It is hard to believe that Mary has been with us for 5 months already. To say it has been an adventure would be an understatement. I kept hearing from friends about how difficult the first few weeks would be and I figured they didn’t know how tough Rock and I were. Then those first few weeks came and we were exhausted. You really just don’t sleep for the first few weeks. Everyone said it would get better, but I swear it felt like Mary was never going to move past needing a feeding every three hours. Something clicked and suddenly she was making it for longer and longer periods at night. Now we are waiting until she truly makes it all the way through in one straight shot!
I ran all the way up until exactly a week before Mary was born. I would likely have continued running but was advised by the doctors to take it easy because our little one was trying to make an early entrance into the world. She did so anyway, but I am still glad that I heeded their advice.
When Mary was born, my doctor was out of the country at the time. I was scheduled to see her two weeks later but was advised in the hospital that I could not run for at least a month, probably even six weeks. Of course I asked when I could run again, almost immediately!
Two weeks later at my appointment my doctor told me to go ahead and start running again (without my prompting!). I was surprised, but also super excited. I set out the next afternoon for a slow three mile run.
That first run felt weird. The only way I can best explain it is to say that everything felt a little wobbly. My hips felt like they were moving in crazy directions and I felt as if I had lost all of my endurance.
About a week later I tried going for a run and my right leg refused to move. I ended up sobbing and sitting at home in pain for a few days before making an appointment with a chiropractor who works with runners.
In retrospect, I think I would have waited a bit longer to get back out there and run. During pregnancy and also during labor, our bodies release hormones, namely relaxin. The role of relaxin is to help relax our ligaments and loosen everything up to allow the pelvic area to expand. Since relaxin can’t just go directly to the pelvic area, many of your joints will feel loose. This can cause injuries in areas like the knees or ankles that are more prone to rolling or twisting. In my case, it seems that the running had caused a nerve to be pinched as my body was working to get itself back to its normal state.
It would have been worth waiting two more weeks to allow my body to heal, and enjoy some time on the couch (something I never do). I was of course in a rush to get back out and running because the Chicago Marathon was looming and I wanted to be there to help my athletes. Thanks to my chiropractor, I was able to get back out there pretty quickly and I did end up running the marathon 9 weeks postpartum.
After the marathon I eased into some easier mileage and worked to slowly get my pace back. It took time and was frustrating during some runs. But I was honestly just happy to be running.
I believe it is important to remember that the months of pregnancy change our bodies and labor and delivery ask a lot of us. Then those first few weeks with a newborn continue to exhaust and push you. Running will come back in time, but you must be patient with yourself and your new body.
Five months later, I am continuing to get stronger and work at getting my body and fitness back on track. Next week I start marathon training. For the past few weeks I have been working on upping my mileage to prepare for the rigors of marathon training. Usually I would like to have some nice double digit runs in before I get started but this time around I will have a few 10 milers and that is about it. Marathon training with a baby and a husband who is also preparing for the same race is going to take some balancing. But it will be an exciting adventure.
Next up will be trying out our jogging stroller. I would be lying if I didn’t say that the thought of running with the stroller scares me! When I see people pushing these bad boys around, I feel as if they are total bad asses. It is advised that you wait to run with your little one in a stroller only after they can sit up on their own. Mary isn’t quite there yet and I am okay with that. Plus, I don’t really want either of us running outside in our current weather anyway.
Until then, we enjoy using the car seat attachment on our stroller for walks to the store and around the block. If I can give one recommendation to new or soon to be parents, invest in a great jogging stroller. We got the Bob and it is one awesome piece of equipment. It is easy to push, moves around corners smoothly, and has some pretty fantastic tires. The only downside is that it doesn’t really fold up very well and takes up a lot of space. Mary has truly taken over our home!
Do you run with your children? Any advice?