Sunday, November 12, 2017

Momming and Returning to Running

It's official - I'm a mom! In fact, tomorrow marks my dear daughter's 1 month "birthday". Our little girl arrived early and in an unexpected fashion on Friday, October 13th. I'll spare you my birth story, although I'd be happy to tell it to you if you message me privately! It's a good story, I swear! :)

What I can say about this past month though is that everything they say is true - nothing can possibly prepare you for the challenges of the first few weeks of parenthood. The emotions, the sleep deprivation, the doubt, the worry, the entirety of your life being completely flipped upside down by this tiny human who needs so much attention and care, all while you are recovering from the trauma caused to your body by 9 months of pregnancy and your baby's birthday - there is NOTHING that compares to it or that can prepare you for it. But then there's the other, much sweeter side, which makes every difficult moment worth it. Baby S (I will not be using her real name on my blog) took our world by storm. Every single moment with her I am in awe with the love I feel for her. I cannot describe it as it's something that compares to absolutely nothing else. I look at her and wonder where she came from, how I could be blessed with such a miracle. I stare at her little face, her little fingers and toes, and I watch every little squirm and expression so intently. Pregnancy seemed to last an eternity, but now that she's on the outside, I have a hard time believing this miracle is real. She's not even a month old, but somehow I can't imagine the life I had before she was here.

Vulnerable post-delivery photo. We did it!!!
So mushy lovey feels about my baby girl aside, now I am a mom! My whole life will now be defined by this fact, and my every day going forward will have to consider her needs in addition to my own. I made a pledge to myself that while I will be prioritizing S's needs, I will never neglect my own. I often do let my needs take a back burner (I will put off making my lunch to ensure she's fed and not screaming, for example). But I'll always come back to mine. S and I had some major challenges in our first week together, with an unexpected extended stay in the hospital where I was limited on holding and nursing my little girl. I didn't make this public, and I am still not going to detail it here as I wish to keep it private. But the experience was the most stressful time of my entire life. There were many tears and heartache beyond heartache. I couldn't control my emotions at times, which I know were fueled by the onset of all kinds of new hormones in addition to the circumstances, but I feared I was spiraling down a path I didn't want to. One of the nurses who took care of us reminded me of the simple fact - I'm no good to my daughter if I am miserable. She encouraged me to sleep even though I didn't think I had time to do so. She insisted and sat in our room with us so she could be the one to console my baby in my place when she needed me, while I blocked out the world for a moment and slept a few winks. I will forever be grateful to this nurse for doing this for me - I think she truly saved me. Happy mom equals happy baby, and putting my mental and physical health at the top of my priority list is one of the best ways I can take care of my girl. I have always known this fact, but in the depths of the anguish I needed someone to talk me through it.

The good news is that my girl and I are thriving now. We have even a bit of a routine at home and between her Dad and I, we think we've got a pretty good handling of this parenting thing. At least this stage of it anyway. We know the learning curve will continue to be a very steep one. But I have gotten over the fears of not being perfect, and have embraced the learning. We go on outings almost every day so I can get outside, stretch my legs, and be stimulated, but also to build my confidence in the whole momming thing! I feel awesome pushing the stroller with a calm cooing baby inside it.

My recovery from her birth has gone swimmingly and S's health is pretty much perfect too! At our 4 week doctor's appointment, the doctor told me I could try running again, as long as I take it easy. I know my body and my limits, and I know how to safely progress a run program as I've done it before and I've coached many runners too on the same. I know some me time, when Daddy is home to watch baby, will serve my physical and mental well-being. Running is my "go to" for this and so I have been anxious to get back into it to help take care of ME. I started on Thursday with a 3km run. My approach was just to go out and see what I could do, walk when needed. The 3km took me over 25 min, which is a very long time by my usual standards, but it only required 2 walk breaks on uphill sections. I don't care how slow it was because considering I hadn't run in 6 weeks, I just had a baby 4 weeks ago, and I have 30 extra lbs on my body, it's not so bad at all! I was a bit achy for the afternoon but I knew that it wasn't anything to worry about - just the fact that I just did something my body hadn't done in 6 weeks. I had zero achiness the next day, so I knew it was safe to try again.

So yesterday was my 2nd try at it, so I ran the exact same 3km route as I did two days before, but took a different approach. I ran 5 minutes at a time with 1 minute walk breaks between (i.e., "5 and 1s"). So I likely walked more than I did on my first attempt, but the walks were limited to a minute and scheduled. The eased up approach allowed for better performance. I felt less sluggish and more natural with my stride, and as I felt myself tiring, I could see on my watch how far I had to go before I got a break. Also having that successful run in my legs and confidence made the whole experience better too. It was pouring rain out there too, but I managed to finish this run in exactly 24 minutes. Still not fast, but faster by over a minute. I have time to get fast again. For now, I just want to get moving! The good news is that I had zero discomfort during and after the run. I am well on my way.

For accountability, I am telling you my goals! For now, it's just to run 3 times a week, scheduled around my husband's work schedule, so he can stay home with the baby. When I'm ready, I can try to increase that to 4 days and consider training for races. But in the short term, I will be using walk breaks a bit just so I don't push my recovering body too hard too soon. I'll be back to my old self in no time at all. I'll keep you posted along the way.

Time to publish this and go snuggle my babe.
<3 Zahida