So, this post is not in order for Elinor’s journey, to be fair. But it started to matter later on, so later on it is.

I’ve never really tried yoga much, beyond doing sun salutation in parking lots on camping trips with Michelle Walker, or following a video with Emily while we both lived in the Baker neighborhood. I liked it, but I could never justify spending the money on it, nor could I get myself to class.

But when Gorb appeared inside me, I was determined to do right by that baby, and I was determined to try to have a natural birth, and I was determined to stay in shape to make that birth, and the healing afterward, as positive as possible.

I researched a little and found a studio just blocks from my school that offered prenatal yoga. And so I began to go. The studio really centered on family yoga of all sorts, and was very mother-focused, which was wonderful. The first few times, I was shocked that we spent a third to a half of the time just talking, pregnant women to each other, about various topics, and then we’d get into the yoga. Part of me was annoyed — how is all of this talking going to help me get in shape for LABOR?? — but soon enough I came to crave the pregnant companionship. Women of all different stages of pregnancy were there, and so their various perspectives were helpful to me, who at 18 weeks, when I began attending, still wasn’t even showing much. These huge women would waddle into the studio, carefully sit down, bitch about certain aspects of pregnancy, be happy about others, and then proceed to move their ungainly but beautiful bodies all over the place. As the weeks passed, certain people would reach 38 weeks or so and never come back, and sometimes the instructors would announce their births …. That was always exciting. They just disappeared, but you knew they had a baby with them now. Amazing.

It was awesome. It helped me clarify some of my own feelings about things. One day we had a discussion about how we could be bringing new life into the world at all. I was usually hesitant to share, but when the talk came round to me, I was surprised to find myself kind of incensed with some of that thinking at all. I’m still happy about what I contributed, though it kind of shocks me: “I think bringing a kid into this world is kind of like giving the middle finger to all the bad things around us. There are horrible things, but there are so many good things, too, and I want those good things to continue. I don’t want to shrink from the bad, but I don’t want to let the good pass us by, either.” I was really excited about that, to be honest. Pure, unbridled optimism. <sigh>

Another time was awful, though. A woman came in who was only ten or so weeks along. She was the last in the circle to share about the topic, which had something to do about preparations for the baby or something like that. But she shared that she had had a miscarriage before, sometime along the first trimester, and that she was utterly terrified this time around. She was sitting by me, and broke down crying, and I froze, because I could so clearly imagine her situation, having been terrified of miscarriage myself …. The instructor had to ask me to hug the woman. It just wasn’t something that I am naturally inclined to do; I’m not a very touchy person in general, which is probably why I hit boys I liked for so long. But I felt kind of ashamed that I couldn’t give that much to her then ….

But the yoga was always good. The instructors would repeat that being pregnant didn’t mean we couldn’t get stronger, and I tried to take that to heart. Moving my body in all those ways was so helpful. Breathing and focusing on the breathing was amazing, as well. Being instructed in Kegels was beyond helpful. And, as silly as I felt the first time, soon enough the vocalizations became useful and helpful as well. Breathing out things like “ma” and “moo” do not usually bring me confidence, but there in that room, surrounded by other big-bellied women and all of those about-to-be babies, it felt right. Curling up around Gorb in the dark on the floor afterward, listening to soft songs during shavasana, felt very right.

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