Eight weeks ago I gave birth to my friends’ lovely little boy (see my post from September). It was a beautiful birth, the culmination of months – years, really – of planning, fertility treatments, and ultimately pregnancy. The pregnancy was healthy, and the birth was fast and by the book - I’ve been blessed to have three beautiful, natural water births. After my own children were born, I spent weeks marveling at their existence; caring for them took most of my attention. Sleep was short, and my energy was focused on breastfeeding, changing diapers, and all the tasks of caring for an infant. This experience has been different. Not having a baby to capture my attention (although my two munchkins vie for it whenever they’re around!) allows me to place closer and more critical focus on my recovery process.
This pregnancy has left me with a diastasis recti – a separation of the abdominal muscles – a weakened pelvic floor and hemorrhoids that won’t go away (aren’t you glad you asked?). My hope had been that once I stopped bleeding postpartum, I would build up to my usual level of physical activity again – intending, in fact, to map out my racing schedule for the season, thinking the timing was just right! This abdominal issue has thrown me for a loop, however. I’ve consulted a physiotherapist who specializes in such things, and she has firmly advised me to NOT RUN until my muscles strengthen, which could take months. I know she’s right. I get that the more I push it early on, the longer it will ultimately take for my body to get back to normal. But OH! Running is good for my metabolic and mental health in a way that very few other activities are! I have been biking like a fiend (my pelvic floor well supported against my bike seat), but nothing matches running for a solid cardiovascular workout. Instead, I lie motionless on my back doing Kegels and contracting and releasing my transverse abdominis muscles. My kids at once admonish me for “cheating” (when I jog alongside my son to keep his spirits up while he trains for grade six track), and tell me they hope I heal quickly so that I can play “Capture the Flag” at my daughter’s upcoming birthday party.
This reflects how much I rely on movement – fast paced, high-energy motions. Running, biking, lifting weights – all escapes for me. I have always struggled with gentler activities – even though I know they’re good for me. Stretching, yoga … I know I should, and I’ve dabbled many times over the years … I encourage others to slow down and find balance in their movement. And as many of us do, I struggle to take my own advice. Yin is needed to balance yang. My mind and body could use more stillness and more quiet. I spend much of my life racing around – often in a hurry, often just on time, trying to do too much, often thinking five steps ahead. I would benefit from creating space to simply be still, in the here and the now.
There have been many lessons from this pregnancy, likely more than were available to me while I was pregnant with my own children. The recovery too is providing me with opportunities … which I am trying to appreciate and learn from. So as I finish this … I am off to do yoga. My mat is waiting.
And I’m curious – what balance do you strike in your activity? Is slowing down easier or is picking up the pace tough for you? How does this reflect the state of your mind and spirit? How could you create a more balanced practice?