Monthly Archives: June 2012

Prego Brain Attacks

I can’t believe I’ve got Prego Brain this week. You’d think being a news junkie at a most newsworthy time would be enough to overcome this pre-birth state of mind. But Prego Brain is an unstoppable beast that crushes your focus and makes your concerns humiliatingly narrow in scope. I’ve been trying to fight it–thinking of ways to include other subjects besides pregnancy in my blog. This week I was sure I could do it with so much   riveting news that listening to it on NPR and reading it online wasn’t enough; I had to include old-fashioned primetime television for even more news coverage. Thank you Brian Williams (who by the way, is lookin’ awesome at 53).  For instance there’s been the Supreme Court rulings on Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Law, causing different groups to… oh sh** my stomach has just popped out!  And their upholding the Health Care Mandate which has… and it’s not gas. As of July 1st foie gras will no longer be sold in California making our state… we don’t have a dishwasher or a washer and dryer! How are we going to survive living in our apartment with a baby?! And Morrisey became president of Egypt to the delight of every goth kid and old new-waver alike. Cool.

Of course this isn’t the only form of pregnancy brain. You’ve got your frequent memory lapses, emotional ups and downs (though not too different from PMS except it’s more like PMS + mid-life crisis) and the short temper caused by lack of patience. These symptoms though all seem to stem from one thing: attention to baby and nothing else.

So I’m hoping that this is just a phase and soon it will pass. I don’t want to be a woman with only baby on the mind. It’s a dangerous state that can make women lose focus on the general population and make them rally to turn cool urban artsy neighborhoods into family friendly enclaves. It’s what makes women and men split into single sex groups at parties. And most dangerously it’s what can get women to forget about taking care of themselves and their relationship with their significant… I wonder if there are any cute maternity clothes out there?

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Don’t Work Out, Your Baby Could Die!

Who knew being pregnant was such a scary thing?! At any time you could fall down and your baby could die. Don’t ride a bike, you could fall off your bike and your baby could die. Don’t go jogging, you could trip, fall down and your baby could die. Don’t do a sit-up, you could cause early contractions, get the baby to fall out and your baby could die. Knowing how easy it is for a baby to die, why do we even have the abortion debate? If women don’t want a baby, seems like all they’d have to do is exercise more.

The quest to learn how much a woman can work out when pregnant is pretty frustrating. There doesn’t seem to be just one answer. I figured exercise is always a good thing so I kept doing my Boot Camp classes and other routines until I met with a nurse on the day I got tested at the doctor’s office. Suddenly I was made to feel as if working out was not only wrong but cruel and eeeeeeevil. “You need to stop doing that,” she told me. What part? “Anything that could hurt the baby.” Like what? “You can’t do sit-ups.” Like crunches? “Especially crunches–nothing that engages your stomach muscles. That can cause early contractions.” Okay so jogging? She seemed uneasy then said, “Mmmm, walking’s better.” But I run all the time. “Walking’s better.” Okay how about squats. “Mmmm…they’re okay. But not too much.” How about cycling class? By this time she seemed annoyed with my questions and didn’t even respond. She gave me a look like, “Are you kidding me? Don’t you know? If you really want this kid then don’t be selfish. Let yourself go to waste, be happy you’re gonna be a mom and stop wanting to kill your baby since it’s obvious that’s what you want to do.” It was a long silent stare. I finally replied, “What? I’m asking because I thought cycling just affects the legs.” She then told me that cycling uses your stomach muscles as well. I thanked her for informing me of everything it turned out I didn’t know and left insanely depressed.

For a week I didn’t work out very hard, resulting in the most tiring time of my first trimester. After moping around not feeling free to move as I was used to, I decided to ask around for a second opinion. Of course I first went online, but only found a mishmash of views on the subject. I then turned to my Boot Camp instructor. Turns out one of his focuses when studying human health was on pregnant women and exercise, so I figured he’d be one to listen to. He told me to be very careful since he knew of other fit women at our gym who continued working out as they always had and lost their baby in the first trimester. Then he offered to show me some exercises that would be safe for my state so I took him up on his offer. He had me join a friend and old workout partner of mine he was training who sprained her ankle. I guess he figured we were both equally debilitated–soon I learned that in his mind I was worse off.

The entire workout he checked on me after every rep, “Are you okay?” Yes I’m okay. He gave my friend and I the same exercises but mine were the baby version. So while she sweated I just did enough to move. “How you feelin’?” Fine. I went to pick up a weight, but he picked it up before I could and placed it in my hands. “Are you okay? How are you feeling?” It hadn’t even been five minutes into our session. Good, good. He took the weight from me as I was about to put it down. “Okay, take a sec. Are you okay’?” I’m fine, thanks. I looked at my friend with the sprained ankle who was huffing and puffing and looking as if she was about to die. Why wasn’t he asking her how she felt? She was obviously worse off than I was, but he had her doing the workouts full-out PLUS she got to pick up AND put down her own weights! “How you feelin’? You okay.” Yes! Why don’t you ask her?! “I just want to make sure.” I’ll let you know if I feel funny or if anything’s too much–don’t worry. I tried to put my weight down but he took it from me. “You okay?”

Finally I spoke to a doctor who said I could do everything as I had, just don’t let my heart rate go over 140. So I bought a heart rate monitor and went back to the gym. I went running and as soon as I got a little huffy puffy I noticed I hit 140. Okay, fine, I’m not going as strong as I had before but at least I know how far I can go. It was definitely frustrating–a sort of gym rat blue balls experience. I could workout, but only so far. Still it was something–even if pathetic and not completely satisfying.

All in all, something about this whole workout situation seemed too caged and unnatural. I mean, aren’t there women all over the world who don’t have the luxury of changing their over 140 heart rate lifestyles when pregnant? I went in for my official first visit with an OBGYN. I told her about my workout issue and finally I got the answer I was looking for, “Of course you can keep working out! I was jogging until my 9th month with both of my kids.” But with the heart rate under 140, right? “Forget the heart rate. If you’ve been working out hard before you got pregnant you can pretty much keep doing what you always did, just listen to your body and stop doing whatever you’re doing if you get light-headed or feel overworked. If you’ve been working out as much as you say you have, you’ll know.” Sweet! “All those warnings are for women who never worked out before they got pregnant .”  My energy level quickly came back. Yes! I can go back to doing as I always had before!

“Just don’t do crunches, sit-ups or deep twists.”

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Pregnancy The Great Equalizer

One really rad thing about getting pregnant is that I finally get to experience what pregnant teens go through. For years I always saw those teenage girls as the symbol of everything I never wanted to be: flippant and careless. I mean it’s not that hard not to get pregnant so how else could you explain it? No one needed to give me a long lecture on the many birth control methods available or how to deal with boys. My ten-year-goals were too important to throw away on a one-night-stand of what would most likely be mediocre sex. I mean come on—teenagers? Sure the enthusiasm might be there, but when did any of us meet a teenager comfortable enough in his/her own skin to make for a truly memorable time? So instead I held off until I was ready to deal with the consequences, and immediately built the fortress against becoming an unplanned parent. Whether through a shot, a pill, or a condom, I did everything in my power to make sure that if anything did happen, it would be more than just an accident, it would have to be an act of God.

So finally now in my thirties, looking at those infertile years coming right for me, how was I supposed to let go of my raging fear of having babies so I could let nature do its thing? To do so just seemed so flippant, so careless. It meant I had to become a dumb teen. Now I didn’t say become an impractical teen–the first couple of months I made sure to dip my toe into the wild world of doin’ it freestyle by gettin’ it on any day that didn’t show my little “You’re Ovulating” flowers on the Pink Pad Pro calendar on my iPhone. Once I got comfortable with that, it was time to do it when I could be voted as most likely to reproduce. I had to take a deep breath, put all the fear of a kid ready to jump off a high dive for the first time aside, and look that ovulation flower in the face and say, “Yeah I see you, but I wanna do it and I am no longer afraid of you and your frightening happy yellow petals!”

The first thing I thought as I took those steps to scary parent land was, “How do those kids do it?” We all have sex knowing you can get prego right? Or did someone forget to tell their kids? Suddenly I felt kind of bad for them; to go into this world of sex and knowing so little. Or maybe they do know what they’re doing. It does make the act of sex more thrilling when you add danger to the mix. Maybe I was the one who had been wrong. Plus, having sex with no protection makes you  feel even more naked. And what could be better than more naked?! Maybe those thoughtless kids had it right. It was so exciting to do it without knowing if what we were doing was the right thing or not. I felt, dare I say it, wild. I had become like everyone else I had ever met who had done it without a care in the world. I never felt so vulnerable, so present, so strangely human.

And then three months later I walked into the pregnancy clinic to confirm that I was pregnant. The waiting room was empty except for two teenage girls and their giddy moms. After having spent time imagining what pregnant teenagers think, I had forgotten that those teenagers are real and not as thoughtful as I had briefly imagined. With that familiar annoyed teen look, the two pregnant girls stared straight ahead silently while their moms blabbered on about where they could go to pick up some cute baby clothes. Suddenly my inner judge came roaring out. I wanted to tell those moms they were crazy for encouraging the end of their daughters’ futures. Although there was little they could do now, at least have the decency to make the child feel worse about what they did than they already do! Then I looked at those pathetic girls sitting there…pregnant, not knowing what’s going to happen next, their lives completely taken off track before they could get their careers going in any certain direction. “Oh shoot,” I thought, “That’s me too.” Sitting there with cheerful daytime hosts blaring on the television set over our heads, the three of us stared ahead silently awaiting our results. Pregnancy, I then learned, is the great equalizer; it doesn’t care who you are or when you’re ready. It made me one of them and suddenly, I wished my mom was there to blabber on about cute baby clothes or anything else to try to help make me feel at ease.

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Snow White The Old Fashioned Way

The trend to turn lead female characters into ass-kicking independent machines has been on the rise for some time. No longer can women be seen as weepy wimps waiting for a strong handsome knight to rescue them, they now have to blow enemies up with massive weapons (RED), beat up men thrice their size with de rigueur Kung Fu (SHREK, THE AVENGERS), fight back in horror films (SCREAM), and save the day as well as their lumbering larger-than-them-but-useless boyfriends (HUNGER GAMES). But the trend doesn’t end with just new tales of ladies who punch, the classics are also being twisted around. Snow White is no longer a soft-spoken soprano singer in the new film SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMEN, she now takes villains down like some kind of non-religious Joan of Arc. As fun as it is to mess with a classic and get tomboyish actresses with transcendental acting chops like Kristen Stewart to play the leading lady in a suit of armor, can’t we just let some of these stories slide? I know as a woman who doesn’t follow the pink and fluffy stereotypes of being female I should applaud Hollywood for expanding society’s views on our sex; but as an escapist who loves films to get away from reality, I can’t help but wish filmmakers would stop making these true to life depictions of women. After all I already have to kick ass everyday against villainous meter maids, warring department heads in the office, ego striking low wages, bitchy fellow choir members who are jealous that I can wear sleeveless dresses, and against tireless attacks by telemarketers.

This is why deep down most women want to be princesses. We sometimes feel helpless with the millions of chores and demands made by our families so we appreciate the idea of someone taking pity on us just because we’re pretty or pathetic with high voices. In the classics, women don’t have to constantly communicate their need for help from a man, they get singing birds and cutesie deers to do the work! We get tired of taking all those self-defense classes so we can fight back against real-life freakazoids who predictably target women. Why not wish for some guy to miraculously show up and save us instead? And not just any guy, the hottest guy in the kingdom! Richest too! And yes I’ll take that all paid for castle with help included! No wonder these lovely stories of women being saved were made. I understand that we no longer want our little girls and boys to think that women can’t take care of themselves, but the classics we grew up with about princesses weren’t made up by men to brainwash us into thinking women are weak and need men to keep them safe; I believe these stories were originally told by grown women wishing that for once someone else would do the work.

So please Hollywood, let’s make a deal. Even though truth is more profitable than fiction, let us keep the classic fairy tales as they are with the women portrayed as beautiful and delicate and the men as strong and chivalrous. In turn, you can keep your KICK ASS‘s and GIRL WITH A DRAGON TATTOO’s. After all, a woman kicking ass is always really cool to watch as long as it’s another woman other than ourselves doing it.

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