Letter From America Part 10
Thwap-thump,thwap-thump, thwap-thump. That’s how my first few post-baby kilometers sounded.
The thwap sound was courtesy of my milk-engorged breasts bobbing up and down (I now have new respect for large-breasted female runners). The thump sound was generated as my feet connected with the pavement--it seemed as if my Nikes were filled with cement.
When I wasn’t being deafened by these new sounds, I was busy being distracted by a painful new sensation in my hips. Apparently, my joints decided to realign themselves as my daughter made her way into the world. The new configuration of my lower body made each foot strike uncomfortable.
Whatever happened to my once fluid and facile stride?
I wondered if the days were forever gone when I would lace up my shoes and spend 45 minutes running effortlessly. Running used to be a joyful experience; my body would glide along for kilometers. My husband joked that I’d make a great cat burglar because I was such a stealthy runner. A year ago, the sounds my body made were limited to the pumping of my heart and the rhythmic inhale/exhale of my breath. Now I have a constant reminder that I am exercising. Running has become hard work.
Fortunately, things have improved since those first few arduous and lethargic kilometers. Slowly, slowly my body remembers what it’s like not to be front-loaded like a mother kangaroo. The kilometers are getting progressively easier. In a sense, I’m rediscovering running. I’m starting from scratch-- building up my speed and mileage again.
I can’t fit in too much training these days so my improvement is slow. David watches the little one during the weekend as I sneak in some work outs around the seemingly end less demands of breastfeeding. And we’ve hired a sitter for a few mid-week hours allowing us to run together at least once aweek (the sitter’s hourly wage seems like a good investment in our marriage).
My dedication is paying off. After each run, I return home refreshed. Spending time on the road helps me stay centered and allows me to be the patient, focused mother I want to be. Running helps wash away those frustrating moments of parenting when nothing I attempt seems to be able toconsole my crying daughter. Within a few minutes of my run, I let go of those 4 a.m. feedings, the afternoon wailing sessions when my girl sounds like an injured cat, and the evenings when I’m home alone and she has a melt down that can’t be solved with food, a new diaper, or my soothing touch. These are the moments that test my mettle and running helps build my confidence in my abilities as a mother.
I’m adjusting to the new compromises in my life. I remind myself of all my blessings and attempt to balance a sense of self in with my new role as a care giver. Overall, I’m pleased with my progress. While my fitness level may have dipped, motherhood has been terrific for my heart in another sense. When Chiara snuggles into my neck and lets out a deep sigh of contentment as she gently eases into sleep, my heart seems to expand three times in size.