I have been in need of an outlet for some emotions and this is long over due. To the point where I am not even sure where to begin, because what I see in hind site is so different than what I felt being “in” it. My little man is now four months old and it is crazy how I feel so changed since I wrote his birth story just a few months ago.
Being a mom is hard.
But being a mom is also one of the BEST feelings I have ever felt in my life. I love love my job, but if we could afford it, I would quit in a heartbeat to stay home with my babies. We planned for both of our children, they were very much wanted and are very much loved. However, nothing could have prepared me for the level of hard that would come with having two kids.
A toddler + a newborn + a husband in mid season of coaching varsity baseball = one overwhelmed mama.
Looking back, there is no doubt that I have been dealing with some sort of postpartum depression/anxiety. Fortunately I feel like I saw it coming. Having dealt with a past in anxiety, I was more aware and already had some tools in my pocket; However my primary tool was not presently available to me…exercise. At least not at the level I felt I needed. Let me back up a bit.
What you need to know about me for the purposes of this post…
I am a pretty Type A personality, in that I like to stay busy. I am competitive (mostly with myself), outgoing, and I like to be on the go and really get after things. I have a hard time slowing down. But I have taught myself how to slow down. Mostly out of necessity and past health issues.
I love to lift weights and I love being strong. I was never good at sports in school and finding this made me feel like I finally found something I could do well. It is a huge outlet for me and for my health…the health of my body and my head!
I don’t keep big emotions or struggles or challenges inside. I can’t. I’ve tried. All I got out of that deal was IBS/increased anxiety and more. Enter blogging.
After this recent birth of my son, what would have been easy for me is to get back into the gym and attack things full force. Working out is truly medicine for me, the best I have ever found. And without it, I feel restless and anxious. But I learned from my first birth that rushing was not a good idea. I ended up with some injuries and had to take many steps backwards. It was about a year after my first child that I found Birthfit. This gave me the words and the knowledge to understand what I already kind of innately knew…that pregnancy is not a condition, pregnant women are STRONG! That unnecessary pressure is put upon a postpartum woman to return to her former glory. It basically confirmed just how backwards our society had pregnancy and postpartum. I wanted to do it right this time.
I wanted to be kind to my body and take it slow. To give myself the space and grace to heal. I started with yoga and some light kettle bell work. I did the Birthfit postpartum series… yet even at this slow pace however, there were things in my body that were not feeling quite right. I was also not willing to accept the fact that I could no longer control my bladder. If I have learned anything over the years, it is that common and normal are very different things!
So I took some of the best advice I have ever gotten and took myself to a pelvic floor physical therapist. (Yes this is a real thing. I had that thought the first time I heard of this too. And in hindsight this is extremely sad and frustrating.)
Because I left that first appointment so angry. Not with her, or even so much with my diagnosis. But with the fact that I had just had my second child and it was the first time I had heard something like this existed. I can remember asking her, how the hell was this not standard of care for women in this country? Then I learned that there were SEVEN pelvic floor PTs on staff at just one of the two major hospitals in the area. This floored me. (pun intended).
Overall I really do consider this visit one of the best decisions I have ever made. Because what I have been learning over the past couple of months has taught me more about myself than I can recall learning in a long time. And I feel like I do a pretty good job staying in touch with myself.
TMI alert…She found that I have a mild prolapse of my uterus and bladder. In short, the little basket of tendons that holds up the pelvic floor organs took enough stress and strain that they are no longer holding things in the right place.
It took me a few weeks after this diagnosis to realize the magnitude of time that was actually coming with this healing process. I was so damned focused on getting back into the gym that I forgot to focus on healing. I was going through the motions of the rehab thinking “just a few more weeks.” “Maybe in another month.” But things were not getting better. In fact, I felt they were getting worse for me. More and more out of my control, which was making it hard for me to determine what I was actually doing incorrectly.
I went to a bit of a bad place for awhile. It got magnified when I found I was indeed doing a few things wrong. So after weeks of feeling more setbacks than progress, we dived deeper and figured some stuff out. I ended up with a super strange set of feelings…as I left this appointment feeling both hopeful, and yet discouraged.
I had originally entered this step in my life with the determined thought that I was going to retain my right to jump rope. It has become so much more! Because the amazing mind/body connection is so profound, especially when centered around the pelvic floor. The amount of emotions and security that are involved with this area of the human body are vast and very real. I can feel this experience changing me at my core. Because this experience has taught me something I did not realize about myself…
I did not realize how much of my self-worth I had wrapped up in my physical strength.
So I finally truly surrendered. I sat my butt down in the grass next to my little man and I surrendered. I prayed. I cried. I asked God to send power and energy from his amazing earth into my body to help me heal. To better trust Him and release my own agenda.
Emotionally, I felt better almost immediately. Crying is truly amazing. It literally releases your stress hormones. Then over the next 5-7 days I felt physically different… almost like things shifted, not unlike right after birth, accompanied by some cramping. But then, I felt BETTER better. Like I was not having to struggle to hold myself together (literally) anymore. I found I could carry my kids without discomfort. Then at my next appointment, 10 weeks after my first appointment, I confirmed that things had finally improved.
I still don’t know what all of this really means and there are days when I still struggle, physically and emotionally. Especially in my work setting when all I want to do is a burpee (or 50) with the rest of the class. But I find I can also step back and appreciate the fact the I WANT to do burpees!
And I will be able to again. Because SLOW is FAST. These words from my friend Erica and Birthfit are written on my mirror, my notepads and the back of my brain. Why am I writing all of this? Because if just one mama reads this and feel empowered or inspired, then it was all worth it. Because it is NOT normal to not be able to control your pee. It is NOT normal to feel heaviness/pressure/bulging after babies. And you CAN heal yourself…if you are willing. Because our little ones are worth it, and so are you!