A Baby Changes Everything but There’s Always Running

Since the birth of my son on June 19th, my life has changed more than I can place into words and with all that change, I’m in the process of adapting. My body feels different, my mindset is geared towards protecting my son and raising him the best I can, and my psyche is still figuring out who I am as a runner and a person.

Who am I? Well, I’m Turmeric of course. But I’m not the same Turmeric who woke up early on the weekends, drank a cup of coffee and ate a snack, picked out some cute running clothes and got her long run nutrition ready. I don’t meander off through my neighborhood for miles and miles without a care in the world. I don’t come home, shower, put on some more cute clothes, perfect my hairstyle, eat brunch only to be whisked away into the day by my husband for more carefree fun like I used to. Now I sleep when I can, shovel in my food with one hand, sneak in five minute showers, and I can’t remember the last time my hair looked good. 

I ran during my pregnancy, up until two days before I delivered William. Between the multiple wakeups at night, the long days of sitting and feeding him, rocking him, and snuggling with him — while I didn’t mind those changes, one change I wasn’t ready to make was giving up running. Even when I was huge and pregnant, my body had been used to running a few miles a day and walking all day at work. I’m used to being a mover.

In fact, in some ways I think I needed running more than ever. Postpartum hormones, sleepless nights, and lack of endorphins all changed my mood and, within days of delivery, I could feel my mind melting into darker places. Postpartum depression and depression in general runs in my family. I knew where this could go, and I wanted so badly to prevent it from happening.

While running right away is inadvisable of course, I started to walk a little the day after I delivered the little guy. I walked about a mile in the hospital by doing laps around the birthing unit. I think some of the nurses thought my husband and I were a little crazy pushing William in his bassinet with me in my hospital gown and sweatpants. But it made me feel ten-times better! We began walking around our neighborhood at home, very slowly, about a mile at a time. About two weeks in, I began going on longer walks alone with my dog, just to get out of the house for 20 minutes. A few days later, I turned that into a jog-walk. It was more like waddling some days, but man did it feel amazing to get a little sweat going!

I had asked the midwife who saw me in the hospital from my doctor’s medical group when I could begin running. Because I didn’t have a c-section to worry about healing or a particularly traumatic birth, I could ease into it when I felt ready (operative word being ease). So that’s exactly what I did. About four weeks postpartum, I ran my first almost nonstop run: four miles. So slow, so awkward, but WOW, four miles!

My husband has been really helpful, and for that, I am so very grateful. I’m still home on maternity leave, but when he comes home from a long work day, he takes over baby duty so that I can get out into the sunshine and run, or walk, or whatever I want to do that day. I know and he knows that we need to take care of ourselves. I’ve heard and have been told that we cannot love others until we love ourselves, and I really believe this is true. That 30 to 60 minutes a day makes all the difference.

You see, it’s not about pace to me at this point. It’s not only about getting fit necessarily, although that is a great feeling. It’s about my mind. My mind is the one change I could not get a grasp on after having William. I love him intensely and enjoy watching him sleep, and still cry nearly every time he smiles, even though he could simply be smiling at a piece of dust he sees floating by my face, I like to think he’s smiling at me! I love when his little arms wrap around my neck as I burp him. I would do anything for him.

But I’ve learned that in the end, I simply cannot be the mother I want to be without taking care of ME as well. And the way that I do that is through running. I can forgo the cute, well matched outfits, the perfect hair, even eating meals with two hands, but I’ll never give up running.

Over the next couple of weeks to months, I hope to build up a base and my mental strength. Postpartum running isn’t easy. I don’t feel the same way that I used to; some days my body feels awkward and out of place, while there are other days that I feel like I could go forever! But at the end of the run, I come home to be whisked into another day of mothering my beautiful baby boy and for that I am truly grateful.

I am a full-time critical care nurse, who, in my spare time, loves to pound the pavement around the west side of Cleveland, Ohio. I am originally from Wisconsin, and ran for the University of Minnesota where I learned how to run smart, healthy, and happy. I enjoy writing about my adventures in running and what I have learned from racing. I hope to be an inspiration to other women to reach high!

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4 comments

  1. I was a runner for about 5 years before I had my first baby, but it has become all that much more important to me in the 6 years since she was born! Glad you are finding your way back to the roads. 🙂

  2. Thank you so, so much for this. I’m due with my first in two months. I’m a lifelong runner, and adjusting from THAT to pregnancy has been tough (though I’m trying to keep up a little bit of running still), and wondering how that will change after baby has me so worried. This has helped ease my mind a lot.