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Confessions & Observations: 7 months

I have been doing this mom thing for 7 months now. That’s more than half a year, which basically makes me an expert on all things running-working-mom related. At least according to the internet.

Amelia 7 months_1

So today I’d love to impart that wisdom useless information onto you.

It took 7 months of “recovery” time for me to finally run my first 30 mile week. All my talk about wanting to get right back out there, being anxious to train, and wanting to run miles upon miles again was just that — talk. When it came down to it, I took my sweet time getting back into running regularly, a fact that I do not regret in the least. And while I feel a little silly to be so excited about running 30 miles after 7 full months of not being pregnant, it’s progress!

It took me almost that long to feel like myself while running. I’d say the big shift happened between 5 and 6 months. I suddenly realized that running no longer felt awkward and the stride that felt like it belonged to someone else for so long finally came naturally again. Things were actually starting to flow, and I didn’t have to focus on keeping my pelvis tucked under me when I ran. At least most of the time (downhill continued to be a problem for awhile).

That doesn’t mean my body is back to “normal.” It probably never will be. My stomach is still soft, I still don’t have any feeling around my incision and I seem to have developed a lovely little c-section shelf. Apparently those are all the rage these days (obviously sarcastic here).

And while we’re on the subject, I still have a canyon between my abs. Because, as it turns out, when you have a significant separation between your abs, that gap does not miraculously go away on its own. Sure, I avoided stressing my rectus abdominis for a very long time (still don’t do core work – hence the soft stomach) and for a few weeks I focused on a few exercises to help mediate the problem. But if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t really give the problem the attention it deserves. So it’s either time to accept that I’m going to have a gap forever, or get serious about fixing the problem.

I am terrible (terrible!!) about cross training. Worse than ever before, really. Remember that Barre3 membership I signed up for months ago?? Well I stopped using it and forgot to cancel my membership until last weekend. Smart use of money, right?

And while we’re confessing things, it’s time to put this out there… I’m a (new) mom. I also happen to be a runner. However, that does not, in fact, make me a #motherrunner.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about in the last sentence, you’re probably better off. Look, I’m not really against the hashtag itself. I can understand the usefulness of it (to a degree) and could maybe even get on board with using it once in a while…if I didn’t see it after almost every single post in my feed on a daily basis. I mean, I get it — finding time and energy to run when this little helpless being is depending on you for survival is no easy feat. The fact that you are a mom who runs is significant and commendable.

But, really, the fact that you’re a person who runs is pretty awesome too. So could we just tone it down a little bit? Don’t know what I mean? Here’s an example:

Just ran my fastest BOB 5K ever! Baby was cheering me on #motherrunner = relevant use of the hashtag

I love my new Sauconys! Best running shoes EVER! #motherrunner = not relevant. Unless Saucony starts making shoes specifically for mother runners. In which case I will take back everything I said.

Being a #motherrunner is a cakewalk compared to being a #pregnantrunner. That’s something I’ve actually suspected for a long time. Now that I’ve experienced both, I can finally let you all in on that little secret. Yeah, logistically speaking, it’s a lot more complicated to figure out how you’re going to fit in a run or travel to a race once the baby is no longer permanently attached. But you want to know something amazing? Your body is yours again! You can push as hard as you want to! And you might even have (a little) more energy to do it.

#pregnantrunner — now that’s a hashtag I can get behind.

…and now that I’ve offended at least half of my remaining readers….

I don’t know if I can commit to a fall marathon, and I’m having a bit of an identity crisis about it. At this point, training season has started. Many popular races have already filled up, and my window of opportunity is getting smaller and smaller.

Why the internal battle? What’s the point of signing up for one if you don’t have the desire to train, you ask? Because I think that in some ways the regimented training could do me good. And honestly — when it comes to running marathons, I’m a little rusty. It’s hard to think about another year going by without a marathon in it.

But on the other hand, I just don’t think I have another non-PR marathon in me. Not that you’re ever guaranteed to PR in a race of any distance, but I’m just not sure I can commit to the level of training required to PR at this point. Call it prideful or whatever, but it’s a lot harder for me to muster the motivation to stand on yet another starting line knowing I’m not in shape to give my best effort. Getting my speed and strength back is humbling enough. I don’t need to spend over $100 to find out just how much more work I need to do to get there.

I am, however, craving speed. I raced my first 10K a couple of weeks ago (this one doesn’t count) and as painful as it was, I’m sort of hooked. I can see glimpses of that speed coming back and I want more. There have been so many times in the past where I’ve told myself I was going to take a break from marathons and focus on shorter distances instead, and I’ve just never done it. So maybe this fall is finally the time?

Sunrise runs are actually kind of peaceful. Even though it’s always too foggy around here in the early morning to actually see it.

 I don’t think I’ll ever truly love being a morning runner, and I certainly don’t love how slow I am at the crack of dawn, but there’s something so calming about hitting the pavement before most of the world is awake. What I can’t figure out, though, is how people do speed work before 6:00AM? One foot in front of the other in a shuffling motion is about all I can muster.

With the exception of running while pregnant, I’d say running first thing in the morning before nursing/pumping has got to top the charts for most uncomfortable running experiences. Why yes, I could wake up earlier to pump (I refuse to wake up the baby to nurse before I run just for my own personal comfort), but I’m just not that dedicated. I tell myself the discomfort will make me mentally tougher. Either that, or it’s a sure recipe for mastitis. I’ll keep you updated.

Running with the stroller? Also difficult. Especially in the summer heat. I do love running with Amelia though, and I just keep telling myelf pushing a stroller up hills is only going to make me stronger.

stroller runI swear there is a stroller in this photo…

I tweeted this the other day but it’s worth repeating. It’s my third summer running in Vermont. And even on the hottest, most humid of days, I can still say that I would much rather run up a mountain than through the middle of the city…even if the route was perfectly flat. There’s just something about that fresh mountain air.

It took nearly 7 months, but I finally ran without a shirt. I know women are on both ends of the spectrum here — some do it all the time and others refuse. The important point is that I have done it many times before, and even had a few very hot, shirtless runs during pregnancy. But, you know, things are a lot larger and softer in that area now, and I’ve been way too self-consious to bare my tummy since.

Except on Sunday it was hot and humid and the shirt I was wearing felt so stifling. So after 3 miles of ridiculous internal debate, I finally whipped that thing off. And you know what? Not only did I instantly feel so much better, but the world didn’t come crashing down at the sight of my soft belly. Imagine that.

Koli_river pupNot really a relevant photo. Except to show that on this particular day, it was also hot. 

Being a working mom is an absolute roller coaster. Some weeks I actually love being at work. Love the stimulation, the creativity, the adult interaction and responsibility. And then other weeks I absolutely dread it. I have a hard time focusing and find myself in a rut of self-pity and guilt that I can’t be there with Amelia all day (and am giving her over to strangers to “raise”). I’m 99.9% sure stay at home moms feel the same way about their own situation from time to time. So I guess I can just say that being a parent (and all the decisions that go along with it) is hard. This is groundbreaking information, obviously.

Being a parent is also the best. I know I talk about Amelia all the time, and spam Instagram and Twitter with her pictures, but I really can’t help it. I have never been more exhausted, anxious, worried, humbled, or felt more out of my league than I have every day for the past 7 months. But I’ve really never been happier. I know that probably sounds crazy to you…it barely makes sense to me. The truth is that I’ve never felt joy like this; never known love like this. Never truly thought it was possible that this little person who can’t even talk yet could have such a grip on my heart.

Amelia 7 months

Another thing I didn’t know was possible? How a baby who can’t even crawl yet can get into so much! Her reach is incredible. And she never sits still. I used to joke that my baby would come out running…now I’m starting to fear that’s coming true.

Amelia_office move

43 Responses to Confessions & Observations: 7 months

  1. I 100% relate to you on the working mom roller coaster. I have a daughter who is 6 months. A day can start out fine, but then half way through I just want to be home!! It’s rough! And sometimes it is as simple as recognizing that this *is* hard – harder than anything I’ve ever done – but also more amazing than anything too!

  2. This might not make sense because my baby might wake up at any moment…
    I love this post – I hate the hashtag #motherrunner as well almost as much as I hate #fitpregnancy.
    Since you’re 4 months ahead of me ‘mother-wise’ – it’s cool to read your posts and have a little bit of an idea of what is coming. (though I’m super lucky and don’t have to go back to work until March).
    I totally agree that life feels like a roller coaster – luckily for me though, so far the highs have been higher than the lowest of lows.

    • Yes! The highs are so much higher than anything else. And makes it all worth it…even on the hardest days. Enjoy all your time off – so nice that you can take a long leave. I’m sure it won’t be easy to go back then either, but there was just something so heart-wrenching about leaving her when she was so tiny (and 12 weeks really is so tiny still!)

      Ugh and you reminded me how much I hate #fitpregnancy too.

  3. Love, Love, LOVE this post and you couldn’t describe things better…as a now-SAHM, my mind is one run-on pattern of thought so here goes! Morning runs without feeding/pumping? NO way, Ever. I just realized the other day that I’ll need to hand pump at the Staten Island start village in November…signing up for a fall marathon was definitely not the smartest decision!
    People who use hashtags to be cutesy and trendy cause me to bite my tongue hourly.
    Short races are the key to comeback! I previously hated 5k’s but now use them as Speedwork and an ease back into racing and the search to find the lost competitive drive and push to test out the fitness level.
    Anyway, amazing post and a keeper since you couldn’t have said anything better!

    • Yeah running before pumping is probably really dumb (and a form of unnecessary torture)…but when it comes down to 15 minutes of extra sleep, I’ll take the discomfort. 😉 A lot of times I will pump right before going to bed at night which seems to help a little in the morning.

      Good luck figuring out the pump/start village situation!! That’s the main reason why I wanted to avoid large marathons when I was looking at running one this fall. But hopefully it all works out, and I’m sure running NYCM will be more than worth it!

  4. Love this post, love your honesty and following along on your journey. I’m not a mother nor do I know if I ‘want’ to be a mother but this post was simply great. Plus your child is adorable so there’s that.

  5. Hahaha, yes #motherrunner…I couldn’t agree more! Not offended, I only love you more!

    As for marathon training, you don’t HAVE to run a marathon this fall. You don’t have to do anything! Do what feels right and what you feel up for. Maybe train to race a half or even a really fast 5k! Orrrr….you know, you should probably definitely come to Rehoboth Beach and run the half there!! There is still PLENTY of time to train!

    Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks!
    Steph´s last post ..NYCM Training: Week 2

  6. I’m having a baby any day now and have really enjoyed reading along with your journey. I also follow you on instagram and can’t get enough of your sweet baby girl. I will be heading back to work about 12 weeks after this baby is born and will also be trying to get back into running at some point so your experiences are really interesting to me.

    • So exciting!! Best of luck to you! I hope you get to meet your little one soon and everything goes well with delivery and recovery.

  7. I swear, I don’t ever gush about other peoples’ babies on the internet, but AMELIA! She is so adorable. Those eyes!! I love when your posts pop up in my reader and I get to keep up with what you are up to and how you are doing. And I also LOVE your comments about the #motherrunner hashtag. You are spot on. xo
    Corey´s last post ..Building

  8. Yes, yes and yes on the mother runner hashtag thing! This post is so great and let’s me know that there is someone else out there with the same feelings and struggles!

    • Yes…although I will say the running thing does get easier with time. So hang in there – one day it will all click again!

  9. Is it bitchy for me to say don’t run a marathon this fall? Trying to run fast and PR a marathon within a year of giving birth is a recipe for disaster…especially given your admission of difficulty with cross-training and core work. Just why? Don’t do it.

    Run those fast 5 and 10Ks. Totally different demands on time, family and body that satisfy the desire for fast running, need for training, and reduced train wreck possibilities.

    End of PSA :)

    You’re doing a great job of juggling it all. Thanks so much for sharing your process and #JOURNEY with us 😉 And please spam away…she is the cutest. Her eyes swallow the world.
    MILF Runner´s last post ..Just your average “how it’s going” post…

    • Well…maybe coming from anyone else it would be….
      (I kid)
      So I absolutely agree with you. Even if I were to run a marathon (which is looking pretty unlikely at this point), it would NOT be to try to PR. Way back when I was pregnant and itching to run, I thought a PR marathon in the fall would be no problem. Now that I’ve come to my senses, the only reason I’d run one would be to get the distance under my belt again.

      Okay…I’ll admit that really isn’t really a great reason either. Which is why I’ll probably skip the marathon this year and (maybe) try in the spring instead.

  10. Thank you for your honesty regarding your c-section. Why is it that prior and post to having one, I’ve yet to hear anyone talk about the loss of feeling at the incision and the recovery that comes along with the major surgery. Wow. Running after having a c-section is seriously different and I’d love to not have the ‘shelf’ you mentioned!

    • I don’t know!! I didn’t realize that could happen until after I had one either. I actually wish that more women would feel comfortable discussing their c-sections (and all that goes along with it)…might help others feel more prepared for one and take away some of that (unfortunate) sense of shame many feel afterward.

      And in terms of the shelf- it’s very small, but I really think it’s from the fact that I still don’t have a lot of feeling in that area (maybe combined with my diastasis recti). Hopefully the nerves will regenerate and it will eventually go away.

  11. Maybe there needs to be a support group (or secret club) for those who hate those ridiculous #motherrunner #fitpregnancy hashtags? How about #workingmompumpingrunner Lol.

    I say skip the marathon this fall if you’re not into it. Maybe wait until you’re done pumping? (it really does take A LOT out of you) I do think you could kick some real ass with some half marathons!

    Yay for feeling more like yourself again. It’s only going to get better :)

    PS – Amelia is soooooooo cute.
    Michelle´s last post ..Volunteering at Second Harvest

    • Haha I like #workingmompumpingrunner. Let’s make that trend.

      Yeah at this point I’m leaning toward running a couple of half marathons this fall instead. The training and the race distance would be a lot more manageable!

  12. I have been following your blog for several months. I can relate to everything as a mom to a 3 y/o and 8 month old. It has taken me a long time to get into running shape and I’m still not there. Your post is inspiring but also reminds me that it’s OK and to take as long as I need mentally and physically. I was debating on a fall marathon but have decided to focus on speed this year. I’m old school, give 100% or not at all and to be honest, I can’t commit. I never thought I’d find something that gives me more joy than running but I did, it’s the joy I get from being a mom. Thanks for your honesty in your posts.

    • Yes – totally can relate to that philosophy! I don’t really like doing races just to complete them. I know it’s all relative and I’m not ever expecting to win, but I want to know that I fully committed to the training and gave it my best effort on that day. Thanks for your comment. :)

  13. Totally love your blog. My pre-pregnancy paces were similar to yours and my 3rd (and final) baby was born a month after Amelia. So even though you don’t know me, I totally feel like we’re making a comeback together. I am going for a fast half-marathon this fall. I really wanted to follow a plan that would ensure I was upping my mileage and including speedwork, but I knew I couldn’t commit to a full.

    Also I totally relate to the working mom roller coaster of emotion.

    • Thank you Rachael! It’s nice to have the virtual support on this long and slow comeback.

      I think a fast half marathon is a great plan and honestly I’m leaning that way as well. The training seems much more manageable at this point, and it would be nice to focus on getting that speed back before I attempt another full.

  14. I’m not even close to children, so I have nothing substantive to add about running, but I just wanted to say that Amelia is precious! I think that its good you’re taking your time coming back from pregnancy/major surgery (because that is what a c-section is), and I don’t think you should set yourself up for needless disappointment. I’m coming back from a foot injury, and I’m not even planning on running more than a 10k until February. (Part of that is summer training in the south is miserable.
    elizabeth e´s last post ..What I Ate Wednesday: July 21

    • Thank you! Good luck with your recovery! And I can’t even imagine training through the humidity in the south. It’s hard enough for me up here in Vermont!

  15. I can’t stand the #motherrunner hashtag either! And I really don’t get it….I’m proud that I have (finally!) figured out a way to train consistently with babies, but I don’t think I’m better than anyone else because of it. Most runners out there have other demands on their time and schedules and find a way to fit running in, so are they supposed add #travelingconsultantrunner to their posts? #rantover

    I am also with you on early morning speed work! I happen to love running in the morning, but kind dread speed work, I always end up thinking how much easier it would’ve been to do it by mid-morning when I’m more awake. Amelia is super cute!!!
    Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen´s last post ..What I’m doing differently this training cycle

    • Haha! Seriously. That’s my biggest gripe with the hashtag as well. This implication that because have children (which was a choice!) and still run, we’re somehow overcoming more obstacles than the “average” childless runner.

      And the fact that you even attempt speedwork in the early morning is impressive. I really want to start stepping up my training which means I need to eventually do more than my slow morning crawls.

  16. Lauren, another great blog. I am actually excited that you crave spread. I think that at your current age, you have some great 5 and10k PR potentials.

    I laughed at your hash tag jokes. I did not even know they existed, but am not surprised. I won’t even mention how I feel about this constant need to draw attention to themselves this generation has. You may have heard it before from me, ha.

    Keep writing great blogs.
    Love, #ncgrandpahanginginalaskawithmynewgrandaughter

    • No, I don’t think you’ve ever given me your thoughts on that before. I’d love to hear them sometime!

      And you forgot a few things – #hikingcyclingamazingncgrandpa

  17. First of all Amelia is adorable! Those eyes are so precious. While I dont have children yet, I wanted to say thank you for sharing your experiences and journey. I love when women are honest and upfront about what is in store when it comes to pregnancy and newborns.

    Training for a marathon is a huge mental game. Think about all your body and mind have been through in the last year. As frustrating as the process is don’t forget you’ve done amazing things and being a new momma is hard work. If a fall marathon doesn’t feel 100% right, then you will always have future marathons. Enjoy your time with your daughter and let you and your body adjust. When the time is tight you’ll know. Whatever you decide it is ultimately up to you and no one else. I’ll be reading along either way! 😉

    • Thank you Sarah! Appreciate your comment and the perspective. I think the desire to do one comes from the part of me that just automatically associates summer running with fall marathon training. But the more time that goes by, the more I realize that my heart isn’t in it…and there’s no point in doing one if that’s the case!

  18. Add me to the I hate #motherrunner and #fitpregnancy group.
    Lee´s last post ..Last Week in Meals

  19. 1. LOVE this post. 2. Amelia is GORGEOUS and should be a baby model. 3. Listen to your body, your heart and pick the distance that feels right for the fall. The good news is the marathon isn’t going away anytime soon. 4. yes, yes, yes about the hashtags. SO many of them are overused….and this is one of them. you won’t lose me as a reader!

  20. Oh man, as I’m sure you know, I’m on the other side of the #motherunner fence. Only because I hate, hate, HATE the “I don’t have time to exercise now because I have kids” excuse that I hear from people every.single.day. Well, I don’t have time either — I make time (I don’t make dinner though so that’s how I get that extra time haha). Grrr. End rant. I totally see where you’re coming from, though, and get how it’s annoying to people!

    How on earth do you run before pumping? You poor thing! Could you try dream feeding Amelia first thing in the morning? That’s what I do then pump. Seriously, girl I don’t know how you do it. Ouch!

    Amelia is seriously the cutest baby. Her eyes kill me!
    Jen´s last post ..The bottle saga: part 2

  21. Not much to add from all the other commenters above. About the diastis recti, I have no suggestions either. I have a mild form of it but didn’t really realize until I got pregnant with #2 and then had a mild heart attack thinking I was pregnant with twins as there were two sort of bumps going on. At the end of the day, if things don’t heal naturally there is always surgery but I think (well for me anyways) I’d wait until I’m done having kids as I’m sure the canyon will get bigger or change shape with each kid.
    Jade´s last post ..Weeks 30-32

  22. Agree 100% on all accounts!
    Lori´s last post ..One year…and some updates.

  23. yes to ALL of this. some days i feel like superwoman and other days i can barely shower.

    i HATE the #motherrunner. it needs to go away forever.
    kristy´s last post ..lately and lesson learned

  24. Lauren,
    You make running seem so relatable and the way you write is so honest, I love coming to your site and reading what you have to say. Hashtags like #fitpregnancy, #motherrunner, etc need to take a humble look at themselves and realize they don’t need to brag like that to anybody, because nobody cares. Amelia is so darn cute, too! I look forward to reading more of your journey!
    Hayley in Training´s last post ..Wearing Hats Keeps Me Cool

  25. Oh my, Amelia is gorgeous!

    My wife, Louise, is now 4 months pregnant, and she’s been so tired that exercise is like on the other side of the world for her, and I cant even imagine her being #pregnantrunner, much less doing any exercises – she’s so tired!

    How did you keep running?

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