I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while. I’ve been running agility since day 1 of my pregnancy. And, I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy. I searched the internet for other agility enthusiasts that had been through the same thing. I know there’ve probably been tons of women who run agility while pregnant…. I just couldn’t find any online account of them.
My main hurdle to get over in the first trimester was the nausea. It made it hard to run in the heat, doing crosses, and keeping up with my pups. Pretty sure I almost passed out a couple times. My first big accomplishment, while pregnant, was getting second place at the USDAA regional. I was proud out of my skull of both myself and Bilbo. And it was my unborn daughter’s first major agility accomplishment as well! (Can you say amazing junior handler on the way?!) That was fun to think about. To round out my first trimester, I continued to go to local shows (frantically trying to get my Qs for the US Open) and attended the EO development camp.
A big condition of starting a family was that I wouldn’t give up on my dreams. I’ve strived for international competition since I started agility years ago. My husband and I whole heartedly agreed on this point and I threw all my energy into making sure Bilbo & I were ready for trying out for Team USA. I needed to maintain my athletic ability as much as possible for as long as possible. With my physician’s blessing I started at Planet Fitness and exercised there 4-5 days a week. Many days it was so hard to get myself motivated and out the door to the gym… but I always was glad I did.
One valuable skill that developed out of necessity was our distance work. Not just on basic things… we needed distance for complicated handling. I had to TRUST him. I learned to tell him what to do & MOVE! I honestly believe this helped make us a much stronger and well connected team. There’s no way we could’ve gotten through the challenging courses we faced at the US Open and EO tryouts without the incredible amount of trust and connection that we’d built up.
I was about 6month pregnant for the US Open. This event contained the hardest courses I’ve ever run… EVER! There were tons of traps and challenges, and demanded many handling skills. By this time in my pregnancy, I could definitely feel how much slower and less agile I’d become. I had to rely on the trust I’d built with Bilbo to get us through. And he nailed it! We weren’t perfect, but we worked together as a team like I’d never experienced before. It was a magical experience. And, for the first time in my life… I stood on the top tier of the podium. 1st place! A national champion! I was on cloud nine. I look forward to telling my daughter about how she was right there with Bilbo & I on the podium. We found out, soon after, that we had made it onto the WAO team! And would be going to England!! (Fish & Chips anyone?!)
A black smudge on this accomplishment was once we’d found out we were on the team, I informed the coach that I was pregnant. I assured her that my daughter would be born two months before the competition and Bilbo & I would be fine to compete. This caused the team to reconsider having me as one of the members. When I was informed of this, it broke my heart. I was a teary mess. It was what I had feared in disclosing the information at all since it wouldn’t affect my performance at the WAO. In fact, I’d be performing better, since I’d no longer be 6 months pregnant! Luckily the team coach stood up for Bilbo & I, and decided to have us on the team, despite others’ opposition.
Two weeks later we travelled to WI for EO tryouts. Traveling all around for agility had become quite the unpleasant affair. With a shrinking bladder, back pains, and swelling ankles… I was not the happiest of campers. But, I kept my eye on my dream. I wouldn’t let the aches and pains of pregnancy take anything away from the awesome experience of tryouts. If I was feeling slow before… I felt like molasses at tryouts! One round stood out particularly to me. It was a straight-away & I was running as hard as I could, but couldn’t make it. I tripped, and Bilbo took an off course jump. I’ll admit, the hormones may have taken over a bit and I cried. I thought that was the end for us. We had many beautiful runs, but the one that will always shine the most to me is our last one. I put everything out of my mind. All my aches & pains, being pregnant, stress, the crowd… everything. It was just Bilbo & I. I remember him yelling at me and my turning back to smile at him. We put every bit of our soul in that run. It moved in slow motion to me. It flowed so smoothly for us and our connection felt like a physical force. To my amazement, we got 3rd in the class! We went on to be accepted onto the team and will be traveling to France to compete…. luckily, after my daughter is born.
It’s amazing to think about how much my daughter has been a part of my agility journey this year, and what a wonderful impact it has had on me as a handler. That being said… I am SO ready for her to be born! I look forward to the many adventures I’ll have with her and that she’ll experience on her own. And can’t wait for her to meet her furry siblings!