August 10 – August 16: 8 Weeks 0 Days – 8 Weeks 6 Days.
Richard and I spent three days last week driving from San Francisco to Vancouver. I knew my mom would have dinner on the table as soon as we got to Vancouver, and I wanted to share the news of our pregnancy first thing so that any nausea-induced rudeness (like pushing the brussels sprouts as far away from myself as possible) would be interpreted in context. We sat down for dinner with my parents, my sister and her husband, and my two-year-old niece, Rosie. Before we could even say grace, I produced a green tissue-paper-wrapped gift and said, “We got something for Rosie. Let her open it right away!” Rosie unwrapped the package and held up a pink shirt. My sister read aloud the words printed below two amicable elephants: “Big Cousin” (A reformulating of my initial plan to tell Richard I was pregnant the week I found out). Everyone was pleasantly surprised and congratulated us. My mom got up to give Richard and me a hug and cried happy tears.
Normally I would be the one to play with Rosie while Richard helped out with cleaning up from dinner, but this trip I spent a lot of time laying on the couch and “Auntie Riri” (what Rosie calls Richard—she hasn’t quite figured out the difference between aunts and uncles yet) got to interact with Rosie a little more. Nothing is as reassuring to a pregnant woman as watching her partner successfully care for a child. He said that having his own baby on the way gave him a new confidence with children—or at least motivation to start practicing.
I saw several friends while I was in Vancouver, some of whom guessed I was pregnant before I could break the news! Normally with my friends and family I go on a hike, or kayaking, or skiing. I was grateful that my loved ones were willing to go on gentle walks or do other activities that I could bring a folding chair to. I’ve heard that—contact sports aside—expecting mothers can continue doing most of the activities they did before pregnancy. It must be true for some women, because I’ve seen pregnant ladies running and women in my vinyasa yoga classes up until their last month of pregnancy. That’s not the case for me. While gentle physical activity makes me feel better than sitting around resting all day, my body seems resolutely against anything strenuous. Activities that push my cardio, strength, or endurance make me feel nauseated. Even deep stretching doesn’t feel good. My pregnant body is a Buddhist, urging me to embrace moderation—the middle way.
We got home from Vancouver and immediately started packing our whole life into boxes. We’d owned our new home for a month, and it was finally time to move in! We’d originally planned to rent a Uhaul and do the heavy lifting ourselves (with the help or a friend or two). After lugging a few preliminary boxes up to the house in our Honda Civic—just to get the process started—I abashedly convinced Richard to hire movers. I realized that I would not be able to contribute much to helping with the move, and I didn’t want Richard to hurt his back trying to compensate for me. Obviously I had a good excuse and there was nothing to feel guilty about, but the raw truth is that I hate having limitations. A common theme in yoga and meditation is learning to be with discomfort without needing to change anything about it. I teach this all the time, and I thought I was fairly good at it. I knew that pregnancy would be uncomfortable and rife with change, but I thought I would be able to ride its waves with equanimity and acceptance. Sometimes I do. But sometimes when Richard gives me the sage advice, “Go lay down on the couch and let me handle this,” I snap back, “I don’t want to go lay down!”
At least because of the meditation I can take a step back from my outbursts to laugh at my gracelessness and accept that I am a human on a journey.
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Perspective: As I publish this at during my twenty-second week of pregnancy, I can’t help but laugh reading back over this journal entry. One evening this week, I asked Richard if he could cut up a mango for me and get me a glass of water. As he obliged, he said “I think you’re finally getting the hang of to letting me do things for you.” I felt equally proud and chagrined. I think he could sense my cognitive dissonance, because he added, “That’s a good thing!” Hopefully by the time my baby’s birthday arrives I’ll have enough practice to be able to completely and shamelessly surrender my need for control. After all, as Richard often tells me when I’m combatively independent, “You know, eventually you’ll have to leave our children alone with me for a few hours, and just trust me to take care of them.” I would never want my type-A personality, control-freak mentality, lone wolf tendencies to cost him trust, respect, and precious one-on-one time with his children. As I wrote fourteen weeks ago, I am still a human on a journey.