“I do love you very much…but after all I am a man…and I cannot be expected to get excited about handmade baby blankets and the best strollers on the market,” the hubby tells me ever so politely. Bless him. He’s done well to ‘listen’ to me over the last few weeks of our holiday; from the passages I’ve read aloud to him from my ‘Guide to Childbirth’ to the debates I’ve had over whether to bugaboo bee or not to bugaboo bee. (That’s a brand of pushchair just in case you are lost already).
Last week marked a milestone for me…on the same day I turned 32, I began the first day of my 32nd week of pregnancy. Now pushing seven weeks until my due date, when I think back to the day that we discovered the ‘x’ on the stick, it seems like an age ago. But when I sit here today with my iphone app telling me I have a 4.5 pounder, 19 inch honeydew melon in my belly, it suddenly feels very close…and a little scary.
The last couple of weeks I have had the privilege of plenty of time to think about all that is to come. After a wonderful week spent with friends and family at home, my husband and I took up residence in Pathos, Cyprus, for 13 nights. I had time to roll out my yoga mat every morning and feel even more connected to this little (or pretty large) life rapidly growing inside of me. Especially now that those wriggles, slides, hiccups and bouts of kickboxing are way more than the gentle flutterings I felt many months ago.
It has been a real journey to date, one in which I’ve had to make peace with my expanding body (…daily mantra: “I am not fat, I am growing a baby.”) I’ve come to realise that during those times when I’m tired, emotional and heavy, my body is working a little harder that day on the important task of growing Baby Parsons. And that’s a very cool and comforting thought.
I can honestly say that continuing with my swimming and yoga is helping me immensely. On the physical side, I couldn’t do without them to ease the aches and pains that you rack up during pregnancy. My lower back, sides, hips, whole body thanks me for moving! While my love affair with yoga’s inversions and arm balances has taken a back seat, I can hold a warrior like nobody’s business.
Mentally, I’m tuning into my body and breath like never before. I’ve become more acutely aware of the times my mind builds resistance to something it decides it doesn’t like (like the fact I’ve been holding chair pose for two minutes and my thighs are burning). It’s during those times that the power of the breath comes into play, and I’ve realised just how much it can help to calm our natural fight or flight instinct. When we are frightened or in pain, our bodies produce adrenalin, and in the case of labour, it can decrease the production of oxytocin, a hormone that helps childbirth to progress. Yoga and pranayama (breathing practice) can encourage us to relax and resist the urge to tense up, helping to break the fear causes tension which leads to pain cycle. Whether or not all this will help me on the Big Day remains to be seen! But for now, it feels good to be in control and taking one day at a time. Watch this space!
Pour one breath into the other,
Out-breath into the in-breath
Into the out-breath
Be there, in the harmony of that fusion
Where one rythm turns into the other,
Awaken into equilibrium.
Tending to breath in this way,
Become capable of experiencing oneness with the Self.
(from yoga text, The Radiance Sutras)