A friend and personal trainer I know (shout out to Jessie Mundell!) recently asked this question on her facebook page…
And the instant I saw it, without any hesitation at all, the answer just screamed at me: WEAKER.
And after the clarity that came in that quick forthcoming answer, a whole lot of not-so-great emotions spilled out after.
I’m almost 7 months postpartum with my third. And even though the physiotherapist in me can rationalize and remind me what I already know:
that healing takes time after having a baby;
that the same healing rules apply to me that apply to all my patients (especially since I’m nursing and all those hormones are definitely still influential);
and that it takes at least a year to recover from having a baby, and I would almost argue a year for every baby you’ve had (topic for another blog post, but my clinical experience is that it takes longer to recover each time you have a baby, especially as you age).
None of that helps me feel better because really this answer makes me feel sad. Sad. Disappointed.
It makes me mourn for the physical strength I had in my early 20’s. For the high level netball player I once was (I played for Canada!!!!)… for the rec ball hockey player I once was… for how I could jog without leaking pee, even if it was just running for the bus. I spent my formative teenage years playing a lot of sports and physical activity literally defined me – I went on to do my first degree in exercise physiology and then my master’s in physiotherapy. Being strong was part of my identity! Where did that girl go??? What happened to her body? How did having babies do this to me?
And after the sadness for that seemingly lost girl (if she’s not lost then she sure is far away right now), then came some resentment. And anger. Sometimes my babies – even though I love them immensely and entirely – seem like a lot of sacrifice. And if I’m not careful, that anger and resentment spiral can get pretty dark pretty quickly, and then spins out of control.
I always thought becoming a mother would make me stronger. I knew that parenting would be challenging and that I would grow emotionally and learn and be challenged in that way (and boy, that hasn’t disappointed), but I always thought I had this amazing body that would sail through pregnancies and birth big babies beautifully and easily. And then I thought I would be off running and chasing my children at the park, hiking in the outdoors with them, and coaching them at their sports.
But guess what, I had a hard time sitting up in bed today because my core is still so weak and then I sneezed and peed a little. Darn. And a lot of my birth stories aren’t what I’d dreamed they’d be, and for that I am still trying to make peace with it all and I’m still physically recovering.
Was I foolish to have those expectations for my motherhood body? Some days I sure feel a lot of sadness, resentment and anger about those unmet expectations….
Yet if I dig deep enough, I am reminded of one of my true core beliefs: THE HUMAN BODY IS AMAZING.
Surely I deserve some credit (as do you!!!) for having grown those amazing babies and gotten them out of my body and into the world. Growing and birthing babies is absolutely miraculous EVERY. TIME.
And I do believe that the body is also capable of doing amazing healing for itself, and I have seen miraculous changes that other fellow humans have experienced in rehab programs after stroke, or other serious brain injury, amputations, knee surgeries, etc. etc. etc.
So, no longer am I going to succumb to the downward spiral. This year I’m getting stronger.
I don’t think I was really prepared for what the transition to motherhood meant – spiritually, emotionally, but even physically. But I have LEARNED SO MUCH.
Mamas, let’s stop this in its tracks. If you feel a little (or a lot) like I do – like you are weaker instead of stronger after having your children, let’s make some changes. Let’s make some goals. Let’s make some plans.
We’re already moms. We already know what hard work is. WE CAN DO THIS!
And I want to know, since becoming a mother do you feel stronger? Weaker? The same? Something else?