Friday, October 26, 2012

Getting Thy Body Back

Pregnancy is a state of being that requires sacrifice.  During both of my children's gestations, I wondered how women did this in earlier times and under harsher circumstances like wars, westward expansion, The Great Depression and before husbands participated in the daily parenting work.  Undeniably, I am thankful every day for living in the 21st century.

As the vessel for these new creatures and wholly responsible for their incubations, giving up control was a small price to pay for a healthy outcome.  Many women can function at high levels right up to delivery and enjoy pregnancy immensely.  But I was NOT one of those ladies.  It's probably because I'm on the small side so the physical discomfort and the loss of "control" over my body started quite early. Plus with fertility assistance, my body was not my own well before the pregnancy even started.  But once each kid was out and physically "untethered," the invisible cord of breastfeeding took over.  Though in our case, it was more like a tractor beam of pain and suffering until I weaned them at 6 weeks, so again, thank you 21st century options (i.e. formula).

The number one priority for my own sense of normalcy in the post-partum world was to restore my body as my own.  Maybe that sounds a little selfish but I would have these fantasies while pregnant that I was back in Zumba class, bringing my B+ game (since my A game left me when I turned 32ish).  The ability to dance, feel fit and be just...agile--I was really looking forward to it.  It could all be a product of my age and being an older mom.  Friends who are also older moms and I discuss how much easier it must be for a younger mom.  They have bodies that can bounce back faster, energy levels that have not been dampened by the world and less time to grow inflexible--a major roadblock to giving up control easily.

Time ends up being the biggest prerequisite for the things I do to earn my body back.  It's not something in abundance these days but a healthy/happy mom = healthy/happy family so making some time and space for myself is vital.  Like the wisdom of every airplane safety announcement you've ever heard: "secure your own oxygen mask before you help someone else with theirs."  Same is true for happiness and well being.

Some of the things I've found to reclaim my body and sanity are:

  • Yoga for Moms: This program is just for moms who all understand the joys and grind of motherhood.  It's a safe space one night a week to recharge and go inward.  And in the 12 years I've been doing yoga, it is led by one the best teachers (Jen Keeler) I've ever seen. 
  • Stroller Strides: A cardio workout you can do with your kids in tow.  This is an empowering program that brings moms of all fitness levels together.  I participated quite a bit when I just had Sidney and now have made one return session since Calvin was born.  I endeavor to attend more often.  The moms in these classes are my heroes.
  • Zumba: I was a cheerleader in high school so I loves me some dance and precision.  This exercise doesn't feel like exercise at all...it's a literal dance party.  When I am doing Zumba, it takes all my focus so I don't think about anything else.  I simply can't.  This might not be everyone's cup of tea but when I hear "Gangnam Style" come over the speakers, I get so pumped.
  • Occasional massage & spa visit: You don't even need Mother's Day or your birthday as a reason.  

There are groups and opportunities everywhere for moms looking for a chance to create space for their physical selves.  I personally like exercising in groups because I don't get a lot of adult interaction on a daily basis and I need the peer motivation but everyone is different.

What kind of things have you done to "get thy body back"?

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