Monday, September 16, 2013

Baby Steps

                 It has been almost 4 weeks since the birth of my baby girl and I am finally feeling ready to start back with running. However, usually when I am mentally feeling ready it is still a week before my body is physically ready so I am going to ease into my exercise routine conservatively. I was cleared to do “cardio” after 2 weeks and in my mind cardio means running. So two weeks to the day from the birth of Lilyana, I decided to go for a jog on my treadmill to feel things out. I started at roughly an 8-8:30 minute mile and ran for 200 meters. I quickly had to slow down the pace and started walking. I decided to try a walk jog but things didn’t feel quite right so I upped the incline and slowed the pace and went for a brisk walk.
                Running didn’t hurt, but it just didn’t feel quite right. Things felt loose in my core and I didn’t like it so I decided to err on the side of caution and not run. Over the next two weeks I did cardio on the elliptical machine and spin bike machine. I also incorporated some very light lifting that didn’t involve my “core” (i.e. squats, etc.) but used more of my upper body. The first day of cardio on the elliptical I went for twenty minutes and was tasting blood. By that I mean I am out of shape, I had that metallic taste in my mouth and which I have never gotten from an elliptical workout before so I definitely have some work to do.
(Doing my "cardio")
                Each cardio session did get better but I am still only doing a max of 25 minutes a few days a week and walking on the other days. After 3 weeks I emailed my midwives to see if they meant that I could do impact activities like running when they cleared me for cardio. Apparently they meant for me to just do some easy walking…around the block. I have walked five miles at a time, definitely farther than a few blocks. I guess there’s a big difference when you tell a distance runner they are cleared for “cardio.” In the past I never considered easy walking a form of cardio but this is a whole new experience for me so now walking is cardio. The midwives want me to err on the side of caution until they can check how well my abdominal muscles are healing at six weeks. They want to make sure I do not have a condition called diastasis recti or diastasis recti abdominis which basically means the abdominals have separated. During pregnancy this usually occurs during the second or third trimesters and it is seen as a bulge in the middle of the abdominal muscles. I never saw this and upon feeling my stomach they do not feel more than 1-2 finger widths apart which seems o.k. Three or more finger widths could indicate that I have the condition.

                A fellow runner friend and mother of two came to visit Lilyana and me and she cautioned me about the importance of coming back slowly to running. She told me if I come back too soon I am also at an increased risk of having a prolapsed bladder. I am letting my body be my guide. Every woman’s labor and pregnancy is different so I need to be careful not to compare myself to other runners or women who may have been able to start back with more vigorous activity earlier on. The first two weeks I honestly don’t know how anyone could be starting an exercise routine. I was so tired and my body so beat there was no way I was going to even attempt to run, let alone go to the gym for any cardio. I think that was my body’s natural way of letting me know I needed to heal.
                I did do a very slow one mile jog outside today and it felt way better than the first day I tried. It definitely felt awkward but that loose feeling in my core was gone. I will build slowly from this and continue to do other forms of non impact cardio and some weight training. It has taken a few weeks but I am starting to feel like I am getting into a better routine and getting more accustomed to my new role as a mother. As Lilyana starts to get into a better schedule and begins sleeping longer at night that will make things a little easier as well. When this starts happening it may coincide nicely with the increase in my exercise routine, how convenient.
                Lilyana is learning new things every day. The changes are small but over time they are helping to mold her into a self sufficient person. Something as small as learning to smile for the first time or scooting herself across the floor, she is building upon each little milestone. So for now I will follow in her baby steps and in no time I will look back and be amazed at how far we both have come.
(Baby Steps)