October 12, 2022

Regression During Prime Time

 I’m told that 20 to 24 weeks is the prime time of pregnancy: you’re past the first trimester woes, and you haven’t reached the heft of the third trimester. Though I continue to spot, it’s dark brown blood that is old, and I’m cleared for activity. I return to climbing, at a level well below my pre-pregnancy self, and it is hard. Because I don’t necessarily feel that different day to day, I’m surprised at how different climbing feels from just a few weeks ago. I can no longer pull myself up with my back muscles or propel myself upwards with my core. The same climbs require more effort, and others I used to be able to lead (meaning my movement isn’t assisted by rope and the rope is present only to catch my falls) I’m now not even able to follow (meaning with assistance from the rope and the ability to rest without falling). I’m also fully exhausted after just a few climbs, and collapse in bed by 6:30 in the evening. Yes, I am less tired than in my first trimester, but pregnancy is still a lot of invisible work.

Luckily, my mindset has transitioned a little alongside my body, though admittedly a slower study to this process of change. I’m no longer as frustrated by the change in my ability. Instead, I remember that this is what I wanted: the unique experience of my body growing another, the materials of me that used to be just for me now creating a new being. Also, I am grateful for climbing as an avenue to viscerally feel just how much every part of me is continually morphing. Without holds whose contours now fit differently in my hands, I wouldn’t notice all the change in my fingers, and by extension my wrists and arms. This baby’s life is running through all of me. 

I watch my climbing partners progress in their technique and stamina, and in juxtaposition my climbing has regressed. But somehow, in this seemingly backwards path, I do feel a sense of primeness. I’m continuing to do what fills me, even if the flow and fit are an entirely different mold than before. 

During my period of rest, I decided I would lean into activities specific to the state of my body. I start prenatal workouts and prenatal yoga, and I’m surprised how much difference it makes to see other pregnant people. Following the movements of a pregnant person in a Youtube workout video, my body feels more connected to the routine because her body is like mine. Because pregnancy is a temporary state, I hadn’t considered that it’s like my need to see people of color, where it’s comforting to know that your difference is shared. 

And in the prenatal yoga class, I realize one of the most crucial outlets of common experience: the ability to complain. Most of the women are in their third trimester, with complaints of various joint pains and difficulty sleeping, or postpartum, with complaints of constant change and chaos in their lives. While it makes me slightly apprehensive about what’s to come, I also see the power in these women, things which have been hard for me to see in myself. Visualizing their strength and knowing we are the same, I feel stronger just by sitting amongst them. 

I know there’s a whole lot of difficulty to come, in unexpected shades and in greater degrees, but for now I am relishing how regressing gives me motion and perspective.

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