by Anna Struckett Donaldson
Last night was my first time returning to the gym after having a baby. And I was scared. Terrified, really. I wasn’t sure that my body would be able to do what it had been able to before Zander was born. I had spent a year and a half with my personal trainer relearning to love physical activity and fitness. I had struggled with my weight and infertility for a long time and this pregnancy was a miracle. I really believe that it wouldn’t have happened without the changes I made with the “Make it Happen Project” and the help of my coach, Sarah.
But this wasn’t a normal postpartum return to fitness. Four months ago, when I was six months pregnant, I went to an OB check up and then didn’t go home. I was admitted to hospital and gave birth by emergency cesarean section to a 1lb 14oz little boy. That was the start of a very long journey. My c section wasn’t without complications and, of course, Zander was in for a very long, and very stressful, 81 day hospital stay. I was often at the hospital from morning till night, living on bagels and coffee. My body had just been through major trauma, and now I needed it to pull me through this, without time to heal, while also producing breast milk for the baby. Talk about a major physical stressor. But thankfully all those pre-baby workouts made me strong enough to do it.
For weeks I have been thinking about returning to the gym. I had waited the prerequisite 6 weeks to return to normal light activities, which for me included return to my job as a chiropractor, part time, while spending the rest of the day at the hospital. I had started doing some walking and was feeling pretty good. But the core instability created by having my abs cut had taken its toll on my back. The previous year I had gotten to a point where I felt strong and my chronic low back pain had resolved. Now it was starting to creep back in. That was my major clue that I needed to get back to the gym, but that it might not be as easy as the last time I was there. But my coach was positive… “Give yourself time to heal, and then we will get you back to where you need to be” she told me. So, I took an extra two weeks, in which my son was discharged from the hospital, and then I bit the bullet. I knew it wasn’t going to get any easier if I waited any longer. I was physically healed, but obviously weak.
I tackled a group boot camp style class, knowing full well that it would be a struggle to keep up. And it was. I was obviously the least fit person in class, but that didn’t bother me. I knew going into it that it would be tough, and my lovely coach was so positive about it (including announcing to the class my triumphant return!). I also knew that I will get back to that place where I feel strong and healthy, so this is just a little bump in the road. I finished the hour long class and my fears were unfounded.
Today, I am hobbling around the house, with quads and gluts that are screaming at me for my foolishness! I often talk to my patients about returning to physical activity after an illness or injury and getting back in the proverbial saddle. But, I know, that is so much easier to say than to do. It can be slow and painful, and there are often setbacks to go along with the accomplishments. But knowing it is possible, is a major piece of the puzzle. At least it is for me.
Anna is a new mom and chiropractor in London, ON who loves shoes, camping and country dancing. You totally wanna be besties with her, as she puts together some awesome girl’s weekends. Luckily, she hasn’t had to write a bio about herself since her online dating days….thank god!