I’ve been inspired by fellow moms to talk about my postpartum journey (so far). There are a few different things that I have experienced that might help another person not feel so alone. CAUTION if you’re a man and don’t want to read about postpartum stuff then I would definitely skip this post. These are my raw emotions and experiences and a little of what I feel on the inside on a day to day basis. There are many rants I might go on in here and might even turn this into a blog on each topic. Still toying with that idea.
I’ll start off by stating it bluntly. I am not having the postpartum experience I pictured when I first found out I was pregnant. I was in the best shape physically and mentally when I found out I was pregnant. I was lifting heavy (for me) and living life to the fullest. I stayed active throughout my pregnancy and even coached a class the day I went into labor. Everyone kept telling me that I should have an easy recovery and “bounce back” quickly because of how active I was. Can we all just laugh for a moment at the term “bouncing back”? I can tell you the only thing bouncing for me is the baby weight I still have. Why is that even something we tell moms? I was told multiple times fresh out of the hospital “how great I looked” or “you don’t even look like you just had a baby”. Are those supposed to be comforting to a new mom? We are exhausted, still swollen from fluid retention, and the last thing we want is for someone (usually strangers) to comment on our appearance. How about asking us how we are doing, how are we feeling, do you need anything. Talk about anything except for our appearance or asking if we are getting sleep (because the answer is NO). I am currently 22ish weeks postpartum (about 5 months) and things are not at all what I pictured. I still am limited to what I can do. Like EXTREMELY limited. I can stretch, walk, and do some body weight only movements because my body is still healing. Yes, I said still healing. My (our) bodies can take up to two years to fully heal and sometimes even longer. I grew a human for 10 months. My organs were squished and misplaced to make room for my little bundle of joy and they are still not in their respective spots. Now I have to give my body time to re-learn what it’s like to not get kicked and punched from the inside. This takes time and patience. If you know me I am not a very patient person. I like to get things done quickly. When we got home from the hospital I was miserable. For some reason I couldn’t walk correctly (my legs wouldn’t bend), I couldn’t sit down without excruciating pain in my tailbone area, and needed help getting in and out of bed. I had anxiety about going #2 because I didn’t want to rip any stitches. I took stool softeners for probably the first two months because of this anxiety. I remember talking to my mom about something and she was shocked that I bought Depends. I told her that was the easiest thing since I basically had zero control and couldn’t move fast enough. I now know why (keep reading). (Thank you to my husband and parents for all the help. Literally they had to do everything for the first couple weeks.) I had to stay within walking distance of a toilet because holding anything for even a short time period would end in epic fails. I passed clots the size of baseballs and enough blood to question if I had any left. I of course was in constant contact with my doctor to be sure I did not need immediate medical attention. He assured me while all of these things were new to me they were sometimes part of the recovery process. Cool (but not really). At my 6 week PP appointment I was given the all clear to resume activities and coaching and to just listen to my body as my “should I or shouldn’t I”. There was an issue though. Actually a couple issues. My pelvic floor needed some assistance to help pull my organs back up and my tailbone was jacked (not a medical term lol). I was referred to a pelvic floor physical therapist and literally called her on the way out of my appointment. I was lost, felt defeated, and slightly helpless. I met with my PT lady that week and had reassurance that I was not alone in this journey. She encouraged me to let go of my “I should be doing x, y, & z” thoughts and reminded me that I was VERY early in my recovery process. She stated that these things take time and cannot be rushed. My first set of exercises were learning how to breathe properly again. Yes, I said breathing was my EXERCISE. I was mad, defeated once again, and discouraged. How did I go from doing CrossFit 4-5 days a week to BREATHING for my exercises?! Ugh. Fast forward to today, I have now been seeing my PT for the last 16 weeks and I just now got cleared to do body weight exercises. I want to do more but my body keeps telling me no. I push myself further than what I should because I feel like I should be further along in my recovery process. All that does is knock me back and I have to go back to my basics. I walked every day in January sometimes pushing Jackson and then sometimes I was solo. On the last day I tried to jog a bit because I miss running (I know how crazy that sounds). I was immediately reminded why jogging was not a good thing just yet. Like Ricky Bobby, I want to go fast again. But I can’t and probably shouldn’t. I got mad and in my head about comparing myself to others who had babies at similar times. They seem to be life as usual and out running around and back in the gym. That’s where this term of “bouncing back” irritates the piss out of me. What am I bouncing back to? My body will never be the same as my pre-baby body. My hips have moved, my skin has stretched, and I literally popped a child out of my nether regions. Things definitely will not be the same. And why should they? I don’t have the answer to that. But I do know society puts a HUGE emphasis on getting the “pre-baby body” back, getting back to life as it was before, and getting back to work (different rant). I am in the fitness industry and have been a coach for the last year and half almost. For the first time I have re-evaluated my coaching technique, the way I word things, and the movements I ask our athletes to do. Through my on-going recovery I have learned new ways to work muscle groups safely for postpartum individuals and I now understand the importance. Each person is different and sometimes you have to modify a movement 5 different ways to achieve the same outcome. But that’s okay. Modifying is part of life. You have to adapt not only in the fitness world but also in everyday life. It’s okay to not be where you thought you should be. I am learning this and learning to accept this. I know one day I will be running again but it just won’t be tomorrow. I know one day I will be back squatting with my gym peeps but I am now okay with that not being tomorrow. Instead of “bouncing back” I am now bouncing forward. Forward into motherhood and learning new things each day about myself and what I can overcome. I know that I am still very new in this process and I am learning to have patience with myself. I am learning that comparing my journey to others is not fair. It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to them. Sometimes we only post about the happy times and the good things that are going on. Those same individuals that seem to have it all together could very well be feeling the same way I am. If I have learned one thing in this journey is us moms need each other. We need to talk to people who have gone through similar things so we know we are not alone (as we have a baby attached to our hip). I have been inspired to get certified in pre/post partum athleticism and plan to do that this year. I currently coach a ladies only CrossFit class. Having this extra training will not only benefit me as a postpartum athlete but I will benefit as a coach as well. I hope any mamas out there read this and have some pressure taken off about “where you should be” in your journey. There are no road maps for this so we are literally flying by the seat of our pants. I learn things daily and refuse to let society tell me how I should look or feel (another rant). Side note: if you tinkle when your up and moving around, have tailbone pain, weird sensations down below, diastasis recti, or anything else that you think “isn’t right” please reach out to a pelvic floor PT! It’s never too late (my lady sees patients in their 70s/80s). I would be lost in my journey without her. Oh, and the best part is, she comes to the house! No getting ready and having to find a babysitter. She is located in Houston but services the Brenham area. She can be found at Well Women Physical Therapy on FB and Instagram. **I am in no way compensated for this** I just truly believe she can help everyone just like she has helped me.
Mama Bear OUT