Allow me to begin very honestly: the last year has been the hardest year of my life. I feel guilty even admitting this because compared to billions of other people in the world, I am right up there at the top with the few who have it very, very good. I know I've got a very good thing going on for me. I know that. But that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to be real about my personal struggles, and let me tell you, there have been times in this past year that have totally sucked.
The lead up to, and experience of, Charlee's birth was tumultuous and I've written about it pretty extensively. I still stick firm to my conviction that I never want to go through a birth like that ever again. I have cried a lot of tears in the last year, probably more than I've ever cried in my whole life combined. This time last year all I could think about was how badly I just wanted to go for a run.
Running. Four and a half years ago I was not the person who would be itching to go for a run! I hated running up until four and a half years ago and the only reason why I signed up for a 5k race was because I decided that anyone could run 5k and I might as well try to get over my hatred for running. So I registered for the race, didn't train at all, did the 5k (it sucked) and then...kept running. I kept running after that race was done because I wanted to see if I could do more. I did a 10k race, a mini triathlon, a few more races here and there and then I was hooked. When I found out I was pregnant with Charlee I was ten weeks into training for what was supposed to be my first half marathon and I decided to stop running because I suffered a prenatal hemorrhage. I took a week off work post-hemorrhage and pretty much sat on the couch the entire time. I was terrified to move. Before I found out I was pregnant I was in the best shape I'd been in since I quit rhythmic gymnastics at age 16. It was glorious. I felt incredible.
Fast forward to November 2014, Charlee was born safe and sound (thank God), but my body was a disaster zone. I had some crazy pre-eclamptic blood pressure going on and was on drugs until the New Year to control it. I was fearful I would never run again. My mind, spirit and soul were also kind of messy. I felt completely betrayed by my physical body that had essentially developed an allergic reaction to being pregnant (I asked my midwife if describing my experience as a weird allergic reaction to pregnancy was a good descriptor and she said it was). In 35 weeks I gained 35 pounds and I looked fabulous when pregnant...but not so fabulous when no longer pregnant. This is where all the mamas reading this are like, "Yeah, girl, we sooo know!" I lost 25 pounds immediately after Charlee was born and then by the time she was two months old I had gained it all back and then some. That whole, "Keep breast feeding and you'll drop the weight!" thing just did not work for me (surprise, surprise, that would be way too easy!) Guys, I had back rolls.
But bless those back rolls. Realizing those back rolls on January 4th, 2015 was a turning point for me. I had vowed to Joel in the hospital, among my IVs, staples, stitches, gargantuan tummy, bruises and blood that I would never let Charlee hear me bash my body. Never. Yes, I want her to know about my eating disordered past and how unhappy it made me for years, because that past is a major part of how far I've come today. I remember sobbing (so much) in those early days after Charlee's birth, saying to Joel, "But I have come so far!" as I started to feel the disappointment and shame surrounding my body roll on in. Little did I know, losing weight is very hard. I've never had to deliberately lose weight before and I had no idea what was in store for me.
It's been almost ten months since Charlee was born and eight months since I started to "run" again (I put run in quotations because it was actually a walk with a few ten second intervals of very slow running). I've lost 22 pounds and have 13 more to go to get to my pre-Charlee weight, but guess what? As it turns out...I'm the strongest I've ever been in my whole life. My physical body might not completely show off that strength yet, but I can feel it. I just ran 21 kilometers! And I worked so hard to get here. I feel like an athlete again, which I now realize is something I was desperately missing. I've also been working on overhauling my nutrition and that has worked wonders for me.
Ten months ago I knew I'd be running a half marathon, but I didn't know how much work it would be to actually get to the finish line. I now feel like I can conquer anything and that feels sooo good. Of course, I couldn't have achieved my reclaimed state of body-appreciation without the help of a few key players. My mom watched Charlee for me so I could run back in February and March, when it still got dark at 6pm, so after work hour runs were out of the question. My sister introduced me to her gym and convinced me to get a membership there and now we go crush some serious fitness goals twice a week in spin and cardio burnout (and when my sister works out she gives it her all...it's terrifying to be on a bike next to her!). My friend, and fellow mama, Daylinn has been my accountability partner since September 2014 when we decided to register for SeaWheeze together and then continued to update one another after every single workout. And of course Joel is among the key players. Joel has dealt with me passing off Charlee to him as soon as he walks in the door from work, so that I can head to the gym or hit the pavement. He's dealt with my really long Saturday morning runs. He's encouraged me to eat more protein, literally kicking me off the couch sometimes to go make a protein shake. All in all, he's been an incredible support during this whole journey. And my Charlee girl. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel toward you, sweet girl. The song I sang you while pregnant, while hospitalized, and on nearly every car ride we've had together since then came on my playlist around kilometer 17, when I had just mentioned to Daylinn that I was starting to "feel it". We were about to head under Lion's Gate Bridge and I pointed out to Daylinn where you were born and suddenly the music for our song came on. I stopped dead in my tracks, sobbing, and then continued running with tears streaming down my face. What a divine intervention - having our song come on as I ran past North Vancouver, on a run I was led to do because of you. I put my hands up in the air (while running) and singing "You make me brave" along with the music. I was so proud of you in that moment and all you endured in order to arrive safely in the world. You do, indeed, make me brave every single day.
I'm not at the weight number I want to be at yet, but all of my pre-Charlee clothes fit again. I don't cry every few days about our horrific birth story, but I still find myself bursting into tears occasionally (sometimes seemingly for no reason). I don't blame my body anymore for how things ended up, but I still am terrified of ever getting pregnant again. This year has been crazy in all kinds of ways. I couldn't have done SeaWheeze without my people. This whole experience was a tremendous healing opportunity for me, thanks for being there by my side the entire time. Love you guys.
|Taking part in the massive yoga class the night before SeaWheeze.|
|Warming up together!|
|Post-run celebration brunch, Daylinn and her sweet girls.|
|My own sweet girl, waiting for me at the end. She even skipped her nap so she wouldn't miss out! How kind of her!|