It has been two years since having Cullen, and I was thinking back on how my body has changed in those 2 years + 9 months. They say ‘9 months in; 9 months out’ meaning that after spending 9 months growing a baby inside your body, it takes 9 months to “get it all back” and for your body to go back to the way it was pre-pregnancy. However, I think it takes most women much longer than 9 months. And honestly, in many ways my body will never be the same: hello, stretch marks. . . .and then there’s my belly button that definitely doesn’t look the same.
3 days before going to the hospital to have Cullen
During pregnancy, your body is growing another human being inside, so no wonder you’re tired, running is that much harder, and your body makes major changes to support the new life. Thankfully I had a relatively easy pregnancy. During the first trimester, there were 3 weeks where I had no appetite (but never any true morning sickness) and 3 days where I was especially tired. Otherwise I felt great up until the end. Running was tough during the first trimester as I lacked motivation and didn’t feel the need to go for a run. The second trimester or the “honeymoon trimester” went pretty well as I was able to do some longer runs and run a half-marathon of 1:38. But during the 3rd trimester I started to feel the effects of the added weight, and I had pain in my pelvis and back a lot of the time.
Running a marathon relay 8 months pregnant
After having Cullen and taking a month off of exercise, I remember doing a lot of very slow runs with several walk breaks to slowly ease back into running. I could tell I had lost a lot of fitness, but I was also anxious to get back to running and training. And, yes, there was a part of me that wanted to prove that I could be that mom who “got her body back” after having a baby.
I specifically remember getting back into the swing of training 3 months postpartum while at my parent’s in Minnesota. At the time it felt like things progressed so slowly–especially since my coach, Nichole, had had a c-section 9 days before I did and had gone for a 4 mile run 2 weeks postpartum with no pain. (But in hindsight, she will tell you she jumped back into it too soon.) Now looking back on things, it seemed like I was able to jump back into training really quickly. Isn’t it funny how time works?
Over these past two years, I have slowly progressed and rebuilt my fitness to a new level and have been able to run new PRs at every distance from the 5K to the marathon. It took a lot of early morning training runs on little sleep, hard work, and careful planning by my coach. During this time I’ve seen my body get stronger, leaner, and more fit than every before. I didn’t expect to feel as good about my body as I do. I still have some stretch marks on my stomach and my belly button is a deep crevasse now, which I don’t think will ever go away at this point, but I have to remind myself all of the amazing things my body has been able to do.
So while in some ways I’ve gotten even more of my body back, there are still things I can work that aren’t as strong as they were pre-baby. This past spring I saw a physical therapist to help me strengthen my core and specifically my transverse abdominis muscle. I’ve spent the past several months doing meticulous exercises to get this muscle firing correctly again, and while I have made big strides, I think there is still work to be done. I can also feel my c-section scar/incision area while engaging my core when doing certain exercises, so obviously this needs work as well.
I don’t know when a mom stops being a postpartum mom, but I do know that it can take quite some time to ‘feel like your old self.’ But you know what, I don’t know if I will ever feel like my old self. My old self didn’t know the love I could have for such a small human being who stole my heart the moment he came into this world. That’s life, people.