I recently wrote about the prospect of the “new season”. That time of year the kids had gone back to school, which for me, would herald a time of finding a new routine with my new born whilst fitting in work and exercise. Somehow September feels like a clean slate and you can make a fresh start with whatever you want. But September came and went like a flash of lightning and looking back I just felt disappointment about my lack of exercise. You may recognise that feeling of having all the best intentions and –for whatever reason- you don’t/can’t follow through. Do you find your brain just makes more excuses and reasons to not get out there, all very believable but ultimately unhelpful. I can think of hundreds that have been flashing through my mind, the broken nights and subsequent tiredness, the early darkness in the evenings, the late light in the mornings, having no time on my own and “tomorrow” always seemed a better day to do it. So this morning I decided to go training behind the pram, despite being tired, despite the rain, despite anything.
My friend told me recently how her 4 year old was scared to cycle through a narrow lane at dusk. Suddenly she realised that he cycled behind her saying to himself “I can do this, I can do this”. I used the wisdom of this story to set out training behind the pram straight after the school drop off. “I can do this, I can do this”. My body hurt, rain was splashing against my face and the prospect of being outside for 40 minutes or so just seemed too much. “I can do this” flashed through my mind over and over, because I only needed the smallest excuse to turn round. But then again, I should know the psychology of this more than anyone. Women used to call my personal training business wanting to get fit after a baby, almost always in shock and disbelief that a number of years had passed. When you are out of a routine as a result of a life change then it takes determination (and a degree of insanity) to get back on track. There I was this morning doing an interval training session behind the pram of both power walking and jogging. My baby boy meanwhile sat strapped in the pram enjoying the view and the spitting of the rain drops on the cover that kept him dry and warm. After a while he dozed off to sleep and he missed the biggest showers.
Something started to happen when I was on my way back to the house. Slowly a sense of victory and achievement came over me (combined with relief to almost be back). I had felt very self conscious all the way round as people must have noticed this insane woman running behind a pram in the pouring ran. On my last stretch a car pulled up beside me and lowered the window and a man said jokingly “shouldn’t you buy an umbrella?” I had no opportunity to answer as simultaneously another car reversed into the road and they collided. I carried on running telling myself “I can do this” and “don’t stop and look back!”
Whatever you want to achieve, there are always obstacles standing in your way. Whether you want those obstacles to stop you or not is a different matter and up to you. I am not going to buy new clothes, nor am I going to get trapped in waiting for all the circumstances to be excellent, so this is the way it will have to be. Yes, I was soaked to the bone when I got back, but I felt alive.
I am nothing but a home, a house, a shelter, a supply stream of nutrients, an internal bath, a sack for survival. It takes my breath away (not in the awe-inspiring sense of the word, but literally, I am very short of breath!), I puff and sigh with most moves, I get kicked and punched from the inside (this is supposed to be reassuring) and I am too uncomfortable, too tired and too “invaded” to properly enjoy some private time! I am not alone. Quite literally. This temporary occupation is due to come to an end quite soon and in the same way that I can’t wait to hold the little bundle of love, I am looking forward to inhabit my body all by myself again. Really, I am nothing but a home; the baby count down has begun.
It is a count down that sometimes moves in seconds, sometimes in hours and sometimes in lightyears. Many little warning signs are nothing but a string of false alarms, little teasers that make you sit up and sharpen your senses to then only relax again as it was nothing (much). Whereas during the 2nd trimester I used to feel shocked and occasionally taken aback by some of the changes my body seemed to be capable of, towards the end of the 3rd trimester it seems hardly worth mentioning it. Surrender is the order of the day, not because of choice but because of an intricate mixture of tiredness and the imminent loss of all available dignity. Nevertheless it is reassuring talking to other mothers who remember the internal worry of being “whale-like” and the self declared status of unattractiveness that comes with it, the realisation that it might never be the same again after birth and the insistent practise-runs of the body in preparation for birth. But after nine months you are all too aware that complaining about it is hardly going to erase those feelings. “It is all part of it”, people say happily, and they are right, but that doesn’t make it easier to cope with the bits that look so alien, the bits that are a different colour, leak or that you simply can’t see any longer.
I am nothing but a home, a house, a shelter, a supply stream of nutrients, an internal bath, a sack for survival. Right now that is my job and I need to get on with it. Or better: it needs to get on with it and I need to shut up. Any moment now or in the next 2 weeks of the baby count down, my perspective will get shifted and I will find myself on the other side of the bridge, caring about nothing else but the new baby life, whilst the house I have represented and a few leaking body parts will pale into insignificance. Daily anticipation is the order of the day: when, how and in what way will it all happen? The final unanswered questions that remain outside my control. It is not for me to know, but -like anything to do with the miracle of life- it runs all very smoothly entirely without my input. I am better off just listening for the hints.