“getting back your body after baby” is bullshit

Ah, nearly two months postpartum now. Running is getting more comfortable, though the somewhat unpredictable schedule leaves me guessing when each run will happen each day (if it does at all), which is a-okay; my focus for the rest of the year is to slowly build volume, so I’m where I should be/want to be. It has been just a joy to see little Spike and A “interact” with each other over the past almost-two months, and particularly for Spike, it has been cool to see her awaken just a little more each day and get just a little more intrigued with her surroundings and her big sister, the latter whom just can’t get enough of her.

pay no mind to the ladder in the background
pay no mind to the ladder in the background; we seem to have a never-ending list of home to-do items that necessitate a ladder being in our living space at all times


So: two months. Eight weeks. As a mother now to not one but two girls, I feel like it’s in my best interest — and theirs — for me to radiate the image and notion of body positivity, even (especially) if it means getting comfortable with myself and my own body, which — no surprise — can be a tricky thing postpartum. After I had A, I became acutely aware that she’d eventually mirror the way I talked about myself and the way I carried myself. Consequently, I’ve been intentional over the past 4+ years of the language I use when talking about my looks, my body, and anything physically- or aesthetically-centered when she’s around me — which is basically all the time. When I hear about tweens and younger-aged kids going on diets and expressing self-loathing because they hear the adults in their lives (my guess would be their mothers) do the same, I seriously think a part of me dies inside. “I’m so fat” or “I’m so ugly” or “I don’t like my _____” and the like shouldn’t have to cross any child’s lips ever, in my opinion.

So here I am, nearly two months postpartum, and all these notions of body positivity and “female empowerment,” if you will, are coursing through my head more than ever before. As I’m nursing Spike at WTF o’clock each morning, I often scroll through IG and come upon images from the 4th Trimester Bodies Project or from the hashtag #takebackpostpartum, like the one below, and it really gets my wheels turning:

The wonderful Jamie Hartman, Daphne (2.5) and Emrys (7 months). Jamie was working as an apprentice with a midwife for several years before she became pregnant. She’s hesitant to say that prepared her for her own experience but it certainly didn’t hurt and the midwife she trained with went on to catch both of her babies. Daphne was born at home without complication and Emrys was born in a freestanding birth center. Breastfeeding has gone well with each of her babes and she’s enjoying tandem feeding them today. She’s had to work through some nursing aversions but after feeding through her pregnancy and setting up boundaries with her daughter, things have been great. Her struggles with and survival of Postpartum Anxiety have been the part of her mothering journey that Jamie has found the most transformative. Within 48 hours of the birth of her daughter, Jamie began to have panic attacks surrounding her daughters health, feeding and well being. She was able to find an amazing therapist and eventually start medication which was the perfect answer for her. Being in the natural minded community however, Jamie has often found herself in a bit of an anti-med loophole. Jamie continued medication throughout her pregnancy with Emrys, weaned off of them shortly before birth and resumed just after Emrys was born. The panic attacks came back much later this time but Jamie still experienced them and is grateful for the treatment she’s found. Regardless of your shape or size, Jamie echoes the sentiment that body positivity needs to be for everyone. She’s had her own struggles and witnessed so many other women enter motherhood and their postpartum period with concerns about changes that are very normal but still startling. She hopes to see this conversation continue to change. #4thtrimesterbodiesproject #fourthtrimesterbodiesproject #4thtrimester #fourthtrimester #postpartum #breastfeeding #childbirth #bodypositivity #stopcensoringmotherhood #motherhood #bodypositive #4thtrimester #4thtribodies #pregnancy #everybodyisbeautiful #feminism #feminist #selflove #bodylove #fourthtribodies #4thtrichicago #postpartumanxiety #homebirth

A photo posted by 4th Trimester Bodies Project (@4thtribodies) on


Seriously, let’s talk about how awe-inspiring the female human body is for a minute. Think about it. Once a woman gets pregnant, her body goes through tremendous change — every single part of her, from the obvious aesthetics on the outside all the way down to the cellular level. At no other time during a woman’s life will she actually grow — physically grow — an organ (the placenta) specifically for a set amount of time in her life (pregnancy) that, once her pregnancy is over, her body will eject. That, in and of itself, is mind-boggling to think about. An organ! And her body knows when it’s no longer needed and oof! out it goes!

And besides this organ-growing business, there’s the also-obvious aspect that the female human body cultivates what eventually becomes a living, breathing, growing being, beginning as merely a fertilized zygote and  culminating in a squishy, wrinkly neonate (only after the incredible process that is birth, which is an amazing process by itself), a brand-new baby that smells so sweet, looks so darling, and seems to do nothing but eat, sleep, and poop and is perfect in every way imaginable.

[Here, I’d post a picture of Spike’s placenta that I insisted on my husband taking after I gave birth, but I’m guessing you probably don’t want to see it. It’s AMAZING though. Seriously. So cool. Yay biology!]

Women’s bodies endure this this enormous and transformational, downright profoundly life-altering process for a good 10 months — 40 weeks, nearly an entire year — with the excellent takeaway being lifelong membership into Club Mom. Those 10 months can and I’d imagine, often do, change females’ bodies forever, and the changes themselves can change with subsequent births. It’s amazing. I’m repeating myself, but seriously. It’s all so amazing to me.

Why then, if we know that our bodies go through this tremendous change that take the better part of an entire YEAR, is there such a push to so quickly “get our pre-baby bodies” back?

I mean, seriously now  — why do people buy into this notion that women need to look how we did pre-pregnant nearly immediately post-delivery?

Are we really that oblivious, and our short-term memories that shitty, that we forget exactly how much change our bodies just endured for nearly a year?

Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but to think or even hope that our bodies can “return” to the same way they were pre-pregnancy so quickly after birth — assuming they do at all — is delusional, and on the side of the people/organizations/companies who make us think that this is rational, completely manipulative and predatory.

A cursory search online will lead you to a flurry of products that offer beleaguered moms the “easy” and “effortless” opportunity to get their pre-mom bodies back. The options are endless here, gang. You could use or ingest anything from bodywraps, lotions, creams, “detoxes” or “cleanses” (and we all know how I feel about these… gag me), magic foods, hell, there’s probably even a special song-and-dance routine out there that someone is touting as the magic elixir that’ll promise moms their original bodies back.

What. bullshit.

Imagine how this feels if you’ve recently become a mom for the first time (or the 8th time, whatever), and you’ve got the fun circus that is maternal hormones pumping through your body at full-tilt, and you see products and advertisements espousing how much better you’d look and feel or how much higher your self-worth would be if you merely looked how you did pre-pregnancy.

Here’s the thing, though, the important thing that I’m taking it upon myself, by way of my little corner of the internet here, to remind you: you just had a baby.

Without exaggeration, you literally grew and birthed progeny (as well as the accompanying organ necessary for said progeny).

And, better yet, if you’re breastfeeding, your body is literally sustaining the life of your child.

In other words, not only did your body grow and expel another being, now your body is still working, even harder perhaps, to ensure that your little one lives and thrives.

Yet somehow — growing and birthing and sustaining life — that’s not, you’re not, good enough.

What the hell.

Cut yourself some slack when you’re postpartum if (read: when) you don’t look how you did before. Give yourself a freakin’ break, moms.

I want to use my MA skills here for a second and examine the shoddy rhetoric implicit and explicit to claims and promises of “returning to your pre-pregnant body.” When you say that you’re going to return to your pre-pregnant body, that implies that it’s possible in the first place, that somehow, you can make your body go backwards in time to mirror how it looked before — before the growing-of-a-human-and-organ and before the sustaining-of-a-child business that I talked about earlier.

It ain’t gonna happen, kids. It can’t.

To say that you can “return to your pre-pregnant body” implies that your body can be how it was before you were pregnant — and that’s simply just not true. Once you’ve had a baby, you’ve had a baby. There’s no other way around it, no halfsies or kinda-sortas. For some women, myself included, you might have visual “scars” from your pregnancy or breastfeeding years. Some women own their scars, calling their stretch marks their “tiger stripes,” for example, and others hide them, maybe out of shame or resentment or embarrassment that their once-taut midsection or perfect ass or whatever no longer looks or feels the way it once did.

It’s really a matter of personal choice and preference, but I think some women’s inability to own their postpartum bodies is due to these bullshit products/companies/organizations out there (and their corresponding advertising) that make my fellow mothers feel like their postpartum bodies are somehow “less than” or otherwise not good enough, at least compared to how their bodies were pre-pregnancy.

Again: I call bullshit.

This soapbox is as much for me as it is for any reader who might stumble across this entry. Being two months postpartum now (and nearly four and a half years since my first daughter’s birth), I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been periodically frustrated that I’m not at my exact weight as I was pre-pregnant with Spike or that I’m annoyed that my pants don’t fit me as perfectly yet as they did before — and who knows, maybe I’ll never get back to my pre-Spike weight or my pre-Spike pant-fitting-perfection. Whatever. I’ve implored my husband to correct me if I start body-shaming myself, even casually, because I don’t want that shitty behaviour and language to rub off onto my girls, and in particular, my incredibly impressionable four year-old.

Just because you might not look exactly like you did before you had your child doesn’t mean that you’re somehow less worthy of a person, less beautiful, or in general, less of anything. It’s aesthetics, and we all know that health can and often does look very different from person to person.

Allow me to remind you, again, that you grew, birthed, and if applicable, are still sustaining human life.

Cut yourself some slack.

If anything, celebrate that amazing body of yours because it’s obviously strong as fuck, and while I don’t think that “strong is the new sexy” (ugh, that should be another post entirely), I absolutely believe that “strong is the new strong” and is damn worthy of celebrating.

from a Sierra summit (over 2,400' of climbing in an ~11 mile run) a couple weekends ago. I could easily admit that I think my ass still looks bigger than usual or pinpoint exactly where I'm carrying the leftover pregnancy weight, but no fucks can be given for those menial matters, my friends. I'm no special snowflake or anything, but that body there grew and birthed and sustained two kids over the past 4.5 years and runs a shit ton of miles. Strength FTW, amigos
from a Sierra summit (over 2,400′ of climbing in an ~11 mile run) a couple weekends ago at 7 weeks postpartum. I could easily bemoan that my ass is bigger than usual and pinpoint exactly where I’m carrying the leftover pregnancy weight, but no fucks can be given for those menial matters, my friends. I’m no special snowflake or anything, but that body there grew and birthed and sustained two kids over the past 4.5 years and runs a shit ton of miles. Those matters — **not** the fact that I still can’t wear some of my pants  — are far more significant to me. Strength FTW, amigos [PC: S]

Besides, going on a limb here, but I’m guessing that if someone asked you at the end of the day, was it worth it? — was it worth gaining X number of pounds or Y number of inches on your waist and butt or your breasts never looking the same again — or whatever — if it meant that you’d get to experience the gift that is motherhood, you’d resoundingly say yes, and some, and even consider doing it all again.

There is definitely an importance and a value to practicing self-love postpartum, which includes the obvious stuff that we all know full well by now, like eating well and exercising, and how that looks to you will be different to how that looks to me. Therein lies the beauty of it. Just because you may not right now walk or run or whatever as fast (or well) as you did before you had your child doesn’t mean that you won’t ever return to that benchmark or, more importantly, it doesn’t make you any less of an athlete. I promise.

probably the most challenging run I've done since living here is just down the street from me. top: Nov '14, about a month or so before I got pregnant (and was in the thick of 50k training); bottom: last weekend, 8 weeks postpartum. Here again, I could talk about how much "better" my body was in the top pic, or how much faster I was then, or whatever, buuuuuuuuut no fucks can be given. That my postpartum (x2 now) body can throw down a double-digit run and climb nearly 3,000' through what is practically Everest, as far as I'm concerned, is way more valuable to me these days. [PC: S]
probably the most challenging run I’ve done since living here is just down the street from me (Monument Peak), and I like to stand at the top and pretend that it’s all my kingdom :)   top: Nov ’14, about a month or so before I got pregnant (and was in the thick of 50k training); bottom: last weekend, 8 weeks postpartum, just building volume and getting back into shape. Here again, I could talk about how much “better” my body was in the top pic, or how much faster I was then, or whatever, buuuuuuuuut no fucks can be given right now, friends. That my postpartum (x2 now) body can throw down a double-digit run and climb nearly 3,000′ through/over what is practically Everest, as far as I’m concerned, is way more valuable to me these days. [PC: S]

I’ll step off this soapbox for now. With the chaos that is the postpartum period, and especially the fourth trimester, we moms need not waste any of our extremely valuable and scarce mental real estate on stuff like this, stuff that somehow makes us question our worth as females, as mothers, or as humans. (And really, who the hell has time for stuff like this in the first place?) Body positivity is an acquired habit and one surely worth emulating as much as for ourselves as for our children.

Please, if no one else will say it to you, allow me to: your postpartum body is never, in any way, less than your bod pre-pregnancy. Promise. If anything, it is more than because it is your body — and yes, that emphasis is necessary — that did the work of growing and sustaining life. That, amigos, is serious strength and beauty. Own it.

the first couple weeks back

So cliche I know, but man, time flies — and especially when you have a newborn. Rationally, I know that Spike (what I’m affectionately calling the littlest one; seriously, her hair is impressive) is nearly 8 weeks now, but man… that’s hard to believe.  I just adore how much big sister loves being a big sister or a mini-mommy. It’s so sweet.

~1.5 weeks versus ~7 weeks - lots of changes in the little one already
~1.5 weeks versus ~7 weeks – lots of changes in the little one already




In one of my recent posts, I wrote that I got cleared to run at my 3-week check-up, ran a few times that week, then had surgery around 4 weeks postpartum and kinda laid low for a week out of pain-and-discomfort-dictated necessity. Once I got cleared at my 1 week post-op appointment, I began (or resumed) running and have been balancing that against the ancillary work that I’m committed to doing and getting into a routine on (hashtag not being a lazy-ass runner)…as well as against the whole “life with a newborn and 4 year-old” thing.  Right now, my runs have been fairly short, like 3-5 miles or so, maybe 4 or 5 times a week if I’m lucky, usually after my husband gets home from work. I’m erring on the side of caution here; I don’t want the engine to get ahead of the chassis. I know I’m more likely to injure myself or tweak something by doing too much, too fast, too soon, than I am by building gradually, so that’s my MO: all tortoise, no hare right now.

flashback to Boston '10. tortoise FTW
flashback to Boston ’10. tortoise FTW


I can be an extremely patient person, but I won’t lie: even though I know I’m doing the right thing right now, some days, many days, it’s tough. I want to be hitting paces and distances that I did before, but like I said, I also know that it’s really not in my best interest to… not yet, anyway. The nice thing is that it’s HIGH TIME for fall marathoning season, and with so many friends racing all over the country (and world!), I feel like I’m channeling a lot of excitement their way. That’s one of the great things about running and the greater running community; it’s a family affair because at any given time, it seems that one person might be on the top of his or her game while someone else is coming back from injury or setback or something. Sure, you can be bitter or jealous that your fitness isn’t where XYZ’s fitness is right now–but remember that comparison game thing I talked about before? Yeah, that’s shitty, and unproductive, and generally not worth engaging in. Abstain at all costs. The flip side of jealousy/embitterment is that it is so easy to be supportive of our friends in the running community and our/their endeavors — wherever we are on the healthy/injured continuum — and I personally think that the support can do wonders for our confidence going into race day (or even day-to-day training)…which is why I find dailymile and strava so awesome. Maybe that’s me though.

Anyway. Here’s how things have looked over the past couple weeks. I don’t really have a plan for how often or detailed I’ll document my postpartum running here, especially since I already basically do the same thing through dailymile and strava, but we’ll see. If it helps someone, then why not.

week of 9/14 – 16.06 running miles

Monday, 9/14: 3.36 mi @ 8:21 avg, 15 pushups as part of a challenge I’m doing with my sister :), lunge matrix stuff + foam rolling

Tuesday, 9/15: 3.42 mi @ 8:25 avg, 16 pushups, 40 minutes of family yoga (that was way more challenging than I expected for ‘family’!)

not a bad view. makes it look like we have seasons here!
not a bad view. makes it look like we have seasons here!


Wednesday, 9/16: 2.57 mi @ 8:19 avg, 17 pushups

Thursday, 9/17: 1.3 mi Spike-wearing walk while A was in dance; 18 pushups; 2.66 mi run @ 8:06 avg

Friday, 9/18: just 19 pushups. being lazy

Saturday, 9/19 (six weeks postpartum): 4.05 mi run @ 8:15 avg; 20 pushups

Sunday, 9/20: 21 pushups. slept in the a.m.


week of 9/21 – 20.8 running miles

Monday, 9/21: 2 rds of week 1 Moms Into Fitness postpartum interval circuit + pilates/yoga; rest day from pushups challenge. I used Lindsey Brin’s MIF prenatal yoga stuff pretty regularly in the third trimester, so I thought I’d try her postpartum stuff. The music is wretched, the camo attire (going with the ‘bootcamp’ theme) is obnoxious, but it’s a good workout and I feel like she knows what she’s talking about. Plus, I can do it when the girls are sleeping, so that’s a win in my book. I’m making it a habit to get into doing strength-based stuff more regularly, so this is a step in the right direction anyway… even if I am rolling my eyes the entire time.

Tuesday, 9/22: MIF (I always read that as MILF, ha) core stuff- pilates 1 + 2 routines plus floor work 1 + 2 routines; 4.35 mi @ 8:01 avg after 9:30 pm!! I haven’t run that late since the last time I did a relay!; 23 pushups

Wednesday, 9/23: 24 pushups; sore as hell from the interval stuff on Monday and felt run-down

Thursday, 9/24: 1.7 mi Spike-wearing walk during dance; 25 pushups; 4.35 mi run @ 8:27 avg; remembered to foam roll again

getting strong again is a team effort
getting strong again is a team effort


Friday, 9/25: core stuff again – pilates 1+2, floor work 1+2, 26 pushups

Saturday, 9/26: 12.1 mi trail run at Alum Rock with Saurabh and Kowsik, both training for 50 milers, @ 11:33 avg. Left home thinking I’d only run no more than 8 miles but felt great and just went with it. The beauty of trail running is that you’re constantly changing gears and speeds, and throwing in some good elevation also keeps your body working in a way that I don’t think you get as easily just running roads. It was GLORIOUS to be back in the foothills that I can see from my window — like legitimately see, not Sarah Palin/seeing-Russia-from-Alaska see. 2,434 of elevation gain according to Garmin, and every step was worth the work. SO HAPPY. 27 pushups in the p.m. and I remembered to roll again, too. Hello, soreness!

Saurabh (left) and Kowsik (right). Hello, drought.
Saurabh (left) and Kowsik (right). Hello, drought.


itty bitty Kowsik
itty bitty Kowsik


Saurabh on the return home
Saurabh on the return home


proof I was there. Up top!
proof I was there. Up top! (cred: Saurabh)

Sunday, 9/27: holy DOMS. rest day from the pushup challenge and a complete rest day otherwise from working out. Spent 6am-12pm spectating and course monitoring the RNR San Jose half marathon and 10k with Wolfpack and got to see a ton of friends and Deena Kastor (who smiled at A!) and Meb. Such a fun morning.

course monitoring like a champ
course monitoring like a champ and bringing the orange construction worker vest back into style



Overall, feeling pretty content. I wanted to run more last week (naturally) but am putting off beginning the 4am runs as long as I can. Nighttime running is too unpredictable for me and for my family’s schedule, so if I really want to begin to build my mileage and my running frequency, the predawners have to happen. Thank god for tea… and two kids who nap fairly predictably.

I’ve got one race on the calendar in October – the Let’s Go 510k (a 10k) up in Berkeley at the end of the month – which probably means I should begin incorporating some semblance of speedwork into my runs. We’ll see. I’m all about that conservative postpartum build (tortoise, not hare), so we’ll see how this all pans out. I’m taking it a day at a time.

Ruminating on my love of the run