Barry’s Babe-y: Meredith Lavender Wilson
by Meredith Lavender Wilson

April of 2011, I was going to be a typical Angeleno and bail out on a barbecue that was across town. A good friend gave me enough grief that I went across town for the party and ended up staying until the next morning because I was talking to my future husband, Ian. Almost exactly two years later we were married, and the journey towards a family started.

I wasn’t one of those women who just assumed I would, or could, get pregnant. I know enough about statistics and science to know that it takes the average woman one year to get pregnant which means that there is a group of women out there that takes two years, and a group of women out there who get pregnant on that magical first try. Either way, I never thought that I was going to fall into the third category of twenty-three months on the infertility treadmill. It was an incredibly tough nut to swallow as Ian and I knew that we both wanted a family. And while we are both totally open to the many different ways you can have a family, we both wanted to see what kind of a crazy combination would happen if we had our own kids.

There’s an enormously overwhelming sense of failure that comes with not being able to conceive naturally.

For me, the failure was accompanied by an almost revolt against my own body – a “if you can’t do it, then screw you” attitude. That coupled with rounds of hormones, rules about low heart rate, and limited exercise all but shut the system down. As a three sport high school athlete, a runner in college, and a triathlete after college, my body didn’t react well to a sudden total lack of physical activity.

With an incredibly supportive husband by my side, we endeavored through months of shots and doctor’s appointments that all lead to the amazing moment at the end of this past April when we found out that IVF had worked. We had a single baby on the way in January of 2016.

Weirdly, and quite the opposite from a lot of women, finding out I was pregnant was the first time in many, many months that I actually felt like exercise was something that I might be able to do.

The attitude of “my body failed me, so I failed my body” cycle of nonsense needed to end. I knew I had to wait another six weeks before a doctor would actually give me the nod to workout (at best), so I hunkered down and did my best to stay focused on other things.

Over the years of being in California post-college (of which there are now 16!) I’ve been lucky enough to spend lots of time with both Joey Gonzalez and Jonathan Rollo. They’ve become integral pieces of my urban family. In the mid-aughts, I lived in Hollywood and had done some time at Barry’s.

Flash forward, and when I was finally cleared to work out, I decided that the answer to my exercise throughout my pregnancy was going to be a return to Barry’s.

My husband had started working out there ahead of me and was already a total convert. When it came time for me to get on board, it was a smooth transition. I started taking Astrid’s WeHo class a couple times a week and found it to be challenging, but manageable. Astrid’s attitude about modifying and working with me made me feel like I was a part of the class – even if an independent study.

Working out at Barry’s has been an amazing experience as pregnancy has progressed. A lot of people raise their eyebrows when they see me waddling (yes, at almost 35 weeks it has been reduced to waddling) into Barry’s for class. There are two different looks – the one that says “holy crap, she’s here to workout?” And the one that says, “holy crap, she’s going to workout!” Secretly, I kind of love both of them. I find the former comes from people that maybe have a little twinge of: “if the pregnant lady shows me up…” panic and the other has the twinge of…

“…if the pregnant lady can do it, I can do it.”

For the people that feel like I am going to show them up, I hope that it motivates you to run a little faster, lift a little heavier, or try a littler harder. For the people that find a can-do attitude because of it, I hope it motivates you to push a little more, dig a little deeper, and actually find the fun in it all. You’d be surprised at how quickly you get jealous of people who can run on a treadmill.

In twenty-six weeks of doing Barry’s, I spent the first twenty weeks at a net loss of five pounds from the day I found out I was pregnant. Starting three weeks ago, baby has made it harder to stay out in front of that number, but I’ve been cruising right around the weight that I was when I found out I was pregnant. It will be more challenging in the last six weeks as the baby gains a half-pound a week, naturally I retain more fluids, and let’s be very clear – if I get to a 3.0 on the treadmill, it is a victory. It was never my goal to workout with the expressed intent of losing weight or maintaining weight, but then again neither was IVF. Once it was happening, I found it very motivating to try to keep it going. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has changed its tune greatly in the last few years citing that exercising during pregnancy is, unsurprisingly, a great thing.

After spending so much of my last two years feeling like a failure, the last twenty-three weeks have been anything but that.

The people at Barry’s have been encouraging and kind and I cannot stress how much accolades mean. So, if you’re the pregnant lady sitting at home thinking you can’t do it, the answer is that you can and you should. If you’re the person on the treadmill next to the pregnant lady, make the suggestions that the baby be called “Incline” or “Dynamic Mode.” It cracks me up.

Now almost thirty-one months (or 38 weeks, depending on which starting line I’m counting from) into this journey, I’m very aware that it is going to culminate in the arrival of a kiddo. I have no delusions about how hard it will be to adjust to life with a baby, but I do know that staying committed to believing in my body is a huge part of what’s next. It will be a juggle to find the hour to get to Barry’s with a newborn, but like most things in life – if you want something badly enough, you find a way to make it work.