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  • Writer's pictureclairemariemiller1

Pleasant Pregnancy

Updated: Mar 7

Pleasant Pregnancy Class - South Lake Tahoe, Fall 1980 

My friend, Susan, from the Boulder School of Massage, put together a class called Pleasant Pregnancy at the recreation department in South Lake Tahoe for the fall of 1980. Susan and I had been roommates while we were both attending massage school in Boulder. She also happened to be from South Lake Tahoe, where my future husband, Ronnie, lived, with whom I was in a budding relationship when I met her. Additionally, Susan had waited tables in the showroom at a local casino, similar to Ronnie, who was a waiter at Harrah’s showroom. She and I had some common themes over which we connected. 

Upon graduation from massage school in December of 1979, we both returned to Lake Tahoe to begin our massage careers. Susan had a great idea to teach some short classes to build a presence in the community. Not sure how she came up with this idea, but Pleasant Pregnancy was scheduled and promoted for the following Fall. 

I married Ronnie on that Christmas Eve of 1979, and by August of 1980 we were pregnant. At this same time, Susan was making a life decision to move back to Denver and begin graduate school. She asked if I would like to teach the upcoming Pleasant Pregnancy class. 

By the time the class was to happen, I was in my first trimester and dealing with nausea and fatigue. I did not feel pleasant at all. Only two members of the community attended the class. We did some simple massage techniques, a little yoga, and had some pregnancy tea. I really had no idea what to teach. That was my beginning teaching pregnancy massage. It was unknown to me at the time that this work would become a huge part of my journey as a massage therapist. 

Prior to that class, in my early days in Tahoe, I had also set up a lecture on holistic health at the Women’s Center. Holistic was the model for balancing the body, mind, and spirit and included the many aspects of massage, yoga, nutrition, herbal remedies, and more. It was at that lecture, in the Spring of 1980, that I met Judy, another massage therapist who had trained in a 250-hour course in California. My own training at the Boulder School of Massage was 1000-hour year-long training. Judy was interested in the different modalities I had studied. She offered her home as a place to teach Introduction to Massage, where she could learn along with others in the community.

The first Introduction to Massage class was scheduled for six consecutive Sunday afternoons, also coinciding with the time when I was pregnant. This was to be my true beginning in becoming a massage therapy instructor. Judy had a loft with two massage tables and I brought mine for a third. A group of six was perfect. I was learning how to teach. Judy would give me a massage after everyone left. Those massages in the side-lying position during my second and third trimesters were heavenly. All my aches and discomforts subsided. My passion was ignited - this is what all pregnant women need and deserve. My mission in life was forming. 

Judy and I did three sets of classes, so I know I had at least 18 massages in my pregnancy with my first child. The massages took place from the first trimester to the last trimester. Many of the techniques I teach in my Nurturing the Mother® course were from Judy’s work with me. They stuck because I knew in my body that they felt really good. 

It was Judy who I called when my labor started in early May of 1981. I woke up that day with strong contractions and my mucus plug coming out. This was it! Excited, I called Judy and she came right over. Judy sent Ronnie off to hit golf balls at Edgewood Golf course a few minutes down the road. Then, with me laying on my side on the floor, Judy calmly massaged my back, my hips, and my legs. We talked and shared much about birth and motherhood. I treasure this memory. 

Soon the contractions were coming closer and closer. Judy sent out a call to get Ronnie home. Although Judy did not come with us to the birth, she was a true doula to me for that first birth. Ronnie and I drove over the mountain pass and on to Carson City. It was a beautiful May day. After meeting with the OB, who confirmed I was in labor and announced to us it would be a long labor, we were advised to go to the hospital and he would see us when labor progressed. He was surprised when he was called in only a few hours later. 

I attribute my easy and quick labor to all the massages I had, as well as the labor massage from Judy. I was in the hospital for 2.5 hours of labor and 20 minutes of pushing. My OB declared I was an “easy one.” To say I was not thrilled with the OB or the hospital experience is an understatement. This led me to have home births for my next two children (more about that in future posts). 

On the third day home, another massage therapy friend gifted me a postpartum massage. I remember thinking pregnancy massage is great, but, oh my, postpartum massage is even better. You don’t realize that every muscle in your body hurts after giving birth. The massage Janice gave me coincided with my milk coming in and my hormonal tears. The massage brought great relief to the birth tension I was holding. Again, I wished this for every woman. 

Birth is a rollercoaster ride, and everyone’s experience is different. Pregnancy and postpartum massage helps the mom over some of the rough spots. This experience with my first child was the birth of Nurturing the Mother®.

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