My son was born at 40 weeks and 3 days. For 40 weeks and 3 days my body grew and carried this perfect little boy. It’s pretty amazing what the human body is capable of when you really stop and think about it.
Today I am officially 40 weeks and 4 days postpartum. As a naive first time mom I assumed that the time spent growing would equal to the time spent shrinking back down to pre-baby size. Imagine my shock when I woke up this morning and realized I didn’t magically slim down overnight? I’m kidding. Kind of.
I definitely didn’t think it would be THIS difficult. At 6 weeks postpartum (when I told myself my maternity “vacation” was over) I said I’d have it together by 6 months. When he turned 6 months old I told myself by 9 months – no doubt. And well, here I am. Still very, very far away from my goal.
It’s hard. Both mentally and physically. I spent the summer buying as little “fat clothes” as possible – straying from the gym shorts, neons and loud patterns I’ve become so accustomed to over the past few summers. I’d occasionally go through my boxes in storage, seeing if anything looked like it might fit and wondering how I ever got my body into some of the clothes I had. And unfortunately it looks like I’ll be doing the same for the fall, because there’s no way I’m putting maternity clothes back on no matter how cold it is.
Running sucks. I don’t remember it being this hard when I was still trying to lose weight the first time around but I know it was. I’ve been dealing with chronic shin splints and ITB issues which I know wouldn’t be as prominent if I wasn’t trying to run with so much weight on my body. I still haven’t progressed from a walk/run even for a 5K, and in the beginning of August I finally accepted that the fall half marathon I was determined to run wasn’t happening. I don’t know if its stupidity or perseverance at this point but I still get up every morning and try again.
Two weeks ago I traveled down to Tennessee (again!) to spectate Ironman Chattanooga. With the way I’ve been feeling about my body I thought it would make me feel even worse about myself. Shockingly it didn’t. If anything watching hundreds of athletes, all sizes, ages and abilities, made me want to keep working even harder. I wanted that feeling of accomplishment back. One of the athletes we were there to support was competing in her first Ironman… on her 54th birthday. Is there anything better than that? I watched how proud her kids were; from the pump up playlist they played her early in the morning, the pictures they kept taking, and how they spent all day and night cheering her to that famous red carpet finish. I kept picturing Riley in their place, cheering his mom on. It pretty much brought me to tears. Throughout my day on the course I observed families of all ages and types wearing matching t-shirts, holding signs that said “My Dad is an Ironman”. I saw sleeping babies tucked into carriers while their mom anxiously refreshed the athlete tracker on her phone. Toddlers with glow sticks and far too much sugar in their bodies running laps in the dark. I watched women take those 10 extra seconds on their way to the finish line to kiss their husbands. If you’re looking to be inspired, I highly recommend you spend some time at an Ironman finish line. It’s incredible.
Maybe it was the delirium of being up for 21 hours, but something clicked that day. I’ve always felt this need to go, go, go – to get as many things on my athletic bucket list checked off as quickly as possible. So I didn’t complete a half marathon before my son’s first birthday – is anyone keeping track? What if I can’t run 3 miles without taking a walk break? Big deal. My Garmin records them all the same.
I’ve spent the last 9 months (actually I’d argue since shortly after I found out I was pregnant) creating a list of things I haven’t done. But what about the things I HAVE accomplished?
Since giving birth I’ve been blessed with a short and relatively easy recovery from major surgery (which was my biggest fear of having a c-section). I’ve resumed all the activities I did before getting pregnant. I don’t have any more modifications when I’m strength training, and I can lift as much if not more that I could before. I’ve run 6 races, 2 of which I pushed my son to his first (of many) finish lines.
Most importantly I’ve kept a human ALIVE for over 9 months. Not just alive, but thriving beyond belief. He’s a bubbly, energetic little guy who never stops moving. He has 4 teeth, smiles when his Mommy and Dada get home, loves the Wiggles and trying new foods. He’s starting to pull and push himself around the house and I’m pretty confident he won’t walk – he’ll immediately be running. He’s in the top percentile for all his measurements. For 40 weeks and 4 days I’ve kept this little guy fed, dressed, and happy. And I’ve done all this while working a full time job and still getting in my workouts. If that’s not a list of accomplishments, I don’t know what is.
One of my favorite running mantras is “run the mile you’re in“. My mile right now is slower than it used to be. It involves some walking. Some days it’s pushing a Bob stroller and singing to my son. Some days it doesn’t happen until 7:30pm. Sometimes it feels great and sometimes it feels shitty. But it’s still a mile. And it’s mine.