Today marks 20 weeks in my pregnancy with the being we call Baby Frankie. It’s hard to believe that I’m halfway through sometimes. In some weeks each day felt achingly slow, and others just flew by. Today, for the first time, someone who had not been told I was pregnant, felt bold enough to bring it up. As she said, and I guess I must accept, I am now “obviously with child.”
It’s funny how hard it can be to accurately determine at what point you cross over into the “obviously with child” realm as opposed to the “possibly getting a bit chunky” realm. Early on you feel like everyone must know that your extra paunch is baby-related, when in fact they probably haven’t even noticed it. But soon enough you begin to think you are successfully flying under the radar and begin to wonder how you’ll start to share the news when it becomes necessary. In some ways, I am glad my body broke the news for me. I’m happy to have moved into the former category, because it really gets old just feeling fat. Honestly, for me I think that has been one of my hardest challenges in pregnancy. As someone who has struggled with my weight for all of my life, including some short, dangerous interludes with anorexia and bulimia, simply feeling grateful for and accepting my changing body has been hard. More than accepting the increased mass, has been the challenge of relaxing control over the things my body needs, what I can do, and my lifestyle generally.
Two weeks ago I ran a half marathon up in Aspen. It isn’t crazy or overly ambitious to take on something like that during pregnancy, people do it all the time. But, it does elicit reactions from people. Maybe that was something I needed – just to hear that it was impressive to run a half marathon while pregnant. At times pregnancy feels like it overtakes me, and I feel a grasping need to cling to the bits of my life that have previously defined me as more than just a woman and a vessel – as special and sweet that role is. I needed something to make me feel ambitious and assert that I didn’t need to scale back my life. The half marathon was a good way to do that. But, as I ran I did notice that not all was as it should be, or would be, sans fetus. My knees and hips ached in strange new ways, and my tendons made their presence known. It was a different race, and though I hardly planned to PR, even I was bit surprised at how slow I was and how much my limitations were obvious. Again a few weeks ago I felt similarly. We made plans to ride Mount Evans, as we do each year. It’s a big ride from Idaho Springs up to the summit at just over 14,000 feet. Almost 60 miles round trip, and tough. I knew riding to that altitude pregnant was unwise, so I planned to ride just to Echo Lake, a nice 30 mile ride. I thought if I felt good perhaps I’d ride on, but at Echo Lake I turned back. You see, even with my handlebars raised for added comfort, there still felt like there was a melon wedged into my pelvis, which was a bit uncomfortable. Also, even though it didn’t slow me down too much, I felt a tad irresponsible tearing downhill 15 miles back to Idaho Springs on the descent. It’s one thing to put yourself in harms way riding fast down a busy road, but another thing knowing that a small mistake could prove to be doubly harmful while you’re pregnant.
I guess all this reflection is mostly to observe that as much as I don’t want to accept that pregnancy imposes some new limitations on my life, I have to do just that. In two weeks we are booked to fly to Maine and hike Mount Katahdin at the end of the Appalachian Trail with Rick’s mom. Will I be able to complete the hike? I sure hope so, but I am beginning to understand that there might be very valid reasons why I shouldn’t or can’t. Pregnancy, finally after 20 weeks, is truly manifesting itself in more real ways in my life. It’s amusing that even with a nursery all set up and as we begin to start interviewing doulas and making a birth plan, nothing has felt REALLY real until I couldn’t comfortably ride my road bike or run.
As of about a week and a half ago, I could feel the flutters of life moving around inside me. To me it felt, as I told my mom, like “I am housing an unruly bluegill in my stomach.” So much for the romance of butterflies. Tomorrow we have our 20-week ultra-sound where we can learn whether it is a boy of girl. We are still unsure if we really want to know, so don’t hold your breath for any updates. Honestly, to me it will be an adventure either way and I’m not really entirely keen on removing this little piece of mystery from my life. Today there are so few things in life that remain a mystery – it’s beautiful to hold on to a little spark of possibility without building in expectations one way or the other.
I have been musing for quite some time now, and I should get back to more pressing tasks. I guess I will have to share the highlights of our long weekend in California with you at a later time. It was an incredible trip and I can’t wait to describe it in more detail. Til then, I’m off!