Pregnancy is a real trip. The hardest part for me, so far, has definitely been more mental than physical, specifically struggling with not feeling like myself and accepting that my identity is changing (in addition to the anxiety that comes with being responsible for creating life!). For the past 7 years, I’ve identified as a runner. I’ve felt like an athlete. I’ve had a very good relationship with my body and food and exercise. I’ve felt like I’ve had control over most things in my life. And now all of a sudden, my body is not my own and and there are so many unknowns. Plus, I feel like I can’t connect with my friends (mostly runners) and husband in quite the same way I’m used to. This is no fault of theirs, though! Everyone has been incredibly supportive and encouraging and very interested in how I’m feeling and doing. But I feel like I only have so much to contribute to my relationships right now, and I miss not having pregnancy always in the front of my brain while I’m having conversations.
To be honest, I’m still in a bit of disbelief that I actually am pregnant so even though I’m now 25 weeks in, it’s taken awhile to wrap my head around everything. But I am excited and so incredibly grateful and OMG, there’s a baby inside of me! I feel like I’m constantly in a loop of perspective shifting lately. My thoughts quickly go from: I’m tired, uncomfortable, getting fat, can’t run, grumble grumble. To: How did we get so lucky? I can’t wait! This is such a gift.
One thing that I’ve definitely learned is that every pregnant body (just like every baby) is different. When experiencing something so foreign for the first time, though, it’s natural to want to compare yourself to everyone else. That’s why people read bloggers’ pregnancy updates – to see if they are normal relative to this stranger on the internet. I’ve done a lot of googling of what is ‘normal’ and for the most part, I feel like yeah, I’m doing okay! Or even better than okay most days! But one area I’ve really struggled with (again, the mental gymnastics are the hardest part) is seeing other women post about their #FitPregnancy on Instagram and not comparing myself to what they are doing. I have to remind myself that they are not me, I am not them. Just because she can run 12 miles at 28 weeks, doesn’t mean I should. Just because she’s gained less weight, doesn’t mean I’ve gained too much. Her spin class doesn’t make my walk less good.
In an effort to not set up a comparison trap, but to show a different variation of normal, here is a timeline of what exercise has looked like for me throughout pregnancy so far:
- Week 5 – Running had started feeling a little hard and I thought I was just lacking motivation so I signed up for the Run Through Time trail marathon and came in second. It was a good day on the trails, though I never felt exceptional.
- Week 6 – I was extraordinarily sleepy the week after the race and blamed it on Daylight Saving Time. On March 19, I stayed home sick from work, thinking I had a stomach bug. Dan had an intuition and brought home a pregnancy test. I ran about 20 miles this week and spent those miles trying to process what the heck was happening.
- Until Week 10 – I was miserably tired and felt sick all day, every day. I had to eat plain carbs constantly in order to not be nauseous – lots of bagels, Goldfish, and cereal. It took so much energy to go to work each day; then I would come home and lay on the couch until I moved to the bed. I averaged about 12-17 miles of running per week during this time, mostly in short increments done in effort to help give me some energy. Looking back, I’m surprised I even managed that.
- Week 11 – I turned a corner and started feeling human again. Oh my, it is so amazing to feel NORMAL after being so sick. I managed about 16 miles this week.
- Weeks 13-17 – MayAway! I felt pretty good the entire trip! I only ran a few times while we were gone (including Wings for Life in Zadar, where I went about 9 miles – this is still the longest run I’ve done since finding out I’m pregnant) but in Europe I averaged about 20,000 steps per day according to my phone. That was enough movement for me, without running, and most days I was beat by the end.
- Weeks 18-22 – I felt pretty normal, though I gained a lot of weight during this time period. Running was getting increasingly harder and more uncomfortable, but I was still doing it (slowly), averaging 10-15 miles per week. When I didn’t run, I’d go for walks.
- Week 23 – I went on my last real run of this pregnancy. Things had started to get pretty achy, especially in my pelvis and hips, but I was still trying to do short runs. Birdie, Dan, and I ran 5 miles at Sloan’s Lake on Wednesday morning and it was absolutely lovely. But then I could barely walk for the rest of the day. I had such sharp pain in my pubic bone and knew that I couldn’t keep that up. Later in the week, after the pain subsided, I tried running again for short bursts and immediately felt discomfort so decided I was done. I’m so glad that my last run could be with them!
- Week 24 – Feeling entirely nonathletic and unlike myself, I decided I needed something else to get an endorphin fix, because just walking was not going to cut it. I started going to the Golden Rec Center to either use the elliptical or swim. Both felt great! I also did a 25 minute prenatal workout video that left me sore for days. Squats and lunges, man.
- Week 25 – Today! On Monday, I spent some time on the elliptical and recumbent bike and even did a little strength training and on Tuesday, I swam. My arms got tired while washing my hair last night and I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. I’ve now gained 17 pounds and barely recognize my body when I look in the mirror, but I’ve found that I can do still things that make me feel good physically and like myself. Today, my body is tired and my pelvis is a little sore so I’m just going to walk.
Even while writing this, thoughts like, I should do yoga; I should strength train have popped into my head and I have to dismiss them. While I know there would be benefits to doing both those things, I don’t need the added pressure of another *should* right now and need to focus on what makes me feel good, mentally and physically.
I know all of this may change tomorrow, and probably definitely will at some point in the next 15ish weeks (lack of control, I’m getting used to it). But here’s where I am now, and it’s a good place. I really, really miss running with my friends and a second cup of coffee and not having heartburn. And I really, really want to meet our baby. But at some point, I might miss being pregnant too, so I don’t want to wish this time away.