure is taken when laying down, then sitting up, then standing up and after not nearly a minute of standing, my head swam, I sat – no, layed – back down and puked again.
In the words of the nurse, I failed that test.
Dehydration is nobody’s friend, but it’s particularly loathsome to a pregnant woman for all the described reasons and sensations above and many more that I won’t get into if it’s allowed to go on longer-term. They drew my blood, slowly because, well, I was dehydrated, then hooked me up to a feel-good-bag of fluids, sugar, and anti-nausea meds. Within a couple of hours, we were sent home, stitch-free, and I spent the weekend… feeling absolutely shitty. Ha. Pun intended. Nausea medication was my friend.
All of this brought me to a humbling conclusion today as I still am not completely up to speed and I’ve spent the day pretty much completely focused on drinking water-water-water and eating better after a weekend of no appetite and painful bloating: if I don’t take drastic, conscious, mindful steps to pamper myself, it’sgoing to be forced upon me… and Kiddo.
Now, this incident, I’m told, isn’t uncommon with pregnant women. However, it still felt like a slap to the face. A week of a little more exercise than usual, a major meal or two that were just plain “off,” and running myself thin in other ways is NOT conducive to being gentle on any level of my well being.
The new mantras are:
– Smaller meals, more frequency (no problem) – EVERY day (oh yeah). Protein!
– Water, water, herbal tea, juice, water and, did I mention water??
– EXTRA water on top of my “extra” water during and after exercise.
– I will accept help (I don’t have to do everything myself). This includes packing. And cleaning.
– Things will happen as they need to, in their time, and they will happen. (hear that Renovations, Packing/Moving, and Writing Projects?!)
– I am a super woman and have nothing to prove. (Yikes. That’s a tough one to swallow, but, hey, ok.)
And, as Bob Marley’s song has been echoing through my mind all week, “every little thing is going to be all right.”