Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We interrupt this vacation...

MM and I are gearing up for the last day of our babymoon, which we've spent alternating between two activities: eating and relaxing. So tonight after several nights of uninterrupted sleep in extremely comfortable beds, I woke at 3am. No, I didn't need to pee...

Not one, but two of my friends gave birth today. For the record, both were early, so... yeah... Way to wait until I leave town, right? But seriously, everyone is healthy and happy and the babies are beautiful and I could not be more excited for everyone.

But really seriously, holy shit. I am going to have to stop telling people that "all" my friends are pregnant because it's not true anymore (ok, it technically wasn't true ever, but a lot of my friends were pregnant as of 24 hours ago, now just some of my friends are pregnant). I mean, we all knew this was coming. It's the inevitable end to pregnancy. I just can't believe it all happened so fast. Two of my pregnant friends are now non-pregnant new moms and there are two new people in the world. It's mind boggling in a way that is all duh and whoa at the same time.

I'm rambling, which is maybe normal for the 26-week pregnant woman who's blogging at 3am from a bed at a spa in the middle of almost nowhere, Texas (really 30 minutes outside of downtown Austin). More on our trip to come...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Barre Workouts During Pregnancy

If you’ve been around the healthy living blogosphere as long as I have, you've read about a lot people who seem to have an endless amount of self-discipline (not to mention time and energy) when it comes to fitness. I am not one of those people.

Sure, one day in 2006, I got myself off of the couch and made a decision that changed my life--I started running. But I’m pretty sure I would have stopped if running hadn’t become more than just a workout for me.

Running, and working out in general, is an integral part of my social life. If you’re one of my close friends, I’ve probably run with you sometime in the past six years. I meet friends at the gym; I pick them up on the way to yoga; I’ve even signed up for bootcamp classes with my husband. Point being, I like to have a buddy. I do better if someone is counting on me to show up. I am--and I think most friends would agree--reliable if nothing else.

But right now, basically everyone I know is pregnant, and many of the people who had been my pregnant workout buddies are entering their last few weeks of pregnancy, leaving me to my own devices when it comes to workout plans.

This is not a good scenario for me. Luckily, I still have a running buddy who meets me once a week for short and progressively slower runs. And, I keep my commitment to show up a twice a week to Zumba because, as the instructor, I have approximately 25-30 people relying on me to do so. But that’s only three workouts a week, and my strength training is lacking.

I decided a few weeks ago to go back to barre-style classes. I have done these classes on and off over the last several years. But, it had been awhile and, unfortunately, the studio I loved in the city, Bar Method, is no longer close by.

The Dailey Method offers a similar workout and gives me the opportunity to sign up for a class through an online reservation system, which (sometimes) tricks my brain into believing that the commitment is more concrete than a promise to myself that I'll make it to the gym. Though I had a not-so-great first experience with the Dailey Method pre-pregnancy (that’s another story), I chalked it up to the instructor and I decided that I would give it another shot around 20-weeks pregnant.

Disclaimer: This is not the smartest thing to do. You shouldn’t begin new exercise programs mid-pregnancy. But because I have been doing strength training (albeit rarely) during pregnancy AND I have a fitness background of sorts AND I had experience with this style of class, I trusted myself to... well, trust myself in a less familiar workout scenario. I do not recommend that you do the same.

Barre-style classes are typically low impact and sculpt and strengthen all of the major muscle groups. The class begins with a warm up followed by arm exercises that include using light weights and usually incorporates push ups and triceps dips. After several sets of ab work, you take your place at a ballet barre and begin various thigh exercises. These are typically variations of squats and plies, some done on the balls of the feet. The class moves on to “seat” work, which basically means, exercises that work your ass muscles, then more abs and a good amount of stretching, both at the barre and on the floor. Many of the exercises emphasis small movements, and typically, they are very challenging and fatigue your muscles quickly.

Because the classes are low impact and focus on strengthening and stretching, many studios promote the classes as appropriate for pre-natal exercise. Some Bar Method studios actually offer classes specifically for pre-natal participants. The Dailey Method, at least the studio near me, promotes their classes to pregnant woman, but does not have pre-natal specific classes.

I have mixed feelings about the classes really. I loved Bar Method when I took it regularly in the city, and Dailey Method just doesn’t seem as organized or effective (but I’m also dealing with different physical limitations). After getting more familiar with the class and some of the instructors, I like it more than I initially did, but I definitely get the feeling that many of the instructors at my studio aren’t completely comfortable or familiar with providing a pregnant woman with modifications for all of the exercises.

Because I do have some fitness qualifications, I feel comfortable getting through these classes, which often include fairly complicated exercises, safely. However, if you do not have prior experience in these classes and/or you cannot take a class specifically geared to pregnant exercisers, I’d recommend finding something else.

Here's the thing that many people don’t realize--and I didn’t know before entering the world of Zumba--is that many fitness instructors (barre classes and everywhere else) probably have a personal interest in fitness and some kind previous participation in fitness (i.e., I have a dance background) plus a fitness certification of some sort, which involved studying for and subsequently passing an exam (like the one I got). That’s not to say these exams aren’t difficult, but most people working as fitness instructors do not have years of schooling in anatomy, kinesiology, physical fitness, etc. Many are competent, some are less so, and often because of instructor limitations or class size or other factors, it’s up to the participant to make sure they are working at an appropriate intensity level and safely executing the exercises. This is true for everyone, but becomes even more important when you are exercising for two. If you're pregnant make sure you (and your doctor) are comfortable with your fitness choices.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Hysterical" Pregnant Lady Calls Doctor in Wee Hours of the Morning

Alternative title: Seriously, Step Away from the Forum 

Lately when I walk from the train station to work and work to the train station, I get a bit of a side cramp. I have always assumed (and most likely this is correct) that it's round ligament pain, which is a common side effect of pregnant. It's annoying and uncomfortable, but luckily I don't get when I'm doing any other exercise (even running), just when I walk that half mile or so each morning and afternoon.

It's not that big of a deal. Then on Wednesday when I left work, the side cramp seemed to expand causing my entire abdomen to feel like it was tightening--contracting, if you will. My first thought was that this must be an episode of Braxton Hicks contractions, the sort-of fake labor contractions pregnant women get mostly in the third trimester but sometimes in the second. Again, these are no big deal, so I went running.

Twenty-seven minutes into the run, I could feel more tightening in my stomach, so I asked my running buddy if we could cut our route short. I got home, called a more-pregnant-than-me friend, and she confirmed that, yes, that sounded like Braxton Hicks contractions. Still, no big deal. I changed clothes and headed to a meeting about the community bike event I'm working on.

The meeting seemed to drag on and on. I was still uncomfortable, but mostly I was worried that the "good part" of my pregnancy had passed, and I would spend the next three months in a bad mood, constantly feeling like I had mild period cramps. Sounds like fun!

The meeting finally ended, and I went home, complaining to my husband about the contractions. Of course, at this point, it had been about four hours and I started to wonder why these weren't letting up. So, I did what any cranky pregnant woman curious about her new symptoms would do, I consulted the Internet.

Here's the thing: If you experience a major life event these days, you don't even have to go searching, the information has already found you. If you've signed up on a forum (ahem), started a gift registry, or registered for a class pertaining to the impending life change, chances are a lot of information has already been delivered to your inbox. So here's what happened to me around Monday of this week: I received about four emails with subjects along the lines: OMG YOU'RE 24 WEEKS PREGNANT OMG PRETERM LABOR OMG, each detailing potential signs of preterm labor.

Now, when I went back and read these emails, I realized I had had some stomach issues (I won't go into any more detail for fear of TMI) in the midst of the mild contractions that showed up on these signs of preterm labor lists. But still, I wasn't in pain, per say, and there was no pattern or frequency to the contractions. I asked MM what he thought. I believe his answer was, "You're fine." And I probably was. So I dropped it and, still uncomfortable, watched a few shows, ate dinner and went to bed.

MM and I are people who assume we're fine, for the most part. Sure, I'm a complainer. I don't like to be in pain, but I assume (maybe naively) that I am a healthy person who will have a largely uneventful, normal, healthy pregnancy.

And then I woke up at 3 a.m., with more contractions that felt stronger and like they were coming and going... still not really in a pattern I could discern, but not just the persistent tightness I had experienced earlier. And then I had more... er... stomach issues. So I woke up MM. "I really think I should call the doctor." He wasn't convinced that anything was really wrong, and if I could wait it out six or so hours, I had an appointment scheduled for later that morning. But in the back of my head, those emails were screaming at me, "OMG PRETERM LABOR, BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY." And really, better safe than sorry seems like reasonable advice to take when you're talking about your baby's safety.

I called my O.B.'s office at 3 o'clock in the morning. Now, to be fair, I thought I'd speak to an on-call nurse practitioner who would reassure I was fine and it would be no big deal. Nope. The answering service took my information, and about five minutes later my doctor was calling me. Now I was a little embarrassed. I didn't think I'd be potentially getting my doctor out of bed for this mess. But yep, at my practice, the doctors answer their own calls.

I explained to her my symptoms. She said it was totally appropriate for me to call, but it sounded more like this might be a mild stomach bug than signs of preterm labor, but if I had x, y or z happening (I didn't), I would need to be admitted to the hospital, or, if I was really concerned, I could come in now (with her expert opinion, I wasn't anymore).

So what did I do? I got of the phone and immediately started crying because I was so embarrassed that I had called and made a big deal out of these minor symptoms. But I noticed, the contractions had stopped. I managed to fall asleep for a few more hours, and felt, though not 100 percent, significantly better in the morning.

In hindsight, I think my body was reacting to stress that got worse as I became more convinced something was actually wrong. I had my performance review yesterday, and while I always do well on my review, I tend get a little down after them (that's some psychoanalysis for another day). Combine that with my dreading of the glucose screening test that I had to take this morning, and my guess is that I was far more anxious than I realized I was.

Though I don't know the results yet, the glucose test was not as big of a deal as I made in my head. I confided to the nurse who walked me back to the examine room that I had been nervous about it. She looked at my file and said something that I wish someone had said to me at my last appointment: "You probably don't have anything to worry about. You don't have diabetes in your family, and we check sugars in the urine at every appointment. Yours have been completely normal." Oh, well... that makes me feel about 1,000 times less freaked out than I was before.

Then I met with my doctor, who was concerned about how I was feeling about my episode in the middle of night, reassured me again that it was reasonable for me to call with concerns about those symptoms, and checked me out to make sure my cervix wasn't at all dilated (it wasn't). Everything else was normal, and my baby's heart rate was "perfect." I hate to be such a mom about shit, but it really makes me happy and weirdly proud when they tell me she's perfect (as though she has control over her heart rate and measurements).

Anyway, the moral of the story is that I am fine, unless you count being a semi-hysterical pregnant lady as not fine.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Random Pregnant Thoughts

Weekend Wrap Up 
MM and I had a busy Easter weekend—two birthday parties plus family commitments on Easter Sunday. It was the kind of weekend that was the norm for us pre-pregnancy, but as of late, I’ve been protective of our downtime and not at all proactive about making social plans. Truth, it was too busy. After a one-year-old’s birthday party on Saturday afternoon, I willed myself through an adult birthday dinner that night. Sunday afternoon (post-Easter brunch, pre-more family time at my MIL’s house), I fell asleep fast and hard for a good three hours.

The Growing Bump 
I’m apparently huge now. The ladies in my Zumba class on Thursday night were shocked to see how much I (the baby?) had grown in a mere two weeks. Granted, I had eaten a reuben sandwich and fries for lunch, which—hindsight—is not the best pre-workout meal (just saying), and I think that might have been contributing to my size. Maybe that’s wishful thinking.

Over the weekend, I received my first “waddling” comment. It seems too soon—I can’t possibly be that pregnant, can I? Except then I remember, I’m a handful of weeks away from my third trimester.

Wait, What? 
How did that happen? Before this month is over, I will officially be in the “home stretch…” depending on how you define home stretch. Honestly, it kind of blows my mind that in three and half months, this pregnancy journey will culminate with the birth of our baby girl. Saying July sounds far away, but if I think about our plans for the upcoming weeks and months, I’m pretty sure June is going to be here before I’m all sick of pregnancy and shit. It’s a good feeling that it’s going by at such a nice pace, and yet, it’s terrifying that the pre-baby to-do list seems to grow as opposed to shrink (like me!).

Not-Pregnant Anymore 
I’ve been lucky enough to have several friends, acquaintances, a couple bloggers I regularly read, as well as a family member going through pregnancy at the same time I am. Except now, some of those people have given birth and several of them (actual real-life people I know) are due to give birth in the next four weeks or so. It seemed like we were all in this together only a few short weeks ago with no end in sight, and now… well, this makes it all more real.

That’s all I got for today. I’m trying to put together my thoughts on my newest attempt to get more strength training into my routine: barre-style classes.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Step Away from the Forum

Based on my current in-between jobs situation at work and some other non-interesting bits of work-related nonsense, I have had a lot of downtime lately between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. It’s so bad that I often throw up my hands in disgust and give up on procrastination and do that last thing on my list that isn’t due for weeks and I was saving for tomorrow. Yes. It's that bad.

Faced with too much time and way too much internet access, I have been doing extensive baby-related research, both specific and non-specific. The specific topic du jour is cloth diapering; non-specific topics include anything that catches my eye on the Baby Center forum. This is becoming dangerous. Today, after reading a thread called, “20 wk ultrasound wrong!” (the punch line: BabyLuv4EVR’s baby girl is now a boy), I went on an internet search rampage. I totally made that username up BTDub. 

After some intense Googling attempting to find statistics about how often ultrasound techs are wrong, I only had more forums with more stories about little girls becoming little boys and, though less common, little boys becoming little girls. That led to using the Google to find a 3D ultrasound service near my home, which led to me asking friends on Google Chats if I had totally lost my mind (I’m pretty sure the answer was yes).

Here’s the thing: I wanted to find out if our baby is a girl or a boy for a reason, and while I know logically that it doesn’t really matter what we leave the hospital with as long as we leave a healthy and happy family of three, I am now freaking out that we are preparing for a little girl when we should be preparing for a little boy.

Anyway, our ultrasound tech seemed pretty confident about our scan and confirmed the gender from about four different angles, so I’m sure there’s only small chance that she is he, and I’ll probably get over this if I can lay off the Baby Center (et al) forums for a few days.

That said, here’s an updated bump shot for interested parties (22 weeks and 6 days). The grainy shot almost hides the fact that I’m looking a little rough from… well… it was 8 a.m. and I was on my way to workout, but I certainly don’t have any sort-of hard-partying, late-night excuse. Enjoy!