I started running again last week. I’m bad at it again. My body feels clunky and stiff but also jiggly and soft at the same time. My once graceful, proud, easy strides are forced now. My legs feel heavy, my breathing is out of sync, my chest feels the strain of trying to control it. Running was once meditation to me. This week it felt pathetic, sad and draining. I haven’t ran since I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. I had bad morning sickness until about 16-17 weeks and horrid round ligament pain. Running switched to long walks for the duration of my pregnancy. I missed running but understood the importance of listening to my body. I couldn’t wait to get back to it, figuring it would provide such a wonderful break to my day in-between breast feeding, changing diapers and doing laundry. Last week it wasn’t meditation though. I used to log 5-10 mile runs several times a week, did sprint work regularly and was in the gym on all other days. This week my 1.5 mile runs felt like 100. These runs were tragically slow, depressing and I cried several times in-between my rigid, awkward strides. I cried as I walked the remainder of the distance home, sweaty, embarrassed and feeling heavy. I cried when I got home. My body and my mind feel disconnected and foreign. I gained 19 pounds during my pregnancy, a relative number as I know I lost at least several pounds of muscle. Four days after Sylvia’s delivery I went to the doctor and was five pounds above pre-pregnancy weight. The following week I was only one pound away. Physically my body was very good at being pregnant. It recovered fast with zero swelling, despite lots of Pitocin and many bags of fluids. My body now compared to pre-pregnancy is different though. I’m jigglier and softer. My pre-pregnancy clothes fit different. I feel uncomfortable more than I ever remember feeling. Not embarrassed or ashamed, at all, but uncomfortable. My curves that I built from years of hard work in and out of the gym are not the same. I know getting back into shape would be important to me if Sylvia was here, but because she isn’t I feel like I have very little else to focus on besides my post-baby, except no baby, body. I don’t have her, but physically I am left with a body that went through a huge change. It’s overwhelming.
I could see slipping into a dark hole very easily. Body shaming is something that is easy for my mind to click back into doing very fast. I could easily stand in front of the mirror and pick apart every detail that my weird, foreign, failed body is and isn’t. I could hate it, ignore it, be embarrassed, hide it under layers and layers of clothes, inundate it with poor food choices that leave me feeling worse, neglect it, abuse it…that stuff comes easier than to praise it. Terrifying, isn’t it?
I am trying a new tactic though. Instead of hating, I am praising. My body carried my daughter. It was her home for 40 weeks and 2 days. She loved it there. Curled up, warm, happy, comfortable, listening to my voice, hearing my heart beat, falling asleep during my long walks, getting to know me, getting to know Carlos…my body is where she lived and died. It created her flawlessly.
Carlos and I both got emotional the other day when I was getting dressed for an event. When I asked him how I look, he stated, ‘I don’t know if you want to hear this, but it looks like you never had a baby.’ This is usually every mom’s dream. Snapping their body back to where people gasp, ‘You have a baby?!’ It’s bittersweet for me. Does returning my body back to what it was before her decrease her existence? Does it make her less of a real human that lived and died? Does it mean I am moving on? I know that sounds crazy…trust me. But the psychological roller coaster that our brains are strapped in for is even crazier. Our therapy sessions have been good for this, because we can have our crazy thoughts explained by someone who knows we aren’t crazy and those thoughts aren’t crazy.
I’ll continue to be bad at running until I am good at it again. Because thats what I do. And I will continue to praise my body for creating Sylvia perfectly. Because thats what it deserves.