I don’t know about you, but my body took a beating during childbirth. The unique combination of exhaustion and elation in the forty-eight hours immediately after Kaspar arrived distracted me from the extent to which I was hurting, but I limped my way out of the hospital and into the next week and a half.
I met another mom during Kaspar’s first pediatrician’s appointment who said she couldn’t believe I was out and about, and that she’d been so sore after giving birth to her baby that she’d stayed in bed for a week. Her baby was now six months old, and she said her body was still out of whack.
At two weeks out, I finally called the doctor out of concern that I’d thrown a spinal disc or something disastrous. I was still limping significantly, and couldn’t lie down flat on my back (something I’d been so looking forward to for the past nine months) without feeling pain. I went to get things checked out, and was told that Kaspar’s head had snapped the tip of my tailbone—which points forward before breaking—into a backwards-pointing position (“So, next time that won’t happen again”…Um, I’m not onto the next time yet, thanks). In any case, this happens fairly frequently to small people who have large babies, and the hip and back pain I was feeling were also all the normal result of pushing a baby out of a body… not an easy feat, as we all know. All I could do about any of this was to ride it out.
My doctor told me that there’s a “Rule of Two’s” that generally holds after childbirth: for the first two days, it’s as if you’ve been hit by a truck (definitely). For the first two weeks, things are pretty painful, but steadily improving (no improvements at two weeks for me, but that changed soon afterward). At two months, your body feels almost entirely normal (I didn’t tell him about the mom I’d met, but made a mental note that two months should be a good deal better, regardless).
As I exercised patience in the following weeks, slowly beginning to walk more normally, slowly stretching my back and chest out again, slowly making my way up and down stairs, I realized that I must have had some sort of subconscious belief that after delivering my baby I’d be totally ‘un’-pregnant again. I exercised throughout my pregnancy at whatever level felt comfortable, but I was antsy toward the end to do things like bend all the way forward, and bend all the way backward for that matter. I thought somehow I’d get to go running right away—sans the giant baby belly—and really feel the burn for the first time in a long time. I even ordered myself some swank new running shoes.
I went running a little too soon at six weeks out. I jogged over to the park around the corner from us and limped/ran around it, probably covering about a mile and a half. I felt so much better than I had that I decided to ignore the fact that I was running in a very weird way, and that my joints were none too pleased. I was back to limping for the duration of the following week.
I backed off, did some light yoga, and then this week—at eight weeks—I went running again. I started out slowly, and then realized I wasn’t limping. I was running normally! Now, I’m not one of those people who thinks running is the most fun thing ever (those people are kind of annoying), but after all of that time being pregnant and then recovering, it felt downright awesome. The next day, my butt was sore, but sore in a good way… not like I’d broken my tailbone.
I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but my body still feels pretty weak, and I have a weird little Jell-O belly that I’m hoping will resolve itself over the next several months (will it?). I feel ready to get strong again, though, and while I don’t have a lot of time between feeding, diapering, rocking the breast pump, having visitors and going visiting, and trying to keep the apartment at least relatively clean (and I haven’t even gone back to work yet… wow), I am excited to do so. And, I’ve learned an important lesson, once again, in patience: I’ll become physically strong again at the pace that the feeding, diapering, etc. allows.
How long did it take for you to feel normal again after giving birth? Did you feel like you’d been hit by a truck, or were you thoroughly “un-pregnant” shortly thereafter? Did you have unrealistic expectations about how you’d feel after having a baby? What did you do to get moving again? How did you get your strength back?