Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

24 weeks: The garbage nest swan and me

It is good that most women find a mate before they get pregnant and not vice versa. Let's just say I don't feel I have a lot going for me right now. First of all, I cough all night (there must be something about being pregnant that makes one cough). And as if that weren't annoying enough, I wet my pants a little, or more than a little, every time I cough. I have pitting edema in my ankles. And my left eye is perpetually red and swollen (this is particularly fun for someone working in ophthalmology).

Then there is my psychiatric state. I can go from saying "I've never been so happy in my life!" to seconds later screaming and crying because I can't take Shakira singing "wakawaka" one more time. I also can't keep track of what I'm doing. The other day, I went to Copenhagen to use a specific statistics program and then forgot to save the work. I then actually got the program onto my computer and, when I turned the assignment for our statistics class, I realized I had forgotten half of it in the printer. This morning I truly left our apartment without shoes on. It was not for a barefoot run, and it was raining outside. I did make the right decision to go back and get my shoes.

My chances of advancing my career are minuscule right now. Rather than learning statistics in the class I'm in now, I sit and study the large map of Europe on the wall, trying to determine in which body of water I would most like to swim naked. I have the opportunity to start some really interesting studies at the moment, but half of my time is spent simply trying to remember what I need to do or doing something again, which I did wrong the first time. Seriously, people.

I read in my Danish pregnancy book that some women feel they get clumsy and absent-minded while pregnant. They then state "this can most likely be alone attributed to increased swelling in women's hands, which makes them drop things." .... right... Allow me to nominate this as the worst hypothesis of the year.

But thank heavens I still have running and exercise, my main sources of self-esteem. What would I do without them? I spend a lot of time talking about how healthy exercise in pregnancy is. But now, when I get asked (as I do frequently at this point) "Are you sure that's safe???", rather than gathering my resources and starting to explain how it actually is healthy, I get the urge to strangle the person and say "don't try to tell me it's unhealthy. I NEED it!" How do women who don't run or exercise SURVIVE pregnancy?

Last weekend was filled with moments of heaven on earth. On Saturday, SR and I went for a run - two times around two lakes on trails, as I call the route around Bagsværd and Lyngby lakes. Two months ago this took me 2:45 minutes, on Saturday, it took just three minutes longer! I have to say, at 24 weeks, exercise is not much harder than it was at the very beginning. On Sunday, I rode my road bike an hour to the pool, swam for 50 minutes and then ran 1.5 hours home through the woods. No part of it was much slower than at the beginning of pregnancy. I am simply writing this so I remember it. These are the moments where I shine.

I left my statistics class early today to run in the cold rain. On days like this, there are not that many people running, even around the lakes in central Copenhagen. And I had a moment to observe the swan I love, who makes her nest out of trash. She takes a lot of grass, but also plastic bags and bottles and strings and other odds and ends to make her enormous nest. I looked carefully today and, sure enough, she's got an egg in there.

I get a lot of comfort out of this swan. She is filled with this desire to make a nest and does it in such a crazy and yet adamant way. No one understands her and yet she is sure she is preparing correctly for the new little swan. Yet, does she even know the new little one is coming?

So pregnancy, a time of hyper vigilance, misdirection and distraction. How can these be turned into anything beneficial? Is there a reason, evolutionarily, we feel this way? Well, my theory is, we are simply building up love for the baby (my alternative hypothesis is simply brain swelling). A loving mother is simply so important for a baby's survival. But can all of this extra energy be used towards anything good here and now? One sure thing is that I suddenly have even more love to give The Lorax. It is not unheard of for me to simply watch him fall asleep and then burst into tears because I will never, ever, ever be able to communicate to him how much I love him. It is TOO much!!

Some women use this energy to paint rooms or buy baby clothing. This is all fine and well, but it is absolutely not me. I guess I choose to focus a lot on diet and exercise because, well, these are really two of the only things I know of that actually improve birth outcomes. So at least I feel I'm doing something. (Drs. Cythia and David pointed out that exercise in pregnancy decreases the risk of pre-ecclampsia: yes this is true! I was at a lecture a couple months ago with one of the world's leading pre-ecclampsia experts and she just could NOT say enough about the benefits of exercise while pregnant.) Plus, what a great way to get in shape (as I've mentioned before). If you've got all of this energy and unrest that you just can't seem to direct, well, exercise seems like a good option.

I actually found a picture of my swan on the internet, but I just don't think it does her justice, so she will have to remain as she is in your imagination.

Instead, I will leave you with a picture of SR trying desperately to escape his crazy wife.




And now that I have made fun of Shakira, I need to leave you with some music from three different countries.

The first is a video that made me cry both times I watched it (but remember, you're getting this from an emotional pregnant chick). It is from Holland and the girl's face reminds me so much of Diana (who lives in Holland) but I just don't think it's her. Diana, you're not a circus gymnast, are you?

Bart Constant - "Do Better" (with Dustin O'Halloran) from Kimmo Films on Vimeo.



Second, my absolute favorite running or biking song right now from Sweden. Short translation of the chorus "I'm coming, I'm coming, I'm coming, I'm coming. I'm almost there!" (you decide for yourself whether or not the song is sexual...)



Third. The Spanish language in all of it's beauty, from Barcelona. This is one song which really benefits from being as long as it is. Horas Tristes by Mueran Humanos Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExXx3OuCIeE (totally scary picture on their album cover- beware!)

6 comments:

amy said...

"On Sunday, I rode my road bike an hour to a pool, swam for 50 minutes and then ran 1.5 hours home through the woods."

I hope you remembered to retrieve your bike from the pool? ;)

SteveQ said...

I just ran with LCD Soundsystem's "Drunk Girls" running through my head: Drunk boys - we walk like pedestrians. Of course, I fell.

sea legs girl said...

Amy, yes, I forgot to mention that the only downside of it was when I drove back to get my bike it had a flat. Not that I could ride it back... but annoying!

Steve Q. Have you thought of making a section to your blog - running song of the day that I didn't actually hear, but sang to myself? When you listen to these songs in your head, is it just the chorus that you hear or is it the whole thing? I'm just curious. I'm not making fun of you. It is just intersting that you prefer to singing the song in your head to actually hearing the song.

The Chapples said...

"I have to say, at 24 weeks, exercise is not much harder than it was at the very beginning."

I wish that was the case for me!! Sadly, I feel every bit of 24 weeks but still hanging in there with running, at least!

Diana said...

Sadly, no, I do not have a second career as a circus gymnast. I don't think I've been that limber since I was about six or seven. Lovely narrative, even if it made me a little sad in the end.
You're swan sounds pretty cool. There are tons of them here, scattered around the countryside between all the adorable, little lambs. Makes me want to go for a run in the polders right now.

SteveQ said...

Running with headphones is like running on a treadmill for me; it removes part of the experience - though I will grudgingly admit that there have been times when hearing music while running has been enjoyable (in the Metrodome, some evenings they have other events where there's music on a PA system and it carries, for example). Usually I end up having only part of a song repeat in my head - often because it's the only part of the song I remember - but sometimes the lyrics turn out to have some deep meaning (my brain trying to tell me something subconciously). Some songs are extremely common and are pace-related and I hear the whole thing; the prime example being CCR's "Traveling Band," which happens to have a tempo that's exactly 6 minutes per mile for me.