Just over a week ago we had our second baby boy, Walter Royce Anderson, on Saturday November 24 at 4:02 pm. Being a mom can be difficult because of all of the expectations that we put on ourselves along with expectations that other people put on us, real or percieved. We have expectations for what pregnancy should be like. Before we even have the baby we can start feeling like we’re momming wrong somehow. There were a lot of times this round where I did not enjoy being pregnant, and I felt really guilty about it. Nathan told me my biggest problem was that I kept trying to do things as if I wasn’t pregnant and then I’d get frustrated that it didn’t necessarily work that way. Yep, sounds like me.
Even though I’m happy with my pregnancy and feel like I was able to do a lot, I of course feel like I could have done more. This is pretty standard for me. I ran 642 miles with Walter and strength trained weekly, and I still found myself comparing unnecessarily to women who managed to do things like run ultras or maintain longer distances during their pregnancies, as if it matters. It’s the exact opposite of advice that I give to other women. In reality I should be proud. I ran a lot, I hiked to Barr Camp on Pike’s Peak. I was doing agility ladder drills days before giving birth. I worry sometimes too about sharing these things because I don’t want to contribute to women feeling like they’re not doing enough. I want to contribute to the understanding that women are capable of doing lots of strong things throughout their journey in motherhood.
Then we give birth. I don’t know exactly why there is so much shame and comparison here but there is. Home birth vs hospital, epidural vs “natural”, cesarean vs vaginal, short vs long labor. Every labor is different and the prize at the end is the baby, but you sure would think they handed out girlscout badges or something for specific choices. There are women who really struggle with having had emergency cesareans because they feel like their birth wasn’t true to what they wanted. It can have incredibly real and intense mental consequences. I had an epidural with both of my babies, and I often (unnecessarily) feel like I have to justify it, like I have to explain how long my labor was or how many hours I pushed for. For whatever reason this time it was really hard on me. I think that’s some of it is the runner in me. I do not like feeling weak. I have a lot of anxiety issues (you can read about my pregnancy experience with that here.). That contributes to me really struggling with feeling out of control. With that, I got an epidural for the emotional piece as much as the physical. I felt panicked. I felt loud. I kept apologizing for being loud. I know that there’s no giving birth wrong, but I felt like I had done it wrong this time. I felt emotional in ways that I was really bothered by. As excited as I was to hold our little boy, I felt really embarssed about what my labor experience was like. Not just because of the labor itself, but embarrassed that it bothered me when I knew it shouldn’t. (That said, I am so grateful for our amazing Dr. and the staff at Overland Park Regional hospital. I’m really glad that’s where we’ve had both of our boys.)
We gave birth the weekend that a blizzard rolled through, so the only visitors that we had were Nathan’s brother’s family stopping by with Jules. It made for a much more restful stay in the hospital than I could have anticipated. I felt really good, until the Monday we went home. I started to over-analyze how I would manage a baby and give Jules enough attention. How would I recover this time? Will I want to start running soon, and can I? How are we going to navigate that with two kids, especially while it’s too cold for stroller running? Then I cried, randomly and more often than I’d like for a couple of days. I couldn’t articulate why well, I was just anxious about everything,
A couple of more days went by and we settled into a rhythm. Nathan has done so much to provide that. Jules is getting attention. Walter is adorable and nursing well (a whole other area of comparison for women). I’ve sat around way more than I’d ever thought I was capable of, just trying to allow myself to recover. The cold outside has kept me from trying to do too much. The timing of this has gifted me holiday activities with Jules in a way I honestly wouldn’t have made the same time for. We spent hours together while he meticulously attached candies to a ginger bread house, and it was amazing. I really am grateful of this time.
I’m also still a little anxious to be able to train and teach again This falls into comparing moms who work vs stay at home, or prioritize family vs being selfish. I have to remind myself that wanting to get running doesn’t mean wanting to get away from my family. I shouldn’t feel guilty about it, and it’s ok to talk about that between posting sweet baby pictures probably too often. I think my boys seeing me running is positive. Jules was asking if he could run another race with me recently. He wants a “new medal, and a new finish line.” I think I may have one picked out. I also have a theoretical 2019 race schedule laid out, and I’m tying to be optimistic about recovery. I’ve chosen totally different races than I’ve done in the past, focusing on the ability to train more with a stroller and a treadmill. I don’t want to need to prioritize single track for my long runs this year. I’ve also started the year with timed races so that if I’m not as recovered as I hope I can just get in the distances that my body is ready for. I’m looking forward to some new challenges. I’m going to try to continue to be inspired by women who pump while actively running during a half Ironman, or stop to breastfeed during UTMB, while still cherishing those first mile long runs.
So that’s what’s going on. For now, I’m hibernating more than usual. I’ll just be over here snuggling, nursing, and watching “New Girl.” Soon though I’ll be looking forward to adventures with my boys and continuing to mom my way.