Running and Motherhood: Post-Partum Joy

Last year, I published two stories on the topic of motherhood and running. I’m reprinting them here because whether you run – or not – they are inspiring stories written by amazing women. Read on…

By Christie O. Tate

It was like old home week at the OB’s office when I went for my six-week, post-partum checkup. I high-fived the nurses and greeted my doctor like she was a dear old aunt. I knew the drill, and put my feet in the stirrups while concentrating on making small talk with my doctor who knew my southern hemisphere as well as my husband.

“You’re all set. Everything looks great.” The doctor pulled off her rubber glove and gave me a beaming smile.

“Um, all set? What does that mean? I can go knock boots with Jeff and start power lifting?”

“Sure, you are cleared to do whatever you want.”  She stood up, ready to attend to the women who still had human beings in their bodies.

“Wait.  Can I go running?”

“Sure, just take it easy because the incision may be a little sore.”  And with that, she was gone.

When I got home with my clean bill of health, I told my husband I was going to need 20 minutes to myself at some point before the sunset. He knew I was cleared for everything, including that, so I can only imagine he thought I was going to engage in some emergency tweezing.

But my plan had nothing to do with tweezing all those pesky new hairs that appeared during pregnancy. I planned to put on my running shoes, my extra-large yoga pants, three sports bras (to avoid leakage) and go on a run.  As dusk drew near, I hovered by the window like an excited puppy with a bladder control problem waiting for Jeff to take Sadie so I could go.  When he arrived, I met him at the door and practically shoved Sadie in his arms.

“See you soon,” I cried, a little too loudly, since my iPod earbuds were already plugged in my ears.

I pushed play on my new playlist, titled “post-partum joy.” I heard Beyonce belting out an anthem and I took my first few steps. I felt awkward, like someone had switched my legs with someone who was stricken with the early stages of polio. I wasn’t sure what to do with the flapping belly that seemed to just hang off my hips. I took a few more strides.

Wow, this is kind of brutal and embarrassing. I hope I don’t see anyone I know, I thought to myself. I turned up the music up so I couldn’t hear my voice. I made it one block. Then another.  I could see the shadow of my ponytail flapping behind my bobbing head in the late afternoon sun. I smiled as I started to feel less clumsy. By the time Michael Jackson was singing The Way You Make Me Feel, I was feeling like the tin man after a good oiling. I was loosening up.

I became aware of my surroundings. I saw the old Mexican man selling elotes from a pushcart and heard the pit bull in front of the crack house bark as I ran by. I could smell the hot asphalt that was still shimmering from being baked by the sun all day. This was my first time out of the house without the baby—and I was running. It was slow going, but I was definitely running. I looked at my watch. Eight minutes had gone by. I felt free in a way that I hadn’t since the arrival of this little baby who captured my heart and stole my sleep, my sanity, my routine, and my entire old way of being.

But this experience of running to jamming tunes and feeling the endorphins kick in to buoy my whole being was familiar. I realized that I was smiling like a maniac to everyone on the street. I was not embarrassed that my belly was huge and actually making a “twap” sound as I pumped my legs.  I had a piece of myself back that I thought was gone forever.  It was the barest taste of freedom—a mere aperitif—but it both whetted and sated my appetite that afternoon.

I was back in the house after twenty minutes. I barely broke a sweat, but I was dripping with triumph.

Christie O. Tate  blogs at www.outlawmama.com

 

3 Responses to “Running and Motherhood: Post-Partum Joy”

  1. Amen to this reminder that we're women as well as moms, capable of steps small and large and deserving of time for all the things that bring us joy. This is an absolutely beautifully written essay. "Rock my world" indeed. Well done, Outlaw Mama!

  2. Ellen Stumbo says:

    Wish I would have started doing something like that for me when my babies were born. Now that my youngest is 5, I am finally doing what I love to do for excersise. It just took me a few years to figure it out! Ha!

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  1. Twap! Went My Belly: Remembering The First Postpartum Run | Outlaw Mama - [...] here at the Momoir Blog about my first run after my older child was born by C-section.  Happy running! ...

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