Tuesday, 2 April 2013

When an escape isn't an escape

When I was a kid I used to take dance classes.  It started with ballet, then I added jazz and tap as I got older.  By the time I was 12 I was doing three dance classes per week.  I wasn't very good, mind you.  I have short stubby legs that are decidedly non-dancerish, and I am probably one of the least flexible people my teachers have ever seen.  But I loved it, and I kept it up until well into my twenties when I moved to Ontario for school.

Earlier last year before we started our first round of IVF, our clinic required that we have one meeting with a counsellor.  I found the session pretty unhelpful, as she didn't really have any good suggestions about how to get through this process other than "try to normalize your life".  Easier said than done.  But I decided to do one thing that I hadn't done in years.  I was going to sign up for some dance classes.

I found a studio in our new neighbourhood that offered adult classes.  Most of them were pretty beginner level, and even though I was seriously out of dance shape (or any shape, for that matter) I thought that the ballet or jazz classes might be a bit too easy for me.  I decided to try something I'd never done before, but had always wanted to.  I signed up for hip hop.  It's been pretty much an unmitigated disaster ever since.

First, the hip hop teacher had never taught hip hop before.  He was a very sweet but very vain classically-trained dancer whose primary concern seemed to be fixing the angle of his hair in the mirror.  He never seemed to have prepared any choreography in advance, but kind of made things up in his head as he went along.  As a result, the movements and the counts were constantly changing as he admired himself in the mirror and grooved along in his own head.  A class that used to have five people in it dwindled to two.  One woman actually stormed out of class after our instructor changed his choreography mid-stream for the fifth or sixth time in 10 minutes.  He was pretty upset about this turn of events, and the two of us who remained tried to gently tell him what he was doing wrong.  It didn't help.  

This was around the time that my first IVF was cancelled, and I remember coming home and crying in frustration to M.  Not only was the class a waste of money, but it was a huge disappointment.  It was something I'd been so looking forward to earlier in the fall, but it ended up being something I dreaded.  Here I was, trying to do something nice for myself in the face of all our infertility struggles, and it was totally backfiring on me.

The last straw was the class after Halloween, when our instructor spent a full third of the class in the corner with his iPod, silently making up choreography that he should have prepared earlier, while myself and the other remaining student stood silently watching him.  The following week we went to see the studio owner and told her why her hip hop class was tanking.  She thanked us and told us that due to the low turnout, she was going to cancel the class.  She asked me if I wanted to move to the jazz class instead.  I decided to give it a go.

I have actually been enjoying the jazz classes much more than the hip hop.  Our teacher is great, and the other students are an absolute hoot.  But in other ways, it's worse.  The studio has two classrooms, and during hip hop the other room held an adult tap class.  Now, the other room is occupied by the "Creative Movement" class, otherwise known as baby ballet.  It's a horde of sweet-faced two and three year old little girls dressed in pink tights and leotards, running around giggling and shrieking and generally being adorable to music. 

Just being around them before class starts is hard enough.  Obviously, they remind me of everything I don't (and at this point may never) have.  Some of them are also completely lacking in any shyness, and one came up to me today as I was stretching before class to ask me what I was doing and what was wrong with my feet.  Apparently, three-year-olds don't understand callouses.  It was cute and innocent and I did everything I could to answer her and smile without bursting into tears.

The cherry on top of all of this?  The dance moms who used to sit in the studio waiting room during their daughters' class have now asked to join in on our class warmup.  I can't blame them.  It's a nice stretch and a good ab workout.  But dammit, this was supposed to be my escape!  My refuge where I could forget infertility for a while!  Instead, it's yet another place where my barrenness is getting thrown in my face.  One of the dance moms is even pregnant right now, so today I had to avoid staring at her five-month belly as she stretched while the rest of us were toiling through abs.

I guess it just goes to show I can try all I want, but there is no escape from this.  This is my life.  But I'm pretty sure I won't be taking dance classes again next year.


  1. Just before my first round of IVF, I decided to start an early morning yoga class to help me balance and prepare my body for the journey ahead. Within a couple of months, word for out that my yoga teacher was excellent and pregnant women started showing up on a regular basis. Never mind the fact that there was a prenatal yoga class that was held an hour after this one, they insisted in this instructor. Following my first miscarriage, I found I couldn't do it anymore.

    It sucks that what should be an outlet from infertility has become a source of added pain. Especially after having to suffer through a teacher who can't prepare a lesson plan. Honestly, though, if it's not working, speak up. Go back to the owner and plead your case. He/she may have an idea of what will work. At any rate, sending many hugs.

  2. This totally reminds me of when I go to my barre workout classes as my escape. And then a pregnant woman chooses the matte next to mine. My workout "escape" turns into an hour of trying to hold back my tears while doing pliets and weight lifts. :( Thinking of you, friend!! xo

  3. I'm so sorry... Sometimes it feels like the Universe is against us. I hope you can find an activity that makes you feel good, maybe even a new dance studio. I love to dance, it is good for the soul. When I perform, I remind myself that I wouldn't be able to do this routine if I was pregnant and it makes me feel better. I am sending you a big hug :)

  4. Sorry your attempt at escape turned out to be so crappy. Sometimes it seems the more we try to avoid something, the more it gets shoved in our faces. The Universe can be a real bitch sometimes.

  5. That really, really sucks. I'm sorry the classes have turned out like that.

  6. You could try pole dancing, it's a good upper body work out and unlikely to run into preggos! Seriously, that really sucks and makes you feel like there is no escape

  7. Being bombarded with bellies, babies and/or little kids is the worst--especially in a place that's supposed to be safe from all that. I hope you can find another class or activity that's baby-free and gives you the escape you need.

  8. Oh my gosh that hip hop class sounds like a NIGHTMARE! I'm picturing that Stefan character from SNL for some reason, or maybe Will Arnett in Blades of Glory. Babies and bellies are ridiculously difficult to avoid... it would suck to have to abandon dance class, especially if it makes you happy, but perhaps you can find an adult dance school somewhere? I suppose one activity that would be guaranteed kid-free is a wine-tasting club. :)

  9. What an idiot instructor. Seriously, that is really lame. I can't believe you stuck it out as long as you did. I'm so sorry you were trying to find something you enjoy but it's only lead to frustration and more pain. My heart goes out to you.

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