I often hear people talking about “getting your body back” after a baby. It’s become a regular fixture of mainstream media conversation- whether or not the mom is an active or willing part of the discussion- and the local, more organic by-product of this is a hyper-critical view of our own bodies. But what does it mean to get your body back after baby? Now, 3 years after my daughter was born, I am truly understanding what it means for me.
While I began running 8 short weeks after O was born- and yes, I was back to my “pre-baby” weight quickly- I was breastfeeding on demand and always felt more like a Mom going for a run than a Runner who happens to be a mom. Last June, when O was just past 2 years old I stopped breastfeeding, and I was not thinking about me- though I was certainly exhausted and ready to be done sharing my body so intimately with my strong-willed daughter- I was focused mainly on getting pregnant. After suffering a miscarriage, I knew breastfeeding wasn’t helping and may in fact have contributed to the miscarriage. My moods were up and down and by September my running was really suffering. O was big enough to strongly object to going, and when I did get her in the running stroller, it all felt too difficult. I just couldn’t seem to muster the energy, the drive, the will. So I told myself I didn’t need to run- I would take some time off to get pregnant- to focus on what was “really” important. But that’s the thing about running- if it’s important to you, it will find you again, and you will find a way to get back to it. I missed running, and I missed me.
At almost 3 years old, I realized my daughter was finally old enough – or more to the point, I was ready – for me to “allow” myself to get back to me. For 3 years, all my decisions were about my daughter and about having another baby. Finally- after a second miscarriage and what felt like endless heartache- instead of focusing on the family I did not have, instead of mourning the life I was not living, finally! I decided to be grateful for the amazing life I do have. I asked myself- much in the way Samantha asks Carrie on Sex and the City when she realizes her life with Alexander Petrovsky would be one without kids- “What would that be like?”
I knew the answer immediately: it would be a humbling, beautiful, blessed life. The next thing to do, I knew, was to commit to something big and bold: The Marine Corps Marathon! I started planning my training and setting short term and long term goals. And to my surprise, in this early phase of training I’ve experienced the magic of my muscle memory. What a miraculous and wondrous mom body I have! It only took 3 weeks for my body to embrace 3 miles; and my first 4 mile training run felt more like time with an old friend than an athletic accomplishment. But it is an accomplishment, and it’s empowering to think what my body can do now that I’m taking it all back.
This October I’ll be running for Paralyzed Veterans of America. I am raising money for an amazing cause while keeping mindful of how fortunate I am to be healthy and able. I finally have my “body back” and I am ready to dig deep and push myself, honor and love myself, and RUNitlikeamom! MCM2015 here I come!