last night we had our first "zwangerschapcursus," or child birth class. we tried to find one in the area that was in english and would be in a group setting, but as there are very few english-only speakers in this area, and fewer still english-only-and-pregnant ladies, suffice it to say that there were no english courses to be found out here. if we wanted an english childbirth class in a group setting, we'd have to take the train out to amsterdam, the hague, or rotterdam. and each of those would take at least 2 hours one way... it would only be more and more difficult to make it to these classes as time went on and my belly got bigger. the other option would be to take the courses out here in dutch, which would be a good opportunity to also learn a bit more of this language while we're at it. but given that it's our first baby, we both really want to make sure that we absolutely understand every bit of information given to us -- which means lessons in english.
we did finally convince a lady out here to give us private lessons in english. not ideal necessarily because we're not meeting other parents-to-be in our area, but still the best option for us given our circumstances. and after meeting her last night i feel that it was a good decision. our instructor, janine, met us at a gym up by the ikea, which was about a 25 minute bike ride from our house (given that it was against the wind and uphill the whole way!). we had the first of three lessons, each of which lasts about 2 hours.
janine is our age, just a bit younger, and works as a fysiotherapist (similar to a physical therapist back home). this was a great arrangement because it meant that as a younger dutch person, her english was incredible. and as a fysiotherapist, she knew a lot of the latin terminology for hormones, joints, and muscles, just like me. so if she couldn't find the english word for something, she'd say the latin term for it, and i'd understand exactly what area she was talking about. so it was good.
we spent last night's lesson talking about pelvic instability, what causes it, and doing exercises to minimize it. the thing that i most took home from last night's lesson was the full effect of relaxin, the hormone that softens the joints of a woman during pregnancy, so as to allow for more movement in the hips for the baby to pass through during birth. well, relaxin is not necessarily exclusive as to where it works in the body. my body is surging with this stuff right now, and it's in all my joints and all my connective tissues, not just in my hips (that part i knew, but i didn't know how effective this stuff really is!). well, relaxin explains the "dropsies" i've been having lately, where i think i'll have a good grip on something and then end up on my hands and knees cleaning up the latest glass of spilled water, or broken plate, or scattered loose change. it's annoying, but now i understand why. relaxin makes my body send inaccurate signals back to my brain about how much something weighs, or how tightly i'm holding onto it. and those signals have not always been right lately. and plus, my joints are just more relaxed, with relaxin (how ironic). so that makes sense.
the other thing, the big thing that i feel most validated about, is my lack of speed these days. seriously. it's not like i feel exhausted or anything (though i am more tired than i was before i got knocked up), but for some reason i have just been physically unable to go any faster. i try to move faster, i really really do, but i just for some reason cannot get going at a faster pace. and i thought maybe i was just being lazy, or maybe i was more tired than i thought i was, or whatever... i couldn't figure it out. well, apparently this relaxin stuff affects my muscles and makes me more pokey somehow. like, i can't remember if it makes my muscles less toned, or if it has to do with the connective tissues (like my tendons specifically) not reacting to my muscles as quickly, so my limbs can't move as fast as they used to, or something... but i remember that that pesky relaxin had something to do with it. and now i feel not so bad about being so damn slow, because it's not really me. it's my silly hormones. aha! that makes sense now!
so there's that. and then we (janine, myself, AND adam!) all got down on some gym mats and did some exercises to strengthen the core and pelvic floor muscles, and i learned how important that was, and that was all very good too. oh yeah, and another thing -- it is quite common for the rectus abdominus muscle to create a tear in the linea alba during pregnancy. (the rectus abdominus muscle is the one that gives people their six packs -- the most superficial ab. and the linea alba is a line of connective tissue that runs right down the middle of it, to seal the muscle together. so two halves of the muscle become one solid muscle.) this tear happens because the muscle is already so stretched out during pregnancy that occasionally the attempted contraction of this muscle (sitting up, lifting something, sneezing, etc.) can cause just enough pressure for this muscle to begin to tear down the middle. it's quite common, and many of my postpartum massage clients have this in their bodies as well. anwyway, janine wanted to test me to see if i had this tear too. which apparently i do! right up at the top of the rectus abdominus, at the bottom of my sternum, is a tear about half the size of an egg. i had no idea that i had it, but i had noticed this little bulge that would ache in that area when i walked around for a while. nothing painful, but definitely noticeable. so anyway, i have this tear now, which is common and can heal itself given time and exercise (and the birth of the baby of course). well, poor adam looked like he was going to be sick. he was soooo worried about me. his face turned white and he got all anxious, like he was afraid my internal organs were going to spill out onto the street because there was a tear in my abdominal muscle. janine and i had to spend the next several minutes calming him down and convincing him that nothing bad was going to happen to me, that this thing happens all the time, and that i really wasn't in pain at all. how sweet.
anyway, we rode home in about 15 minutes (downhill and no wind this time!) and went straight to bed. it was a good lesson. our next one probably won't be until late november, and then another one in mid-december. then spruitje comes at the end of january! it seems so fast! how can it be that we're already halfway done with this pregnancy?! yikes!