The first time I heard the phrase "birth plan," I had no idea what it meant. Then I found out, and honestly, I thought it was silly--the idea of planning to a T an experience over which I always assumed you'd have very little control. My birth plan? To get through it, with a healthy baby in my arms at the end.
This morning, I see the smugness behind the "be flexible" veneer. Because I just realized that while I may not have set my heart on a water birth with scented candles (which actually sounds really lovely), without intending to, I made a pregnancy plan.
In the first trimester, the most I suffered from morning sickness was waves of mild nausea when I was hungry, and this usually happened at night. Adrian would bring me plates of crackers and cheese, a bowl of grapes, a cup of ginger tea, and the nausea would pass. I was fatigued, but not enough to keep me from the daily activities that mattered most to me: writing, lunch with Adrian, Pilates. As I settled into the pregnancy, slowly releasing the fear that perhaps it would not last, an image of the next six or seven months rose up in my mind: I would eat healthy, the way I'd learned, and stay as active as I wanted to be. For me, that meant Pilates four times a week and easing into my yearly ritual of training for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in December.
The half marathon had its naysayers--namely, everybody. I'd be 21 weeks by then, they reminded me. I may not be showing at eight weeks, or 12, or even (much) at 16, but to jog, or even walk 13.1 miles at 21 weeks, with that extra pressure on my pelvis and joints? And what about your heart? they reminded me. You have to be careful not to let your heart rate get too high!
I smiled and rolled my eyes and shrugged and assured everybody I'd listen to my body and that if I couldn't do it when the time came, I wouldn't. Simple. But I always planned on at least doing a 10K. That was eminently doable, I thought. I planned on doing a 10K on Thanksgiving, a 10K for the Rock and Roll, and a 10K two weeks after that with another pregnant friend. My core would be strong throughout the pregnancy. I'd be as physically ready as possible for labor, and my recovery would be quick.
That was my pregnancy plan. I'd even started to think I'd cosmically earned it, an easy, healthy pregnancy, after all the difficulties that came before. But you can't "earn" a great pregnancy, just as no one deserves a difficult one.
And in any case, now it's all going to shit.
I've managed to injure my groin to such an extent that I can't even put on a shoe without wanting to scream. I'm still not sure how it happened. My best guess is that I overstretched it in Pilates and then pulled or tore something when I started to jog again. At first, I only felt it when jogging. Then it actually became worse when walking. Two or three weeks passed, and I continued to go to Pilates and attempt my walk/runs, despite Adrian's continued admonishment. A week before we left to Hawaii, I had to acknowledge that the walk/runs were no longer an option. The pain was becoming extreme and lasting into the next day. I even cut back on Pilates before the trip. I was listening to my body. Too bad it had been yelling at me for a while.
In Hawaii, we walked several miles a day--back and forth to the beach and to nearby restaurants. Every afternoon, I had to take a break for a few hours and just ice it in bed. One night it was bad enough that Adrian walked to the restaurant to tell our friends we were bailing on dinner, then picked up a pizza and brought it back to the room. In all of the pictures we posted, there was no sign of the limp that was becoming more pronounced, or that Adrian had to help me from bed and out the last few steps of the ocean, where the sand rises and the water simultaneously pulls you back, which felt like someone taking that beleaguered muscle or ligament and stretching it to the breaking point.
16.5 weeks pregnant. Not pictured: pain.
We've been home more than a week, and in that time I've done zero exercise and begun physical therapy at Airrosti. I've approached the injury as a temporary setback, a challenge to be overcome. But when I stepped out of bed this morning to the same excruciating pain I've had for weeks now, I lost it. It wasn't only the pain I cried over, though that would be enough, nor was it the frustration of inactivity. I only realized it when texting my sister: it was that for the first time, I started to understand that I'd had a plan for my pregnancy, and that I might have to release it, and doing so is harder than I ever thought possible.
Adrian assures me it will get better, that he's been through this before, that I just need to be patient. With many things, I can be patient. But with myself? With my body? I'm struggling.
This post is a reminder to myself, and maybe to you, that there's no such thing as the perfect pregnancy. That the best laid plans are often over things we can't control. And that when those plans fall apart, we haven't failed.