A Wake-Up Call to Slow Down

Today I am 34 weeks preggers. I am also 37 years old and 30 pounds heavier than I was 34 weeks ago. Last pregnancy, if my mommy/pregnancy brain serves me correctly, I was pretty much able to keep going about my business as usual. I’m a massage therapist by trade and I continued to work at the same pace I always had. I work in a three-story spa and I always took the stairs like I usually do. When my Bradley teacher instructed me to do squats throughout my day, I did them like a champ. I am a very fast-paced A-type personality kind of gal and I kept scooting along like always.

Fast forward seven years. I now have a second-grader to keep up with, the same three-story spa and now a two-story house. But pre-pregnancy I was in about the same overall physical condition. So I figured I could treat this pregnancy the same as the previous. I was blessed with a very easy pregnancy the first time. No morning sickness, I was sleeping fine, no terrible aches or pains, minimal swelling only towards the very end.

I was hoping I would be so lucky the second time and generally I was. I was super tired in the afternoons of my first trimester- I have never been a napper, but I basically could not keep my eyes open around 2 pm most days. Little afternoon catnap, no big deal. I was also more aware of needing to eat on the regular. I very distinctly would feel myself fade if I didn’t have meals at regular intervals. Keeping up with food is not one of my fortes but I had to stay on top of it, what with the additional human I’m growing.

But other than that, I was keeping up my speedy ways. I would always take the stairs, squat at every opportunity, power through feeling tired, keep up with working my regular massage shifts, stay on top of my business plans, keep the house tidy, plan family outings… on and on it goes. Nothing crazy though, just mom life.

Until one day, I was sitting at the table working on my laptop, planning my week and crossing things off my to-do list. I felt my belly tighten uncomfortably like it has been doing all throughout this pregnancy. I remember getting Braxton Hicks contractions in my last pregnancy at least from about the sixth or seventh month. This pregnancy I feel like they’ve been happening all along. From about the second month or so. But this particular day they felt like they were happening a lot.

The day before, I had been clearing the baby’s room and moving things around all over the house, up and down the stairs. I had felt a little tired, but again, had just powered through. This day, I was just sitting down, working on my computer, multitasking away but sitting still. Another Braxton. And another, and another.

That afternoon, my daughter had Open House at school. The Braxtons kept happening and happening so I started timing them. It felt like as soon as one stopped, the next was getting ready to start. We got home from Open House and the contractions were really getting on my nerves now. I made a plan to take a bath and have a little glass of red wine. I had heard this recommendation was fine to help my body relax. I felt uneasy about the wine though and called my midwife just to kind of get her blessing on it.

I explained everything that had happened that day. I was 29 weeks pregnant at the time. The Braxtons had been happening all day and by now it was 6 pm. The contractions I was timing had been 7 two hours ago and 10 in the last hour. She immediately told me to go to the hospital. I felt like the wind had totally been taken out of my sails. Really? Yes, really really. I don’t like hospitals. I don’t trust them. That’s why I chose a birthing center. I asked if this is something they could deal with and she said no. It’s out of their scope before 37 weeks along. I asked if there was something I could do, I was planning to take a bath and chill out at home. She said if I really wanted to try and take care of it myself, I could try a bath and drinking lots of electrolytes, but that her recommendation was to go to the hospital.

I figured if I had waited this long, I could wait a couple more hours to see if I could get my uterus to chill out on my own. My husband promptly took away my laptop, tv, and phone. He put on some chill meditation music and made me some “home-made Gatorade”, as we call it. It’s roughly 1 cup water, 1 cup orange juice and a teaspoon of sea salt. He went to go get my bath ready while I chilled out with my eyes closed and sipped on my drink.

I snuck a peek at my phone and texted my closest Reiki girlfriends to ask them to send me healing light. (They all did and kept checking up on me as the night went on.) I kept timing the contractions and in the following 30 minutes I had another five.

When my bath was ready, I slipped in and went back to eyes closed, meditating on calming my body and listening to the soft droning music. My hubby gently ran his hand down my forehead and hair. As soon as I went in the water, the Braxtons spaced to about 20 minutes apart. I stayed in the tub for about an hour, then tip-toed into bed and laid on my side. At that point the contractions basically stopped.

I heard my phone ding and sleepily checked the notification. It was something about my upcoming baby shower. I thought to myself that I would just send a quick response and as soon as I started typing, I felt another contraction starting. Ugh, fine! I stopped typing and went back to just quietly laying on my side. The Braxtons went away for the rest of the night. My midwife confirmed at my next visit that I was most likely dehydrated.

Ever since that day, I have set aside the idea of powering through and keeping up my usual speedy pace. My body quite clearly wanted me to slow down. Feeling tired isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you need to recharge. I’ve been drinking lots more water and my DIY Gatorade if I’m feeling particularly parched or if I start noticing a string of, as my daughter called them, “Braxton Hiccups”. I’ve given myself permission to be lazy. I still have my to-do lists, but they’re much shorter and I take time in between to relax and do a little bit of nothing. I am still working, but shorter shifts and not as many per week.

It clicked a couple weeks ago that my husband is not a quick-paced kind of guy at all. It’s part of why we balance each other so well. I saw him walking and I mentioned that he will mosy along where I usually scurry. He reminds me of how the Pink Panther walks, just strolling through. This baby, his baby, did not like my scurrying. Not only physically, but mentally! The day all the Braxtons happened I wasn’t even moving around. But my brain was running a mile a minute. Baby did not like this.

Now I don’t scurry. I waddle. I embraced the waddle, something I was very reluctant to do. In the picture below I’m sitting, with my feet up because I sit a lot now. I really wanted to be the pregnant mom that can go on doing it all, but now I look for a spot to rest quite regularly.

Chilling out, feet up, silicone band on.

Also, I have my silicone wedding band on full time. (In the picture too.) I got it to wear to work, since I didn’t want to risk taking my real rings on and off every time I did a massage. But yesterday, my band felt really tight both when I put it on in the morning and when I took it off in the evening, when it’s usually looser. I listened to my body right away this time, and made the switch to the roomier squishy band.

All in all, being in tune to your body is always important. Your body speaks. And the more you listen, the more you hear and the easier it becomes. If there is ever a time to do this, it’s when you’re pregnant. So I’m listening. I’m doing my best to anyway. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to refill my water, grab a snack and put my feet up.

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