If pregnancy magazines were honest

I spent over two hours waiting for my doctor at my last prenatal appointment. Most of that time was in the tiny exam room, just one chair and a speculum and a rack of pregnancy magazines. Four paces across, in case you’re wondering. Not that I spent 90% of that wait pacing back and forth, feeling trapped in pregnancy jail, wishing I had saved at least one of my snacks beyond the first 10 minutes of that interminable wait.

I flipped through a few of those magazines but quickly went back to pacing the room like a madwoman. What a load of bullshit they are, with headlines like:

Love your partner the whole 9 months

🙄 Right. That’s totally possible. 

Gain just enough weight: 6 little secrets that make it simple

Does puking all day count as one of the secrets? 

No more jelly belly: lose the baby fat fast

You are definitely not ready for this jelly.


Anyway. While the hangry ramped up with every round trip across the exam room, I started imagining what an honest pregnancy magazine would cover. And then I decided to make one.


What do you think? What’s on YOUR pregnancy magazine cover?


Feeling stuck

I am running on nothing.

Last week’s conference was a huge success. I need to write about it, about the people, especially, but I can’t even get my head around how to do that right now.

blogfest group shot 2016

There’s always this crash that happens after. It usually takes me about a week to recover from Blogfest, but this year has been extra special.

We went straight to Tahoe (so long, steamy Austin!), and the adjustment has been rough.

I am wiped out. Mackenzie is wiped out.

mackenzie bear suit

It’s the HAF. The dreaded, cacophonous HAF (high altitude flatulence), which strains and contorts Mac’s little body, and keeps us bicycling and bouncing through the night.

It’s the dark moments pre-dawn, when despair gives way to melodrama.

I’ll never sleep again.

I am sure of it, each time I start a new set of bicycles on her squishy little thighs.

It’s the pediatrician’s raised eyebrow as he says, your 6 month old is physiologically capable of sleeping through the night.

mackenzie merlin

It’s the moment when I look at my to-do list, rich with exciting projects I’m so inspired to charge into, especially after the heady dose of energy the conference always injects me with.

But I look at that list, and I just want to crawl away and hide.

It’s that Tigger died last week, and I pretended it didn’t happen so I could get through the conference without making everyone listen to me talk about my dog. Oh, and so I wouldn’t spend all weekend bawling my eyes out. 

tigger in the sand


Post-conference, I’m flirting with the denial phase of grief and also, occasionally, bawling my eyes out.


A photo posted by Alyse Mason Brill (@alysemb) on

Every time I walk into a room, I miss his outsized ears swiveling around to meet me, hopeful with the promise of playtime.





Every time I crawl into bed and have enough space and somewhere to actually put my feet, I miss the warm heft of his always-in-the-way body.

tigger on the pier

Every time I look at the lake, I miss him.

tigger pinecone

Every time I spot a pinecone, I miss him.

Every time a toilet paper roll needs changing, I miss him. Every time I finish a plate or bowl that could be licked clean, I miss him.


I know it was his time. He made cancer his bitch and lived 3 times longer than any of the professionals projected. More than once, they told us they were astonished he was still alive.

Nothing we can do. We’re not even sure how he’s still walking. 

I’m sure that in just this one week he’s spent in doggy heaven, he’s already blown past his personal best of 3 tennis balls in his mouth at once.

tigger 3 tennis balls


This feeling will pass, I know. I will sleep and we will get another dog and Mac will delight in her ability to fart independently.

In this moment, I’m sad. Tired. Stuck.

Mackenzie’s birth story

Consider yourself warned: this is LONG. Potentially graphic. Includes just about every bodily fluid you can imagine. 

The night of Monday, January 11 was different than most other nights, but only because we stayed up way past our bedtime having dinner with new friends. I flouted all sorts of pregnancy rules and ate sushi and drank a tiny bit of champagne and listened to my friend’s birth story. Short version: her water broke two days before her due date; her midwife (who also happens to be my midwife) put her on a castor oil and vodka regimen, her contractions started, and the next morning her son arrived, happy, healthy, and at home.

“Well,” I joked, “if I follow your example, I guess I’ll be having Moonshine tomorrow.”

Just a few hours later, I woke up at 3am to pee (no surprise there), walked out to the kitchen to get water (totally normal also) and then felt myself peeing all over my legs, unable to control or stop the deluge (big surprise there).

It was, of course, not urine but my water breaking. Moonshine had clearly been taking notes during dinner.

20 minutes later, my parents were on their way to the airport, I had marching orders from my midwife, and I was back in bed, doing my best to fall back asleep despite the overwhelming awareness that sometime in the next 24-ish hours shit was going to get real real.

I spent that day waiting for labor to start on its own, and to cross off all those last minute things on my work transition list. I was grateful to have a few hours to tie up loose ends before labor really kicked in, and the looming deadline amped up my productivity into an exhilarating frenzy.

By evening, I was still contraction free, still leaking amniotic fluid. I knew that as recently as a few days before, I hadn’t been dilated or effaced at all, so my body had a lot of work to do to get this baby out before time ran out.*

Time to jumpstart this process.

Around 6pm, I started my prescribed regimen of breast pumping, stair climbing, and herbs. My mom, good sport that she is, climbed up and down the dreary emergency-only stairwell in our building with me.

stair climbing in labor
Stair climbing in birkenstocks, because those are the only shoes that still fit my swollen feet.


After having taken it easy on the exercise front for 9 months, and with an extra 40 pounds to lug around, those stairs were hard. My 20 minute sets of climbing left my legs shaky and burning, in an almost-pleasant, remember-what-exercise-feels-like? kind of way.

At 9pm, it was time to pre-party: I shot two ounces each of castor oil and vodka. 

shooting castor oil labor
I think my shirt pretty much sums up the whole situation.

Having exhausted all my labor-starting tactics, I woozily watched a Jennifer Aniston rom-com with my family, kept downing electrolytes in anticipation of the castor oil’s powers of dehydration, and waited for contractions to hit.

I’d been advised that the best way to handle early labor was to take on some kind of project: to make a meal, take a walk, go to the movies. Basically, distract yourself until the contractions draw you in and blind you from everything except that moment and that sensation. I’d imagined my project would be to take a very slow walk along the lake with Nathan, or maybe take Tigger out for a hike. Something in nature, but not too far from home, sounded perfect.

Reality was a little different from that vision, and not just because it was 11:30pm: my unchosen but absolutely mandatory beginning of labor project was to station myself on the toilet, leaking from just about every orifice. There in my tiny cubicle, as my insides liquefied faster than I could chug electrolytes, I had some bloody show, and the contractions sprung into action at a brisk 5 minutes apart, lasting between 45 seconds and a minute each. In under an hour, they were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting at least a minute each. Meanwhile, I was still toilet-trapped, practicing my yoga breathing as my body did its best to turn itself inside out. 

When the castor oil had finally exhausted my body’s capacity for elimination, I draped myself over my yoga ball and called my midwife.

She arrived around 1am and checked my cervix. I was a 3.

I was disappointed by the results; even though I’d only been in labor for an hour and a half, it had been a gung-ho hour and a half. Since the contractions had leapt right over those warm-up hours, into the frequency you expect in active labor, I’d (foolishly?) hoped my cervix would keep pace. She suggested I get into the bath, and let me know that even though she usually goes home when a woman in labor is only a 3, she was going to stay with me.

early labor
Thrilled to be a 3. :/

At that point, I realized, without admitting it to myself, that something wasn’t right. We’d talked extensively about the bath for relaxation and pain relief, and she had consistently told me we’d save that luxury for transition. But I hopped on in.

That was when the back labor reared its ugly head: a searing, vise-like pain in my lower back that intensified with each contraction but, unlike the contractions, didn’t release in between, and was only made bearable by the counter pressure dutifully applied by my mom or Nathan as each contraction ramped up. No matter what position I tried—kneeling over the bed, sitting on the edge of a chair, leaning on my yoga ball, hands and knees, etc—there was no escaping it. More often than not, one of my support team would take my back while the other held a trash can or towel for me to puke in. God knows how there was anything left to puke up after my castor oil adventures, but time and again, my stomach reliably delivered back its contents.

My midwife checked me again. I was a 5, and starting to be effaced.

Again, disappointment. She was really encouraging about the progress I’d made and suggested I get back in the tub to help me relax and get energy to keep going. She assured me I’d come very far in very little time, but I couldn’t help but think, only halfway there, and I’m already feeling pretty ragged.

labor in the tub
Next time, I’m going to get an actual birthing tub rather than lining mine in plastic. It was so slippery it was hard to get comfortable.


A while later (who knows how long?! Time was unintelligible by that point) I got back out of the tub, and sat on the edge of the bed, knees wide, leaning forward so that Nathan could have access to my back, and the trajectory between my throat and the trash can was short enough to reasonably ensure successful deposits. My midwife checked Moonshine’s heartbeat and heard some deceleration she wasn’t comfortable with. She had me lie on my side in bed, where Moonshine’s heartbeat picked back up, but where I crossed into a new threshold of pain.

tigger during labor
Tigger definitely thought I was dying at this point.


The sounds coming out of my mouth were at a pitch and urgency I didn’t know I was capable of making. Nothing that I’d read about or practiced seemed to help. Yogi breathing, hypnobirthing breathing, vocalizing, counterpressure, surrendering to the pain: it all felt inadequate to the unrelenting and pulverizing pain in my back. I needed a way out of my body. With each contraction, I felt myself tensing and curling and begging for a change in position, a way out. As much as I tried to surrender to the sensations the way all my childbirth books had taught me to do, I simply couldn’t. I was stuck in the intensity.

I had all too recently been pronounced only halfway through this first phase of labor, but I took that feeling of desperation as a glimmer of hope: maybe I’d made it to transition? Maybe this hitting the wall was a sign that I’d arrived at the worst of it, and if I could just moan and bear it for a little while longer, this would all be over.

She checked me again. A 7. Not in transition yet. That meant it was only going to get worse.

My midwife started an IV to help replenish the fluids I’d lost over the last few hours, and not too long after, she was kneeling beside me, gently but firmly telling me that we needed to transfer. In the least alarming way possible (I can’t for the life of me remember how she communicated the message so gently, but she was a master at it), she let me know I was too dehydrated; Moonshine’s heart rate decelerations were alarming; and we weren’t close enough to the finish line for her to feel comfortable proceeding at home. She asked Nathan how much longer he thought I could go on. When he estimated 6 hours, I wanted to scream, fuck no, I do not have another 6 hours in me! but the contraction mangled that sentence into yet another primal wail.

By that point, I had zero preference about how it happened as long as I could get this baby OUT. “Let’s go,” I said, never more certain of anything in my life.

She suggested we call an ambulance but Nathan insisted he could get us there faster.

The driving time to the hospital was mercifully short: 4 contractions, 7 minutes. The only position I could handle contractions in was on my hands and knees, so our trip was punctuated by me sinking to hands and knees to groan through another wave in all sorts of unlikely places:

  • The hallway outside our apartment, waiting for the elevator
  • Inside the elevator (much to the confusion of a FedEx delivery person)
  • On the ground in the parking garage, halfway between the elevator and our car
  • 4 times in the backseat of the car (even my safety-officer husband let me slide on not wearing a seatbelt)
  • Inside the revolving door at the hospital (a crawling and contracting two-for-one)
  • In the hospital lobby
  • In the hospital elevator (I lurched out of the wheelchair, elbowed some space for myself, and made my unfortunate fellow passengers hold the door at my floor until it passed and I could get back into the wheelchair).
  • On the labor and delivery bed, as the anesthesiologist stood behind me, needle poised for entry as soon as the contraction passed

Let me tell you, crawling in a revolving door, then lurching into a hospital lobby and immediately falling to your hands and knees while moaning will get you the speediest attention and care you can imagine. They even called a code for me over the loudspeaker: “Dr. Stork to the lobby!”

As I waited for the epidural to kick in, I once again had to be on my back. Nathan and my mom held my hands as I groaned through each contraction. My mantra between contractions became, “Not as bad as the last one. Not as bad as the last one. This is almost over. Almost over.”

At last, the drugs and the IV worked their magic, and I found my body relaxing into itself again. I watched the contractions happening on the monitor, blissfully unaware of their impact in my body. They had me lie on my side with a big pillow between my legs to try to encourage Moonshine to rotate; apparently she’d wiggled into a new position again and that was causing the back labor.

after the epidural
This smile brought to you by drugs.


The next time they checked me, I was an 8, and 90% effaced. The easiest centimeter yet.

I continued laboring for a few more hours, the only reminder of the pain a hotspot in my lower back. It was just a shadow of what had once been, a continual reminder to be grateful for the epidural.

The nurse checked me again and said, “Oh! There’s the baby!” I’d labored her down to station 3 (basically, right about to crown).

The pushing started almost immediately. That was the strangest sensation: I had 4 or 5 people holding my legs, giving me instructions on how to push, and I had zero feelings below the waist, so it was all physical guesswork. But eventually it all worked out, because suddenly there was this baby being handed to me, a baby with a head full of dark hair who promptly pooped on my chest and then was whisked away from me.

mackenzie's skin to skin

I’ve lost the memory of the next few hours almost entirely. I remember being stitched up as sensation slowly returned to my legs; I remember the nurse in my postpartum room hustling to get me to the NICU before they closed for shift change; I remember my mom waking me up at 1am and wheeling me through the hospital because the NICU team had just given us the green light to hold Mackenzie.

2016-01-14 10.33.04

Seeing her in the NICU was the most surreal experience: here was this human whom I’d created and then evicted from my body, only to find her on a mechanical life support, covered in tubes and tape and breathing apparatuses. I could scarcely believe she’d come out of me, could scarcely fathom why she was there, could scarcely connect the dots of the last few hours.

It took me several days to piece together how it all happened, and to come to terms with the major change of plans. I’d wanted a home birth not so much because I wanted to be a martyr, or because I particularly relish pain, but because I found the idea of letting a natural process take place so beautiful. I read everyone from Ina May Gaskin to Ricki Lake and eagerly lapped up what they were selling. I wanted what biology intended: that cocktail of hormones that help prepare you for birth and that help you bond with your baby and help your milk come in. I didn’t want a cascade of interventions that may or may not be necessary. I wanted the experience to be on my terms, not on a malpractice-shy and policy-and-procedures-driven doctor’s terms. I loved the thought of never leaving home, but just snuggling up with our newborn, in our bed, with all our creature comforts around us.

2016-01-25 12.27.08

As it turned out, the things I most feared happened:

  • I ended up in the hospital
  • I delivered on my back, with my legs in stirrups
  • I had the ‘cascade of interventions’: an epidural, pitocin, stitches
  • I had a second degree tear
  • Mackenzie was taken away from me after just a few seconds of skin to skin; it would be hours before I would see her again, and days before we’d go home together

And it all turned out for the best, despite all those things I’d wanted to avoid happening. I had the most incredible support team, and I’m so grateful the NICU doctors were right there to help Mackenzie start breathing. (Apparently it took her a good 45 minutes and a lot of effort on their part to get her to pink up).

The question I haven’t answered for myself is what I would (or will) do differently next time. My midwives gave me the most beautiful prenatal and postnatal care: personal, non-interventionist, holistic. I’m grateful that I experienced at least part of a natural labor. That edge, where I was convinced my pelvis would shear in half, was one I wanted to experience (though I probably would have been fine with a little less time spent there!). I wanted to know what my body was capable of, and I wanted to know what I was capable of. That said, I’m honestly not sure if I could hack it all the way through, or if I’d want to. Maybe if I’d eased into labor rather than slamming right into that intense frequency, I would have made it to the finish line? 

I don’t know. In any case, that epidural was fucking magical. I’m not ruling out a repeat just yet.

And, of course, the most important thing is this: we all made through the experience healthy and happy. Mackenzie had her own agenda in birth, just as she did when she was in the womb, and she must have known that she’d need a little extra support once she made her debut, and she found a way to make it happen.

*Hospitals will usually give you about 24 hours from rupture; the midwives were comfortable with about 36. Either way, my deadline for a natural delivery was fast approaching.

My external version experience

If we’re connected on social media, you’ve probably seen me fretting over the last month or more about how Moonshine was stubbornly, happily breech, and how I was doing everything I could to encourage her to rotate head down.

I swam.

I did yoga for days.

I did all the exercises on spinningbabies.com.

I went to the chiropractor for the first and second time in my life.

My husband even angled our couch for me since we didn’t have an ironing board for me to recline on.

inclined couch
Truth be told, I didn’t last here for very long; it was too hard to breathe.


I went to a therapist in case it was an emotional problem. (More couch time!)

I spent as much time as possible standing or bouncing on a yoga ball instead of sitting.

My family (BEST FAMILY EVER) even made me a video on Christmas, when I was moping about being alone in Austin instead of home with them. You HAVE to watch the latest from Jamie King Productions:

Are they the best or what?!

And despite all those efforts, Moonshine happily persisted in headbutting my ribs.

So it came down to doing an ECV, or external version.

I shouldn’t have read the stories on the internet about the procedure, but of course I did. They overwhelmingly fell into two categories: failures that led to C-sections, and catastrophic outcomes that led to far worse.

I was pretty anxious leading up to it, not least because the optimal day to have it done (right at 37 weeks) was on Christmas Eve, and shockingly enough, that day was hard to schedule. Waiting for my appointment to be confirmed basically ruined my (possibly overly optimistic?) plans to go home for Christmas, and also shot my nerves for about the whole week leading up to it. Good thing my midwives are used to nervous first time moms…

Anyway. My appointment finally got scheduled for the Monday after Christmas, when I was 37 weeks and 4 days. (They won’t do the procedure before 37 weeks, but recommend doing it as close to 37 weeks as possible, because smaller the baby is, the easier she is to turn).

My mom heard the 1% risk of it leading to an emergency C-section and decided that risk was too great to … er… risk, so she flew out for the procedure. I’m so grateful she was able to come and hold my hand. But I get ahead of myself.

We showed up at 10am as directed, only to discover that I’d been rescheduled for 2:30pm – and no one had bothered to let me know. Normally these things don’t drive me crazy, but in this case I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink since 10pm the night before. So hungry. And now I had several more hangry, parched hours to go. For someone whose pregnancy has been characterized by constant snacking, this was a really. big. deal.

ecv experience
No, I am not panicking about the prospect of many more hours of no food or drink. Not panicking at all.

We ran some errands and generally tried to distract ourselves for the next few hours.

Don’t tell my doctor or anyone else at the hospital, but I totally broke the rules. I was NOT going to make it a total of 20 hours without some kind of liquids. I drank some SOS Mango – a decision authorized by my mom, an R.N.  That was possibly the best decision I made all day and it officially never happened.

My appointment time finally rolled around again, and we showed up again, only to be told by a very stern nurse that I could only have one person in the room with me. I almost fell apart at that point. My mom had flown out from California just for this; of course my husband had to be there; and my midwife was coming as well, and I definitely wanted her in the room. Making a pregnant lady go for 16 hours without anything to eat or drink was already bordering on cruel and unusual punishment, in my book, and I did NOT want get bullied into some dumb policy.

We put our foot down—or rather, my mom, who is a hospital administrator and knows how that shit works—put her foot down. I always knew that if for any reason I needed bulldogs to back me up and represent my interests during labor, my mom and my husband would be a fearsome combo. Luckily, the hospital backed down pretty easily, and despite protests that there wasn’t enough space, ushered us into a very spacious labor and delivery room.

Getting set up with an IV and answering all sorts of questions took about an hour. So hungry. They attempted to draw blood but I was literally too dehydrated: nothing came out of my IV, so the nurse gave up.

Finally, it was time to get this show on the road. So hungry. They gave me a powerful cocktail of fentanyl, phenergan, and terbutaline. The effects were almost immediate: I could feel myself slipping into a deep, foggy relaxation. I was awake and aware of what was going on, but my body felt totally blissed out and asleep.

The doctor oiled up my belly (olive oil. Who knew?) and got to work. After all I’d read online about how awful versions are, I have to say, I was expecting way worse. It had moments of really intense pressure, but not horrible. I kept my eyes closed and focused on my breathing (thanks, yoga) and there were just a few times when I gasped or moaned in pain. I’m really grateful for the drugs; I can’t imagine what it would feel like if my body was actually alert and capable of tensing up in response.

My husband, who watched the whole thing, said she got deep down into my belly, and that my face was registering pain. While I could certainly feel the baby moving through my abdomen, I wouldn’t really call it painful; more just pressure with some uncomfortable moments. #thanksdrugs

My support team was perfect. My mom held my hand, and Nathan whispered in my ear what a great job I was doing. I’m so grateful they were both there, and knew exactly what to do in the moment.

After the doctor finished, I had two more hours of monitoring before I could go, and one more hour before I could eat. I passed out as soon as the procedure was over and slept solidly until my husband woke me up with a plate of falafel.

This was the weirdest part. I was desperate for something to eat, but my motor skills were completely shot. Picking up a falafel was more than I could handle. Bringing it to my mouth was out of the question. My support team fed me one small bite at a time. Even chewing took some serious concentration, and I still ended up with hummus all over my face.

The nurse came in to check on me after my required two hours of monitoring were up, and said that Moonshine wasn’t responding enough for us to go home. By this point, I was feeling like a hot, sticky, sweaty mess, uncomfortably sitting up in that bed, and every time I tried to shift positions I’d cause the fetal monitors to drop and thus my stay would get extended just a little longer.

I really, really wanted to get out of there, even though my ability to stand up was dubious, but I stayed chained to that bed for another two hours, waiting for Moonshine’s heartbeat to register more consistent activity.

Finally, nearly four hours after the procedure finished, we got the green light to go home. I was still pretty unsteady on my feet, my motor skills were making a slow but steady recovery, and my head still felt pretty spacey.

Overall, I’m so glad we went forward with the version. I nearly backed out after reading horror stories online (and that’s partly why I’m sharing in such detail here – hopefully this story will help counteract some of those), but I’m so grateful that it worked and that I again have a chance at the home birth we are hoping for.

The biggest downside is I’ve been banned from doing yoga or any kind of inversions for the remainder of my pregnancy. My midwife doesn’t want to give her any opportunities to flip back. I was so happy to be still practicing at this stage, but it’s worth it to me to step off the mat for a few weeks and put away my maternity yoga pants for good.

Things I learned:

  • Stand up for what you want. I’m really glad we didn’t cave in to their “one person in the room” policy. I ended up being in that room for 7 hours, and for most of that time, it was just me, my husband, and my mom. The doctor’s presence lasted all of 15 minutes; the nurse was probably there a total of 1.5 hours. Otherwise, it was just us.  It would have been so silly and frustrating for them to have to switch spots over those 7 hours.
  • You may not have the capacity to stand up for yourself, so bring your bulldog. I’m conflict averse as it is; having been deprived of food and drink for 17 hours AND being anxious about the upcoming procedure had pretty much depleted any sticking up for myself reserves I had. I needed my mom to step in and stand up for us, and she did a damn good job. 🙂
  • I am so, so, appreciative of what modern medicine has to offer. I am grateful for the ultrasounds that let me know Moonshine was hanging out head up; I am grateful for a skilled OB who successfully turned her around; I am grateful that if the version hadn’t worked, that I would have had a choice about whether to attempt a vaginal breech delivery or to opt for a C section.
  • All that said, I confirmed that I don’t want to be in a hospital for her birth unless there’s a medical need for us to be there. I don’t want to have to fight against ‘policies’ about who should be in the room while I’m at my most vulnerable. The worst part was not the procedure itself, but the feeling trapped by fetal monitors and held hostage to that strip.
  • Drugs really, really affect me. We were there for almost two extra hours getting monitored. At one point, Nathan was playing hokey pokey with my legs to encourage blood flow and get Moonshine to respond. (It worked). I was still super zonked out and glassy eyed when they let us go, and pretty wiped out the next day, too.
  • Drugs kept affecting Moonshine for about 36 hours. She didn’t get back to her normal, kicking, feisty self until Wednesday morning. Poor girl had her first hangover with none of the benefits of a wild night out with friends.
  • Because we’re both so susceptible to drugs, I feel newly recommitted to trying for a non-medicated birth. This is NOT a judgment of anyone else’s decisions, and I reserve the right to change my mind when I’m in labor. But now that I’ve seen how how long the recovery was for drugs that are likely less potent than an epidural, I’d like to avoid a repeat if at all possible.

… And that’s all, folks. If you made it this far, cheers to you! 🙂




Why I’m still doing hot yoga at 36 weeks

sweatpink beyond yoga

Because it feels good. 

I could end the post right there. That pretty much sums up why we do anything, right?

Yoga during pregnancy has been a curious journey. First trimester, I did literally nothing at all except curl up on my couch, retch in child’s pose, and nibble on potato chips.

napping with tigger

Second trimester, I tried easing back in: I started going to regular vinyasa classes or prenatal classes instead of the faster-paced, heated classes that were my pre-pregnancy go-to. It felt okay. Despite a few weird experiences, I was convinced that yoga would make me better at labor, so even though most of the classes I went to weren’t thrilling, I kept going. I accepted that the post-yoga bliss was maybe one of the sacrifices you make for the life growing inside you.

sweatpink yoga
Okay, this class actually had some bliss attached – but that’s because I did it with Christie. 🙂

Then, a few weeks ago, I took Liz’s class in Portland, and it felt amazing. She’s an amazing instructor, with creative, fun transitions, and a flow style that makes you feel like you’re dancing.

liz alyse jamie yoga pearl

In her class, I also reconnected to something that I loved and that made me feel so good. Even with my modifications, it felt so liberating to move and to sweat, and after class, that rush of yoga bliss came back. I can only assume that Moonshine got to experience that rush of endorphins, too—and experiencing the joy of post-sweaty bliss feels like the best gift I can give her.

Then I accidentally went to a hot power yoga class back in Austin—a happy accident in which I  misread the schedule—and again, it was gamechanging. Liberation is the best word I can come up with to describe how it felt to both use my body in ways that it loves, and at the same time to escape the heavy, off-kilter way that it often feels these days.

It was liberating to not be treated like a fragile, precious creature. It was liberating to trust my body to know when to modify and when I could push myself further. In all the hot yoga classes I’ve taken, instructors pretty much leave me alone—which I love—and let me do my own thing. They never ask me to explain my modifications or how I’m feeling mid-class, and being left alone that way gives me license to escape into my body and out of my head.

It’s a very different experience than many of the prenatal classes I’ve taken,* where it felt like it was my job in class to manage the instructors’ anxiety about my body, any modifications I made, or any poses I opted out of. For me, that’s a huge obstacle to getting into the yoga, and an endorphin-block with a 100% success rate.

For now, it feels so good to be pregnant but also still be me. And surprisingly, I haven’t gotten any comments or criticisms when I show up for class or talk about my practice. The pregnancy police has been concerned with other behaviors, like bridge pose at 20 weeks, but my hot yoga habit has somehow escaped their radar.

And, of course, there are a few other benefits: 

  • People routinely put my props away for me. I’m not sure why, but something about the giant belly sweating next to them inspires them to help me out. #notcomplaining
  • While instructors tend to leave me alone during class, they’re super complimentary and kind after class.
  • I get to skip the abs. #enoughsaid
  • I never have to justify or explain my modifications. There are some I make for reasons not related to my pregnancy, but I get carte blanche to just do whatever the hell I want, without being “corrected” out of those adjustments. Now that’s liberating.

* Granted, most of the prenatal yoga I’ve done has been while traveling, so I was new to the class and the instructors. I so appreciate their concern – it just doesn’t rock my world to have to explain, in front of the rest of the class, not only my pregnancy modifications, but also the ones I make because of an unrelated disability.