We sort of took the attitude of let’s just stop trying not to have a baby, and see what happens. Who knows? those 8 million hours on a bicycle seat could have done one of us some damage. We’re not spring chickens anymore, and they say it takes a few months for everything to start working the way it was designed again. Well… not for us. I suppose we were lucky in that way, but it was a pretty big surprise when found out we were pregnant almost immediately. Panic struck a bit: We’re actually doing this!!
One of the first things I did was to buy a book about being pregnant as an athlete. This helped me tremendously, since one of the first thoughts I had (after the initial holy crap we’re having a baby excitement wore off) was whether I would be starting from ground zero with fitness again after the baby or if I’d be able to salvage any of the base fitness I’d worked so hard to build. The book I bought took a pretty extreme approach to exercise during pregnancy, which was good, because it made me feel great about my not quite so extreme outlook. The author’s expectations were to continue to improve her fitness throughout pregnancy… whereas mine were just not to let mine lapse to zero, which seemed easier. I was also more interested in being reassured that I could still ride and work out without causing harm to the baby in any way, which as it happens, I could. Especially in those first few months. Turns out baby is pretty darn protected in there at first, and the only thing I really needed to be concerned about while the baby was really tiny was overheating/dehydration. The idea from the book was that while you shouldn’t add any new sports to your regimen, and should probably steer clear from contact sports like rugby, you can pretty much do anything you were doing before getting pregnant, while pregnant. We women aren’t so frail as everyone would have you believe. Yes, I would want to pay more attention to things like hydration and nutrition. I would want to pay attention to how I was feeling physically while on the bike, and certainly as the baby grew, I would want to take the danger of crashing out of the picture. However, it was reassuring to read that at least for the first few months, keeping up with my riding was actually probably a great thing for me and for baby.
So, for the most part in month 1 and 2 I pretty much rode as I always have. We went to Sedona for a week, I rode all my usual gnarly trails at home, if perhaps with a bit more of an eye for caution than usual once we found out I had a new riding partner so to speak. I generally took that time as an opportunity to enjoy the riding while I still REALLY could. My doctor had told me mountain biking would be off the table starting at 12 weeks, so I figured I needed to get as much in as I could NOW. As you’ll hear later, it turned out that mountain biking would only really go off the table at around 32 weeks when I found myself without a mountain bike to ride… but I did somewhat listen to my doctor in that what I consider REAL mountain biking stopped when I finished month 3, so I was glad I rode my butt off in November. It sounds bad that I went against doctors orders, but I’ll talk more about that decision in the next post. There is logic and common sense there, I promise.
Thankfully I wasn’t feeling sick – which I genuinely believe has something to do with being healthy and fit to begin with, but scientifically probably has more to do with genetics. What I did find, starting towards the end of month 2 however, was that I was TIRED. We were in Nova Scotia for Christmas at this time, and had rented some cyclocross bikes from a cool little combination bike shop/candy shop near where I grew up. We’d go out for rides and all I’d want to do was draft behind Russell, and would get frustrated at how much harder I was having to work than normal to keep what I felt was a moderate pace. Then I would get home and just crash out the couch for the afternoon, barely able to get through a 5 minute conversation, or 1 page of my book, without drifting off to sleep. Something was definitely different, and I could tell at this point. I had to keep reminding myself I was growing a human, and that that was pretty hard work for my body on it’s own, so it was no wonder that riding was making me more tired than usual. I also had to try hard to remember that I shouldn’t push too hard, and just enjoy the fact that I was on my bike. It was the beginning of a number of mental and physical adjustments I would have to make over the next few months.
Being tired, having overactive hormones, and being caught up in the emotion of breaking the news to our families sent me into a couple tailspins over Christmas break. I kept expecting to have those motherly feelings and get gushy over baby stuff, and I didn’t, and for some reason that was stressing me out. I kept waiting to see some little baby socks and start bawling like you see on tv, but that didn’t happen, and then I was bawling because it didn’t. I felt like I should be super excited, but I was still trying to process the whole thing so I was having a hard time reaching and sharing those excited emotions on demand. Yeah… pregnancy makes you kinda crazy. Riding kept me sane. If I was feeling low, I knew I had to get out on the bike, or at least outside for some form of exercise. I might fall asleep dead afterwards, but I would at least have come home smiling first. My bike clothes started to feel tight at this point too, but I wasn’t sure whether that was just normal Christmas cookie weight or real baby weight. I started to worry I was giving myself gestational diabetes gorging myself on my mom’s Christmas baking. More crazy talk, that’s not how it works, but also another reason that being able to ride kept me sane, I could reason with myself that I was exercising enough that a few (a lot of??) cookies weren’t hurting me.
On a non pregnancy-specific riding note, it was also pretty cool to have a bike in my home town. I found myself really enjoying exploring the back roads and rail trails and linking up the different communities in the area using combinations of dirt and pavement. I found myself discovering new bits of a place I thought I already knew incredibly well. I also found out there is a little bit of legit mountain bike riding nearby… but unfortunately got snowed out of trying it out. Next time.
In short, the trip to my hometown turned out to be the perfect transition for me. By hitting the roads and rail trails there, I was taking the intensity and technical riding down a notch without having to succumb to what I was anticipating as boring riding just yet. I was still exploring, so the adventure factor was still there. I didn’t feel like I necessarily had to make too many changes yet, but I was, simply due to the nature of the terrain and how tired I was feeling. When we got back to California, I carefully planned a few fun rides in anticipation of the bigger changes I was about to make to my riding style. This allowed me a little boost in adrenaline and some fun times with my regular riding buddies before making the announcement that we were welcoming a new member to the team, and that I’d be skipping the steep and rocky trails for a while.