Every morning at the beach I woke up before the rest of the gang, slipped on my tennis shoes and hit the sand. With water bottle in hand and a camera over my shoulder, I made the brisk walk to the tip of the island and back – a nice three mile journey round trip. That first morning I remember taking such deep breaths. Yoga breaths, cleansing breaths. After a few minutes I’d catch myself gulping. It was like I could not get enough air in and stress out, the sound of shell fragments under my shoes and the stiff breeze off the ocean were what my body had been longing for all winter. I was stiff at first, forgetting how it felt to walk in warmth, at my own pace, in my own space. I’d been walking on borrowed time at home, catching a quick trot or two around the park whenever the weather broke for more than a minute, but still stiff-backed and tense against the winter winds. These beach walks were different. I had no other commitments to the day except to stretch those aching underused muscles and ligaments and rock that restless nighttime swimmer inside to sleep with my rhythmic pace. I made this same walk later in the afternoon, and again sometimes in the evening, but it was that morning walk that took me out of my old place and into a new place of calm and of peace.
To say that a healthy pregnancy in itself is not a joy would be a lie. It’s a fantastic and fragile journey that we are lucky to be taking once again. We have known what it is is like to have that journey shortened, and we are always grateful for the health and vigor of this new little one inside. But pregnancy is not a pleasant experience for me. My husband may tell me that I’m glowing, but that’s just a combination of chubby cheeks when I smile and good lotion. I have not enjoyed the violent sickness that lingers on still, no one who’s gone through it can tell you that they enjoy feeling like they have the flu for five or six months straight. I don’t care for the endless churning and poking from within, the urgent need to go to the bathroom every time I slightly shift positions, the way my sneezes don’t completely release, but get tangled up just like my diaphragm is now tangled up somewhere in my upper ribcage. And that muscle strain in January? That was, in itself, a true test of my stamina and composure. Luckily no one came along during that time and offered me a fair trade for my roommate. I was in no way capable of making the appropriate motherly choice. And the fatigue, oh the fatigue. I close my eyes for the few moments it takes my photos to upload. I close them in the shower. I close them in the bathroom at work.
Perhaps that’s why a vacation at the beach is so important to me, so essential. It allows me to wake up each day and walk towards that sun, releasing the stress and the tension that will inevitably build up again that day. The weight of change, of growth, of responsibility, of the unknown presses its way into me as each day goes by. I toss with this weight at night, changing positions for comfort, for relief, for necessity. My bones feel old and tired and strained at daybreak, but then I put on those shoes and stretch them out once again into a shape that resembles the person that I was and that I will be again. And I give thanks for my walking companion who accompanies me on this journey we are taking together.