Kristen at four weeks postpartum.
I'd forgotten a lot of things about what it’s like to exist alongside a newborn. I forgot about the sleeplessness and what kind of impact multiple night awakenings have on my crankiness level. I forgot about the strange sensation of pins raining down inside my breasts as my milk comes pelting in. I forgot about the old man "O" face of an infant and about the vulnerability that exists in every tiny finger, in every small, sweet-smelling hair on their heads.
Most of all, I forgot about the all-encompassing nature of an infant.
Even though I should have known better during my second pregnancy, I kept thinking that I would get right back to the gym after my second son was born. I would sip wine and go on patio dates with my baby at my side — I would resume life in the blasé manner of an experienced parent and I couldn’t wait to get started. I forgot about the small details of living with an infant, but I also forgot the biggest truth: that all your desires change, shift and morph once you have a brand new baby. I’d rather stare at my son’s eyelids than swing a kettle bell. I’d rather watch my oldest son stroke my baby son’s head than concoct a dairy and gluten free dinner. And this surprises me, even though I know it shouldn’t: I’ve been here before and I remember how the sudden shift in priorities stunned me nearly seven years ago when Nolan was born.
This time, though, I have the value of experience and I know that I have to force myself out the door, I need to take care of myself and cultivate my own interests or I will inevitably lose my joy in baby milk and mustard poop.
So — I started working out again at about three and a half weeks postpartum. I started slow, with two 1,000-metre rows and a few skips. With every pull of my arms and each elevated beat of my heart, I felt better — less tired and less worried about all things baby. I remembered suddenly why fitness had become such an enormous part of my life in the days before Jude.
For the last two weeks, I’ve been working out every day: scaling Crossfit workouts, rowing and doing some lifting in Corey’s garage gym. My belly has almost receded back to flatness, though I have a long way to go before I see any visible abs. I’m giving myself time and gentleness. My muscles have remembered their strength, for the most part, although I’m taking care to not do a lot of core strenuous movements so I don’t do any damage to my C-section area. I know that it is generally advised to wait six weeks post C-section to start exercising again and I’m not advocating an earlier start than that — every woman should consult her doctor and listen to her own unique body. For me, getting back on the fitness wagon has been exhilarating. It gives me more energy during those long night feedings and the desire to get outside and run around with my boys during the day. I’ve also started going back to strict Paleo fare. It’s delicious, healthy and makes me feel good — and is not a diet that restricts calories that may interfere with breastfeeding.
This morning I made paleo chocolate chip cookies and this afternoon I’m taking my boys for a walk. Tonight I will row as fast as I can and the whole time, hopefully, I’ll be grateful for this time in my life.
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