Friday, March 15, 2013

Biking with a Bump

Hey, how about that for radio silence?

Here's a picture of Alex going grocery shopping on the Mundo to make up for it:

Yes, I had to cut down on the posting. Sadly it's a reflection of the fact that, starting in October, I had to cut down on the biking as well. You see, in astonishing conformity to our plans, my husband and I actually conceived a second child on exactly the schedule we'd hoped for--one due to arrive just a few months after the third birthday of our son, Alex. Given how mutable--and risible!--plans usually are in our house, I don't know how we managed to do it.(1)

The element that we only half-incorporated into our plans was that this pregnancy would be just as physically challenging for me as the last one. I had such a difficult time eating and retaining food that I lost weight two months in a row. I was so tired I could barely do my job. The bulk of my household chores now belong my long-suffering husband.

Given my nausea, exhaustion and overall malaise, biking was out of the question for me the first three months of pregnancy. After the first trimester ended and I moved into what is called the "golden period" of pregnancy--the second trimester, when supposedly the early side effects go away but the fetus is not yet large enough to put a huge physical toll on your body--I found my condition improved... marginally. I attempted a couple of too-ambitious bike rides with Alex that left me ill for up to a week afterwards as I wasn't able to eat enough food to replace the calories I burned by biking.

Now, at the end of my second trimester, I have finally reached that happy plateau that most other pregnant women get to around week 14. I can go on short, easy bike rides with Alex one or two days a week without worrying that I'll pay a price for days afterwards. With Washington DC poised to enter its glorious spring season, I'm ready to get out of the house and explore the city again with my favorite passenger.

Some people ask about biking while pregnant, and I guess this is what I'd say:

There's nothing inherent in pregnancy that means you can't ride a bike. But every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. While I don't think we should discourage pregnant women from riding bikes, I also don't think it's right to push women to ride bikes while pregnant if--for whatever reason--they aren't comfortable doing so. I've heard stories of women biking themselves to their birth centers in labor; I've heard stories of women quitting at six months of pregnancy because of diminished lung capacity or the discomfort of their knees knocking into their bellies. And of course, there are women like me. Whatever our commitment to biking prior to pregnancy, some of us end up with the short end of the gestational stick and find even the littlest physical effort of bicycling too much on top of everything else that's happening to our bodies. And that's fine. I can't say it enough: every woman is different. Every pregnancy is different.

1. Well, yes, I do know. But I'm not sharing it with you. ;-)