On Sunday, July 4, it will be exactly six weeks since I gave birth to my daughter, Kate. It is Independence Day in more ways than one for me; I will finally be cleared for exercise and physical activity. I never knew how much I took the physicality of life for granted!
For the past six weeks I’ve been learning the ropes of motherhood, taking care of Kate (breastfeeding, diapering, burping, walking the floors, repeat!) and healing from a marathon 37-hour labor which ended in an emergency C-section. At some point in these last weeks every part of me has hurt — the C-section incision, the internal wounds of labor, my legs, my back, my skin, my breasts, my nipples (Dear God!!)… I had to heal enough to negotiate the stairs in my house and then enough to walk those stairs holding my baby. Even though I have not been able to exercise (when you count my last trimester of pregnancy — it’s been many months), this is not to say my life is not physical. I spend most of my day lifting, holding, carrying and otherwise attending to an 11-pound, squirming infant. (Yes! 11 pounds!!)
I have decided that pregnancy, child-birth and the early months of caring for a baby are the hardest things you can do in life. If not emotionally, it is most definitely the most physical set of things you can do. It’s a biological triathlon! And if you have ever done any of it — you are a mother-fucking bad-ass. Period.
(And I have to say, although I love my husband and I don’t normally go negative on men, you guys really have it so easy you don’t even know it. This is not to say that you don’t have other responsibilities, hardships and the like. But honestly, there’s nothing you go through physically that will ever compare. I’m six weeks out from child-birth and I still have pain when I wake up, every day. And I have to just get up and push past it because my baby is crying and wants her milk. I have to push past the sore nipples, the pain when she kicks me in my incision, the cramps in my uterus, the throbbing back … all of it. So, when it comes to this stuff, just stop any urge to bitch before it starts.)
What I have realized over these past weeks is that there is nothing left that I could do that can be as physically exhausting, punishing, painful or otherwise taxing as having a baby. And when you throw in the fluctuating hormones, intense emotions and bonding, lack of sleep and all the other stuff — yeah, it’s just that fucking hard and more.
Now, at this point you might be thinking that I’m all down on having a baby. This is not true. I LOVE Kate. Don’t even worry about that for a second. I love her more intensely and more wholly than I ever thought possible. It is a love that is different from any other I have ever felt. It is in many ways the most powerful love I have ever felt. Period.
All I’m trying to say is that the work of carrying a baby inside you, squeezing it out and then caring for it is the hardest work possible. Perhaps that’s the balance to all the love and joy. That’s for greater minds than mine to figure out.
After all this, I realize that all those times I made excuses to not workout, all those fears about 5Ks or hiking mountains or being a fat asthmatic — all that is so much bullshit I can’t even stand it! All that is the chumpiest chump compared to having a baby! Seriously!
So on Sunday I will joyfully start exercising again. It will be my Independence Day from feeling like a part of my life is missing. After I get back to a basic level, I’ll be training for my next 5K and then … who knows? I certainly won’t ever fear a race or that I can’t do something again. If there’s any silver-lining to my bad birth experience, it’s that. (Obviously, I consider Kate to be the ultimate reward, not just a silver-lining.) There’s nothing as scary as that was. And I survived! I healed!
Whether or not you have ever been pregnant, given birth or had a child any other way, I share this with you to share my inspiration, my hope and my joy. Don’t waste another second on the doubts, fears or insecurities that hold you back. The old adage is: You’re more powerful than you think. You better believe it!