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“getting back your body after baby” is bullshit

“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 post shared 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 from 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.

3.5 hours: a long post about G’s fast birth

3.5 hours: a long post about G’s fast birth

Very surprisingly to me, fewer than 72 hours after I wrote my last entry, detailing what the rest of my pregnancy and third trimester running looked like, I went into labor and had my second kiddo. Spoiler: another little lady 🙂

first time the daughters met each other, just a few hours after giving birth
first time the daughters met each other, just a few hours after giving birth

After A was born, we wrote out her “birth story” in a Google Doc — or rather, I think we began it but never got around to finishing it (hashtag newborn probs, hashtag first-time parents probs)–but I never published it here or anywhere. Truth be told, I think it took me a good 3 or so months to even think about blogging after I had A. This time around, I feel like I’ve got my shit together more than I did the first time (hashtag it’s easier the second time around, to a degree), so I figured I’d write out (and publish) how everything went down. Warning for lots of TMI I’m sure, above and beyond the standard runner TMI wherein we (read: I) talk about defecating in public places, but hey, you know you’re reading a birth story, right? And one written by me? TMI kinda comes with the territory.

It goes without saying, but obviously I’m not a medical practitioner, and how my l&d (labor and delivery) commenced, progressed, concluded — everything — is unique to me and my second pregnancy. Maybe the amount and frequency of running I did during pregnancy dos influenced l&d, maybe it didn’t — hell if I know — but please please please don’t take my experience as gospel or worse yet, assume that your l&d will mirror mine if your pregnancy has also been strikingly similar. I feel like an ass even prefacing this entry with this, but hey, litigious society, and you never know who will come across your blog (and how uninformed said reader might be)…

During the week that I ultimately gave birth, I ran just over 24.5 miles  (24.55) in my ‘hood, and the runs were all between 5-7 miles each, with each run around a comfortable 8:30-8:40 pace. For the most part, I was still feeling really well and surprisingly strong for being nearly 38 weeks pregnant (on 8/7). On Friday, 8/7, thanks to a Camp Dance recital of A’s that I wanted to attend at 11am, and some predictable procrastination on my part in getting out the door for a run after I dropped her off at said dance camp, I had to haul ass to finish my midmorning 10k run, shower (kinda, since I was still sweating after I finished), and get to the community center on time to see her performance. That 10k (6.21 actually, because my Garmin and Strava data never link up correctly and it makes me kinda crazy) actually felt really good (at an 8:33 average), I saw her show, and the day went on as normal.

she ADORED dance camp.
she ADORED dance camp.

Later in the afternoon, I sent my also-very-pregnant sister a super unflattering profile pic of me, with a caption of something like to hell with good posture or sucking things in… also, not sure where this kid thinks he/she is gonna grow for the next two weeks!! running out of room! I laugh now at how massively, incredibly, super pregnant I looked; seriously, I wonder how much more my internal organs could have moved to accommodate any additional fetal growth.

no fucks can be given for how ridiculous I look here. fewer than 12 hours before I'd have a newborn in my arms!
no fucks can be given for how ridiculous I look here. little did I know that this was fewer than 12 hours before I’d have a newborn in my arms!

At any rate, aside from looking like a pregnant tank, I felt fine, pretty normal, the same as I had been feeling, and aside from some weird mucus-like and, eventually, period-like discharge I had noticed each time I had gone to the bathroom, it was just another day. I figured that the discharge I had noticed was the standard “bloody show” and “mucus plug” stuff that I had read about, but I didn’t get especially excited at seeing these little gems in the toilet simply because, in terms of predicting l&d’s arrival, they don’t. Seeing a bloody show or losing your plug just means things are moving in the right direction, not that labor is imminent and that you’ll have a baby in your arms in X number of hours. (It’s like being dilated or effaced. You can be dilated or effaced for weeks before giving birth!). With A, I don’t recall ever seeing any bloody show or mucus plug business, so this was new territory.

Anyway, C got home from work, the three of us went out to dinner, and eventually, I awoke around 1am due to what I thought were possibly contractions but decided that it was probably just wishful thinking on my part, that I was willing them to happen and that they really weren’t. At the risk of sounding odd, I tend to do that sometimes; when I used to have a period, pre-IUD days, I’d try to “will” away any menstrual cramps that I’d have. I figured I didn’t like them so maybe I could “mind over matter” my way out of them. Similarly, I once decided that I was no longer going to be ticklish on my feet. Willing away period cramps didn’t work, but somehow, willing away ticklish feet did. Tangent.

Anyway, back to bed I went and awake I was again at 3am with this weird pain that experience taught me was assuredly labor, even though it was the most un-labor-like sensation. When I went into labor with A, I had this really bizarre discomfort in my hips, something that I didn’t connect to labor at all. Of course, when you’ve never been pregnant before, you’ve also never had contractions, but I always imagined contractions to be more menstrual cramp-like and to stem more from my midsection than from anywhere else. With both labors, though, the contracting pain/discomfort began in my hips and radiated outward. It’s hard to describe, but both times the discomfort originated pretty squarely in the middle of my hip sockets, on my sides, and radiated away from my midsection. When I felt this pain the second time around, I immediately knew that it was probably contractions and that labor was probably right around the corner, even though my estimated due date was still 13 days off. At 3am, I downloaded a pregnancy contraction timer app, timed everything for about 90 minutes before calling my midwife, waking up C, and calling my neighbor to come over to stay with A, and before I knew it, we were leaving home to head to the hospital.

Just like with my labor with A, I was a bit dubious about the entire thing the second time around; if nothing else, I was so.sure. that kiddo dos would arrive late that the fact that it seemed like I was going into labor early — and two weeks early, at that (even though due dates are plus/minus 2 weeks, but whatever… technicalities) — was just totally fucking with me. When I started timing everything, I was about 5 minutes apart, and because I had tested positive for GBS, I knew we would have to head over to the hospital shortly so that I could get the IV antibiotics necessary before the kiddo made his/her arrival. Getting the antibiotics would not take very long, but the midwife wanted to ensure that they’d be in my system for 4 hours prior to my having the baby, and since I was having my second kid, it was likely that l&d round 2 would progress quickly, if not significantly more quickly than it did the first time.

My l&d with A lasted about 10 hours from start to finish– still relatively quickly for a first timer– and this one lasted just 3.5 hours from the time we got to the hospital (at 6am) or 6.5 hours (from the time I started tracking contractions at 3am). Either way you slice it — and especially the 3.5 hour way — it was crazy fucking intense. For perspective: I can go birth a baby in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, I can run 26.2 miles in less time. I mean, c’mon. That’s crazy!!!

When C and I got to the hospital, after a quick pit stop for breakfast for him (at my insistence!), I learned that I was already 5cm dilated and that things were likely going to move quickly, though how quickly was anyone’s guess. The hospital staff was amazing and incredibly attentive and made us feel like we were the only ones in the entire delivery wing. When we had A in Chicago, the hospital we delivered at was lovely and state-of-the-art and beautiful but also something of a baby factory, since there were literally floors and floors of l&d suites and moms giving birth at any given time. The hospital here, on the other hand, only had facilities for 5 (or maybe 7?) birthing moms at any given time, and I’m convinced I was maybe one of two women in there when we arrived, though by the time we were finished on Saturday morning, there was a “rush” of 3 other birthing moms.

Once the midwife arrived, things seemed to move even more quickly. I got the antibiotic necessary for the GBS and basically just moved back and forth between the shower and the bed, riding out the contractions. C, my midwife, and the nursing staff were all really helpful and patient — I have told my husband multiple times before that if he ever wants a radical career change, I think he has a serious future in becoming a birth doula — and I won’t lie when I say that the 3.5 hours at the hospital were easily the most intense and also, strangely, the fastest 3.5 hours of my life. There were so many times during those hours that I had these moments of being beyond myself, for lack of a better phrase, wherein I almost felt like I was in denial about being in labor in the first place. I mean, obviously I was — there was no question about it — but it was almost like this transcendental feeling, like I was floating above myself and looking down, taking it all in and being equally fascinated and equally dumbfounded by the whole thing. I was so sure that kiddo 2 would come late, just like her sister, and here, this one was showing up to party 13 days early. So crazy. I’ve gotten this “being beyond myself” feeling before on runs, but feeling it in the throes of labor is entirely different. Eventually during l&d, I think you have to make a conscious decision and effort to lean into the pain, the experience, and not fight it. I don’t know if it makes it any easier or more manageable, but I wonder if making this decision and effort pretty conscious allows you to be more cognizant of the entire l&d experience and therefore, allows you to get out of your own head for a bit. I’m not sure. I don’t even think that makes sense. I think there’s something to be said for embracing the experience though.

Just as we had with A, this time around, we decided to forego any medical interventions during l&d, so once the contractions started coming fast and furious during those 3.5 hours, shit got hard — not gonna lie. Honestly, even if I wanted to have an epidural, I don’t even know if the opportunity would have presented itself because it just seemed like things were moving so quickly. Going through this experience for a second time was different in that I had at least a little perspective on the matter; if nothing else, I knew that even when the contractions and the pushing got challenging as fuck — and boy, did they — both had their ebbs and flows. There were definitely moments of holy hell, how do people have so many kids (my midwife said she was one of 13! THIRTEEN!), how do people give birth by themselves, why do hormones make us forget how much this hurts!?!  quickly followed by moments of ok, that wasn’t so bad, let’s take a breath and regroup and get ready for the next one, this is totally fine, I could totally do this again. I didn’t think about running or anything like that while I was in the throes of things — and really, why would I? — but I was genuinely surprised that I did think about this silly prenatal yoga DVD I did frequently, especially in the third tri. I found myself mentally revisiting the DVD and trying my darndest to replicate all the belly breathing that I had done. For as much as I knocked that prenatal yoga DVD — which, in retrospect, was a little unfair … the video was good, but the instructor’s insistence on referring to butts as “buncakes” was a little silly — it actually seemed to help a lot.

When C wasn’t playing birth doula, he was sending WhatsApp updates to our family and friends, most of whom live on the other side of the country, so it was nice to periodically hear some words of encouragement from folks we’d want to be with us but whose distance precluded it. One of the funniest moments was when he sent a picture of me sitting in the shower, giving a thumbs up between contractions, because I was finally taking a hot shower since our hot water had gone out at home (and ended up taking 23 days to get fixed (!!!!!) ). Kinda funny to be happy to be at a hospital, in the throes of labor, simply for the reason that I’d be guaranteed oodles hot water, drought be damned…

Anyway. With only a handful of pushes, maybe 5, and some very minor tearing (phew) on top of the old tears/scar tissue from birthing A, the little one made its earthside appearance, and C was finally able to tell me — after keeping it a secret since he found out at 9 weeks — that we had another little girl, Guinevere Ellis MG. We’re avid readers, so Guinevere is a nod to the literary Guinevere from Camelot, Ellis is a nod to his maternal grandfather who held a special place in his life, and of course, we’re keeping the 4 name game strong by giving our offspring both my maiden name and his surname. 🙂

yup, her lungs work!
making her presence known

Seven pounds, eight ounces, nineteen and a half inches — pretty close to big sister, who arrived six days post-due date — so I’m fairly convinced that if G would have stuck around ’til her due date or beyond, she would have been a nine pound+ baby. Judging from the intensity of the l&d, I’m also fairly convinced she might have broken me and/or my gynecological bits. She looks a lot like her big sister, though G at birth (and presently) has more hair than A did by the time she was 2! Maybe both our fairly-far-removed Cherokee ancestry is shining through with this kid. That’d be cool.

holy hair!
holy hair!

I often joked during the pregnancy that my running volume was to ensure that I’d have a one-hour l&d, and now, the mere thought of an l&d that short is terrifying; holy balls, imagine the intensity! In the weeks preceding l&d, I read a lot of books that I think helped get me into a positive state of mind about l&d (if you want some recommendations, lmk). As we got closer and closer to the due date, and eventually, as the throes of l&d began, I feel like I went into it with a “calm confidence,” like I knew that I was physically and mentally ready to do it and not really worry about anything. Going into l&d for the first time, I wasn’t scared, but I was a bit anxious about it because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. It’s kinda funny; I would have thought that having been through l&d before, I would have gone into l&d round 2 with a lot more trepidation simply because I was aware of how much it could hurt and how intense it could be. Instead, I wasn’t. I just felt ready to do it, whenever “it” was gonna happen. Some stuff is in my control; a lot isn’t. No need to sweat that which is beyond you, ya know?

I’m not evangelical about insisting that women only have intervention-less vaginal deliveries — note that I very intentionally don’t refer to one type of birth as being more “natural” than another because I think that’s unnecessarily disenfranchising — but I do think that birth isn’t something that should be feared. Will it hurt? Yea, most likely, though some women say that they don’t feel any pain. Will the pain last forever? Nope; just like all the sleepless nights you’ll endure as a parent, the time spent contracting and pushing your kiddo out comprise only a teeny, tiny fraction of your existence. There is light at the end of the tunnel for both. Basically, I think that if you’re remotely interested in a birth without interventions — and if you’re medically a good candidate for it, based on the wisdom and opinion of your practitioner — go for it.  And quite honestly, if the birth doesn’t go as you hoped, if plans have to change, it’s ok. You’re no less awesome a mother, woman, or person for it. All that ultimately matters is the health and well-being of both you and your brand new baby. You still kick a whole lotta ass in my book. Genuinely.

I’m so very grateful that the pregnancy and l&d all went as smoothly as it did. I still get a kick out of referring to “the kids” or “the girls” when I’m talking about my family; I don’t imagine that getting old any time soon. 😉 While I’m itching to run and be active, I’m really enjoying the time at home with my family. Since I began all this running business in 2007, the only extended stretch of time I’ve taken off was during the tail end of my pregnancy and postpartum period with A, so in a way, it’s kinda nice to step back momentarily, enjoy the special family time, and reignite/stoke my running interest. Running isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and even though I have (luckily) felt fantastic pretty much since I’ve given birth, I’m smart enough to know that jumping back into running straightaway is going to do more harm than good to my recovering body. I’ve still got a handful of races left on the calendar in 2015, so if nothing else, they’ll be good indicators of how the postpartum running is moving along, though my goals and expectations for all of them are minimal, if not non-existent. I’ve got a three-week checkup with my midwife on Monday and then outpatient surgery on Friday to repair my 2 hernias that came up (came out?) during the pregnancy, so nothing’s gonna happen in the run department for at least another week… and that’s completely ok.

I can always make up missed miles. I can't make up this special family time.
I can always make up missed miles. I can’t make up this special family time.
overachiever
overachiever

zzz

In my first pregnancy, I often drew parallels to running/marathoning and pregnancy/l&d. This time around, I don’t think I’d buy the comparison; it seems too much like mixing metaphors. I guess I could argue that there are some similarities at the basest level, particularly when you begin to explore the mental fortitude and patience required for each, but I think comparing the two unduly and unnecessarily cheapens both experiences… but maybe that’s just me. Or maybe it’s my somewhat sleep-deprived mental reasoning talking here, reasoning that likely makes sense to no one but me. I’m lucky to have had overwhelmingly positive experiences with the 2 pregnancies/l&ds I’ve endured as well as the 25 marathons I’ve raced/paced, but yeah, one does not mirror the other IMHO. They’re totally different experiences, if not also transformations.

Anyway. Yay babies, yay family, and running, I’ll see you soon. We’ve got big things in store, big goals to knock down in time, and unfinished business to resolve. It’s on. And this time around, I’ve got not one but two little sidekick running partners. Running with that double-BOB tank is gonna be tough, but hell yea you better believe I’m looking forward to pushing my lovely little ladies in it (though remind me that I said this when I complain about how heavy it is with a four year-old and a small baby)!

One last thing: we can say that Guinevere ran 922.11 miles in utero, including a trail 50k with 5,000’+ of vert; an 8k; 2 stroller 5ks with her sister, including one that we won; 2 half marathons; and one last 5k at nearly full-term. Ah, the stories I look forward to sharing with her over the years … And as was the case when I was pregnant the first time, here again I can say that in all the years I’ve been running and the memories I’ve accumulated over the years and mileage, some of the best has come from running while pregnant, and dammit am I ever grateful to have been able to do this crazy stuff from start to finish of pregnancy dos. Did running help with the pregnancy, labor, or delivery? Yeah, I think so, but I don’t know any different at this point. Regardless, being able to run throughout the pregnancy was a completely unexpected gift (and that’s the best type, amIrite?!), and delivering a healthy and strong baby girl at the end, not even 12 hours after my last run of pregnancy dos, was the best thing I could have ever asked for. xoxo

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