If I had to sum up my postpartum experience in one word, it would be humbling.
While I would like to think I’m generally a pretty humble person, I would be lying if I said I don’t have a lot of pride in my level of fitness (and, in particular, the level of fitness I had throughout my pregnancy). And maybe that’s why this experience has put me in my place in such a massive way. Perhaps it was the fact that I was doing burpees and jump squats literally the day before I delivered a baby or the notion that, because I had been so active in pregnancy, that I would just magically pick up right where I left off. Whatever the reason, let me just say this: I’ve been humbled.
The day before I had baby S, I did a 45-minute full body workout complete with burpees and jump squats. (See also: it might be why I went into preterm labour…)
What feels like yesterday, I ran a half marathon on fewer than two months of training.
And just last week, I peed myself twice while working out.
Like I said: H U M B L E D.
From the outside looking in, nothing seems that different. I’m wearing the same clothes I wore before I got pregnant. I’m working out four days a week. I’m walking the dog and carrying the baby around and it would be easy to think I’m just as I was.
But I’m not.
A woman complimented me on “getting my pre-baby body back” but I didn’t. And, honestly? I never will. I can’t. Because my body is changed.
Things feel differently now. And that’s OK.
For several weeks after I’d gotten the A-OK to start running again, I struggled. In addition to being super hard, running didn’t feel good. My left knee hurt. My back would ache. My pelvis felt bruised. If I’m completely honest, if I run for longer than 5-7km, I still feel those things. I literally peed my pants on my first run. I was sore for days. I felt like I’d lost my thing. And do you know what? It really upset me. The activity I did for fun, for me, for an “easy” workout was so difficult I could barely do it. Weeks later, I’m fighting through feeling badly when I feel defeated by a 5km run around the neighbourhood.
And I’d love to say it’s only hard because I run pushing a stroller. But the truth is this: it just is hard.
(Though obviously not made easier by pushing a stroller!)
In chatting with other moms, I came to realize that my experience is not out of the ordinary. Though my individual struggles and experiences are unique, the overall situation is not. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum recovery are humbling. It has been humbling to admit that I was stronger and felt better at 36 weeks pregnant than I do now, at 20 weeks PP.
So, humbled, I’ll keep going. I’ll run a little further and a little longer and I’ll eventually pick up weights that are a little heavier and workout just a little harder and more regularly. I might even start sleeping one of these nights.