When I went on my most recent library run, Joel had a request for me: to pick up some about-pregnancy-and-babies books, as he felt he had some knowledge gaps which he’d like to fill in.
Of the books I picked out, only one of them didn’t elicit gales of derisive laughter, voluminous swearing, and heavy sarcasm. That book was the Don’t Panic Pregnancy Book which was concise, straightforward, sensible, and not full of nauseating cutesy language, patronising advice, and scare tactics.
However, it didn’t really offer any especially illuminating information. Because it is so commonsense, if you have a reasonably functioning grasp on how shit works, it is a bit superfluous.
Your Pregnancy For The Father To Be provided us with much hilarity. Mostly because it seemed that their favorite piece of advice, for just about any occasion, was massage. One thing about me is that I am not good at getting a massage.
I’m not very touchy to begin with. I’m not a huggy person. I’m a hell of a handshaker. I’ve got a good handshake, dry, firm, competent. No sweaty floppiness, nor any knuckle-busting aggression. I’ll high-five you any day of the week. But I have to remind myself that there are some people who hug and if I kind of sidle away I am being kind of an asshole. Therefore I do try to make the effort, but I’m afraid usually I do that sort of “dude hug” which mostly involves shoulders and a few pats on the back.
Moreover, I am absolutely crap at, like, making myself relax. I can relax when I can relax. There are some things I find very relaxing. A long, quiet bike ride. Sitting down by the river and watching fish jump. Taking photos. Weeding my garden boxes. Watching people blow things up on the Internet. Burning colored smoke-balls on the patio. However, when it comes to doing yoga or meditating, or submitting to a massage, it all goes wrong. I get self-conscious. I get the giggles. I get tense and stiff and anticipate the massage hitting a muscle wrong and making me cramp up. And then, of course I cramp up. And if the person giving the massage isn’t very good at reading nonverbal vocal cues, they might think my “aarghs” of discomfort are grunts of relief. So it usually ends in me asking, “I’m sorry, I know you’re trying to do me a favor, but this hurts, so would you mind if we just don’t?”
So, it becomes clear why a book which seems to offer massage as a potential sop to various and sundry discomforts of pregnancy would elicit a few stern glances from this member of the party.
I picked up The Everything Guide To Pregnancy Over 35, which, unfortunately I found equal parts condescending and alarmist, with a piquant garnish of irrelevance.
The part that really lit my bloomers on fire was a tsk-tsky section on preparing yourself for the financial, social, and personal life changes a baby will bring. Given that consideration of all of the above is a fair whack of what has delayed my entry into the motherhood gambit until the apparently doddering age of 35, I would say that I have adequately mentally prepared. In fact, if I am honest, I rather welcome the excuse to dodge out of social events in noisy bars where shitty white-guy-blues bands may be lunking out their predictable sounds. I’m already resigned to being poor. Hell, I majored in English. I pretty much signed on a line 15+ years ago agreeing to have no earning potential. Kid’s just going to have to learn to live without violin lessons and hockey league. I’m 35 years old, for the love of mercy. I know, understand, accept, and welcome the fact that shit’s gonna change. I am aware that my introvert side will probably struggle with a diminished amount of “alone time” for recharging, but I’m sure I, like many other hermit-moms before me, will learn to cope.
The Active Woman’s Guide to Pregnancy was the other book I checked out. Thought it might have some useful info on some stretching and strengthening exercises to help me deal with the hip, groin, and butt pain I’ve been experiencing lately. It didn’t offer much beyond what I’d already been doing, and, in fact, was essentially 282 pages to say what I’d already read online in about eight paragraphs.
Which boils down to: “if you were already active and athletic before pregnancy, carry on, just don’t push yourself into anaerobic territory. If you were sedentary before pregnancy, try to begin a gentle workout schedule, but don’t go too crazy and stress your body out. Do pelvic tilts, cat-and-cow yoga thingies, and stuff like the butterfly stretch to help strengthen your core and all that. Swimming is good. If you can afford it, you should go swimming or take a pregnant-ladies-water-aerobics class.” It gives risk assessments for various activities at various stages of pregnancy, which is helpful, but I found the book a bit windy on what is essentially a pretty simple subject. Move it, don’t push it.
So, I will continue on with my daily bike ride to work, basic bicycle-based errand running, my yoga-ish-stuff-for-people-who-get-the-giggles-and-fart-too-much, and your basic school-gym calisthenic stretching. May have to revise some of the bikey stuff in a few months, when and as my belly becomes more obtrusive, but you know. Bridge to be crossed when encountered.