When I first heard about Life After Birth I was immediately interested. I read Nina’s breathtaking, honest and beautiful story and was touched. I remember thinking, “Wow, she looks so strong and happy though”. It made me really think about women, or maybe just me, but the need to make everyone else think that eveything is ok. Yes, I just had a baby and my life is amazing and awesome, but my life has also forever changed. Sometimes things are not ok.

I knew I wanted to contribute to this project but I wasn’t really quite sure what I wanted to say. I didn’t really think I had a postpartum story. Everyone that was a part of my life during the 9 months of my pregnancy knows that I hated every minute of it. I was tired. I cried all the time. My moods swung faster then a kid on a swing set. I snapped at co workers, friends, and my poor husband. At the end I felt huge and often told my husband I felt frumpy. I took naps at work under my desk on a yoga mat after lunch because I just didn’t have the energy to stay awake for the second half of the day. I was uncomfortable and hot (thank you super hot June and July!). But then, July 25, 2010, after a batch of kidney stones and a weekend in the hospital, my beautiful baby Tyler was born. He couldn’t be more perfect and I couldn’t have been more happy.

I spent another two days in the hospital and then went home with my husband, our new son and my mom. I had fully prepared myself. I prepared to cry alot for no reason. I prepared to freak out and wonder, “what the hell have I done?”. I prepared for breastfeeding to be the worst experience of my life and to hate every minute of it, but to deal with it because I knew that’s what was best for my son (in my opinion). I was prepared to watch for signs of depression and then not let it get too bad. Maybe it’s because I work in the mental health field and so I’m used to seeing the new moms come in for help, or maybe it’s because everyone drills it into your head that you might be depressed after having the baby, and its ok. Days went by, my husband went back to work, my mom went home and Ty and I figured out our little routine. I had a home health nurse come in weekly to check in on us and make sure we were ok. Everytime he came, it was always the same, “we are great, things are going so well, I’m really happy”. Breadfeeding was amazing and I loved every minute of it. I wasn’t crying too much over little things and I loved being a mom. All the things I had worried about never happened. So when Nina asked for stories for her project I didn’t really feel like I had one to tell. My life was good… and then it hit me this morning. I typically get upat 3:30am to run, I spend from 4-530 or so running 5 days a week before work. This morning I dragged my butt out of bed, feeling tired but knowing that I wanted to go to the gym. I got there, ran 2 miles and decided to go home. I just wasn’t feeling it. My head wasn’t in the run. So I went home and tried to get some more sleep which I was unsuccessful at. I laid there in bed thinking about Nina and this post and my running when it finally hit me, I realized what has plaqued me even to this day since Tyler was born.

While I was fully prepared to be a mental head case after birth, I was not prepared for what being pregnant and having a baby would do to my body. I’ve been lucky enough in my life to be a small women (5′ 5″ 125-130 depending on how much ice cream ive had). I’ve never battled weight issues and always been prefectly content with my body. I had no problems laying on the beach in a bikini in the summer or running in shorts and a sports bra. Growing up in the theater I’d even change in front of a crowd of people back stage with no problems. I ate what I wanted and felt blessed to have a good metabolism. I knew my body was changing during pregnancy but I really expected it to go back to its normal self after Ty was born. Hello reality check… wrong! I gained 50 pounds while pregnant topping out the sale at 180. After having Ty and all the water weight etc was lost I was still sitting there 30 pounds heavier then when I started. Hmmmm. I still felt frumpy and hello hips and stretch marks, where did you come from? These are not qualities I was exactly excited to share with the world when I went to the beach, or out for a run. These were the things that didn’t just go away magically after Ty was born. For a long time I just dealt with it. I never said anything to anyone. When you’re a fairly small women, telling people that you feel fat or don’t like how your body looks, you don’t often get positive or sympathetic feedback. Its typically something like “you’re so tiny, stop complaining”. Yes, they were right, I am small but I’m also different now. My body is different now and it feels really weird. For this reason I just chose to keep my thoughts to myself. I almost felt bad for thinking so negatively of my new body. When people took pictures of me I tried to suck in my stomach as best as I could because I felt like I still looked like I was 3 months pregnant, 12 months after I delivered. I joked about it with friends, but I still wore maternity tank tops and shirts for a long time. I dressed frumpy because I felt frumpy. This was (and still is) so weird to me because I’ve never felt this way about my body. I’ve always been comfortable and now my body has changed and it’s not going to ever be the same one I had before I got pregnant. It really took me a good 2 years to finally come to terms with this. To talk about it with my best friends and to be honest that I didn’t like what I looked like for the first time in my life.

I really had no idea that running is something that would be so beneficial to me in so many ways, it ended up being a huge blessing in disguise.  I didn’t get into running until shortly before I got pregnant (Infact, the day after my first half marathon I found out I was pregnant). I stopped running entirely when I got pregnant and took it back up again after I had Ty. It was my “me” time. It provided me clarity and time with my own thoughts. I’ve never have and still don’t run to loose weight, I run because I love it and I love the freedom it brings to me. However, as I started to get more serious about it, I started running more. I went from running 20 miles a week to 50 miles a week. I started running marathons and ultramarathons because I loved to push myself. Run faster then I did last time or further then I ever had before. Personal success that made me feel good. The more I ran, the more the pounds I shed and before I knew it, I was back to pre baby weight. I wanted to scream outloud, I felt so great. It took me a solid year and a half to get there, but I did it. I’m sure it would have come sooner if I had put down the ice cream and french fries… but hell no. I felt like I was starting to get control back over my body. Since then, I’ve maintained the same 127lbs but I’m losing inches and I’m starting to feel better about who I am and what this new body of mine looks like. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I now have hips that aren’t going anywhere. I still have that little baby gut with stretch marks and putting on a bikini still freaks me out a bit, but I’m getting there. Like I said, these were feelings I’ve never had before and I didn’t really expect them to hit me like they did.