Parenting

My pregnancy-ravaged body

Katie's whole life has changed, so it's no surprise her body has, too. But it's taking a bit of getting used to

Credit: nathangibbs

In the two and a half years before I got pregnant, I lost almost 40 pounds. It was partly in preparation for our wedding and my dress (I admit, I used the walk down the aisle as incentive) but it was also a matter of health. I wasn’t feeling that great — I had wicked acid reflux, I wasn’t sleeping all that well and I knew  carrying extra weight could potentially affect my fertility given that I already had a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome. When I got the ring on my finger, I decided enough was enough for the impending nuptials and for the rest of my life.

With the support of a very caring, very encouraging doctor, I taught myself to run. Type A to a tee. If I want to learn something bad enough, I’m too stubborn to abandon it. I started by running half a kilometre and walking back. Then after a few times at this distance, I ran both ways. Each week I added another street to my run, until I was up to 7K (and down a few pounds). Then I registered for a race. With the deadline and the distance — 10K — I had a goal, which is like crack to me. Crossing the finish line sealed the deal for my running career, and I decided to attempt a half-marathon. By the time I ran my second half, last fall, I was down three sizes, the reflux was gone, I almost always slept like a rock and my periods had returned to a (somewhat) predictable schedule.

Then, a few months later, I got knocked up. I kept up a lacklustre exercise routine for the first two trimesters and some of the third, but I wasn’t running as hard or as far as when I wasn’t pregnant. Really, I was walking more than I was running. I also wasn’t as much of a stickler about my training schedule, given that I wasn’t working my way towards anything. I know now that childbirth is sort of like a marathon and in subsequent pregnancies, I’ll think of it that way.

Now, here we are, three weeks post-delivery, and I’ve been looking at my pregnancy-devastated body. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not complaining (not much, anyway), and Sophie is worth every extra pound, but I feel like I managed to go backwards in time to before all that friggin’ running in a matter of months. I know I should cut myself some slack, that it hasn’t been that long, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t want to get my body back in record time. I cried over my maternity jeans after a week. I was tired of wearing them and just wanted a zipper again. (Yes, I’m sure the meltdown was hormone-related, too, but still.) My amazing sister-in-law, bless her heart, whisked me off to the mall to find a cheap pair of pants with a fly to stop the steady flow of tears. I’m happy to report that all of the breastfeeding has made those jeans too big already, but I’m still a long way away from ridding myself of the jelly belly.

I don’t think I was really prepared for the way my body would feel after the little one arrived. I had the Bio Oil waiting in the wings for the stretch marks (I’ve never worn a bikini in my life, so no one’s going to see my tummy anyway), but I wasn’t prepared for the achiness. I didn’t know about ‘afterpains‘ (hey, mamas-to-be out there, if you don’t know about this one, look it up! You’ll have contractions in the days after delivery!). And the one time I tried to jog 10 feet from the car to put my library books in the return drop-box, I felt so uncomfortable down in Lady Land that I wanted to cry. I’m still on the Tylenol and Advil cocktail recommended by the hospital when I was discharged, though I’ve managed to get down to two doses a day. This body is not my body.

Except that it is. And I’m proud of it. More proud of it than I was the first time I crossed the finish line at a race. My body made a baby! A human being! A Sophie!

And so today’s lesson: I’ll squeeze my newly-widened hips, my chunkier butt and my thicker thighs into jeans the next size down and just keep at it. I’ll seek the help of the doctor who told me I could run in the first place. I doubt things will ever go back to where they were before (Karine, our editor-in-chief, warned me that this would be the case), but then, everything else in my life has changed so it makes sense that my body is no exception. I’ll work what I’m left with — read: I’ll run again, but likely in bigger tights — and thank my lucky stars every day that my body could give me my daughter.

Photo by nathangibbs via Flickr

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