This past weekend, I was supposed to head to San Francisco for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. My mom, my sisters and I planned to race, enjoy fine dining and a fancy hotel location. John and MariaElena would stand by, cheering us ladies to eternal glory. The goal for the weekend: a lot of fun while out walk-jogging through downtown San Francisco with nearly 26,000 other women (and men!) to celebrate coming back from having a baby. As it happened, the weekend served me my first big experience of what being a runner and a parent to a newborn has in store for me.
My clearly envisioned plans started to develop when John realized he was teaching a section of the NM Supercomputing Challenge that weekend (in a pre-pregnancy haze, I had put the event on a different weekend in our calendar). After initial panic, I reasoned that I was traveling with my mom and sisters, so I’d have plenty of baby help, but I would have to plan on walking the half marathon with MariaElena riding in a frontpack. We bought a new hip-belt equipped baby carrier pack and “trained” by going on long walks around our neighborhood.
Then, ten days pre-half marathon, MariaElena got an eye infection. And then reacted poorly to the prescribed medication. Soon, she was refusing to open her eyes, not sleeping, and non-stop fussy, resulting in my descent into a first-time-parent panic. One trip to the pediatrician and two trips to the eye doctor later brought us to Friday morning, the day before I was to catch a plane to San Francisco, yet again at the eye doctor’s office. As I sat in that now all-too-familiar waiting room, bleary (and teary) eyed, exhausted from the 3 day spin of the 24-hour a day cranky baby hourly wake up calls and clutching my sobbing 2month old, I finally considered that maybe eternal glory in the NWM wasn’t in the cards for me just yet. I asked myself why I was going on this trip and the answer of, ‘for a fun, girly weekend’ was returned, I also recognized that if I was honest, nothing about going into a race weekend – even a race I was planning on walking – in my current mental and physical state sounded fun.
I decided to bail out of the trip. For the first time, I was canceling a weekend I had planned for myself because of my daughter’s health. The “don’t be stupid! Things are different: you’re a parent!” lightning bolt struck and I sat there, marveling at how easy it was to prioritize my activities if I would only let myself relax and accept that I could deviate from my original lofty plans. It was with huge relief that I canceled flight, hotel and restaurant reservations and sadly called my sisters to say that we weren’t going to join them in San Francisco.
Recovering from the scare that our daughter would be eternally blinded from this eye infection, the takeaway from this past weekend that my husband and I laughed about was that 1) we have surrendered dominance: our daughter is definitely in charge of our lives these days, and 2) the approach to planning our lives – things big and small – was going to have to include a lot of flexibility. Our usual methods of prioritization of our activities were going to have to be revisited. As I reenter some of my pre-baby activities, I am doing so while climbing the steep learning curve of “life with baby;” this past weekend illustrated for me that I will have to temper the sometimes all encompassing and even rigid goal making and planning habits that I have used to gain athletic standards to accommodate the needs and life of our baby and life as a family. Though daunting, I am excited to incorporate our baby into my running life, and hopefully will do so with [increasing] grace and flexibility.
Next up: I’ll be talking a bit about how my return to running has been going, and will give a recap of my first post baby race: the Great Pumpkin Chase!