Four months postpartum: A goal check

Kristin compares her pre-baby goals and her postpartum fitness.

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In the aftermath of a pivotal life moment, perceptions of life’s most important components shift and skew. After a brush with the possibility of permanent harm to my baby, it seems a bit frivolous to write about wall balls and muscles and the battle of the post-baby bulge.

On the other hand, though, it’s more important than ever for me to maintain my health and my strength and a community of people who nurture, support and care about my family and me. It turns out that the nurse in the trauma room at the hospital was a member of my CrossFit gym. She sent me a note of kind support after we were released with our baby. It also turns out that another woman from our gym saw the ambulance leave the Safeway parking lot on that rainy Saturday. She, too, sent me a heartfelt note.

And so the importance I’ve placed on my fitness and my community has been reinforced by my scary incident, and I’m continuing to focus on growing my mental and physical strength, one day at a time. I’m going to keep reaching hard for my goals, many of which revolve around my family. Some of the smaller ones, I’m tracking here.

In December of last year, two months before I gave birth, I wrote down four goals for my post-baby body:

1. By four months postpartum, I’ll have a four-pack
2. I’ll eat whole foods — while pregnant and postpartum
3. I’ll keep CrossFitting until the day I give birth
4. I won’t get discouraged

When I wrote down those goals, I didn’t foresee that I would be diagnosed with Diastisis recti six weeks after giving birth. I didn’t quite remember, then, the overwhelming fatigue that overshadows every facet of life with a newborn and makes the prospect of exercising as appealing, sometimes, as lopping off one’s eyelid.

I’d forgotten that it was actually a privilege to grab a couple of spoonfuls of mushy leftovers after dinnertime when you have a three-month-old — let alone create delicious dairy-free, gluten-free herbed chicken salad dishes. But I did know even when I wrote them that a goal of a four-pack was really kind of absurd in the grand scheme of things that I should be aspiring toward in life.

But. These were fitness goals that I’d written down in an effort to keep myself accountable. They meant something to me, even in the fog of brand new motherhood and in navigating the waters of a fairly new marriage. So I got up extra-early to do my physio exercises to help close my Diastisis recti. I kept processed foods out of my house, grabbing fruits and vegetables whenever I needed a quick snack with a baby under the arm. I got back into exercise quickly postpartum because my body was primed to keep going because I’d kept its fitness motor running during my 10 months of pregnancy. I admit that there were moments of discouragement immediately postpartum, when I felt like a stranger inside my own body — but those were short lived.

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This weekend, we had a fundraiser at our CrossFit gym for one of our best-loved athletes who is competing in the CrossFit Games in LA this summer. Everyone at our gym was encouraged to sign up for a friendly Sunday competition. The vibe was encouraging, exclusive, familial. The workouts were hard and personal records were shattered across the board. Corey and I encouraged each other while our seven-year-old scrambled around outside with the other kids, and our fully-recovered four-month-old enjoyed attentions from numerous pseudo-aunties.

I realized, in the middle of a grueling wall ball workout, that my goals had all been achieved. When I found out I was pregnant in May of last year, my first reaction was elation. My second was fear: That our very happy life would be altered and that I would need to let go of the things I loved — my special relationship with my first-born, my commitment to fitness, my bond with my husband. It turns out that I was able to keep all those, meet my promises to myself and experience an extension of love that I never fathomed possible. My heart, as everyone promised, just plumped up and made room the day Jude was born.

I need to write down some more noble goals for the remainder of 2012 and beyond, but for now I’m going to enjoy the fruition of my four-month postpartum goals. I haven’t bounced back to where I was pre-pregnancy: I actually feel even better — stronger and happier and even better equipped.

I’m looking forward to the next big challenge, and seeing what I can conquer next. Hope you’ll join me along the way!