A letter to my pregnant self (GUEST POST: Karen Laing, Fit School)

pregnant-2635034_1920Being pregnant can bring with it a whole host of anxieties and unknowns. Wouldn’t it be great to have your very own, you shaped, pregnancy advisor write to you with their best bits of advice? Tailor made for you.

Event organiser and pre and post natal exercise and Pilates specialist Karen has done this very thing. With 15 years of experience teaching pre and post natal Pilates, Karen has seen over 200 women through pregnancy (plus two of her own). This letter is based on personal experience but also the common worries of her pregnant participants.

What do you really want to know?

What advice would you write to your pregnant self?

Dear pregnant self …

How are you? I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to sit down and write to you. You’ve been often in my thoughts but life has just been soooo busy since those babies came along and grew into child shaped human beings.

It’s been quite a journey. Nine years in fact. And during that time I’ve had a bit of time to reflect. Maybe we were a bit self critical. Maybe we worried over the wrong things. Perhaps we didn’t enjoy the lovely bits of pregnancy ‘enough’!

Enough. Now that’s a funny word. Get comfortable with it. You might have a thousand aspirations of the type of parent you’ll be or the beautiful time you’ll spend coo-ing over your baby but actually, you probably don’t know yet about the huge, truck-load of perpetual guilt that you’ll get burdened with once you become a mum. A very wise friend (who I’ve not been in touch with ‘enough’) contacted us back then and warned me about the guilt. So I’m warning you again. Let it go. You’re doing your best. You will be a good ‘enough’ mum. All your babies really want you to do is to love and hug them.

I know you’re worried about your body. About how it will change. Being pregnant means you’ll no longer have a ‘young’ body. There’ll be scars. There’ll be little pouches that weren’t there before. There’ll even be belly wrinkles (yes – they’re an actual thing – especially when you meet our pregnant self the second time around with that girl baby). But please know that you’ll be much more comfortable in your skin after your babies have come out. You are doing something amazing. And I know you know that but honestly – you’ll be able to laugh with your kids about how you grew them and that’s why your tummy is soft, not hard like daddy’s. Your wobbly tummy is perfect for your kids to blow raspberries into and you’ll learn that your perfectly imperfect body is much better equipped for life as a fitness and Pilates instructor than the one you think you aught to have.

As for the fat –  give that a few years. You’ll have to go through a pretty rough patch of anxiety attacks and near constant viruses and bugs from the kids in a few years. You’ll struggle to keep it on so eat the almond croissants and all the roast chicken. You need it! This is the only time in your life when you get to stick your tummy out with pride!

Don’t rush your post baby fitness. You know your joints and body are delicate. Listen to the advice you give your class participants. Hit the weights before your get your running shoes on girl. Walking is enough for now.

I know you’re also worried about whether your baby will be a boy or a girl. What are you meant to have? Will you be disappointed? What if …? Whilst everyone bangs on about pink or blue babies, to you, giving birth will be so much more about ‘who’ you are having. You’re growing a person, a soul, a spirit and a personality. So much more than a gender. (But *** SPOILER ALERT *** Just so you know you’re going to get one of each).

What I do need to tell you – and this is really important – is to enjoy and cherish the time you’ve got together with Chris. It will never be the same again. In fact you’ll struggle to remember life before kids. Enjoy the little things. Time to cook together. Popping out for a meal or to the cinema. And time alone. That will be scarce too. Work out what makes you laugh together and talk more. Go and grab a magazine and have a coffee – on your own! In a few months time, escaping to Tescos will feel like an indulgence.

And have a good holiday. Do things you really like to do. Holidays will be a very different experience from now on. Fun but different (without much relaxation). So sit on the sun lounger, visit the sites and chat with the locals because in a few years you’ll be in a high state of alert trying not to let your youngest kill herself and looking for the nearest medical centre.

Examine your front bottom, in detail. You’re going to sustain a bit of damage from your son when he exits from there. If you don’t know what it looks like now, you’ll never know if champion sewer ‘Linda’ is as good as your midwife says she is.

Ah and before I forget. You know how everyone is telling you not to read those books on baby routines and sleep training and you’re ignoring them. Don’t read them. They’ll just make you feel useless. Let it go. You’re not. Cherish your first six months when all they want are snuggles. Breathe in the soft baby hair and enjoy the fact they want to be close to you. They are like little bear cubs. They will sleep eventually and you’ll know when the time is right to gently help them learn how to drift off to sleep alone. You’re intuitive and great at empathising – so do it with your baby too. You don’t need someone else, who isn’t you, to teach you.

Do your sums. The last thing you’re going to want is money worries. So sit down and work out how much you’re going to need when you’re off work. Also work out your income when you’re back to work but only part time. Don’t take chances on this one, you’ll thank me for it and may save yourself a whole heap of anxiety.

You think you aren’t enjoying pregnancy – admittedly, there are some shitty bits – but cherish the feel of your baby in your tummy. The way he wriggles and gently scrabbles. This one’s gentle. He’s got a sensitive soul. You can sense that already. Notice how he breathes inside you. He’ll breathe and move just like that when he’s in the world and no-one but you will really appreciate how special that is.

You’ve got quite some ride to come. This is only the start but sister, you’ve got this. You can do it. It won’t be easy but you can do it. Your kids will teach you so much about yourself and they’ll remind you how to have fun. They’ll make you laugh and cry and they’ll keep you awake so much that you’ll age more in then next nine years than you thought was possible. They’ll also poo everywhere. Get used to the poo.

Good luck. And remember about ‘enough’.

Karen is a pre and post natal Pilates and fitness expert. She directs Fit School with husband Chris in Epping, Essex.

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