I began taking a very popular prenatal yoga class in Los Angeles when I was 10 weeks pregnant. They’re definitely a chant-y, spiritual, almost voo-doo kind of bunch, but I love it and am now (35 weeks) addicted. When I was about 15 weeks pregnant, I attended a class that I will almost certainly never forget. The teacher was this gorgeous, tall, Croatian woman. She just exuded positivity and grace. She told us about her all natural home birthing experiences (By the way, when I think of “home births,” I picture all those freaks from “Real Sex” on HBO that go to those sex communes where they all hug and give group blow jobs and talk about their feelings. Sorry. Just a side note). Anyway, the yoga teacher told us about her experience with such enthusiasm that I literally considered never shaving my armpits again. I was feeling that crunchy and enlightened.
After about an hour of various movements and poses that remind me of old ladies in a swimming pool (I’ll be honest, prenatal yoga is far from strenuous- one of the many reasons I love it), she had us all sit in a circle. There were probably about 20 women, ranging in ages, sizes and weeks… some about 8 weeks pregnant, others 38 weeks pregnant. She asked us to go around the circle and share with the class what are biggest fears are (about pregnancy, of course. I doubt they wanted to hear about my fear of birds).
I was in the middle of the circle, so I had plenty of time to formulate my thoughts. As I listened to these women talk about their fears such as their dogs liking their new baby, or how they would juggle a baby and a career, fear actually started to set in for me. I have like 8 thousand fears on pregnancy alone! All of theirs seemed so minor… so basic. So rational. Suddenly, I feared that if I shared my fears of miscarriage, pre-term labor, and death during childbirth (to name a few) that this supposed non-judgmental group would think that I was crazy.
It was my turn to share. Suddenly, tears welled up in my eyes. Goddamn hormones. “I guess I worry that my worries are going to affect the baby. That the stresses that I feel will cause emotional distress and harm to the baby…” I said fighting the tears.
The Croatian tilted her head, “Ahh, yes. Babies can feel what we’re feeling. But it’s okay. If you’re stressed, that is your path. Maybe your baby needs that. Maybe it thrives off of that energy.”
I nodded. I’ll buy it. After all, I was paying top dollar to have my shakras shaken up, so her words of encouragement were working for me. “I just feel so guilty… Every time I feel stressed or worried.”
Now the tears were full blown. I looked around the room: 20 pregnant women now are crying. Wow, my hormones are powerful.
“This is why we must come to yoga,” the teacher said smiling. “So that we can share and let our emotions out of our bodies- to give ourselves and our babies a release.”
I thought of my weekly therapy sessions with M and remembered that she told me that it’s okay to have a range of emotions during pregnancy and that having anxiety is a part of who I am and that it’s okay. Remembering that I said, “I guess I just have to accept that I worry. It’s something I do and I cannot feel guilty about. I’m a worrier.”
“Yes, you are a WARRIOR.”
Huh?! She misunderstood. “Yes, I’m just a worrier. That’s what I do.”
“You are. You ARE A WARRIOR. A SPIRITUAL WARRIOR.”
Oy. Maybe it’s her accent?! I said “WORRIER” loud and clear. Great. Now I was worried that these women think I’m pompous enough to call myself a “warrior.”
“I see in your eyes your determination and your spirit and your baby will feel that as well. You can do this. You will be okay.” She smiled. I smiled and nodded and wiped my tears, not knowing what else to say. “Thank you for sharing.” She said and nodded to the next woman who because of me, was now crying.
As the woman next to me shared her legitimate fear about bonding with the new baby as much as she had bonded with her first baby, I couldn’t help but think about what the teacher had told me. On one hand, I loved the idea of being a warrior. A TROOPER. A hard-ass who can work through any problem and any fear. On the other hand, Attila the Hun doesn’t strike me as someone with anxieties and I was having trouble getting past that.
Finally, the last girl in the circle spoke. She was bawling. “I’m really worried right now because I’m only 15 weeks pregnant and my husband and I are having a lot of problems…” Poor thing. Now we’re all crying again. Her problem is serious and for real. The teacher gave her kind words of encouragement and had us wrap up the class with the studio’s signature chant and song.
Despite a very intense class, I still focused on what I would eat afterwards (I can only clear my thoughts so much people). I headed straight to their smoothie bar for a “Fantastic Fruity.” My fav. The teacher came up behind me. She smiled. I was trying to fight my obsessive thoughts, but I couldn’t resist. I had to know.
“Um, you know, I said that I was a ‘worrier.’ Did you-“
“Yes. I know. I heard you. But I cannot accept that.”
“Oh,” I was confused.
“You spoke with such a spirit that I cannot accept that you are a worrier. You are a GOLDEN warrior.”
For a minute I thought I was falling in love with her. “Thank you,” I said, ” That is really nice to hear.”
“I’ll see you next week,” she said loading her plate with mung beans and rice (Jesus, where am I?)
I left the yoga studio that day feeling fantastic. For the next few days, I brushed off my worries with my golden warrior stick and enjoyed the changes and unknowns in my body. I AM A WARRIOR. Hear me fucking roar.
About 15 weeks later, T-Ko and I ventured to our first Childbirth Preparation class. The teacher decided to open the class by having everyone go around and share their names, due dates and some worries or concerns that they are having. Ugh, great, I thought. Here we go again. Me with the crazy fears. Them with their minimal worries about what to pack to the fucking hospital.
As I wracked my brain trying to think of what I will say that won’t embarrass my husband about his nutcase wife, yet could still possibly elicit free, valuable information about my stage of pregnancy from the teacher, a new couple walked in and sat down. I know her, I thought. She looks so familiar. She looked around the room. Her eyes met mine. She tilted her head. I smiled. “Yoga???” She mouthed. “Yes. Yoga.”
IT WAS HER. The girl with the husband problems! Is that her husband? They seem fine now. I tried to whisper to T-ko through my teeth that she was the girl in class who was crying more than I was at yoga. But he was too focused on the birth book, flipping through pictures of laboring women with bad short haircuts and hairy vaginas.
About an hour an hour in to class, and 15 couples with really boring concerns later, we broke for “recess.” I made my way to my yoga friend.
“Hi, I’m J-ko….”
“Hi, I’m S! We met in yoga.”
“Yeah! Wow, that was like 15 weeks ago. How are you feeling?”
“Good. Thank you. You?”
“Good. Bigger. Tired,” I said as if she was too. “Tired” is the best pregnant icebreaker.
She turned to her husband, “Honey, this is the girl who took the yoga class with me where I told everyone I hated you.”
He laughed. He LAUGHED?! “Oh, great!” He said sarcastically.
I was dying to ask her if everything was okay now. Instead I added nervously, “Yeah, that class was intense. We were all like crying…”
“Yeah!” She said, “I know. You made me cry.”
ME??? I made her cry. I was the one who pushed her to confess that she and her husband’s marriage was failing? OY. I’m a pushy warrior.
“Oh my gosh. I know. It was crazy. A bunch of women with raging hormones.”
We giggled about and caught up on the last 15 weeks
and where we were with our pregnancies while our husbands made small talk.
One month and everything you need to know but don’t want to know about labor later, T-ko and I completed our childbirth education classes. We have become quite friendly with S and her husband- who I’m happy to report has a very happy, healthy relationship with her husband. With about 5 weeks left until D-Day, I definitely have my fair share of worries. I may have days that I can muster up the warrior spirit. But for now, as I sit here worried if the baby is actually puncturing a hole with his finger in my bladder, or if my areolas are going to stay this dark, I take a deep breath and thank god for this blessing. I consider calling the doctor to discuss all these fears, but again, I take a deep breath. The baby is fine. I am fine. I AM A SPIRITUAL… WORRIER. And THAT is just who I am.
Sat nam. 🙂