Please Excuse Me

The best part about having a blog instead of a private diary is the ability to publish my grievances to be read by my faithful followers, who will share my indignation and grumble curses at those who’ve wronged me. Isn’t that the point of all social media? To declare “I was rear-ended by an idiot!” and await the sympathetic comments?

Today I am angry at a woman I’ll call Angela, because that is her real name and she has annoyed me.

Since October of last year I have been dragging myself to the gym to attend personal training sessions twice a week. Now, I have to reschedule frequently because the kids are sick, or I’m sick, or I have injured myself so badly trying to workout unsupervised that I can’t possibly climb back on the stationary bike. But overall, I’ve been faithfully showing up. When I got pregnant, I knew I’d built a somewhat sturdy foundation of fitness that would carry me through the pregnancy so I wouldn’t feel like such and weak and helpless blob by month nine, as is my pattern. I would continue with only slight modifications until a muscley, Fitbit-wearing version of myself squatted on the birthing table to deliver her child in one push, followed by a quick leg extension and swing of the kettlebell I’d been holding throughout labor.

Unfortunately, by week five I was nauseous, easily overheated, and teetered off a one-foot high step so wildly that even my optimistic trainer was starting to think I should take a seat until I felt more like myself. I waded through the exhaustion, queasiness, and dizzy spells of the first trimester making a personal vow to return to the gym in my second trimester, when everyone is energetic and not too pregnant to move.

My first day returning to the gym was to be glorious. I had my special maternity exercise pants yanked up to my collarbone and my most supportive sports bra keeping my lady lumps in check. And as I hustled Archie down the stairs for breakfast I heard a panicked call from upstairs — “Mommy I’m throwing up!”

As everyone in the family slowly took turns being sick, I looked forward to the day I might actually break a sweat from something other than the weather. As my belly grew, I noticed how low this baby was, and my doctor commented on it at my next appointment. “When babies are this low, I recommend pelvic rest until she is viable at twenty-four weeks.” Okay, so no funny business and make sure to stay hydrated so you don’t trigger labor. That’s alarming, but probably fine.

Then I started getting Braxton Hicks cramps months before I had them with my sons. Months too soon, it turns out. Now, I’m forbidden from entering the gym, heavy-lifting, or even prolonged standing. The guidelines are strict because I am only twenty weeks pregnant and this baby is too young to make her debut.

This news has caused my family a lot of stress as we worry about this fragile new life and the care our older boys need, and whether or not this parenting team will be down a player.

And in the midst of this, I get a phone call from Angela. She tells me she’s the new head of personal training at my gym and is concerned that I have many unused sessions. Since it doesn’t make sense for me to sign up for another year of personal training at this point, she lets me know the sessions I have already paid for will be deleted if I don’t use them within three months. Three months from today. I calmly explain that I am unable to go to the gym every day for a month and a half in order to finish my allotted time with my trainer because I am not due until February.

Anyone who has purchased similar services knows they don’t come cheap, and I have paid monthly even when I’ve had to cancel, so I am not keen on surrendering those prepaid hours of instruction. I explain that I tried to come in up until five weeks when I nearly fell from being dizzy, and am now unable to so much as stroll on a treadmill.

This is where Angela loses me. I know she’s new and doing her job, but what exactly am I supposed to do here? It seems like she’s trying to get me to put on my big girl panties and hit the gym anyway, as if I’m shirking my health responsibilities and using pregnancy as an excuse. When we reach a stalemate, she hits me with the “only” solution: I can bring in a note from my doctor. Saying what, exactly? It will be clear from my appearance I am pregnant when I come in anyway. Is she unfamiliar with the symptoms of pregnancy?

I am thirty-one years old and pregnant with my third child, and I need a note to get out of gym.

I understand that letting everyone make excuses could be bad for business, but I seriously have to ask my doctor to write me a note as proof that I am unable to fulfill the remainder of my sessions in the time allotted? I might understand if I had a prolonged flare or was recovering from a bowel resection and needed a note, because how could they know whether or not that story is fact or fiction?

When I enter a building two seconds behind my over-large third-pregnancy belly, that should be sufficient. Everyone is familiar with pregnancy, the same way everyone is familiar with the stomach flu. If I tell you I’m afflicted with one or the other, there should be no need for documented proof.

I felt like such an idiot asking my doctor for a note to excuse me from personal training and I flushed red with shame. Here I am, an undisputed adult, asking for this man to prove I’m not allowed to exercise to Angela, a stranger who is definitely younger than I am and probably has an ass you could bounce a quarter off. My doctor’s signature is more valuable than the physical proof of my pregnancy in the form of a giant belly and swollen ankles.

This pregnancy has been difficult in unexpected ways, and I don’t need some twenty-two year old blond (because brunettes know the villains are always blond) asking me to prove my challenges to her. What I need are the forty personal training sessions I’ve already paid for to help get me back in shape after months of everything-but-bed-rest.


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