The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pregnancy

Today, I awoke bright and early at 6:00a.m. Due to the pouring rain, my clients were cancelled, but I immediately jumped on work, made my buckwheat blender pancakes, and began a steady stream of typing. Around noon, I felt insanely tired and decided to take a short nap and go work out. Making a quick detour to Whole Foods for pasta ingredients for tonight, I picked up an issue of Fit Pregnancy. It was like a whole new world.

Thankfully, this issue was perfect for me. On the cover was a vegan actress (the star of Bones, Emily Deschanel). Inside was a complete “clueless” guide for first-time mothers. (Thank you, Jesus!) What to eat, what not to eat, what to buy, what to worry about, and what not worry about. In a word: savior.

As I walked mindlessly on the step mill, I devoured the information, and it was nice reading something out of my comfort zone for once. This isn’t another magazine full of exercises to help you get slim or lose five pounds – it’s about preserving your life for another’s. The selflessness overwhelmed me.

When I talked to my friend, Johnny Cooke, MAT specialist, the night before about altering my fitness routine, I became panicked.

“You have no idea how ravaged your body is about to become. You will not be doing anything explosive for 18 months. Once that baby is born you aren’t going to be thinking about going to the gym. You’re going to want to sleep.”

Johnny has two children. When his daughter was born, his dad pulled him aside and told him he would never again have a good night’s sleep. This is what I fear, and what I’ve always been intrigued by. If Alex and I don’t get a good night’s sleep, we are groggy, grumpy, and float through the day in a funky fog. But, parents all over the world miraculously work three jobs and make ends meet. They do what they have to with no regard to the bone weariness that keeps them up well into the night.

While sleep deprivation cannot be avoided, the way we construct our days and lives can be controlled. For instance, Alex is one of the most helpful human beings on the planet. He will be that dad up all night if that means I get to sleep. He is the laundry and dish king. When he gets stressed, he cleans (yes, really). He is emotionally and physically supportive, and together, I want this to be completely new and interesting and tough and hilarious – because that’s the way our entire relationship has been.

We haven’t listened to anyone. We’ve gone with our intuition on every decision (yes, even that impulse purchase of our puppy, whom I love more than anything) and it has never led us astray.

I also know that over these nine months my workout philosophy will shift and change, but exercise is my sanity. It always has been. Going to the gym is as much a part of my life as brushing my teeth. It’s what I’ve done since I was three years old, as I tumbled across a mat, little brown curls bouncing. My mother said I used to throw elbows and knees in her womb: even in utero, I was a fighter.

And as my first OBGYN appointment looms closer, and I will have to divulge the details of my brain surgery 10 years ago (and that clipped vein still swimming around my head somewhere) and my knee surgery and the fact that I am a plant eater and don’t have maternity insurance, I am, in this moment, calm.

Over the past week, I have been given help and advice and different suggestions. But, the lesson I’ve learned for today?

Trust your own instincts.

I am listening to myself and to my body. It’s what millions of women did before they had magazines or websites or guidelines to follow.

Our bodies are made for this. It is awesome and inspiring and miraculous.

As is my hunger right now… so I am going to go eat.

I will leave you with a haiku:

I place my hand to 

My belly and breathe; how can

Just one breath feed two?

Vegan Strawberry Oat Bars


1 1/2 cup pitted dates

1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts

2 Tbsp. old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup strawberries, thinly sliced

1. Pulse dates, nuts, and oats in a food processor until combined.

2. Press the date mixture into the bottom of a glass container or a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

3. Mash half of the berries and spread on top of date mixture. Top with remaining strawberries. Slice into rectangles, if desired!

8 thoughts on “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pregnancy

  1. Your ability to tune out the world is what makes you such an incredible person. I love you so very much and am so inspired by your ability to do what you want, despite all odds. That baby is one lucky dude (or lady) to have you both as parents.

    • Thank you so much, Nikki! YOUR ability to be such an incredible parent AND artist is what inspires me and makes me know that we can do this our way too… And that there’s no ideal of perfection. We’re excited for it all! I can’t wait until you are an auntie!!!! Or godparent. :) Thank you for your unending support. You are the best friend I have ever had!

  2. I am so happy for you and Alex Rea!!! You are going to be awesome parents. Dont stress or worry. Some how you just know what to do when the time comes.

  3. There will be a few sleepless nights, but if you guys work together on it, stick to a routine, and tag-team it shouldn’t be too bad. As for exercising, you should be able to do that right up until you pop (albeit with some slight modifications)… and you should do so. I don’t know how soon you can jump back in after, but I know Callie was back it pretty quick and back to her pre-preggo weight in like… idk, it seemed like a month or two at the most.

    You may like this… it is the Birth Story for our home-birth:

    There are other stories on there as well…

    • Your comments make me feel oh so much better. Especially since you and your wife have been there! Luckily, my husband is the most amazing team player ever is on board with absolutely everything to make both of our lives easier. I’ve still been exercising, but we are kind of “fanatics” when it comes to how we lift (as demonstrated here). I’ve taken it way down in intensity – just having a hard time finding the balance. I am taking it a day at a time!

      I just read your birth story and it is absolutely amazing. That sounds like a dream experience – truly. The more I read, the more I am encouraged to talk to and switch to the midwife department. Thanks again for all the continued advice. It truly helps.

  4. Oh that recipe looks delicious! I have macadamia’s in my cupboards I didn’t know what to do with :)
    One thing I have learned in the last 16 weeks of pregnancy is that on top of growing a baby, you have to grow a thicker skin and a stronger self-confidence!
    People will judge you, scare you, give you all sort of unsolicited advises and tell you what you should or should not do (I hear it doesn’t stop at pregnancy, people also tell you how to raise your kids!).
    You are right to follow your gut feelings. You know your body, you know what is right :)

    I really wish I could read that issue of fit pregnancy, I don’t think they sell it in the UK unfortunately…

    • Alej, you’ll love the recipe! So simple. I LOVE your site, by the way – we do have a lot in common! Check out the resources page on here – it gives a link to the magazine fit pregnancy (as well as some other pertinent stuff), so you should be able to get all the Fit Pregnancy info online for free)!

      I completely agree about growing a thicker skin. I’ve always been someone so comfortable in my skin and very self-aware, and suddenly, I am questioning everything. It’s funny how I’ve never cared what people think, and I need to carry that trait into this pregnancy and beyond. (It’s also funny how people do respond to you differently once they find out you are pregnant – just last night, a friend told me I should definitely give birth in a hospital, because so many women have aneurysms and strokes!!). I was irate. Of course, I could sit here and think about all the “what ifs” but what’s the point?

      I want to envision a happy, positive pregnancy. I’m so excited to hear about your journey. You are going to be a fabulous mother!

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