I did CrossFit through both of my pregnancies up until the day I delivered. At 39-weeks pregnant, I was doing “Fran” at a slower pace, sure, but I was still in there managing 65lb thrusters just fine.
What Everyone Tells You Post Baby Will Be Like
Everyone in the gym with me would be in awe. They would pat me on the back and tell me how easy labor would be, how strong I would be post baby, and how fast my body would bounce back. When you’re pregnant you forget about all of your previous body issues. Instead it is all taken up with “holy crap my belly is e.nor.mous” and the thought that once that baby pops out you will be back to normal.
You go into the delivery room thinking, “This is going to be easy” (especially the second time around). You think that the baby weight will come right off. I gained 25 pounds with each of my pregnancies. So, I thought I would leave the hospital just fifteen pounds up from my pre-pregnancy weight. I thought my stomach would bounce back and my fitness would carry me through. That’s what everyone told me at least.
But no one told me that my stomach would feel like dough. Literal dough. For weeks. Months, really, if I’m going to be honest. Talk about disheartening. All those knee raises, and for what?
The Reality of Your Body After Pregnancy
No one talks about after the baby. They don’t talk about how hard it is to take six weeks off post baby. They don’t talk about how much of a shock it is when you hit your first workout, thinking you should be able to do what you did when you were nine-months pregnant. I mean, seriously, how can the same workout be harder when that bundle of joy isn’t in you anymore?
No one mentions the bitter reality when you realize your body is not following your brain and when your muscles fatigue at the simplest movements. They don’t tell you how long of a road coming back is and how much that just flat out fucks with your head.
After my first child, it took me almost three years to feel great again, to feel like I was in it, like I was crushing the workouts and lifting heavy weights. Three years. In fact, the month I started to really feel good in the gym, I found out I was pregnant again.
My littlest is now four months old. You might imagine that I would know the ropes this time. That I would know the mind games and the truth about those last ten pounds. You would think I would be okay with seeing my one-rep-max drop – by ten percent.
You would think.
Where I Am Today, Post Pregnancy
But the truth is, when you’re pregnant, you feel great. You’ve got sleep under your belt, you’ve got the time to workout, and your body just plain loves you (well, sort of). But after that baby is pushed through you, all bets are off. Running isn’t comfortable, double unders make you pee, and your lifts leave something to be desired.
When I looked like I swallowed a beach ball everyone told me, “Don’t worry, you will come back stronger.” I’m still waiting for that “stronger” moment. My tested deadlift today was the same weight that I lifted almost five years ago.
Everyone gives me excuses. Yeah, I’ve got two kids now. I get that. I get that life has changed and it will (in theory) come back. But while you are on the path back, it sucks. It sucks to feel like the last five years of training have been for naught, and to feel alone, and tired. It sucks to wonder when you will have your energy back, or when lifting will be true personal records again.
The hardest part, though, is that no one talks about fitness post pregnancy, or the long haul back to where you were. They just say you will come back stronger. But when is that comeback? Does it ever really happen?
I could end this on a more positive note, on a more go-get-‘em attitude, like the stuff I write to encourage everyone to meet their goals. But today? Today I just don’t have that in me.
Today I am going to lament of days past with all the new mamas out there. I’m going to kiss my little ones and thank the stars for their precious little smiles I know I couldn’t live without. Today I’m going to trade in my one-rep-max for a few more snuggles and plan for tomorrow to be better.
Photos courtesy of CrossFit LA.