The final countdown
30th Sep 2018
We thought we had reached halfway through pregnancy at 20 weeks - over halfway if you count the extra 3 months of IVF where already my body was not my own...
But sitting here now at 39 weeks, I have realised the closer you get to the due date, the more time slows down. In hindsight I’d say around 34 weeks is psychologically half way! When I wrote my last blog I was 33 weeks and happy that I was still managing to maintain a reasonable amount of exercise. But that was the turning point where everything just started to become too uncomfortable and more activities have to be put on hold. Probably this is the point everyone gets fed up because they can’t wait to meet the new addition to the family. But as an athlete, on top of that, my life was completely unrecogniseable for what is 'normal' to me.
I had to stop running at 31 weeks because the weight became too uncomfortable (imagine having 5kg boobs and running without a bra!) Around 34 weeks I had to stop cycling as well - I just couldn’t reach the handlebars, or pedal without my legs hitting the bump. We had the turbo set up in the garden which I did continue until the end - taking it in turns with Simon - who had his arm in a sling recovering from shoulder surgery! My sessions were restricted to standing intervals (static recovery) as that’s the only way I could pedal.
It also became impossible to breathe properly when exercising - we later found out this was exacerbated by baby being in the breech position. Being head-up instead of head down meant he never dropped down into the pelvis and instead crowded my lungs and other organs. It was even more uncomfortable with me being smaller than average and baby being bigger than average!
My saving grace was being able to swim in the outdoor pool at David Lloyd, or at TVT club sessions, which I tried to do at least 4 x 1 hour per week. Being in the water was the only time I felt less uncomfortable and weighed down; getting some sun and vitamin D was a bonus!
I also did a bit of cross training and S&C in the gym until the end. I felt pretty conspicuous among all the guys lifting big weights, but thankfully no-one made any unwanted comments! I still found it hard to identify with what I saw in the mirror though, looking at a watermelon instead of a 6-pack still made me do a double-take.
I'll be honest that I didn’t enjoy being pregnant - I always expected it would be a challenge, knowing that sport would get harder and most activities would gradually have to stop. But I never really thought about the everyday difficulties like not being able to sleep or breathe properly, or to reach the sink, the steering wheel, or my feet. I couldn’t put socks on by the end, let alone compression socks, which I tried to use to prevent swelling! Annoyingly I suffered with restless leg syndrome throughout pregnancy, which made sleep impossible and was almost a form of torture! I was regularly pacing the landing until 2-3am trying to stretch my calves and get rid of this sensation. Then as soon as I manage to get comfortable in bed, the baby decides to get hiccups or kick me relentlessly!
Again with the benefit of hindsight, I would say the 2 years' hell to get pregnant in the first place taught me the necessary patience and acceptance. Yes I had bad days, complaints, and sometimes wondered how I would ever make it to 40 weeks. But it's not mutually exclusive to be grateful we are having a baby but also hate being pregnant (especially towards the end)!
But now we are almost there, I cannot wait to get my body back along with my sanity. Unfortunately the closer we get, the more time slows down - especially as I had to stop work earlier than planned due to major redundancies at my company.
I am not looking forward to going through the major surgery of a C-Section (which unfortunately is required to get our stubborn breech baby out - wonder where he got that from?!) And I know it will be a long road to recovery - in a way it will be just like recovering from a serious injury! But it has to be the most exciting / rewarding (not to mention scary) thing we could ever do - and looking forward to meet our son one day very soon!
Design © 2019 Louise Fox. Photography © Lukasz Warzecha