A lot of triathletes are pregnant these days! Where were you when I was knocked up a good nine years ago! With that being said I have been asked many many questions about athletics and pregnancy….. so here’s a post for you momma’s to be!
I had an incredible OB/GYN. She never put one single limit on me. Not heart rate, not volume, nothing. She said stay as active as you can and listen to your body. Now everyone around me, they were a different story. For some reason those who are not athletes seem to think you are so obsessive compulsive that you will go out and do intervals so you won’t get fat.
I quickly learned to turn them off. I honestly was able to let that all just roll off of me. Never even got me upset. You can choose to allow these people to bother you, you can choose to prove them wrong, or you can choose to ignore them. I was a busy mom to be, I chose to ignore them.
I stayed active right up to delivery day. Never wore a heart rate monitor. Never even took my pulse! I just knew how I felt. I swam until delivery day, bilked every single day, and ran until 6 months. Until I had to put my hands under my belly to hold it. I remember that last run. It wasn’t a feeling of defeat but a feeling of….. wow this is getting closer!
I never rode my bike outside. Being that I was a spinning instructor I spun every single day. In retrospect I don’t think I missed a day. I lifted weights and I swam swam and swam some more. I did not ever bike outside. It was just too much of a risk. I didn’t ride outside for a year. To me the life I was carrying was not worth the risk of being hit by a car. So I spun spun spun.
I was the knocked up swimmer for three triathlon relays, that was a lot of fun! My last one I was 8 months pregnant and I swam very well thank.you.very.much! The race director was at first upset with me until he realized…… I was the defending champion.
The day I delivered the hospital called me, wondering when I was going to come in for my induction. They had scheduled me for 4pm, so that morning I swam, went spinning and had lunch with my Mom. They called me during spinning class, and I told them…. I’ll be in later! Geeez by then I was 42 weeks pregnant! He made me wait this long I was getting in one more ride before my crotch got torn apart!
I felt awesome the entire time. I felt healthy. I never worried. I allowed myself to experience the experience. Knowing my body I knew this was likely something I would only be able to do once. And it was wonderful. I was never sick. I never had heartburn. I never even had a Braxton hicks.
And I never even went into labor.
At 4pm that afternoon, it was November 8th 2000. Election day! I was scheduled to be induced. So I show up, they insert the jelly to ripen the cervix into me, and I sent Curt off for a run. After all, the official labor induction would be the next morning at 6am! We had time!
I walked up to the 5th floor where I was working at the time to visit my coworkers. My hamstrings became sore. My back started to hurt. I shook my head….. my flexibility was sure affected by this whole pregnancy thing.
A while later I stumbled back down to my room. Waved to my nurse on the way into my room. Damn did my back hurt! They had a jacuzzi in the room (their version of it). I got in. Didn’t help. Got out. Layed in bed the next 2 hours and cried because my hamstrings hurt so much.
In walks my nurse. She cried out “Holy shit you are in labor!” I told her I wasn’t, it was just sore hamstrings. I must have overdone it in spinning class.
Then I realized that what I was experiencing was a very serious case od DENIAL. I was in labor. BACK FREAKING LABOR. That’s a code name for HELL. Oh crap. My husband was still not back, and they began wheeling everything into the room.
Every three minutes it was like someone took a knife into my back and turned it 180 degrees. I was honestly expecting labor to hurt in the belly, the part of me that held the baby. But no. But no. BUT NO. All of those conversations of….. I want to do this naturally….. I don’t want drugs……. I want to feel my child pass through me……. I don’t want to not be able to feel my toes………
I would have snorted cocaine had it been offered to me.
The anesthesiologist came in. They never offered me Nubain. Or anything. They even went straight to…. an epidural would be a good idea right now. Okay…… stab me in the back! I will take it! Drug me up! I knew he was going to be about 10 pounds and I quickly realized….. I might not want to be a hero today.
Three minutes later I was on the side of the bed and being cleaned off. Needles don’t bother me. I would have let them put it through my damn eye I was in so much pain. And I had been through pain in my life…… this was a zillion times worse.
My mother had me in the hospital parking lot or something like that because I came so fast. I thought that trend would be me as well. Um…. no.
I remember Curt finally coming back…. asking me why I didn’t call him!!!!! He knelt down in front of me. I was crying. Snot was running out of my nose. I was hunched over my belly with the anesthesiologist telling me to hunch more (dude….. I have a 10 pound baby here!!!) and right when he put the epidural needle in…….
I had the worst contraction ever.
My water broke.
And I cried out “I am incontinent!” (Nurse talk for I just peed myself).
Within 10 minutes I was watching David Letterman. I was numb from the waist down and happy about it. I was dilated…….. one centimeter. This was going to be a long night.
My nurse was leaving. She said to me “When I see you in the morning we will have a new baby and a new president!”
Flash forward 10 hours. No baby. 3 centimeters. And no president. When she came back in I called her a liar.
11am. 17 hours of labor. Epidural. foley catheter. Now insert internal monitors. Now the epidural begins to wear off and I am having pain in my right hip. For the record it was fine. It was tolerable. The chief of anesthesiology came in and saw I was in pain.
“I don’t feel comfortable doing a C section with this current epidural.” He said. “Let’s replace this.”
Which was ironic because my OB / GYN told me we wouldn’t be doing a C Section. However I had no control or feeling in my legs so before I knew it there I was again hunched over, holding Curt’s hands. Five minutes later I was on my back and everyone was thinking. Thinking out loud.
You sit there between a feeling of loss of control, fear, and knowing there is just one way out of this mess. This baby is coming out and he just might come out through my nose. But he’s coming out.
And still…… no president.
12 noon and they check me again. By this point my modesty had disappeared. I felt like issuing an open invite to anyone and everyone. “Want to see my crotch? No problem, it’s down there.” The eight hundred residents I didn’t want in the room? now we were all BFF. I felt like we were at camp. Let’s make boondoggles and sing some songs.
And is there a president yet?
15 minutes later I didn’t even realize they were checking me again. “Holy shit she’s 10 centimeters!” someone called out. Whoa, the ball is about to drop, everyone throws on a blue gown and a mask, and at my crotch they stand.
Camp song #982.
My OB / GYN instructs my husband to hold my left leg here. The med student to hold my right leg there. Wow, those are my legs? i can’t even feel them.
“PUSH!” She screams at me. Push? Push what? i can’t feel anything. So i push.
“Not from your face from your butt!” What? I do it again. “She needs something to focus on!!!!!! Get the mirror!”
Okay, this is where I draw the line. There are many things that these people need to see but I definitely don’t need to be watching my own crotch in a mirror. No Thank you. This isn’t one of those girl parties.
“NO NO NO!” I shout. “I DO NOT WANT THE MIRROR!”
“Push!!!” three people scream at me. Dude…. I AM. i am pushing something I can’t feel (thank god), and everyone’s eyes are on the one place that I do not want to look!”
“There’s his head!!!” Another person cried. ‘who wants to touch the head!!!!”
“I do!” My husband chimes in. Seriously? More gross than looking at my own crotch would be everyone feeling the head coming out of it. “Wow!” He tells me “It feels like a sponge!”
Oh freaking great. Our son’s head which is half in and half out of me feels like a sponge.
Finally I give one epic I can’t feel anything push.
And then it happens. This ginormous feeling of….. joy+pain+heartache+happiness+overwhelming emotion overcomes me as they rush him over to the NICU team who was waiting (when did they get there and who knew we would need them.). I wanted to get up but all I could do was scream. He was white. Which is worse than blue. He was not crying.
All I could do was scream. They hovered around him. I didn’t know what was going on. My OB/GYN grabbed my head and turned it towards her. “Get a hold of yourself. Let them do their job.”
I bit my lip. I closed my eyes. I prayed as they…… well they slapped the ever living shit out of our son to be honest.
And then was the sound I had waited nine months to hear. The scream that I would hear for the next 6 weeks straight. Colic isn’t caused by milk intolerance. It’s caused by being cozied up in a spa with room service on tap for nine months. Then being dragged into the cold world and having your ass slapped around….. just because you weren’t breathing out of lungs you have never used before. The kid was pissed.
They handed him to me and everything I had ever felt before was magnified. By a million. Thought I knew what love and pain were. I hadn’t a clue. Ka-BAM. Wow. Take every feeling you ever had and multiply it by a million. No book ever teaches you that.
6 weeks later I did my first indoor triathlon. 9 months later I won the Subaru Series Elite Women’s Title. 18 months after that I did my first Ironman. 100% of my best performances were after baby. 100%.
So my biggest pieces of advice to the soon-to-be-new momma’s out there……. don’t make pregnancy harder than it needs to be. You think people say stupid things to you now? Wait till the baby is born. Wait until you decide to go to formula. Wait until you realize they have a heart defect, wait until you hear that advice. But again you can choose to get mad, to prove them wrong, or just to ignore. Make it easy. Trust your instinct. It’s the only instinct that matters.
Life after baby, it’s richer. It’s wonderful. It’s more meaningful. You look at your husband and think….. wow we created this together. Life is not easy, it never is. You can’t control it, you have to roll with it. You have to just take everything….. one step at a time.
So listen to your body, It will never steer you wrong. Your head might. between your ears is a dangerous place to be.
And by the way…….. by 7pm that night we did have our baby. And a new president.