Being a new mom, having a full-time job, and training is not all butterflies and giggles. Let’s be honest, being a mom is both taxing and wonderful at the same time. I returned to work as an ICU nurse just 12 weeks after William was born last June and was just rolling with the punches. As I wrote in my last post, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 6 months after William’s birth. I always expected to be tired and that being a mom would be tough sometimes, but the disease was pushing me to a whole new level of exhaustion.
At times, the things I have yet to learn about being a parent or just life in general can be overwhelming. Before William was born, I had absolutely no idea. This little human rolls into your life and things just start happening, whether you’re ready or not. A few months ago he was laying on his back during diaper changes, laughing and smiling; now he’s halfway across the room before I even have the diaper off of his waist, trying to climb all the furniture around him.
So I’m learning. I’m learning to respect change, accept that most things are not in my control, and react more calmly. I’m learning to not just accept the “bad” changes, like dealing with RA, but to adapt in a way that creates more positive outcomes.
Making change work for me
My diagnosis of RA threw me for a loop. I still don’t have it completely under control, but I’m learning to deal with the aches and swelling through trial and error. I’m not mad at God about it anymore; ultimately the anger was just hurting me more. I’ve learned to use my diagnosis to my advantage. Specifically, I’m learning to appreciate my youth, and to do all that I can for my health. Stay active, eat better, move more, repeat. I so appreciate the days that I feel good! My running is slowly building back up, and I am treating my body like a vessel that I can shape any way that I wish.
And most recently, I’ve adapted to being a parent in a way that both scares and excites me at the same time: I started a new job.
In my old job as an ICU nurse, I worked 12 hour+ shifts and rotated back and forth between days and nights. It wasn’t so bad, pre-baby. But post-baby? Staying up all night in an adrenaline-filled environment, sleeping a few hours in the morning, and hanging out with my sweet, energetic son the rest of the day was exhausting. Throw in an RA flare, doctor appointments, and trying desperately to find a treatment, and I was utterly drained. I never saw my husband, because we were on different work schedules. Third most important to me behind the two men in my life is running. Running was taking the back burner, even though I had promised myself I would never let go of it.
I felt trapped and unhappy for many months. My husband was the one who told me to take action. If I wanted something to change, I should go and get it. So I did, and I am so much happier.
My new schedule has me on a Monday through Friday work week like much of the rest of the world. I’m up early in the morning and out mid afternoon. No more weekends, holidays, or nights. So far, I love it!
I loved a lot about my last job, including my set of skills and my coworkers. But deep down, I wasn’t happy. I think I felt that way for years. I ground through the days and nights for so long, much like running the last miles of a marathon. You just do it. It wasn’t always just a grind; it was also very rewarding at times. But in the end, there was no reward for me at the end of the day anymore. Just more bags under my eyes.
Yes, this is a running blog, so here’s the running news: I now have more time and energy for training. I even raced for the first time since last fall: a 5 miler in downtown Cleveland. It wasn’t a PR, but I felt strong and loved every second of it. I’m feeling better every day I live this “normal” lifestyle. They say normal is overrated, but right now it’s exactly what I need.
I’m building up to a half marathon at the end of this spring. My coach is slowly getting me stronger and faster again. And: I signed up for a marathon in the fall!!
In the end, I want to give out a little advice to others who are just getting by every day, feeling like you’re barely hanging on. Maybe there is another way. I’ve learned that change is scary, but for me, it was worth it in the end.
I know I’m coming from a privileged place here, and not everyone has the luxury of a supportive spouse or readily available jobs that magically fit their scheduling needs. But it’s always worth looking around to see if there’s a way to feel happier about your life. Sometimes, if we do some soul-searching to decide what we really need and want, we can go after it and get it.
Stay Salty, my friends!