Our conversation got me thinking (and writing)...
I am a proud mommy of an energetic and loving 3.5 year old boy. I would not change him for any 6 pack in the world, but let's face it. As mommies, the changes in our bodies don't just last the 40-weeks of pregnancy...but a long time after!
There are a fortunate few who's bodies return to normal within weeks like my friend, Irene, who is 9 weeks post-partum and has her stomach looking like this (see Picture to the right)! Don't feel bad if you find yourself clenching your teeth or you realize that you haven't had even one kid and your stomach doesn't look like that. In her defense she does eat very healthy, works out, and is a strong believer in HERBALIFE products....but still IS 9 WEEKS POST-PARTUM!!!
But anyway, back to the point of all this, even though there are a few fortunate women, there are others of us who take a lot longer to get back into our PRE-MOMMY bodies, or at least really close to them.
During the 9 months of pregnancy and a long time after we leave the hospital with our new bundles of joy, we continuously undergo emotional, mental ,and physical changes.
Our bodies take a hit, growing in every direction, our hips widen (which could be helpful for running), and our joints become lose. With all the physical changes, our self-esteem, our confidence dwindles, especially if our definition of "going out" is getting dressed up to go to the grocery store, and a "good day" is one in which no food was spilled on the floor, naps were successfully taken, and/or spit-up doesn't adorn the backs of our shirts--Who am I kidding, if those 3 happened the same day it would be ONE FOR THE BOOKS!!! Our priorities also switch; "me" time sometimes gets swapped into "we" time- and by sometimes I mean a lot of the time. Our dietary and lifestyle changes bring on eating every two hours, or reduced hours of (beauty) sleep. Working out seems to just inevitable fall off the list of THINGS TO DO.
Au contraire, I'm not only amazed by how our bodies are able to create these babies with our own body tissues, cells, nutrients and energy. I am also blown away by how we are able to recover, re-adjust, and rebuild into stronger women, physically, mentally, and emotionally--from organ placement to our mental/emotional strength.
If you have a couple minutes, I'd like to share my journey...
After a couple weeks (6 to be exact), my OBGYN cleared me to begin working out "lightly"--a term I honestly had never really internalized well. I knew it would be difficult to get back in shape but I had no idea the BASE BUILDING that awaited me.
I remember, in those first couple weeks I would have to resort to 1 minute running/ 3 minute walking workouts for 10, 15, 20 minutes at most and I would finish feeling like I had completed Mile repeats at 5:45-5:50 pace! Body pain, frustration (that something that had always been soooo easy was now this hard), and discomfort flooded me. I would shortly find out that my 26 hour natural delivery had left my coccyx dislocated and all the relaxin in my body from pregnancy and breastfeeding was keeping my joints lose and susceptible to injuries.
With the help of physical therapy, I worked my body slowly into minimal running shape. Some days I would be so winded I would barely make it to the end of the apartment complex before my first walk break. But I had to constantly remind myself that those days wouldn't last forever. STEP BY STEP, DAY BY DAY the runs started getting a TINY bit better. And I celebrated EVERY TINY IMPROVEMENT along the way!
In May 2010, a couple days after my son turned 4 months we ran the Daisy 5k in Austin, and won the Stroller Division.
In November 2010 The day my son was turning 10 months old, I completed the San Diego 1/2 Marathon in 1:32:something ( about 1 minute off my pre-pregnancy half marathon time from the ING Miami Marathon in January 2009, which was a lot faster than I expected but made me EXTREMELY HAPPY!!!
In 2011, my little family moved from Austin to LA and for the first time in I would say, my life, I lost focus on training. Life got busy and running/training fell off the "to-do List". I didn't stop running completely but I did fall off course for bit. In July 2011 I completed the Napa to Sonoma 1/2 Marathon in a very painful 1:39:04...which was the direct result of not preparing for the race.
At the beginning of 2012 I recommitted myself to the sport that had guided me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Through the most trying of (personal) times, I latched onto my new training group, my best friends, and took on a big challenge- training for the LA MARATHON.
In March 2012 I ran the LA MARATHON in 4:01:00 (with 3 bathroom breaks and picture photo opts with my son who was cheering for me along the course). I crossed that finish line physically DONE; Fearing sitting for I didn't know if I'd be able to EVER get up again, but happy, and confident because I had finished, I had faced a fear, I had given myself miles to process the new changes that would be coming my way.
In April 2012 I moved to Miami with my son and that's when my running got the KICK START it needed to switch into HIGHGEAR. Being home and around people that had seen me grow up running, who's memories of me were on podiums, and chasing down leaders in races.
June 2012 at the Twlight 5k in South Miami I ran 20:27. There I bumped into an old running friend from High School, Paola Reategui, who had become a mommy too (just 6 months before!) She crossed the finish in 18:55!! That day I realized that "I just had a baby" excuse was no longer applicable. We began to train together the very next afternoon at Tropical Park. I still remember that we met up for a track workout and I chuckled as we got on the line, it felt like it had been an eternity since I had lined up on a red track with my heart pounded out of my chest like that....at that moment I looked over to the side of the track at our boys in their strollers and thought to myself....WE ARE NUTS!
By November 2012 at the Turkey Trot 5k in Tropical Park, Paola, inspiringly crossed the finish with a time of 17:52 and then I crossed the finish line at 18:57!!
Now we are in 2013 with many races to come, new challenges to overcome, train schedule adjustments to make, emotional rollercoasters to ride, and LOTS OF MILES TO COVER!
So all in all, I'd be lying if I didn't say that there tummy's out there that I would like mine to resemble even just slightly....but I love what my body has been able to do, the times I've been able to work to get down to, and more importantly the most specialest human it was able to create. I haven't written off achieving my former stomach for
the simple fact that it's hard and it's been a long process. I know it's a journey that I am working towards...chipping away at everyday.
10 Month Pre- Partum:
For those of you doing the math, yes, this was a couple weeks before I got pregnant.
8 months preggers...yes, my stomach got even bigger the last month.
3.5 Years Post-Partum:
The image that sparked this entire reflection.
"What happened to my belly?"
I expect your answer to be something along the lines of:
NOTHING SHORT OF A MIRACLE!