Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Change in the Weather

Cold this morning. A cloudy cover in the middle air. I love this, above all, about the maritime Northwest: a cold day can arrive in late July, just as a comfortable shirtsleeve day can arrive in late January. Nowhere in the world, that I know of, is one less hemmed in by one particular weather. Late winter and late summer in Connecticut were horribly oppressive: whether it was bitter cold or baking hot, it was simply going to stay that way for weeks. There was no appeal from it, no chance of waking up to find yourself at the far end of the weather-calendar.

It's true, it can rain for weeks at a time here, dark and wet beyond the conception or endurance of transcascadian Americans. But -- if you don't infect your mind with weather reports -- you go to bed each night knowing that tomorrow could miraculously be a beautiful Spring day, no matter what month you're in.

I kneel at the foot of the table. Spurt oil into my hand from the bottle at my waist, in a quick movement that has become entirely unconscious for me, and stroke her feet lovingly. Feet inspire a special tenderness in me. They labor in hidden pain or discomfort, bearing the brunt of work days. They're banished from the light and air, crammed into oppressive spaces, made to work but given no chance to stretch and breathe. And yet they have all the sensitivity and beauty of hands. They're so surprised and grateful to find themselves touched and kneaded. Sometimes you can feel the tension of the whole body move down through the feet and depart in a light shuddery gasp of relief.

They're all the more important in late pregnancy, when you're being cautious about the legs and thighs, and this is the only place caudal to the the glutes that you can still do heavy work. If the sadness of the lower limbs is going to find a way out, it will have to find it here.

I'm doing a lot of pregnancy massage these days. Probably my favorite work. It's frustrating, though, dealing with so-called "pelvic instability," the pain associated with the greater play in the pelvic bones. I'm morally certain I know where the trouble is, that it's thigh trigger points shortening the adductors and hamstrings, overwhelming the relatively weak external rotators (which is why, startlingly, it more often afflicts people in good shape, especially the swimmers and cyclers who train those inner thigh muscles extensively, than sedentary people) -- but deep work in the thighs is precisely what we're forbidden to do, until a couple weeks after delivery. All I can do is recommend the stretches and exercises in the book by Cecile Röst, and make sure the glutes and external rotators are as clear as I can make them.

A little light brushing up the extensor tendons on top of the foot. Supposedly it inspires the lymphatic system. It feels right, anyway. She's wandering back and forth across the line into sleep, as pregnant women so often do, but she doesn't seem to startle when she crosses. When I come back to the head of the table, lay a hand on her shoulder, and murmur, "time to roll over," her eyes open and she comes back to this world, visibly but easily. The faintest of smiles lights her face. I unpack the pillows, and she carefully turns, holding her full belly in her hands, and settles again with a sigh. I pack her in again, and in moments she's wandered back into sleep.

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