The internet is flooded with postpartum content and stories from real women. Over the last year, I’ve read dozens of womens’ stories. It made me feel less alone and more accepting of myself. This is just my story and where I am at about one year postpartum.
What to Expect After You’re Expecting
I promised myself I would be one of those women who lifted weights until her water broke. I genuinely enjoy going to the gym and fitness classes. I admire those fit pregnant women, and I was always confident I would be one of them. The reality was, if miscarriage and infertility hadn’t scared me sedentary, a high risk pregnancy and preterm labor did the trick. I wanted to work out during my pregnancy with Benny, and I did whenever I could. But, the first trimester sidelined me with overstimulated ovaries. Seventeen weeks got me bedrest again after failed NIPT results and an amniocentesis. Then, in my 24th week, I was knocked on my butt for real and would remain on some form of bedrest until having Benny at 37 weeks. In the three months I was on bedrest, I let myself rest. I nourished my body, but also ate tons of cookies. It was the greatest mental workout of my life. In the days following Benny’s birth, I felt an enormous sense of freedom knowing my body was no longer responsible for Benny’s survival. I could finally just be after years of solely seeing my body as a vessel for a baby and nothing more. I began walking, stretching, and light exercises given to me by my pelvic floor physical therapist. At seven weeks, I was cleared by my OBGYN to resume all activity. I stepped into the gym ready to roll.
My First Days at the Gym
My CrossFit gym closed while I was pregnant, and I knew I wanted to try something new postpartum. So, I joined Burn Bootcamp Wilton and took my first class at about seven weeks postpartum. My pelvic floor physical therapist had given me strict orders. No jumping or running until twelve weeks. It seemed like forever! After so many months of rest, my mind was 100% ready to jump back in.
The first class quickly showed me that my mind and body were in two different places. I would spend the next six months trying to find patience with my body as my mind urged me to push forward. Why can’t I do pull-ups anymore? When will I get double-under again? I showed up at the gym in those early days. I felt awkward in my own skin. I had 15 extra pounds to carry through my workout, and evening lifting 10lbs weights was a struggle in the beginning. I loved being in a new gym, but I also wished I was in a place where people knew me before. Sometimes I would look at my old PRs on my phone as a reminder that I could be physically strong again. I just had to be patient, and that was the hardest part. But, I showed up. When I went back to work in August, that meant showing up at 5:30am. Now, I crave those early morning workouts.
It really wasn’t until Benny was about nine months old that I truly felt somewhat like myself again.
What I’ve Learned
The postpartum season has taught me a ton about myself and my body. During pregnancy, I gained a total of 30lbs. (I’m not counting the 10lbs of fluid I retained the day before I delivered Benny haha) But, my body changed a ton. I’m sure I lost every ounce of muscle as I was quite literally immobile for over 3 months. I feel lucky that my body was able to do what it needed to do to keep Benny safely growing. I prayed to have the privilege of getting huge and pregnant. And that I did. It is a privilege I will never take for granted. I’ve learned that breastfeeding makes me cling onto extra weight. Those extra pounds hung on for dear life in the four and a half months I struggled to pump for Benny.
In the last month, I’ve joined a healthy eating challenge through Fuel Your Fitness. Georgette, the founder, is my old CrossFit coach. I have learned how to live my life, enjoy cookies and wine, and still meet my goals. I’m tracking my macros and finding freedom in that. I have truly never felt better.
Why I’m Proud
I used to look in the mirror and see what I didn’t like about myself, especially as we navigated infertility. In the recent months, I’ve tried to change my mindset. This body fought like hell to bring a healthy baby into the world. This body has been through countless medical procedures, a miscarriage, six IUIs, an egg retrieval, an amniocentesis, preterm labor (and all the tests and medicines that go along with that), 12+ weeks of bedrest, birth, and breastfeeding. I should feel proud and grateful, because this body has carried me through my most physically challenging season of life thus far.