Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I May Officially Hate "What To Expect" Now

Thanks to this gem they emailed me today: their advice on Clothing Size During Pregnancy:

Believe me, there's no such thing as a typical pregnant body — but some women find it more challenging than others to find a decent frock that fits.

This much is true. Nothing fits me right. Maternity clothes, even the so-called form fitting styles, are like tents on me. Generally, I’d say I’m a size large in shirts, but in maternity shirts I am a medium, and lately even some of those have been too big (because my stomach is the part that is growing, not my shoulders but the people who make these things don't always realize that). But smalls are too small because they don’t contain any room for boobs.

But, let’s let our friends at “What To Expect” continue – what wonderful advice do they have for me, the clueless first time pregnant lady who's down to wearing pajamas all day? Hand me some wisdom, o wise ones.

At 19 weeks pregnant ... the Internet may be the best place to find maternity clothes that actually work for you.

Oh, right, the Internet. Like I didn’t already think of that. But when even trying on clothes in what is supposed to be my right size in a store is leaving me confused, how is a thumbnail pic of a model supposed to make it all better? Come on, “What To Expect,” restore my faith:

Use a search engine to scout out resources.

Oh, really? A search engine? On the internet? Pardon me, but you suck.

For a moment, I thought maybe I was just being a cranky pregnant lady. Maybe you’ve heard, we have mood swings. But come on, can’t they even suggest A PLACE to check out on the internet? One or two online stores who have reliable sizing? Or a friendly return policy? Instead, they cheerfully hand out NOTHING. I think I'm switching to the emails.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ruined Lounge Pants

I'm in the awesome stage of being between regular clothes and maternity clothes right now (that's sarcasm).  I have been living in my lounge/sweat/yoga pants, since they are about the only thing that fits.  I looked at them the other day and realized that the waistband is completely pulled apart and ruined.  I guess once the baby comes, I won't ever want to look at them again anyway, right?  Unless, oh God, they are the only thing that fits me again.  Bleh.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Maternity Work Out Clothes

My dobok pants officially do not fit. I wore yoga pants to class and felt very exposed. Guess what no one makes? Maternity martial arts uniforms. I realize it would be quite a niche market, but I can't exactly make my own. I could learn, I guess, but I've vowed that I will never learn how to use a sewing machine. I'll do any other domestic chores -- cooking, baking, cleaning (well, I'm bad about cleaning, too), antiquing, gardening, canning, shopping at garage sales, whatever! -- as long as I can avoid the sewing machine.

I figure I may make it a few more months before my dobok shirt stops fitting. The belt is already getting too small. By January, I may have to resort to looping it around my giant belly once instead of twice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Back to Class!

Last night, I finally made it back to the dojang for class.  I had been skipping lately, mostly due to the morning-all-day-all-night sickness.  When I have been in the past, it felt like working out on a stomach full of bad tacos -- everything would get all shook up and I would be on the verge of puking within about 20 minutes.  Good times.

But last night was different.  For one thing, since Wednesday night is Forms Night at my school, I was able to participate with the rest of the class instead of working out on my own.  I guess I forgot that the peer pressure of working out in a group is one of the reasons why I prefer martial arts to, say, an eliptical machine.  I give up when I'm on my own, but I'm too proud to quit when other people are doing it with me.

I felt pretty good during class.  Now that I am four months pregnant, I noticed that I got winded more quickly than usual, but I also recovered pretty quickly, so it didn't seem too bad.  Stretching felt good and was also harder than it used to be, but that may just be because I have been absent from class.  I know I am supposed to be doing yoga at home, but that hurts, so I have been avoiding it.

For part of the class, I took a new girl aside and showed her tae geuk Il Jang (yellow belt form).  She is transferring from another school where they learned some other kind of forms, so she has to learn the ones we do before she is allowed to promote.  The first three forms are all very similar to each other and I warned her that even those of us who have been doing them forever get them confused, so I told her to practice a lot over the holiday break.

At the end of the hour, our instructor asked the black belts to perform Koryo and Tae Bek.  Nothing like a double side kick to make a girl feel like a giant whale.  I remembered all the steps, but my moves are not as crisp as I want them to be.  Sigh.  Always something to work on.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Walking The Dog

Mornig sickness is making trips to the dojang inconvenient, so I've been trying to walk the dog every day instead.  I have to admit that one of the very best things about being home all day is that I can get outside on nice afternoons (and cold, soggy ones) to take him out.  The only downside is that I am frequently reminded on our walks that I'm going to need to get a stroller soon.  I don't want to shop for that.  They are all so ugly.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Review: What To Expect When You're Expecting

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I went out and bought this book; I thought it was the one everyone bought and, to be honest, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about it.  The pregnancy/childbirth section of any bookstore is enough to make you completely overwhelmed, especially if you don't know what you are looking for, so I didn't bother looking around at anything else.  Then I went to the doctor to get my diagnosis confirmed and the nurse was rather dismayed that I had already purchased "What To Expect."

She told me it wasn't a very good one.  "It's a little scary sometimes," she said.  Instead, she rcommended some other books that I did eventually check out from the library and look through.  I'll probably write about them later.

I haven't found "What To Expect" to be scary so far (I haven't read the chapter on labor and delivery yet because, well, that part of my brain is not really ready to engage in that part of my future).  Mostly, I just find it ridiculous as it continually lists the nine thousand or so things pregnant ladies should never do.  Wait, let me take that back.  It lists the nine thousand or so every day items and actions you've never thought about before and tells you that you shouldn't do them anymore.  And while it does point out that while you're an adult and you can do whatever you want, most of these things just might kill/injure/maim/ruin/otherwise make stupid your unborn baby -- and don't you want the best future possible for your family?

A perfect example is the section on alcohol.  Now, for me, even before I got knocked up, I knew it wasn't a great idea to drink while you were pregnant -- I knew about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).  But I've also known a lot of friends who didn't find out they were pregnant until the first few months had passed, and they drank during that time, and nothing bad happened to them or their babies.  According to "What To Expect," "there's no evidence that a couple of drinks on a couple of occasions very early in pregnancy can harm a developing embryo."  But this is followed up with five long paragraphs telling you why you'd better stop drinking immediately.  The advice is conflicting and probably for good reason -- if you drank before you knew you were pregnant, there's no way to rewind the clock, so it's no good worrying about it now, but to provide "the best" for your baby you have to start following the rules as soon as you read this chapter.

I'm using the alcohol section as an example because the danger of doing something to the baby is real (although they point out that FAS usually comes from having 5-6 drinks A DAY, something I don't know if I've ever done, not even in college).  But the advice about, say, feta cheese and lunch meat sounds just as stern -- you can easily read the subtext as "you'll ruin your baby!"  Same with the advice about spending too much time in hot tubs or the effects of sleeping on your back after the fourth month.  Same with the advice about wearing high heels or gaining too much weight in the first trimester.  They all have the same manner of, "if you didn't know about it before, don't worry too much, but NOW THAT YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TO QUIT!"

The list of things I can't or shouldn't do, or things that will, I don't know, make the baby stupid or something, is practically endless.  And in reading this book, it's kind of hard to keep straight which things are actual dangers (too hot hot tubs), which things are just cautions (unpasturized feta) and which things simply increase your chances of falling down (high heels).  You don't read it like that, or at least I don't.  I read and make a mental list of "things to avoid" and at the end, I have no idea why.  I just know that the list is growing with every chapter.

I'm glad I read the other books my doctor recommended because they were a lot less picky about the details, which really put this one into perspective for me.

(Quote is from "What To Expect" 2002 edition because I am cheap and bought it used.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Trouble With Yoga

Practicing a martial art, as a woman, comes with its own set of problems.  I faced a lot of these as I worked toward my black belt, and continued to face a lot of them even after I had it.  They range from petty things, like working out in an all white uniform during my period or having trouble finding a uniform that actually fit over my hips, to things that I consider more serious: dealing with my fears of fighting and maybe hurting other people, yelling out loud in front of other people, being told I need to be tougher and/or quit acting like a "baby" ("baby" in this case probably meaning "girl").

I generally try to understand these problems in the greater context of martial arts.  I put up with them all because I feel that the trade off benefits me.  In other words, I like the best parts of martial arts so much that they make up for the annoying or bad parts.  Even the worst day the dojang (and I've had them) is better than the best day on the elipical machine, at least for me.

But I do complain about the problems to my friends and family on occasion, usually after yet another person gets hurt in class when it could have been prevented, or when another woman in class says she feels uncomfortable around one of the more macho black belts, or when I put my uniform in the dryer and suddenly it's too small.  For years, I have listened to my friends and family offer solutions, and one comes up more often than any other: Why don't you just switch to yoga?

Ah, yoga.  No matter how genuinely and gently the advice is offered, I usually hear it as "martial arts is for boys and yoga is for girls, so you should switch."  I'm sure this comes from my own neuroses after conversations with my mom when she kept asking, "Now, remind me, why did you pick taekwondo again?"  My answers -- I like it, and it's fun -- were never good enough, not until I had my black belt.  After that, I guess she stopped wondering when I was going to change to something saner.

I guess people make the connection between martial arts and yoga because they both involve some kind of spiritual component in addition to the exercise -- so, if I had chosen taekwondo for its spiritual side, maybe they would have a point.  But I didn't.  I did it to be more like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.  Other than the meditative/spiritual thing, the comparison kind of falls apart.  Taekwondo is very active, a high impact, very cardiovascular exercise, while yoga is the only exercise I have ever tried where they offered a nap at the end of class ("Go ahead and relax, meditate, and if you fall asleep, that's ok").  In taekwondo, you use the various training methods to gain flexibility and strength so that you can defend yourself if/when the time comes; in yoga, while you're also working for better flexibility, I'm not sure I understand what it leads to.  Maybe so that afterward you feel more at peace with yourself?  I find the concept of "hit this, you'll feel better," works a lot more for me.  When I'm done with a yoga class, I feel fine, but not like I actually worked out or accomplished anything.

Or, to boil it down to the basics: taekwondo is fun and interesting, while yoga is just s-l-o-w-l-y frustrating and kind of boring.

Having said that, I'm pretty sure that yoga is, in fact, easier for girls.  You can pick your own clothes instead of wearing a specific uniform. You never have to engage with anyone else in class. You never have to hit anyone or break anything.  If someone is acting like a macho jerk, you can probably get him thrown out of class.  There are no tests to pass or heirachy system to learn.  And when you're done with class, everyone goes to Whole Foods for some green tea, instead of the pizza and beer we have, right? (Kidding!  Everyone knows beer makes your unborn baby stupid [ok, that was sarcasm].)

But, am I only supposed to do things that are easier for me?  Am I supposed to decide which things I want to do by how easy and accessible they are?  Sure, it would be nice if someone, anyone (hint, hint, bored sewing machine user on etsy) would start making martial arts uniforms with grown up female bodies in mind, but that's only going to happen if more women start training instead of switching over to yoga when the going gets rough.  I'll admit, one of the benefits of studying martial arts is the little feeling I have when I leave class, when I know I've just done something other women won't do, or are too scared to do.  When I land a kick or a punch during a sparring session, there's always a little thrill of victory for me, even if I don't come out ahead at the end of the match.

Why the railing against yoga today?  Well, wouldn't you know it, but the one kind of exercise everyone (friends, neighbors, doctors, midwives, books) seems to think is the best is for a pregnant lady is pre-natal yoga.  I don't really want to do it -- I've spent the last six or seven years trying to convince everyone I know that yoga just isn't my thing, so the last thing I want to do is defect just because I have a belly.

But, in the interest of equal opportunity, I'm going to dip my toes in and give it a shot in addition to attending regular taekwondo class.  Maybe the nap that comes at the end of  pre-natal yoga class cures morning sickness or makes the baby smarter or something.  We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Searching for Stuff

I'm trying to do my internet research like a good girl, but seriously, there isn't much out there on the topic of "martial arts" + "pregnant."

I found this:  It mostly talks about tai chi and kick boxing, but the principles seem to be the same.  This is specifically about kick boxing, but it sounds like the same stuff as taekwondo kicking.  I find this one the most comprehensive and yet, it's the one written by a guy.  Don't pregnant ladies ever write about their training?  This one wins points for talking about how practicing falls and rolls can help when you fall in real life.  Cuz us pregnant ladies have no balance.  I'm still waiting for the day I actually fall down for the first time.  Yay!  Finally, I find evidence that pregnant ladies have successfully gone to taekwondo.  She went to class on a Thursday, gave birth the following Saturday.  It sounds like her training was all "no contact," which is not what my school does, but still.  Favorite thing I found today.  A woman who is nine-months pregnant does koryo, the black belt form.  I love that at the end she says the baby is kicking now.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Morning Sickness

Sorry to keep posting about how sick I am, but what can I say?  It's the biggest thing going on right now.

This weekend, after a great Thanksgiving dinner with family, my husband and I went camping.  Who goes camping when they're pregnant, you may ask.  Well, we tried to go camping about six weeks ago, but I was too ill.  I felt bad, so this was my compromise, and on Friday when we left, I felt great.

On Saturday, after a breakfast of hash browns, spam, and duck eggs (maybe this is where we started to go wrong), we went for a leisurely hike.  Our plan was to walk three miles down the trail, have a little picnic lunch, and wander back.  Instead, we walked out 1.5 miles, stopped for a snack because I felt gross, walked about half mile, stopped for lunch because we realized I wasn't going to make it three miles.  On the way back, I made it maybe a quarter of a mile before I puked it all up.

But, looking on the bright side, my husband now believes me when I say I'm not feeling well.  Huzzah!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Alcohol Free Merlot: FAIL

Here's something I learned at Thanksgiving dinner this year: avoid all pretend wines.

No kidding, you say.  Well, I had fond memories of Sparkling Catabwa from Christmas dinners from my childhood, so I thought maybe they would be worth a shot.  First up: Welch's Sparkling Juice Cocktail.  This one was so sweet it was like drinking Sprite mixed with grape juice concentrate.  Please, don't ever buy this for an adult person.

The real revelation was the Fre Merlot, labeled "alcohol removed."  Surely this would be a step up?  According to the back of the bottle, this stuff is "19% juice."  Maybe when you remove the alcohol, you remove 19% of the wine?  And you have to fill up the rest of the bottle with ... juice?  That's sure what it tasted like.  If you enjoy your merlot with a big shot of Welch's grape juice in it, this might be the drink for you.

Otherwise, no.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Martial Arts + Morning Sickness

I'm not sure why I thought this, but I always figured being pregnant would be easy.  Maybe it's because my own mom never had any trouble being pregnant.  Maybe it's because I have big hips.  I don't know.  But I should have guessed that since very little comes easily to me, this would be no different.

I am currently suffering from pretty terrible morning sickness.  Let's not call it morning sickness, though.  Let's call it what it is: 24-hour sickness.  Simply put, I'm nauceous for most of every day, and then sleepness through most of the night, and if I take a nap during the day to make up for it, I wake up with the worst of the sickness.  It's a big ball of yuck right now.

I went to class last night.  The "What To Expect" book claims that exercise can help with feelings of nausea, so I was very excited to try this out.  Fix me, taekwondo!  I went through the warm up like normal, and it felt good to stretch out.  After that, since the rest of the class was going to be practicing a lot of running and jumping and skipping sparring steps, I stepped aside and practiced forms on my own.

Relegated to the very edge of the mat, I didn't have much room to work with.  I had talked to the instructor about it before class, and he seemed to be on board -- after I assured him that I was capable of working out in my "condition" -- but he didn't bother to make any room for me.  The rest of the class did line drills up and down the mat, so when they came into my little area by the edge, I had to step aside until they went back down to the other end.

But it almost didn't matter, because within half an hour, I was on the verge of throwing up anyway.  The best way I can describe what the morning sickness feels like is that it's like a bad hangover.  I feel gross and icky inside, and all I really want to do is eat french fries and take a nap.  It's been like this for a while now, so I obviously can't give in to those desires all the time.  Working out is ... very different now.  I've never come to class with a bad hangover, and now I can see exactly why: moving around -- the kicks, and even just turning around during forms -- churn up my insides.  Churns them into throw up.  It's like the movements aggrevate my stomach acid or something.

Last night, I tried my best to do forms for half an hour after the warm up.  I didn't quite make it.  After that, I tried to meditate, but the motion-sickness feeling got worse when I closed my eyes.  Finally, I just excused myself from class and drove to a fast food place for some french fries and a vanilla milkshake.  They tasted heavenly and I felt better immediately.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Martials Arts While Pregnant

Because taekwondo includes a wide variety of exercises, I figured it would be pretty easy to modify it for the pregnant body.  Even though my body doesn't look pregnant yet.  It just looks like I gained fifteen pounds.  Fun.

In general, it's really just a matter of avoiding getting kicked in the baby area.  And not falling down.  I hear us pregnant ladies fall dwn a lot.  I haven't fallen down yet, but I have walked into the coffee table at least half a dozen times.  Does that count?

For the kind of taekwondo I practice (WTF/Olympic style), this boils down to:
  • No sparring, not even light contact or no contact, because accidents can happen.  I mean, I was sparring a six year old over the summer and he managed to punch me in the eye.  At least I think that was an accident.
  • No self-defense practice.  It's the whole "don't fall down" thing, I guess.
  • No jumping techniques.  Cuz I might fall!
  • Limited or no sit-ups, ab workouts, or strength training that requires me to be on my back.  Sit ups have been feeling funny lately anyway.  I don't think that part of me is in the same place as it was three months ago.
  • Lots of forms.  These are my favorite anyway, so yay!
  • Lots of stretching.
  • Lots of kicking and punching.
I think I will be able to modify most of the training exercises on the spot during class.  I also plan to work out on my own when necessary.  And, perhaps most importantly, I'm going to give myself a break when I feel like it.  It should help that the weather is a lot cooler now and I won't have to work out in hundred-degree-plus temps anymore (last summer was a tough one).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Exercising While Pregnant

I hope this can become a theme of this blog, because I am discovering that working out while pregnant is a little trickier than I originally thoughtit would be.  I belong to a dojang where I study taekwondo, and since I started seven or so years ago, I have worked out with one woman who was pregnant and heard rumors that there had been another one before I arrived -- so I didn't think it would be a big deal to keep doing martial arts when I got pregnant.  Yes, there are modifications to make, and I will probably go into those in another post, but a lot of it can transfer quite easily.  Forms, my favorite part of taekwondo, are just fine.


A few weeks ago, I went to the doctor to confirm my pregnancy and had an unpleasant conversation with the nurse.  There were about a million forms to fill out and I had to check off all kinds of boxes about my own medical history and that of my family.  One of the questions: what kind of exercise do you do?

I put down everything: martial arts, cycling, walking, jogging, swimming.  The nurse went over my forms with me and when we got to that question, she told me that walking and swimming were just fine.  Martial arts and jogging would need to be modified (I was expecting that).  And then she told me I had to quit riding my bike.  I was shocked, and then she gave me her explanation:

"You don't want to get hit by a car, do you?"

Now, I'll admit that she was right.  I don't want to get hit by a car.  In fact, I would include that item pretty high on a list of things I never want to happen to me.  But what does it have to do with being pregnant?  I mean, let's face it -- I would rather not get hit by a car even when I'm not with child.

My husband helped me buy my first bike shortly before we got married, about three or four years ago.  He loves to bike around town, and we made a habit of biking to dinner, to the movies, downtown, to the bar, anywhere we wanted to go.  I commuted to work by bike about twice a week when I had a job and it was about eight miles each direction.  In all this time -- riding on the road with traffic, riding at night, riding out in the country, riding downtown at rush hour -- I have been hit by a car exactly zero times.

I was a little upset at the nurse's answer, because it was so obviously bullsh*t.  And if she was feeding me garbage about cycling, then I had to face the possibility that everything she told me during that meeting was garbage.  (And since one of the other things she said was that I would "never remember anything" from that meeting, and I can still recall most of it, I don't think I actually believe anything she told me.  I switched to a different practice.)

But dealing with this nurse throws into high relief something I'm learning about being pregnant: there's no way to make everyone happy.  Most non-pregnant people seem to think you should be on the couch with your feet up most of the time, except then you read in all the books about how fat you are going to get if you don't start working out more.  But don't work out too much or you are going to faint and/or end up with a stupid baby or something.  So.  I can't make everyone happy.  I can just do a little research on the things I like to do and try to keep myself and my unborn kid safe.

Whatever I find out in my search, I'll put it here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Black Belt + Baby =

... a black belt a little unsure of what the hell is going to happen next.

I recently found out that my husband and I are expecting a baby, due next June.  We have always talked about having kids and were planning to start trying this fall, so it's not like this is unexpected in any way.  But as I've already discovered, everyone seems to love giving pregnant ladies advice, and since I'm very used to making my own decisions, I'm not exactly sure I'm looking forward to that.

But I'm looking forward to being pregnant and working out at the dojang throughout my pregnancy.  And I'm looking forward to having a baby and bringing him/her/whomever to the dojang with me and my husband.  I guess we'll have to work out who gets to take care of the baby and who gets to work out, but there's plenty of time for that kind of deal-making later.