It's Babymoon time! Otherwise known as 24 hours without the kids where we can discuss all the important things about the impending arrival we haven’t had time to focus on. Like a name for her???!! Or rather just sit in the spa and sleep. Our babymoon for our first baby was 33 weeks into pregnancy too and it marked the day I gave up running. We’d planned a 6 miler from the hotel after breakfast but a mile into it my body just said no. It started to feel uncomfortable – there was too much pressure on my pelvis and we turned it into a hike.
This time I’m not there yet – running still feels good but I’m listening to my body in the same way as before – with the benefit of knowing what “not right” feels like. I do 5 miles in the morning on the treadmill before we leave to make sure I work up a proper appetite for the multi-course dinner menu. The hotel we go to is called South Lodge – chosen for the sub 1 hour drive (driving reduces spa time) and the amazing spa pools. As well as the highly limited child access – the opposite to what I’m usually looking for! I think about doing a proper pool workout and bust out about 20 lengths then decide to sit on lounger and get my book out instead. Running related obvs...
Whilst I sadly have to skip the sauna, there are a few cooler steam and sensory rooms that I do a few laps of, before heading to the outdoor (not too hot) jacuzzi pool. I forget that her hearing is becoming more developed – she can clearly hear the bubbles as she starts a right kickfest! The pool seems to have woken her up.
I’m taking time to think of the things I’ve missed being pregnant – and what I want to do after giving birth (running long distances in lumpy places being out for a while). Foodwise it’s a proper medium-rare steak, poached eggs, goats cheese and prosciutto. Drinkwise I really miss that tipsy feeling after a glass of champagne followed by a large glass of Brunello (my favourite Italian red wine). Though with breastfeeding it’ll have to wait a few weeks so I can pump enough! Activity wise it’s the sauna (you know, in case I ever get to go to a spa again). I haven’t been able to take my 2 year old down the water slide at the leisure pool and hear his squeals of excitement. Or show my 5 year old how to do a tumble over a bar or a pullup (he's jealous a girl in his class can!). Exercise wise I can’t wait to ignore my HR and get that slightly sick feeling from going all out!!
So it’s really not that much - and there’s a lot about pregnancy I will probably miss. Like having an excuse not to change the worst nappies (cause it’s harder to get down on the floor – or so I tell hubby…), always having the bike under the aircon in spin, getting a fair 50% share of dinner. And most of all the amazing body confidence that I have when pregnant. I’ve struggled all my life with accepting what I look like. I was overweight as a child and have been on diets for decades. At 33 weeks pregnant I'm still over 10lb lighter than I was at 14! But something about this pregnancy, something about having grown 3 babies now has made me see my body in a new light. It’s all about what my body can do – what it looks like is just a factor of that.
The next morning we can’t resist the posh (and empty!) gym for a quick workout. And a quick dip in the outdoor pond. We have a lovely long brunch where I actually get to eat my food and have a hot cup of tea. Apparently there’s a cup out there that keeps tea at a certain temperature… I might need it on my Christmas list.
It’s brilliant being back into training properly after the injury and I’m having to move up weights on the cable machine for my arm and back training. I never thought I'd be growing a set of guns in pregnancy!
I notice 2 guys watching me train. When I go to stretch one of them tries to do the same move at the same weight and can't move the cable!!! Have to look away not to laugh. That’s 2 guys that won’t underestimate a pregnant woman again!!!!
In spin I’m back to full strength (well, full 34 weeks pregnant strength). Though I have to wear my fully padded Rapha cycle shorts tucked under the bump to make it comfortable now (then change to shorts for weights - these Latched ones are really comfy). My instructor has made a note of my due date – I’m fairly sure he wants to kick me out soon but it’s such an uplifting part of my week that I try not to miss a session. Our [socially distanced] class of 8 is so friendly and encouraging – always offering me the best bike for aircon if I don’t nab it first and joking about when I’ll finally slow down and they can beat my calorie count. Since the class has been increased from 45 to 60 minutes I’m doing relatively even better – the endurance shows even in pregnancy! I manage to crush the class with 2nd highest total calorie burn (on a W/kg I reckon I still beat the guy). Not that it matters… but any boost is helpful this far into pregnancy.
Since reading Shane’s book in the spa I’ve been thinking more about my running technique. In the pool technique is king – people seem to glide past me making far less effort. I have the endurance to swim a long way but the more I try to go fast, the slower I seem to get. My coach puts an interval session in my program to mix it up but I give up after a few reps and just swim at the same speed as my increased thrashing seems to send me backwards.
So I’m wondering how much I can improve my running technique to become one of these “gliders”. I don’t have the natural talent/engine/whatever it was that the girls at school who could run had so I’m thinking about where else I can make up the difference. What I can control.
I fell pregnant just a short while after I had a session with Shane so haven’t been working on it but now I’ve read the book I realise there are things I can work on in pregnancy too. I’m now trying to run like a “prancing pony” and my cadence (179) is well in his optimal range on my 5 miler to the pool. It feels good to be able to work on something – there is so much that is out of my control. But I’m trying to focus on what is within my control and focus my efforts and attention there.
I’m now wearing my support belt to run (Gabrialla) and it is definitely making a difference with no tweaks in my pelvis and my pelvic floor not bothering me – I even manage a 7 mile run with an 8.23 mile snuck in in the pouring rain! It puts my heartrate up to 160 which feels crazy as it’s much slower than marathon pace but I guess I’m almost 20lb heavier! I can't believe I'm running like this after my hamstring tear. It will go down soon - I only have 6 weeks to go.. But this is such a confidence boost - not only do I feel great in my body but also about the decisions I'm making in pregnancy.
I’m wearing the belt almost all the time now – taking the pressure off my back as much as I can. Earlier in pregnancy I’d worn it around my hips to stabilise them for the high levels of relaxin, then I had a couple of months without it but now I won’t leave the house without it! "Rest" days at weekends generally mean long hikes with the boys which is still a workout!
Even if I’m not in pain I know it’s taking the pressure off my back and muscles around my stomach so it can only be helping. My 2 year old calls it a seat belt for the baby and delights in trying to pull it off of course.
This week I have a 34 week scan at the hospital. At my last scan they were concerned about a slightly low lying placenta so wanted to see me again. As I’m 38 the computer highlights me as a higher risk mum, though my consultant finds this rather amusing seeing me in person and my medical history. Anyhows I have the scan and she is behaving well – already head down and apparently unlikely to turn as she’s running out of room (and if she does I’ll know about it!). My first baby was back-to-back which made for a prolonged delivery needing an intervention (episiotomy and ventouse) so this is good news I have a greater chance of avoiding it.
I’m given a report after my scan to take into my consultant appointment afterward and there are a few numbers that concern me reading it. Her side to side head measurement is above the 95th percentile but length wise its only measuring on the 26th. So she’d look a bit strange! I’m then worried her estimated weight is only the 20th percentile. Though her tummy is the 40%. What does this mean?? The longer I wait to see the consultant the more nervous I get.
Luckily as soon as I go in the consultant scans my report and picks it up before I have to ask – apparently when they go head down it’s hard to measure – a few mm either way would move her percentile quite dramatically! Also her head is being squished now and the bones overlap – she’ll be squished in the birth canal as well but all will settle when she comes out. She probably won’t be the 4kg whopper that Cormac was, but I’m only small and so I’m unlikely to have a big baby. And before I mention my “neat” looking bump she alleviates that concern too – fit pregnant women have stronger cores and can look smaller. But my baby is absolutely fine and that’s all that matters.
It makes me realise that more data is not always good – and comparing to others isn’t either. Information is what matters – translating that data and taking into account my circumstances. The consultant says she’d rather I just saw a report saying everything is absolutely fine as that’s all she takes from the report. I feel lucky to have this additional contact – especially with a brilliant consultant who pushes to make sure all my concerns are dealt with.
So as she’s asked I launch into the most recent nightmare I’ve been having which is of being forced to have an induction and then being stuck in hospital for a week waiting for it to happen! This happened to a friend of mine with her first baby and the idea of being cooped up and away from my boys is far frightening than labour itself. She laughs at me. They will now recommend induction after 41 weeks as per new guidelines, but there are several methods that don’t involve drugs (and definitely not the oxytocin drip which would prevent my preferred water birth) – and as I’ve had 2 vaginal deliveries she expects this one to be less than a day even if induced. And also – most importantly - I can say no at any time and wait it out. It’s my body, my baby and my choice. Her role is to give me all the information and the best advice she can.
I feel such a sense of relief. I have no idea what will happen in labour which is so unsettling. But she has somehow given me a sense of control. And with that she asks me how my fitness regime is going having seen my running shoes poking out of my pack! She's happy for me to do anything that keeps me sane exercise wise, as long as it feels right and I leave agreeing to speak to her students on keeping active during pregnancy.
I’m now over 8 months pregnant and into the final stretch. I’m feeling genuinely strong and fit. Not strong and fit "for a pregnant woman" - whatever that means. There are some days where I don’t want to exercise more than I need to – though with 2 small boys and a hilly school run this still involves 15,000 steps a day! Hubby and I are both preparing in our own way – he’s become the flat pack king building furniture all over the house and trying to organise different rooms. I’ve roped my mum in to help me sort through all our bedding and organise the nursery. Anything I can possibly delegate or ditch I’m doing. And when people ask if they can help I always say yes. Even if it's just a playdate after school so I can have an afternoon nap. There is no medal for doing everything yourself.
I've now started to record the latter stages of pregnancy for an exciting project (details coming soon!) and have to hike to a beautiful hill near me before dawn for a sunrise photoshoot. The sky is so clear and full of stars; something I would never have seen when I lived in London, and I don’t need my headtorch along the open path. Phil (@the_phbalance) manages to capture my bump so beautifully against the sunrise. It’s almost November but it’s warm enough to be running in a bra and shorts!
There aren’t many pictures of pregnant women running out there – especially non elite athletes. I’m hoping this project and this blog take a small step to normalising that. That we can continue to exercise and do what we love through pregnancy; trusting our bodies to tell us what is right for us. Listening to the experts and not the bystanders.