Monday, August 16, 2010

Not a Post About Teaching

This is not a post about teaching. What it is about is what I haven't been writing about all summer: my husband and I are expecting twins in February. We're surprised—we had no reason to think we'd have twins. We're happy—we want two children anyway. We're terrified—the risks are greater with twin pregnancies, and the costs (pediatricians, car seats, baby bjorns) are double and all at once.

But what I'm reflecting on at the moment is how lucky I have been to have this summer to get used to being pregnant: I've had a lot of nausea, and a lot of aversions, and a lot of exhaustion. But because I haven't had to show up for work every day, I've been able to manage all that. It's an incredibly privileged position to be in. I get to sleep late, go to yoga mid-day instead of when I'm tired, and indulge my nerdy habit of reading everything I possibly can about whatever I'm most interested in. Unsurprisingly, I've been devouring too many books on pregnancy and childbirth and twins.

But the best part of spending the summer reacquainting myself with slowing down has been rediscovering the neighborhood pool. The pool is outdoors and open regularly for lap swimming. For a while a couple of years ago, I practiced with the masters' swim team at this pool. But those facts alone don't quite convey the joy the pool has brought me this summer: I jump in and start swimming, and I forget everything except the feeling of the sun on my back, the weightlessness of being in the water, the regularity of my breathing. I don't think about the people who tell me to be careful about the cat litter (duh). Or the people who say they could never handle twins. I don't worry about the bazillion complications and risks that I've read about in the five pregnancy books I've digested this summer.

In the pool, it's almost as if I'm not pregnant at all. Except that I would never have thought of this were I not pregnant. I kick, breathe, pull. Flip turn. Bask. I could stay in for hours. But I set limits for myself by showing up when there's only a half hour of lap swim time left. Can't overdo it, you know.

Swimming was my first deep love. I learned to swim before I learned to walk. I prefer beach vacations to mountains—unless there's a pool or lake in the mountains. I grew up spending a week at the beach every summer, and spent most of that time in the water. I started swimming competitively when I was sixish. My childhood was spent in pools, on decks, at meets. I was never the fastest kid on the team. But something about those 12 years of swim practice most days and meets on the weekends stuck. I worry about irrational things when I swim in the sea: sharks, rays, barracudas. But I never worry that I won't be able to hold my own in the water.

I'm trying to adopt a similar attitude toward having a healthy twin pregnancy: I trust my body to do this right as long as I support the process by cultivating healthy practices. Every time I jump (or rather, ease myself) into the pool, I am practicing. And I'm doing the same when I snack on protein-rich foods, when I take a nap, when I drink plenty of water, and when I step onto my yoga mat. There could be some tough currents in the next six months. My husband and I will definitely run into some rough water once the twins arrive. But making a strong practice of taking care of myself (and thus the little buns on my oven) has its own reward: a hope that I will swim safely over the waves, however calm or choppy they may be.


Austin said...

Yes. Just the sort of piece I was hoping to be able to read. I knew you'd write something like this. Please continue (but also write about teaching too) and of course continue swimming as long as you can. I swim three times a week (though indoors and don't feel the sun on my back) and now I'll be thinking of this entry while I do my laps and thinking about the twins swimming along with you, within you.

Chrissy said...

You are a terrific writer, Larissa. This piece is touching: such candor yet so gentle. I appreciate your sharing of your interior world(s).

Greg Monfils said...

Dude, you're having twins!!??!! That's like two babies! Nicely done! See you at school. Lunch soon off campus, but not on me. I'm not buying for 3. Okay, maybe I'll spring for lunch.