Why I Nearly Had A Panic Attack at Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga... clearly the most stressful of all group fitness classes.

Prenatal yoga... clearly the most stressful of all group fitness classes.

I've stayed active during my pregnancy. 

Until 29 weeks, I was CrossFitting a few times a week. I still take long walks with my dog. Sometimes, I go to yoga. I even climbed the IDS tower in my second trimester. 50 floors, NBD. Just kidding, it was kind of terrible and I only made it to the eighth floor before needing to find a bathroom. Eventually, I did summit!

The one exercise I avoided is the one it made the most sense to try:

Prenatal yoga.

You know, yoga... but for pregnant ladies. 

I've been meaning to try out the Twin Cities' premiere "mom" gym. They do tons of classes for pregnant ladies, new moms, veteran moms, any kind of mom, really. You don't need to be a mom to go, but I mean... it's a gym built around motherhood, so.

I love that a place like this exists, but I wasn't sure it was for me.

I am excited for this kid, but I feel as though I'm momming out all over the place. My body is different, I'm confused about my career and my car is a station wagon (which I love...) with a high safety rating. I spend my free time researching strollers and sleep strategies. Pretty soon, I'll be getting the cut

When it comes to working out, do I have to be a mama? Can't I just be a person, at a gym, exercising?

Since my aversion to the mom gym was quite strong, I knew I needed to go. Jumping head-first into the uncomfortable is what Hey Eleanor is all about. So when my friend Nora invited me to a class, I figured what the hell. Let's do it.

The best part? She asked me to a barre, not prenatal yoga, class. Barre (basically, a muscle-screaming ballet class for non-ballerinas) seemed like as close to a regular workout as I would get at a mom gym. It felt like dipping my toe into the proverbial water birthing tub.

Do you like that this post leads you to believe I actually went to prenatal yoga? Ha! Prenatal yoga can wait! Anyhow...

On the big day, I arrived early, grabbing a spot near the back.

Because I had 15 minutes to kill, I did what any person would do: pretended like I had an elaborate stretching/warm-up routine. You know, pulling your arms across your chest, elongating the neck, giving the ol' hammies a stretchy poo. 

As I tried to come up with stretches I hadn't already done, the room filled up with other women. They were mostly in their 20s and 30s, nearly all of them placing their water bottle, purse and an infant on a mat in front of them.

Yes, an infant. 

I knew this was a baby-wearing barre class, where you have the option of bringing your actual baby to class. What I didn't expect were so many babies. Like 15 or the 18 people in the class came with their own tiny human.

I appreciate the concept (more on that later!), but as moms and babies started filling the space, I felt my heart and mind begin to race.

Everyone looked so... tired

One mom talked about having spent the morning cleaning up never-ending spray of puke.

Another bragged about how she and her husband were going to dinner for the first time in eight months.

Another stared off into space, eyes glazed over, smacking her gum ferociously as she rocked her crying baby.

Oh god. This is my future. I'm not ready!

How will I function on 20 minutes of sleep? What if my baby won't stop crying? What if I become one of those people who only speaks in baby-talk? Will Josh and I have to have literal "date nights" planned weeks in advance? The puke. My god, think of the puke!

As the baby stuff swirled around me, I sat on my mat, looking down at the floor, focusing on my breath, trying to ignore the slight tingle in my fingers. I know what that's is all about.

Panic attack.

I've had two, but not in a lot of years. When I get anxious and overwhelmed, I tend to turn inward. Tune out the world, fall mute, close my eyes, lightly scratch my arms and breathe. So fun.

Just before class started, Nora showed up (sans baby). I gave her a hug and whispered:

I think I'm going to have a panic attack.

What's wrong? she asked.

It's just that all the moms and babies are making me anxious.

Don't worry, she said. I'm not a "mom," either.

And somehow, those were the magic words. Because Nora is a mom.  

She's a mom of a three-year-old, which means she did go through this early mom stage. The operative word being through. It's not a place you're stuck forever, and ultimately, you can decide whether or not you want to be the kind of mom whose life revolves around her children, or one who sends the kids to daycare full-time and maybe even has some help on the weekends. Or somewhere in the middle.

Eventually, you get your life back.

Of course, I know this infant part is just a phase... but probably didn't need to see it just yet. 

Much like the time you accidentally watched Cujo as a first grader, or found your parents copy of The Joy of Sex, seeing certain things before you're ready really makes an impression on you. This rings true as an adult. There are plenty of people who like to research the crap out of stuff before they do it (say, I dunno, childbirth). I've learned that for me, it's best to not know too much beforehand. 

You might call this denial. 

I prefer pragmatic.

Once I've committed to something, let's use skydiving as an example, I can do one of two things: Either think about every little thing that could go wrong when jumping from a plane at 10,000 feet (puking! Explosive diarrhea! My body splattering in the middle of a cornfield!), or just show up and do it. 

I prefer the latter. 

I've found that whatever weird scenario I make up in my head is usually way worse or completely off-base from the real thing. When you're in the moment, you just do it. 

This is why I don't watch birthing videos, or offer to take other people's babies for the day "to practice." Precisely why I should've skipped a baby-wearing barre class. Because at this point, there are no backsies. I'm having this baby. She will be exiting my body one way or another, and when she arrives, we're just going to roll with it. Because we have to. 

At that point, baby-wearing barre will probably be the one thing that saves me from a panic attack.

It'll be an opportunity to get out of the house, bring the baby, and not have to stress out over whether or not she's making too big a fuss. The other moms will understand. 

So, apologies in advance to the lady who's seven months pregnant in the back corner. You're going to be fine, but you probably should've just gone to the prenatal yoga class. 

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Speaking of big life changes, here are 7 scary things I did before my wedding. Also, a whole big-ass list of things that freaked me out about having a baby, plus 28 things that will make your pregnancy better



(plus a FREE copy of 107 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone)