I took a 2 month break from writing, posting, experimenting in the kitchen, exercising, and pretty much the life I knew before. This was not a self imposed sabbatical, but rather a necessity when at 5 weeks pregnant I was not able to leave my bed or the bathroom. Yes, I am pregnant and currently finding my energy, appetite, and joy of life back in my second trimester. To get to this point was a long journey of making peace with myself for not being this incredible healthy, fit role model I expected to be. During these struggles, I have had many friends encourage me to write about this journey. The image of women breezing through pregnancy with full time jobs, caring for families, an active social circle of friends, plus exercising and living healthy on salads, is an extremely difficult pressure to live with… and for most pregnant women purely impossible! I want to share my journey with you, so you know that I am in the same shoes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking time off and caring for yourself and your unborn.
But let me start from the beginning…
For years, my husband and I have been planning this pregnancy, getting ourselves ready health wise and mentally. In no way was this a surprise to us but rather a very joyful moment.
I have researched endlessly on how to go into the pregnancy healthy, stay fit during it, and come out on the other side with energy and some dignity. I have been working with pregnant women for years and knew exactly what my fitness and nutrition plan were going to look like for the next 9 months. Healthy snacks were prepared, supplements were stocked up, and I knew that I wanted to be this healthy, fit, glowing role model of a pregnant woman. I would go as far as to say that there has never been anyone more prepared for pregnancy than I was.
I guess nature didn’t like my German planning… As soon as we officially found out that I was pregnant, a combination of food poisoning and hormones I had to go on, set off my morning sickness. I know many people question why this is called morning sickness and I can only agree! It goes on all day every day. There was no break from feeling exhausted, drained, and dehydrated. The endless nausea and vomiting finally started to subside when the second trimester kicked off - just in time for me not to lose my sanity after weeks of drowning in self pity and the feeling of complete laziness and inadequateness.
Of course everyone told me that this is only a phase and I will forget all about it. They were right - now looking back it was such a short period of my life. Nevertheless, in those moments hanging over the toilet bowl not even being able to keep water down, all I was able to think about was my tiny universe and all the things I was failing to do. I was letting down clients in personal training, group classes, and nutrition coaching. I was putting my cook book project on hold because I wasn’t even able to look at recipes without getting sick. My company was running on the side without me actually putting any effort into it. And the worst part of all: the pregnancy immediately changed my relationship with my husband. While I could not have asked for someone more caring to hold my hair and rub my back, suddenly my complete exhaustion made any real talking or connecting impossible.
All my expectations of what pregnancy was supposed to be were crushed within my first week. I thought I was extremely prepared and that my super healthy body would be able to cope easily with my pregnancy. I thought I had 9 months to ease myself out of work and into my new role of mother and nurturer. It all happened instantly and that was the hardest thing: letting go of everything that made up my identity at once.
After weeks of staring at the ceiling and being bored with myself, I have embraced that I need to change my priorities now and that the most important thing is that I grow a healthy baby. I have had to acknowledge, that I don’t have the capacity to work at 6am anymore until late at night. I have let go of longterm clients who have worked with me for years and cut back my class teaching schedule. I have made time to relax and nap during the day. I have found healthy food options to be delivered to my door when I can’t enter my kitchen without extreme nausea hitting me. And I have embraced my new journey… which always means letting go of an old one. This was the hardest part: letting go of Alive Shanghai, a business I have built with so many incredible people around me over the last 5 years. This is a year of big changes for me: a baby plus an international move from Shanghai to Hong Kong this summer. A whole new journey awaits and it has only taken me so many weeks to make peace with all of this! To this new chapter in my life - I hope to share many more anecdotes of my journey with you.