Sometimes…

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We all like to share updates like that one above. We like the world to know about the exciting things happening in our lives.

It’s great! It’s great to encourage each other. It’s great to find support and community. It’s great to keep up with loved ones far away and it’s just fun to document the exciting aspects of life.

But sometimes I wonder if we aren’t doing each other a huge disservice…if all of our “life is amazing!” Posts don’t do more to break each other down or to set a standard that’s just not realistic.

I’ve found this to be especially true lately. I want to start by saying that I feel blessed. That I am so so excited for what’s ahead. Just wanted to pose a thought, because while I love to share the posts like the one above, sometimes, pregnancy looks like this:

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Sometimes it’s not glamorous.

Sometimes it’s full of questions and uncertainty.

Sometimes it feels like something bigger than us, something that leads to fear.

Sometimes it’s full of judgement from others.

Sometimes we aren’t sure how to pull it all together.

Sometimes it hurts.

Sometimes it is just plain hard.

But we do it. We cherish every moment because, just like every part of life, it’s a gift. It’s a blessing that we don’t always feel like we deserve. It leads to joy and a sense of completion. It’s something amazing that’s so much bigger than us.

Just remember to stay grounded, to not compare yourself to the unachievable standard that social media bombards us with every single day. Remember to count every blessing that comes your way. Remember to cherish every minute…even the ones where you’d rather be anywhere but where you are.

Keep putting your best foot forward. But remember, before you compare yourself to what you see in the snapshots others post of their lives, that they’re just doing the same. 🙂

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Sometimes the World Spins

Remember all of that positivity I’d stored up and shared, about how it was so exciting to be a part of something new, something bigger…to start over? Before I address it, I want to start by saying that all of that still holds true. I’m thankful for the opportunities our family has been given. I’m excited for what we’ve accomplished here so far, I can’t wait to see what’s still in store. But boy oh boy, lately there have been challenges!

We thought we could work on those challenges by spending some much needed time back home and on vacation – this was great, a time to reconnect with those we’ve known our whole lives and some of our most cherished friends! But it was also hard, a look at what we sometimes feel that we’re missing out on and, a whole new level of homesickness when we left.

During our time home…and on our first night back, we made two trips that we didn’t expect…one to urgent care for Colin, then a second to the emergency room for a second, completely unrelated incident. He’s fine, but, there’s nothing that makes you feel like you have less control over a situation than feeling completely helpless to help your child when they need help. Again, I’ll reiterate, he is fine and by the time we left the ER last night he was running around, complaining about being hungry, making jokes with doctors and blowing bubbles all over the unit.

This pregnancy has been different than my others – thank goodness! I can eat! But, it’s also been plagued with uncertainty, pain and straight-up fear over what’s to come. Being a planner who feels most secure when life is going according to that plan, this has been a hard thought to swallow. When you go into your third pregnancy, whether you’re high risk or not, you are pretty sure you have it together. You’ve been through the ringer, you know your body and you feel competent to face the 9 months (and lifetime!) that lie ahead…it’s exciting! However…it just took one ultrasound and one tiny (beautiful!) little extra heartbeat to send things spiraling in an unexpected direction. This was compounded by the fact that we’re so far from so many loved ones!

This probably sounds like life to most people! And, I’m the first to admit that it really is. Life is full of uncertainties, of adventures and of unexpected events…that’s what makes it exciting and thrilling. But it’s also what gives that feeling of spinning, which I know is not unique to me or to my family. Sometimes, the world just spins a little faster than normal, or than what we anticipated!

I guess I’m just throwing this out there to be honest. I blog to share what’s happening, to give others something to relate to and to be honest. And honestly, that’s where we are right now.

When life gets here, I try – and am trying still! – to focus forward. To think about all the amazing blessings that have been literally poured into our lives. To look past the chaos to what’s ahead and to trust in the fact that this is all going somewhere amazing, somewhere I cannot fathom or imagine on my own. I remind myself that having control over everything is no way to live, you’ve got to leave room for some spinning, for some surprises! If it weren’t for that, how boring would this journey be?

Where are you at today? What’s spinning in your world? What can you grab onto to remind yourself that something beautiful is in the works?

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This is something I hold onto…the amazing family I’ve been blessed with and the adventures we get to share!

 

Fit Pregnancy: A Call for a New Perspective

Guys. I have to tell you, I am so so very excited to share this post with you all. While many of you know that I’m on my own pregnancy journey, and some of my posts will likely reflect that once I’m back up and going, long before I knew I was pregnant, I knew what I wanted this time around: a fit pregnancy.

While my new goal is simply a healthy one, someone very close to me, my sister-in-law, got to accomplish just that. I’d done tons of research on the perks of exercising, even strenuously, during pregnancy, and had read tons of success stories. However, I hadn’t been close to anyone who’d made it happen. So, I was excited to hear her take and to encourage her through her exciting journey!

What I didn’t expect, is what she encountered during that time. I think that what she put together here is an interesting read that we should all take to heart, whether we’re going for it or not. I’m not going to divulge more…she does it perfectly…but I did want to share a picture of my new niece for everyone to enjoy before jumping in!

Read what Jen has to share, think about how you can relate – from the inside or outside – and share your thoughts!

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“You’re still teaching at the gym?! I stopped doing cardio when I found out I was pregnant because I wanted to keep my baby”.  This isn’t something I expected to hear at 20 weeks pregnant.

Let me preface this little rant by saying that I have always been athletic.  I grew up playing field hockey, basketball, and swimming.  I continued playing field hockey throughout college, and afterwards I picked up running to clear my head and keep me in shape. I have two half marathons and a full under my belt.  I’ve conquered a few “Tough Mudders”, and in the last 2 years I started teaching INSANITY at my local gyms.  The point is, I’ve never been what you would call a “couch potato” and I have been blessed with good health thus far in my life.

Before trying to get pregnant, my fitness routine mostly consisted of weight lifting 5 days a week and teaching 2-5  INSANITY classes. I have always loved fitness because it makes me happy. It clears my mind.  After my husband and I decided to try to get pregnant, we discussed that having a healthy baby was our top priority. My first stop was the OBGYN to have a check-up and ask if it was safe to continue this lifestyle while trying to conceive, and throughout pregnancy.  His answer?  “Keep doing what you’ve been doing and listen to your body”.  Awesome. A healthy baby and healthy mom were two goals that seemed to go hand-in-hand.  And so, the day I found out I was pregnant I resolved to continue to work out as best I could.   I would not push myself farther than my body wanted to go, and I would always listen to the little one growing inside of me.  I promised myself I would stop immediately if anything felt “off”. Nothing was worth sacrificing the well-being of my child.

The first time I really began to understand the dynamic of a “fit pregnancy” was at 6 weeks pregnant.  Months before this, I had signed up to complete a 3-day, 60-mile walk for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  After months of fundraising and training, this was something I felt very strongly about completing. This was going to be an enormous challenge for me but I vowed to take it step by step, both literally and figuratively. I completed all 60 miles of the walk, and while I felt a huge sense of accomplishment physically, what I learned during those 3 days was far more important.  I began to understand that it was okay to take things slowly. I never for one second felt unwell during those 3 days (ya know, besides my knees and feet feeling like they were going to fall off but that’s pretty typical from what I’ve gathered).    Even at 6 weeks, the baby needed me to rest a little more often and to always have snacks and water on hand.  After the walk, my husband and I thought that learning to make these small changes would be one of the toughest challenges I would have to face in pregnancy.  But then I told people I was pregnant.

Sharing the best news of our lives with loved ones was full of congratulatory excitement, but it wasn’t long before the criticism began to take shape.  We announced our pregnancy at about 12 weeks.  The first comment I seemed to get after telling someone the news was disbelief that I was going to continue teaching INSANITY.  It was funny to me that people with no medical background would argue that it wasn’t safe, despite the fact that I had cleared it with my Doctor and that I myself have significant medical knowledge. As I continued to safely maintain my fitness routine throughout my pregnancy, the criticism seemed to gain momentum.

My response to all comments was simply a smile. But inside I was fuming.

As I ate my usual salad for lunch, “Salad again huh? Don’t you know you’re supposed to enjoy your pregnancy?”. Actually, I was enjoying it, until you opened your mouth.

After someone asked me if I was wearing maternity pants at 5 months pregnant and I said no; “You’re working out too much. That poor baby has no room to grow”.  My Doctor says I’m measuring right on track, thanks.

At 6 months pregnant a student of mine at the gym asked how far along I was.  Once I told her, she answered with a long stare and asked “Do you even eat?!”  I didn’t even have a response for that.

Sometimes the critiques were mildly veiled with concern.  “What does the Doctor say about your weight gain? Is the baby getting enough food?” Again, measuring right on track.

The comment with which I began this article was perhaps the most hurtful I heard during my pregnancy.  The implication that I cared more about fitness than the possibility of a miscarriage was beyond insulting.  I can remember staring at this person with my mouth open wide, and promptly going to the bathroom to cry.

It may be important to note that 99% of the negative comments were made by other women – many of whom were already mothers or were pregnant at the time.  I’m guessing that for most of you reading this, that doesn’t come as much of a surprise.  My experience as a pregnant fitness instructor may seem somewhat unique, but I am positive that the underlying tone of these criticisms is something that every pregnant woman experiences in one way or another.  If it’s not about being “too fit”, it’s about gaining too much weight (“are you sure it isn’t twins?!”). We critique the pregnant woman who enjoys an occasional glass of wine, or her daily cup of coffee.  There are opinions about how long we are planning to take off from work, what our “birth plan” consists of, or whether or not we were “trying” to get pregnant.

Why do women feel the need to tear each other down especially during pregnancy?  I can’t say that I have an answer to that.  Has society created a cookie-cutter image of what pregnancy should be for every woman?  That image being we should gain a lot of weight, become highly emotional/irrational, send our partners out for pickles and ice cream at 3 am, and will happily accept the fact that our bodies will never be the same.  Lost in those stereotypes is the fact that we are taking 10 months to grow a human life.   In truth, pregnancy is one of the greatest responsibilities that some women will ever take on. What’s sad is that society seems to ignore this point, and only focus on some of the superficial aspects of the process.

Every woman is very different in how they experience and handle their respective pregnancies.  Yet what is common among women is that almost all of us have difficulty with pregnancy at times, and we feel very alone in these struggles.  Society’s image of pregnancy tells us that it isn’t normal to experience this type of struggle – and this feeling of isolation can easily breed insecurity in mothers.  I think that when we see a woman whose pregnancy is/was different than ours, some of these insecurities surface as snide remarks and criticism.

I believe the key to overcoming this problem is for women to be more honest and open with each other about both the joys and insecurities of this experience.   By moving past the typical baby-bump questions (“How much weight have you gained?”, “What foods are you craving?”, “Don’t you feel like a beached whale sometimes?”), we can create a more honest and supportive community.  Women can ask each other how they are really feeling, praise them for the incredible sacrifice they’re making, and comfort them when they face difficult problems.

I know this is all easier said than done, and that change won’t come overnight.  Society will still give us its version of the rom-com pregnancy.  Princess Kate will still be paraded out in front of cameras in high heels, a face full of professional makeup, and a designer dress, just “10 short hours after giving birth”.  (Mothers, am I the only one who wondered what was happening in her underwear at that moment)?  Pregnant women will continue to ask themselves “Why is this so much harder for me?”  But over time, we can work towards an honest and transparent community where mothers can feel more secure.  My time as a pregnant woman allowed me to appreciate the experience that every mother goes through and understand the fact that each woman is unique in their own way.  When my daughter Madeline finally came after 41 long weeks, I was ecstatic to hold all nine and a half pounds of her in my arms (hey critics, guess there was enough room for her to grow)!  That moment made the past 10 months of a sometimes difficult journey completely worth it.  There’s great comfort in knowing all new moms will eventually get to that point.  It’s up to us all to make it a little bit easier for them to get there.

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Here’s Jen looking fabulous at 41 weeks!