comeback journey - post pregnancy

I've been so inspired by Steph Rothstein's honesty during her pregnancy and comeback. I've been impressed with her patience most of all. I think it's easier for a competitive person to push beyond their limits, start too much too soon. She's been making a smart comeback and starting a movement, #journeywithsteph, encouraging people to join her as she comes back. She's also using Lauren Fleshman's #keepingitreal as inspiration. Steph and Lauren have long been role models for me in sport and in life. I'm following them on my comeback road, albeit many miles behind.

I'm no pro runner, but like everyone I've got goals! I'm excited to turn my attention back to them now that my body, more or less, belongs to me again. It's going to require patience and flexibility, luckily pregnancy, delivery and these first weeks have given me a crash course in both virtues. Right now I have my sights set on just getting back on the road in one piece, racing will come later.

Penelope will be three weeks old tomorrow. It feels like she arrived yesterday and also like there was no life before her. In the interest of keeping it real, I wish I had more pictures of myself week one, but in truth they would have been hard to look at. Anyway, here's where we're at.

Week One
Complete blur. Like I said in my last post, I was rough this week. I was swollen, my legs were unrecognizable. My belly looked like I was still 7 months pregnant. Felt disconnected between mind and body. Couldn't even pull in on my abs to stand straight. Joints were very achy and painful, especially knees and hips.
First walk 4 days after having PJ. Incredibly flattering outfit. Two blocks felt like a marathon.
Week Two
Started to feel a little more like myself, still very shaky though. Couldn't stand for more than a few minutes without feeling sweaty, blurry and faint. Never passed out, but felt very close to it many times. The fluid left and I could assess see my legs... so atrophied. Could sort of pull in on my abs, the mind body connection is getting better. 
Start of week two, 9 days after having PJ
Week Three
Feeling much more like myself, or 'my new self'. Emotionally, physically and mentally starting to come around to this new life. Sleep is all over the place, some nights she goes 4 hour stints, others, like last night, I sleep for 2.5 hours total. 

This is the first week I've started to feel restless and ready to rehab. I have so much work to do. It's like my body was completely torn down and I have to build it from scratch. I'm not cleared for "real exercise" until 6 weeks out, so my focus is very small. That's what I need. I'm starting with little PT exercises, as though I'm coming back from an injury. The way my core feels right now, I think I'll need longer than 6 weeks to start running. But I hope to be ready to incorporate one minute runs in my walks. 
Out of the house and in West Seattle on Labor Day, 2 weeks after having PJ
 Pregnancy Recap
Working Out
I ran up until week 30. But only 1 or 2 times a week. Never more than 3 miles. No running after week 30. My IT band was beat up from Chicago, still is. Running pregnant was not my thing. It felt like steaming sh*t to run most days. Lots of side cramps, round ligament pain, joint pain. 

Walked at least 30 minutes every day. Did Green Lake most days (3.5 or 4 miles round trip from my house). Did prenatal yoga once a week. Didn't track anything. Just moved as much as I could.

Weight Gain
I gained 40 pounds, yeah buddy! Topping the charts at 170. I ate very healthy for this little bug, but like all times in life I didn't track anything. And I certainly enjoyed a treat a day. 

Delivery
See blog about birth here. 30+ on pitocin, fluids and various drugs ending in c-section.

First Steps - Comeback Road
Recover 
First priority is still recovery. While I do feel good, c-section is major surgery and I need to respect it. Recovery is taking care of myself, eating right and trying to find ways to get sleep. It's also getting my feet back under me. 

- Plan my days (loosely) so I don't find myself hostage in the house
- Take easy walks for sanity every day
- Meet up with friends
- Roll out legs
- Drink 3 liters of water a day
- Eat well, and enough
- Make an appointment with my PT

Rebuild
Focusing stabilizing muscles and addressing the muscle atrophy.

- Stand up straight, engage core and stop the bad slumpy habits

- Clam shells
- Leg lifts (inner and outer hip focus)
- Standing one leg 'dead lifts'
- Lunges during walk
- Hip hikes on curbs during walk
- Arm wall slides
- Wall pushups
- Ankle ABCs
- Calf raises
- Leg drops (tiny version of reverse crunches)
- Opposite leg/arm raise

...You get the idea. I wrote each exercise on a flash card and I randomly draw one or two when I have time. I'm also getting creative during baby soothing, inventing little exercises while I rock her back to sleep at 2am. It all adds up, right?

Like I said the goal is to get back on the road. I miss running so much, I can't wait until that first step. And I'll take it from there.

Comments

  1. Woot woot! Beautiful and strong, patient too! I can't imagine what the waiting for running must be like for you, but you can do this!

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  2. Flash cards are a great idea! Getting out is such a game changer for your sanity. I was basically held hostage in my 3rd floor walk up apt for almost 3 weeks except for three doctor appointments! Now we go out a coupld of times a day and it makes my mood so much better!

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  3. I love the honesty YOU have here. I can't wait to see how you continue your journey as a mom, runner and person. I'm glad you are feeling a bit better and while I cannot relate to how you feel now, I'm wishing you the best.

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  4. I love your flashcard idea! You'll be back in no time:)

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  5. you are amazing! so impressed with your honesty, patience & discipline! After i had my son & before I was allowed to run, i did lots of bouncing squat-type thingys while soothing him...man that can be a goooood leg/butt workout! And, he loved the baby jogger when it was time :). way to go mama!

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  6. You *get* it. I know everyone's different, but I'm so glad you're not trying to go out and conquer the running world so soon. Way to be smart, Mama.

    It also helps me to read about when you stopped running and how much you were running at that time. It's like I'm reading through my own running logs (just one week earlier). I'm looking forward to hearing about your comeback!

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  7. Sarah, this is fabulous. You are beyond inspiring! Way to go and way to take it one day at a time. I'm 24 weeks pregnant now and love your entire blog and thoughts on running/pregnancy/birth/comeback :-) Thank you for your honesty

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  8. Sarah, this post and the last one are so real, honest, inspiring, and will help so many mamas out there! The post-pregnancy body is such a strange thing to experience, all while dealing with hormone swings and very little and jagged sleep! I'm in the middle of my first running injury right now, so I totally am feeling the angst of just wanting to get back out and run! But patience can be so difficult. Before you know it, you'll be out jogging with Penelope.

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  9. The road back is a tough one but you are on the right track! Snuggle that little darling and enjoy the moments mine are 4.5 and 2 and I find it hard to remember when they were that tiny.

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  10. This and your previous post were so great to read, and timely! I'm 10 days away from my due date with my first baby and taking one day at a time, but also starting to think about what comes next (labor, delivery, the immediate aftermath of trying to get used to life with a newborn, an eventual return to running - the whole thing). Absolutely appreciate your honesty about the whole experience and your very practical approach to your eventual return to running.

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  11. I've been so in awe of how patient Steph has been. I'm so glad you have her as a role model. You look absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to follow your own journey!

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