I really wish that I had an inspirational story about how I was so fit at 40 weeks pregnant. Unfortunately, my body led me down a much different path. My mind didn’t want to follow, and took its own direction. When I found out I was pregnant, I was working out 5 days a week either running or doing barre. I had just started training for my first marathon. I managed to stick with the training, although at a much slower pace than I had wanted to; and an extreme amount more pain than expected. I completed a half marathon instead of a full because of the pain and discomfort my body was in. After this race, my body told me to not only slow down, but stop. My brain continued to fight. I had severe symphysis pubis dysfunction with both pregnancies, the first being worse than the second. (https://www.healthline.com/health/symphisis-pubis-dysfunction) I was forced to stop working out at 25 weeks in my first pregnancy, and just before 30 weeks in my second.
I had a midwife my first pregnancy, and I remember her telling me “just listen to your body, you’ll know if you need to slow down or modify exercise.” Not her fault, but she didn’t know me very well...I had trained my entire life to ignore my body telling me no. I had trained my mind to push through pain to succeed. “No pain, no gain”, right? Everyone tells you that pregnancy comes along with aches and pains, so how are you supposed to know how much discomfort is normal or okay to push through? I followed numerous bad ass, fit moms on Instagram, rocking their pregnancy journeys. They were all making it look so easy. I was excited to journey down that same path. This made it an even harder pill to swallow when I just couldn’t. I believed that I was failing myself, my baby and that I just had to keep trying. So many people had told me that it was healthier for baby if you kept doing what you had been doing prior to conceiving. This statement haunted me, causing so much guilt that I couldn’t.
As a goaltender in hockey, I had trained my mind and become so mentally tough to focus and push through to succeed. I have never been good at losing, and my mind was not equipped to accept any deviation from the path I had envisioned. I am not only competitive with others, but extremely competitive with myself. I just felt like such a failure. The chiropractors office became my second home, just trying to keep my pelvis aligned so that I could work out. There were numerous occasions when I made a quick movement, shifted my hips, or stretched my leg to even just get out of bed or the bath and I’d be paralyzed in pain. My husband would have to pick me up and carry me to bed where I would lay for upwards of an hour, just waiting to be able to move my legs again. It was beyond frustrating. I would cry in pain, but also because I was having a pity party for myself, mourning this ideal pregnancy that I had envisioned. There are numerous serious or even life threatening for mom and baby scenarios that render women bed ridden during pregnancy; This wasn’t one of those, so I had a really hard time accepting that I should stop. Anger doesn’t even begin to define my emotion as my midwife would continue to tell me, “just listen to your body.” I think I wanted/needed someone to tell me I had to stop.
I clearly learned that I do not accept being limited with open arms. It’s like when your parents tell you you’re grumpy because you’re tired or hungry as a child. Your response being, “no, I am not!!”, but of course you were. This was my body telling me, we need a break and my mind saying no! Because it was your idea, not mine. I will tell you that although I learned the hard way and suffered a lot of unnecessary pain in my first pregnancy, I am stubborn and went through it again a second time. I accepted defeat sooner in my second pregnancy, not letting the pain get to the same level, but still fought the battle knowing the result.
I am here to tell you that you are not a failure if you can’t follow your envisioned path. You are not failing your baby if your body changes your plans. You are your worst critic, and this is an opportunity to learn to love yourself. Love yourself when you feel weak, love yourself when your body changes. As a woman it is so easy to compare, feel judged and fall into a negative head space. I think it’s okay to feel sad, angry and weak for a moment, but staying in this state is much worse for you and baby than having to be more stationary. Take a moment to mourn the vision you had, and lean on your support system or seek professional help. Let’s create a community of women that uplift each other so that we don’t feel this way. It’s okay to compare and be Inspired by other women, and it’s okay to be envious of their journey. Just know that everyone is fighting their own battle, and we need to be understanding and caring to others and ourselves. There are going to be women who feel great and can work out for the full 40 weeks...let’s praise them and lift them up...there are going to be women who are too afraid to work out...Let’s lift them up...there are going to be women who are placed on bed rest...let’s lift them up...there are going to be women who would give anything to keep their routine and outlet that can’t...let’s lift them up.....there are going to be women who would kill to just be able to become pregnant...let’s lift them up. Whatever fork your path comes to, know that it is your normal, you are not alone and we support you!
I also want to mention that muscle memory is absolutely incredible and although I didn’t get to work out the way I wanted during pregnancy, my postpartum recovery and fitness journey has been fantastic. I am most definitely not the best at modifying to limitations but I am getting better. I am appreciating my body more and more instead of hating it. It gave me these two beautiful, healthy little girls and allows me to now be active with them. My body is slowly getting back to a version of its original state, after going through so much. It will absolutely never be exactly the same, but I am going to learn to love it. Give your body and mind credit for the difficult journey it has been on. Be forgiving. You can get your routine and fitness back. I was in the best shape of my life in between my two pregnancies, and had never loved my body more (stretch marks and all). It is a never ending journey of self love and accepting new limitations, but know you are never alone!
All my love,