I am grateful for whatever force finally made me decide to go to prenatal yoga tonight. I had been wavering about it all day—it’s so cold outside, I’d already been out twice and really didn’t want to bundle up again, I don’t have yoga clothes that fit my belly anymore. You name it, and I had the excuse not to go. But somehow, about 45 minutes before the class was supposed to start, I just decided to go.
It was hard. Emotionally and physically. Unlike the first class I went to, there were about 20 women there, most of them very pregnant. And unlike in the first class, this instructor did begin the class (during what’s called centering) with a lot of baby discussion, asking us to rest our hands on our bellies and pay attention to our feelings about the life growing inside us, with eyes, nose, and a little mouth, ten fingers and ten toes. This is exactly what I was dreading about going to a prenatal yoga class—not that I don’t want to focus on those things, but I was pretty sure that I couldn’t do so without crying, and crying is just not what you want to do in a room full of happily pregnant women who are peacefully meditating about their babies.
And I did cry. But quietly (I was pretty close to losing it, but just kept trying to breathe normally again). And everyone was laying down with their eyes closed, so no one noticed.
Even though it was painful, it helped me realize that I need that kind of time. I am 16 weeks pregnant and still haven’t really begun to focus any emotional energy on my little Penguin. I forgive myself for this—I don’t expect myself to be superhuman and just be able to choke down the grief in order to bond with this baby. I know that the work I have been doing for the past six (almost seven… gulp) months is important. I know that it is work I will be doing for the rest of my life. Grieving, remembering, and honoring Hudson is now part of who I am, part of my life’s work—it is work I never expected to have to do, yet here it is in front of me.
But I have other important work to do, too. In five and a half months, we will bring another new life into our family, and I have a lot of preparing to do. A kind of preparation I never expected to have to do, but here it is in front of me. During my days, I spend most of my time trying to keep myself and my mind occupied in order to keep the pain at bay, or I spend it sinking into the pain, writing, crying, remembering, grieving. The times I think of the Penguin the most are when I am getting dressed and undressed, and when I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night—it is in those moments when my hands come to rest on my belly, when I give it a gentle pat or rub, and when I remind myself that I am carrying another life, a baby that will not be just Hudson’s brother or sister, but a person to be valued for his or her own self, for the new and different gifts he or she will bring to our lives. But those moments are so fleeting. So I need some extra time set aside for the specific purpose of thinking about that. Not that Hudson leaves my mind for a second during yoga class, but at some point, I have to start practicing for another part of my life’s work—how to parent and love my living children while I continue to parent and love my child who is no longer with me.
So I’m grateful for whatever impulse pushed me into my yoga clothes, coat, and scarf, and out the door into the cold night so that I could spend some quiet time with both of my children.