Monday, February 23, 2015

Stretching {35 weeks}

Taken at 32 weeks...
I have always been very aware of my body. As a runner engrossed in training, I constantly assessed aches, pains, strains, strength. My shoe wardrobe has never been particularly fancy, mostly practical more than anything--a testament to the desire to support my joints and not add any additional strain to a body that I put to work--sometimes in gut-wrenching ways--challenging and testing and seeking to create new limits.

Pregnancy feels very similar at times, a rigorous, daily workout that I have no say in. I wake in the middle of the night and feel my spine adjust to the weight imbalance. I crouch to pick up a fallen Cheerio and sense the extra weight I have to bear as I struggle to stand. I walk and I bend and I groan, weighing the activities I desire to accomplish and my body's ability to realistically do them. 

My daughter sensed this shift in ability the minute I stopped carrying her as frequently. It's worth noting that she is generally very independent and enjoys being off to enjoy her freedom. With that said, when in the company of large groups of strangers (or in the company of good looking food decidedly out of her reach), she seeks to be held. And about two weeks ago, my ability to hold her--while also carrying her sibling--was fading. Thanks to my large belly, I was unable to hold her in a neutral position out front any longer, and hoisting her on a hip out to the side created a strain on my back that wasn't sustainable for long. 

Her persistence in asking to be held was admirable, and she wouldn't take anyone else for a substitute. At times I would sit on the floor and offer my lap as a peace offering. Other times I would be forced to ignore her please for my arms as she expressed her dissatisfaction at being held by someone else. In some ways this is good practice for the near future when she won't be the only child I'm caring for, when her needs won't be met quite as quickly. Perhaps this is good practice for me, conceding to the reality that I cannot be everything to everyone--now or ever.

This new child, still happily in the womb, challenges and stretches me already. His or her growing body is pushing the limits of the space I have available--head driving down, feet in my ribs, torso arching against my stomach creating an arch that grows by the week and sometimes by the day. My shirts are getting shorter; my meals are getting smaller. Shallow breathing plagues me when the child settles just right, cutting off the expansion of my lungs. 

Even still, I find myself content with the status quo---one child that sleeps within me, the other in the next room. My nights are far from peaceful, thanks to restless legs and hormones that cause my mind to race. Yet the quiet is something I cherish, knowing these evenings are numbered. One night, not so far from now, this child will stretch my body to the breaking point and emerge an independent (and oh-so-dependent) human being, and our lives will be changed. And though my body will begin to recover from the strain it has experienced in pregnancy, we will be stretched in different ways beginning the minute the child emerges. It is coming, ready or not. 

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