This blog has thus far chronicled my adventures through pregnancy, and the ways I kept physically fit while “with child.” John and I were happy to welcome our daughter, MariaElena, into our lives in early August, and have spent the last four weeks in a whirlwind of emotions, excitement, learning, loving and exhaustion.
First, a few brief words on the birthing process: (1) WOW. It’s hard work. (2) The human body has incredible capacities for stretching and recovering. (3) Major props to my incredible husband for supporting me through the whole process. (4) How humans have evolved so that birth through the pelvis is most efficient is a mystery to me, and, (5) UNM Hospital was a great place to have a baby: the view from the labor/delivery room was fantastic, highlighting the Sandia Mountain skyline, a lightning storm moving in from the west, and the full moon. The doctors were great, too!
During the week or so prior to giving birth, my motivation for exercise,
academic work and even speaking in complete sentences shriveled in the shimmering Albuquerque late-summer heat. I hibernated; I nested, washing tiny outfits and sewing nursery curtains; I watched the Olympics non-stop; and I forced myself to drag my very pregnant body out of bed in the early mornings for walks. As my due date loomed closer, I ever-more determinedly pulled on my super-stretchy spandex shorts, size L tank top and fumbled awkwardly around my giant baby bump to blindly tie my shoelaces (this is not an exaggeration), and I walked. And walked. And walked. I am not a huge believer of old-wives tales, but I figured the recommended walking couldn’t do any harm, and I desperately hoped that the more I walked, the more likely I was going to shake Baby Bun down into arriving on time. Which she did, arriving exactly on her due date!
Post-birth, I was sore, achy, and physically exhausted, but riding an incredible adrenaline high. The new baby I had just delivered absorbed my every thought: I was learning how to feed her, my ears were becoming hyper-alert to the slightest squeak or whimper she made, and John and I were learning how to adjust our thinking from ‘family of 2’ to ‘family of 3.’
For the weeks when the very act of getting out of bed was painful, thoughts of exercise were nonexistent. However, as my body has recovered and I’ve somehow adjusted (kind of!) to the sleeplessness, I’ve found my thoughts wandering more and more frequently to thoughts of exercise, running, and even (gasp!) racing. My morning walks have progressed from walking to the end of the block – a stretch of a few houses – at a snail’s pace to 4-5 brisk miles with baby strapped on my front. I have found these bouts of exercise are once again not only enjoyable, but also energizing, provide moments for quiet thought and remind me of my running self-identity.
As my life has taken the turn from pregnancy to motherhood, I will likewise be steering this blog in tandem with my life’s experiences. I will be chronicling my return to running, fitness and racing – with MariaElena in tow.
This is the longest layoff (10-11 months) that I have every had from running since I started running high school cross country way back in the ‘90’s. My only semi-equivalent layoff was due to a femoral stress fracture, which did require several months of walking with crutches. Thus, as I set off into the uncharted territory of postnatal recovery, I hope you’ll enjoy my tales of trials and travails as I return to my “semi-pro” runner status.
I look forward to your advice, thoughts, encouragement, suggestions and critiques along the way, and I hope to keep you motivated and excited in your own activities and entertained with what will undoubtedly be a hilly, exhilarating and enjoyable road back to racing!