There are no if, ands or buts about it… I’m pregnant.
I’ve spent the last 7 months wondering if my belly button would become an outie, if my ankles would swell up to the size of grape fruits and if my mountain climbing, long distance running legs would shrivel up and disappear. I am a first timer and when it came to the big decision… I was scared shittless. My body, my abilities and my life… down the drain, I thought.
I had built up a negative connection between “my life” and “what I want to do” and pregnancy, that even the thought of creating a family was way at the bottom of my priority list… in opposition to my husbands desire to be a dad. But what would procrastinating do? There is never “the right time”, no matter when we decided to have a family the life that I knew was going to have to be put on temporary hold… so why not try now?!
I wanted to share my honest experience with you… how I have managed to keep the “life” I was afraid to lose, how I’ve processed being pregnant and what it’s been like for a ultra runner who lives to travel. Also some tips and tricks I have found to work great for me along the way!
In my mind I always thought I was to young to become a mom. I’ve never moved past the age of 20 in my head, yet I am soon turning 29. I have always felt like such a little kid inside that the concept of having a little kid instead of being the little kid was way to far out of my reality. But reality has a funny way of knocking down doors instead of just ringing the bell.
So when reality barged in… I made the decision to grab ahold of it and make it what I wanted it to be not what others told me it would be. Besides, I loved the unknown… a new challenge, a new chapter… !
Now where to start… when you find out your pregnant it seems like the due date will never arrive… and here I am at 33 weeks. Im getting ready to pack my hospital bag and planning my next hike. 33 weeks in and I have finally adapted to what is one of the most beautiful and amazing times of my life. It’s of course something you cannot explain or describe to anyone, you really have to go through it to understand, but growing a human inside of you, with the person you love, is beautiful and crazy all at the same time. Some may argue the contrast from the aspect of the morning sickness and all of the obscure body things that happen but it is and still is boggling my mind that a little human is moving, kicking, punching and probably screaming inside of me. I am one of the “lucky” ones, I’ve been told, morning sickness didn’t enter my world nor did anything really other then some headaches in the first trimester. But a headache is not something that I was eager to complain about considering what some of my friends have and were going through.
I want to think that my body has reacted, the opposite way I thought it would to pregnancy, because of my lifestyle and how strong my body is from the years of ultra running and training. I am strong, my body is strong and my mind is strong, I live my life with a no excuses attitude, it’s just who I am. So becoming pregnant was not seen as an opportunity to stop moving and eat whatever I wanted. I had set goals for this year and I was going to see if I could achieve them. Now of course as I moved through the next few months everything was touch and go… I wasn’t going to put me or the baby in any danger or push through anything that my body was telling me not to do. I listened to my body and obeyed as needed. I had my days of being stuck in bed, sleeping in and needing to walk instead of run. There were some dark emotional roller coaster periods that I dug in and out of. There were days that I didn’t want to be pregnant, I had full regret for taking this on, I felt I wasn’t ready… I just wasn’t ready to have this responsibility and selfishly I just wanted to be out there training and running. I already wanted my freedom back. But of course as time passes these thoughts disappear. Sometimes it would be hour by hour, one hour I hated it and didn’t see any happiness in it the next it was going to be so great and I couldn’t wait to meet our little babe. But it comes with the emotional territory of growing a human and the reality of life changing.
Goals for 2017:
- cross finish lines with my bump
- be able to do the BCMC trail to the top of Grouse Mountain
- make it to Green Drop Lake with my sister
- get my bump up to Garibaldi Lake
- guide our Squamish Retreats
- climb up to the top of Timothy Mountain to visit my Grandpa and share the baby news
- be as active and as positive as possible
- be myself
- listen to my body
- have a healthy baby
- share my experience with others
- enjoy the down time because the long runs will come again
- go on an epic baby moon vacation with my husband
- volunteer at as many race events as possible
- don’t stress about the long runs and instead focus on muscle specific training in the gym
First Trimester: Weeks 1-12
Rocky, emotional and no big deal. Those are my three describing words for the first trimester. My abilities didn’t change much. I kept on running and working out. It was an emotional time though and “not by choice”… it’s really just all of the hormones changing in your body. Well I’ll blame my sporadic outbursts of emotions on the hormones… it’s also emotional because your body starts to change ever so slightly… enough to make you freak out and think your getting “fat”, always concluding in emotion. It feels rocky, all of a sudden there is a whole new world that you are now needing to learn about, what vitamins to take, what to do for your body and baby… there’s a million things to think about, at least it seemed that way at the time. Looking back at it it was like no big deal, nothing crazy really happens, life just goes on, no one even knows your pregnant.
Goals completed: Chilly Chase 1/2 Marathon, Fort Langley Historic 1/2 Marathon, Hot Chocolate 10k, Dash for Dogs 10k, Triple Bowen Bag (3 summits 1 day), keep active, lift weights and all of the above.
Activity: Running and climbing 30-50kms a week, gym and weights 3-4 times a week, swimming 1 day a week, yoga and stretching, indoor rock climbing 1 day a week, snowshoeing.
Like anytime you hit a speed bump you need to be able to make adjustments and changes. I knew that there were no ultras in the forecast for me this year, I knew I wanted to keep running/hiking for as long as I could but I also was excited to use this time to adjust my training and do something I have always wanted to… focus on the gym. Yuck the gym I know, its hard for me to get excited about going to the gym but instead of running 4-5 days a week I was now able to tend to a different goal that I have had for a long time and that is to really work on building muscle. Arms and legs. So this was my time. I hit the gym.
Tips and tricks: Of course this is all depending on how your feeling, like I mentioned before I was lucky and got away with a week or so of upset stomach but other then that and being extra tired my body was able to continue as normal. But no matter how your feeling keep your head in the game. Take this time to set a few goals for yourself. If anything go for walks. Stretch more, try or do more yoga. Swimming is an awesome low impact activity that still keeps the cardio in check. Embrace the emotions and know that they will pass. Crying for no reason is okay. Don’t worry/stress about your body. If you focus on being true to yourself your body will do what it is meant to do. Keep up with regular massage and physiotherapy appointments, I also continued with my nutritional IV appointments to continue adding the vitamins and nutrients (this is something I do with my naturopathic doctor) I really wanted to make sure that my body didn’t loose what it had and that meant keeping up with keeping in tune.
Obviously try to eat as healthy as possible… always. You are creating another human and we want them to be strong and healthy of course! I did find it hard to eat during the first couple of months, one day all I wanted was veggies and humus and the next it was veggie samosas. I didn’t get any weird cravings… and still haven’t. I was told by my doctor that weird cravings mean your lacking something nutritional in your diet and I am pretty on par with my vitamins and getting a lot of nutrients. So really listen to your body, don’t just indulge on the first craving you get. Make sure you are supplementing correctly with vitamins etc. This is your time to oil up! Bio Oil is the product of my choice, and many of my friends choices, I have been rubbing it on my belly everyday since I found out I was pregnant. No stretch marks here! So lather up, make sure to sleep in an old t-shirt just in case the oil leaves any stains.
If you are still running or plan to run… and trail run bring out the trekking poles! They are ideal, they help keep your upper body and chest open, they help with momentum and they also assist on the downhills. More so as you grow and get bigger. Embrace the walk… if you need to walk heck walk! Just keep moving one foot in front of the other. Get used to being out there on your own… your pace may change to that of the slower type, I found with my group didn’t want to be the one everyone else had to wait for so my weekends began to become a bit more solo adventures.
These are my number one life savers for keeping in the mountains all these months!
Second Trimester: Weeks 13-27
Rocked it, did I just eat a big breakfast or is that a bump? Am I done yet? Oh the second trimester… the bump starts to show, you get a little or a lot frustrated when getting dressed because nothing fits right so you run down to the store for new clothes and don’t even care about the price tag because you deserve it! I would say the second trimester is the funnest! Your bump is big enough that people finally know your pregnant but its not big enough to impose on daily activities. You can start to feel the baby move, you have an ultrasound and the baby looks like a baby… emotions and hormones settle… a little. This is also the time when you start to get looks… are people staring at me because they don’t think I should be running, or doing this exercise at the gym or are they intrigued by what I am doing? Near the end of trimester 2 is when people really started to either be friendly or be rude/in shock/awkward towards me. But honestly I really enjoyed embracing it and it may sound rude of me, but those people who felt uncomfortable with me running or working out or doing anything active, I felt happy to make uncomfortable. Some people would look the other way and not respond to a “Hello” on the trail or give me dirty looks at the gym. I find it fun and funny to make people feel this way because I know that it means it’s putting a new thought, a new idea into their head… and maybe opening their minds a little. But I know to each their own opinion.
This second trimester also came to me as a bit of a shock… and I mean in the way I felt… the way I felt about myself. I really started to feel proud, strong and I actually began to… love… my body. I was more then happy to walk around with my shirt off… belly out all the way. If you had asked me if I would have done this or felt this way before I became pregnant I would have said “no way!” Everyone feels at least a little self conscious about their bodies, me included, and I never would have though that I would be more comfortable taking my shirt off while pregnant then before I was pregnant. But thats the truth, I just simply feel very comfortable with my body pregnant… I mean… I may lean as far as saying I like my pregnant body. “Some people just carry well” I keep hearing. So ill go with that.
Everything else was just peachy… the trekking poles started to become more of a lifeline while on the trail. As the baby grows there is more pressure on the diaphragm therefore making up hills of any sort a walk and quite often a stop to breathe scenario. I was on a rampage at the gym, my weights were increasing, I wasn’t loosing muscle like the doctor told me I might. I was drinking 2 Vega protein shakes a day, my biggest cravings were fruit smoothies… it’s like ahhh this pregnancy thing a’int so bad. For some reason, even though it was only a few weeks ago, the second trimester feels like ages ago and sunshine a rainbows. The good feelings are far surpassing the days of exhaustion, the nights I sat in bed and cried just because I was tired. I am glad to look back and see the happiness in it instead of the aches and pains that I tried to keep quite about. But working 2 jobs really took its toll during the end of the second trimester and I was about to break down. This is when the reality barges in again “I don’t think I can do this, I’m not ready for this”. Days would feel impossible. But like always with an amazing support system, my husband and family and friends… life goes on and you go outside or lift some weights or have a smoothie and your back on track.
Goals Completed: Shamrock n’ Race 1/2 Marathon, 5 Peaks Golden Ears Trail Race 8.5k, epic baby moon vacation to Yosemite and other Californian areas, Yosemite National Park Waterfall Summit, run our Be Fearless Marathon training runs (11k and 1/2) and all of the above.
Activity: Running/hiking/climbing 20-40kms a week, gym and weights 3-4 times a week, swimming 1 day a week, yoga and stretching.
Tips and tricks: keep at your goals… maybe you need to reassess or adjust them at this point and who cares, do it! Just remember to have a goal and try. That’s the win. Just keep up with the activity, moving, walking, swimming, whatever it may be. And keep up with your nutrition. Most women are passed the morning sickness stage and are feeling a lot better/normal so try and keep up with the healthy foods instead of the nausea curing foods. Trekking poles… again yes! Drink lots of water! Lots and lots! Keep your spirits up, take some time for yourself and don’t let yourself get to over worked or stressed. Keep up with your massage appointments… my massage therapist has an amazing pillow thing for massaging pregnant women, I get to lay on my front with my belly resting in-between this open pillow… its a weird sensation but not laying on your stomach for months is something that becomes a desire! Get sleep! Lots of it…
Lots of women may start to have trouble sleeping now… or getting comfortable. I am still managing okay. My only tip here would be to either sleep with a pillow in between your knees or get one of those prego sleeping pillows. I am just putting a pillow in between my knees and it works well for me, I haven’t needed any extra support other then that. Of course every baby is different but there were some struggling nights where I would be so tired yet couldn’t fall asleep for hours because the baby was having a dance party. This was a struggle, I actually found that playing soft music next to my belly calmed the baby and we managed to fall asleep to that.
Third Trimester: Weeks 28-40
Where’s the closest bathroom, damn butterfingers and okay I’m scared! The third trimester… so far… I am now running from bathroom to bathroom and on a constant lookout for a good tree while on the trail. Seriously though, my bladder is getting stepped on 24/7. You make the effort to find a good bathroom spot to only learn that you don’t actually have to go… you just feel like you do. Just when bending over to pick up something gets real hard… you drop everything. Who would have thought that putting on socks and tying shoe laces would be a dreaded task. Embrace the outie… its weird. And then there’s the OMG I have to give birth… reality. I am not scared of many things… and it may seem silly… well at least to me it does… but I am a little scared of the process of giving birth. I am not scared to run and put my body through the pain of ultras but I have always been a little terrified at the idea of giving birth and the pain that comes with it. So it’s the “Okay I’m Scared” time of the pregnancy as I count down the last 7 weeks until the due date.
But putting that reality aside lets talk about eating… at about 29 weeks it became very difficult to eat… my belly is now so big and full with a baby and a bunch of other organs and things… how can I fit food in!? It wasn’t even an appetite change but I went from drinking a whole smoothie to half to sometimes a few sips will make me full. It’s odd because its the trimester they say to increase your calorie intake… easier said then done. But to keep my calories up I have been consuming more carby foods like bagels… actually bagels are my life right now! A bagel screams to me, sadly, before my smoothies.
Being out of breath at the top of the stairs has me like… this is pathetic. But yes, like I said there is very little room in there for anything these days including the breathing essentials. I went for a run this morning and it was more walking then running… I see my runs slowing down shortly here and the hikes and walks taking president. But energy levels are still up and up! The hardest part of the third trimester has been actually feeling “pregnant”. I have this big basketball attached to the front of me that is actually getting in the way of daily life… I do feel the “princess” in me, I didn’t know was there, coming out… asking people to pass me things so I avoid getting up from sitting, asking my husband to rub my back or restless legs, not jumping up to help set the table at family dinners etc. I am not used to being “needy” in this way and its been hard to let that go/accept that I am going to be for a few weeks.
It seems that I am now just generally irritated with life, for example our property maintenance crew does the complex every Friday, they used a leaf blower and it blew our door mat way over into the drive way, it may have ended my day… because I had to bend over, pick it up and put it back. Lastly…sleeping… it used to come so easy… before the baby became nocturnal started to party all night… and thats all I have to say about that.
I have a good chunk of the third trimester left and I am sure a lot more to complain about… but what the heck bring it on right! Its a journey, I am training for race day and I may or may not be going through labour in my running shoes!
Goals Completed: Canada Day Rock 10k, Green Drop Lake, BCMC Grouse Mountain, Climb to the top of Timothy Mountain, Garibaldi Lake, guide our Squamish Retreats, and all of the above.
Activity: Running/Hiking/Climbing: 10-20kms a week, yoga and stretching, gym and weights 3-4 times a week, swimming 1-2 days a week.
Tips for the third trimester: Take it easy, really really listen to your body. Take a prenatal class… this really helped ease my nerves about the birth process. Keep up with your massage appointments and taking care of your body. Of course trekking poles if your still out there in the trails. Keep up going with the flow, relax and no stress! In our prenatal class each couple was asked to think of two words to describe how they feel at this time… everyone in the room cycled through words like, anxious, nervous, excited, scared, tired… when it was our turn I we only shared one word… neutral. I said neutral because at this time and most of the time we have stayed “go with the flow”, ride the waves, what goes up must come down… type of perspective. Of course we are excited but I think one of the key things for pregnant women is to not get caught up in it all. There is so much to think about and its way to easy to get caught up in the shopping, the making sure everything is perfect… when really its just a simple natural process. Its unfortunate but I think we loose sight of that. Its like Christmas and how it just because a commercial “stuff” buying holiday. That is what social media and advertising does to pregnant women. You need this and you need that etc. All you need is to be healthy, happy and supported.
Conclusion: Pregnancy isn’t an excuse. I have learnt that you just need to do you. I stayed as true to myself as I possibly could no matter how many people looked at me like I was insane, the opinions shared and the people who stopped me on the trail to tell me I am crazy. It’s all just a beautiful, crazy thing. It’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to be scared but go with the flow… be flexible and stay strong.
How to stay involved in your community: What ever your “community” may be, mine was of course Run Like A Girl and the trail running world… find a way to stay in touch. I signed up to volunteer at lots of events this year. I wasn’t running all of them of course but I was there and its so good to give back to the community! Take this opportunity to help out instead of participating! Perhaps change your goals to fit into the community better, I did lots of hikes and trail runs but instead of racing in the trails all the time I started doing some road races, running the roads are not ideal, but it was ideal for keeping up the distance and running while pregnant. Travel to events with your friends and be their support crew, also a great way to stay involved!
I didn’t do this all on my own: I have an amazing group of friends and family and a husband who supports me to the moon and back! I am also lucky enough to have one of my best running friends also be pregnant, just a couple weeks behind me, so all of my half marathons and races I had a partner in crime! It doesn’t get any better then having a friend who needs to stop and pee as many times as you do! I can’t thank them all enough for walking when needing to walk and for supporting the goals!