I am a runner. I’m not fast or talented, or even an accomplished runner. In fact, by some definitions, I’m just a jogger. But it’s how I see myself. As a runner…and a mom.
As a running mom I have done a number of ridiculous things. I’ve run with a jogger stroller or a double stroller, stopping mid-run to swing or slide at the playground. I’ve trained and raced while breastfeeding (not at the same time). Often I wake in the early morning hours to squeeze in a workout. My post-run routine usually includes packing lunches, and my breakfast is the carrots or apples required in each lunch bag. However, there is something I haven’t done, or rather stopped doing – I did not run during my pregnancies.
Recently, I saw it in a magazine again. “She ran through each pregnancy.” “She ran until the day before she delivered.” On and on and on; the magazines seem to overflow with women who didn’t skip a beat while expecting. But not me; I skipped a lot of beats while pregnant.
As a little background, I have had six babies in thirteen years which means I have had a lot of time to think about my decision. I did have one glorious pregnancy when I ran until I was six months pregnant and power-walked my way into labor, but after that nothing was easy while expecting. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t blame the running for my subsequent gestational problems, most of the time. Each pregnancy would start with a vow to stay active, but then the problems would start and I would be advised to “take it easy,” “limit your activity,” or “just do less.” I’m not preaching that no woman should run while pregnant. I’m just saying that sometimes you don’t, and that’s okay.
I didn’t learn this lesson with grace or ease. Once while describing a concern I had after a short bike ride, my perinatologist (not the run-of-the-mill OB, but a specialist for high risk pregnancies) disapprovingly glanced up from the ultrasound and said, “You probably shouldn’t do that anymore.”
Nevertheless, I have learned something about patience and investment. So many times in my pregnancies, I had no control of our fate, mine and my little passenger. I have read the different articles arguing whether limiting your activity helps a pregnancy succeed, but running was one facet of my life that I could control and sacrifice for each child. As one doctor told me, it was better to err on the side of caution. Slowly, I have learned that in the end, it’s only six or seven months of my life. Running waits for you, the stroller is there and your shoes still fit.
Family is about investing time, energy, and love. Pregnancy is the beginning of that investment and sometimes it requires a bigger commitment than we planned. But after six kids, I know they are worth it.
As I came out of my six-week post-baby appointment, I saw a flyer on the receptionist’s desk for a Thanksgiving Day run my obstetrician was sponsoring. Right then I told myself I was going to run that race- next year. So this Thanksgiving, I slipped the turkey into the oven and lined up for the 10K. Then, I came home, scooped the baby up in my arms, and started cooking. Did I mention I was hosting Thanksgiving? Just another day in the life of a running mom.
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