Wednesday, July 27, 2011

4 Weeks PP - In Transition

Workouts this week: 4
Most Strenuous Workout: 6 trips up and down the stairs in my house in one evening
Weight: 208 lbs
Total pregnancy weight lost: 15 lbs
Pregnancy weight left to lose: 24 lbs

I feel like I'm in the process of turning a corner! I'm definitely not back at 100% yet, but in little ways I am inching closer to normal. I've done less walking in the past week because it has been too hot to go outside, and I'm just not yet motivated enough to hit the treadmill. However, my general activity level has increased a lot. I'm going up and down stairs with ease now, and can even do so without any pain while carrying the baby. Bending over is still very troublesome, but I guess that is to be expected.

The interesting part of pregnancy and then c-section recovery is seeing all the ways your "core" really supports the rest of your body. You tend not to think of all the ways you use your abdominal muscles until they are all stretched out or incredibly sore. And when your abs can't be depended on to do the work they normally do, your lower back works overtime to compensate, and boy do you feel the aches from that!

It's truly amazing the way the body heals and recovers though. When you think of how much pregnancy changes things, it's wild to see how much actually changes back. I think we tend to focus on what doesn't change back, because things like wider hips and a softer stomach might mess with our body image and damage our self-esteem. But as crazy as our bodies get by the end of pregnancy, they do mostly get back to normal eventually!!

Some women even end up in better physical shape than before because they start taking better care of themselves! I hope to fall into that category once I've made more progress on my fitness journey. Having my kids has made me so much more aware of my body -- how all the different parts work together, how each part has a purpose more important than just looking good, and how much better everything feels when the parts are taken care of and in good working order.

As my recovery continues, I notice how I'm gradually getting stronger, and how the pain is starting to subside. I'm aware that a plethora of small movements and tasks have gone from challenging back to routine. Sometimes I get frustrated because I expect progress to come more quickly, but I also suspect that I'm feeling better now than I did at 4 weeks postpartum the previous three times. Part of this feeling comes from my positive mental state as well -- it's easier to approach recovery with optimism when you are not also juggling grief with the pain and hormonal changes.

In the week to come, I hope to do more and longer walks, either around my neighborhood or on the treadmill. If I have any hope at all of starting to run again in just two weeks, then I need to be getting my legs and lungs ready!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

3 Weeks PP - Recovery: Phase One

Workouts this week: 4
Most Strenuous Workout: 2 trips up and down the stairs in my house
Weight: 208 lbs
Total pregnancy weight lost: 15 lbs
Pregnancy weight left to lose: 24 lbs

Before you question my honesty about the number of workouts this past week, allow me to explain how I'm defining things right now. In this first phase of recovery, I'm focusing on just recovering from the c-section itself, and so a "workout" is any physical exertion that progressively gets me moving around more and readjusting my body to movements that cause some pain. For example, a short walk around my cul-de-sac or around the local Target, or a couple of trips up and down the stairs in my home count as workouts right now. The intensity and duration of these activities will gradually but quickly increase. I believe I should be done with this first phase of recovery by 6 weeks postpartum, so 3 weeks from now.

So far I'm recovering reasonably well. Stairs were quite painful at first, but they are getting easier. Walking is getting easier too. The most painful activity for me right now is bending over. I'm still trying to limit my bending because it doesn't seem to be getting any easier yet and usually leaves me with some pain for hours after. I'm also trying to start weaning myself off of all painkillers, but the pain from too much bending over has made that impossible so far.

I'm not officially trying to lose the pregnancy weight yet, even though I am keeping track of it. I just want to keep an eye on the numbers to prevent any major gains before I can start rigorous exercise again. Soon I will need to put the brakes on my daily (sometimes TWICE daily) dessert habit, or else such gains will be inevitable. It is always hard to readjust to using more self-control with food after the relative freedom of pregnancy. Sleep deprivation makes it even harder...self-control takes energy which a lot of days I just don't have!!! Things will all get easier in time though.

Once I complete the first phase of recovery, I will shift my focus to recovering from the entire pregnancy and childbirth experience, which means getting back into shape!! I'm not sure whether I will continue weekly updates in Phase Two, or go back to my previous format of just writing a few times per week whenever a topic popped into my mind. Stay tuned to find out!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Baby Steps

Today I reached a small recovery milestone that as recently as yesterday still seemed far away. I went for a walk outside! It was a very short walk, just around the cul-de-sac at the end of my street, and my pace was laughably slow. But the important thing is that I got outside and did it, and it didn't kill me. :)

I started out this week stressing about my lack of potent pain meds and worrying about how my recovery might be slowed if I couldn't erase the pain. Then I started to feel a little better, and by Thursday I thought I was ready to practice walking up and down the two staircases in my house. What I didn't factor in was the long (seemingly endless) time we had spent in the pediatrician's office earlier that day, going through appointments for two of the kids with all four of them present. That experience was more physically exhausting than I realized at the time, and it was only yesterday that I figured out I'd overdone it. I was in a lot of pain yesterday, and cancelled what would have been my first attempt at the outdoor walk.

What a difference a day makes! I took it easy yesterday, and got some decent rest last night (the baby actually slept through the night!), so I ended up feeling pretty good today. We had friends visit for a couple of hours, and I was up and around a good bit while they were here with only minimal discomfort. After they left, I felt strong enough to give the first walk a try! I took two of the boys with me, and almost immediately they left me in the dust. I wasn't in pain, per se, but I could definitely feel my limitations, if that makes any sense. I had to walk slowly, and when I finished the loop, I knew I was done and needed to rest. Knowing when to stop was a good thing though, I think, because I still felt pretty good when I finished and the whole experience left me with a positive feeling about starting to get active again!

From now on, I plan to go outside for a walk every day that we don't have some other sort of outing that requires physical exertion. If it's too hot outside, or raining, I might even get back on the old treadmill. I wonder if it has missed me... :) As of right now, I'm once again optimistic about being ready to start running after my 6 week pp appointment. If I can walk nearly every day and gradually increase my speed and distance, I will keep healing and keep feeling better and better!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2 Weeks PP - Making Do, Making Progress

Workouts this week: 0
Total walk mileage/time: 0
Weight: 207 lbs
Total pregnancy weight lost: 16 lbs
Pregnancy weight left to lose: 23 lbs

After the negative tone of my last post, I'm pleased to report that things are going better than expected! Acting on a tip from a friend, I upped my ibuprofen intake a little and added some acetaminophen as well, and that combination has yielded some good results. My pain is not entirely gone, but it's reduced enough that I'm comfortable being up and around a little bit and don't feel the need to sit or lie down all day.

The wimp in me is still nervous about increasing my activity level. Last time, I used my second round of pain meds as an extra layer of comfort for days when I had to be significantly more active than usual. I also used it to get rid of the more intense pain that would pop up occasionally if I accidentally was *too* active. Now I don't have that little extra something to get me through the most difficult days, so I'm hesitant to become more active.

I guess the best I can do is proceed with caution. I cannot just wait until I think a little extra walking or stair climbing won't hurt. I gradually need to keep doing more, even if there is pain involved. I just have to be ready for the resulting pain to be intense (for me) at times, with no real solution. The positive progress I'll continue to make should be worth any suffering that may happen along the way. So I'm going ahead with my plan to try short walks outside this week, but I'm waiting until Friday to get started. And tomorrow I'm going to start easing into going up and down the tall staircases in my home. I will need to do that regularly soon, so it's time to give it a try.

I'm incredibly grateful that I've been able to find an OTC drug combo that keeps my pain reasonably under control, and I hope to make the most of my good fortune! Perhaps my August 9th running goal isn't so unattainable after all!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Problem of Pain

(Apologies to the late great C.S. Lewis for stealing his title -- it fit so perfectly that I just had to use it!)

I feel the need to blog about this because I'm frustrated, mad at myself, disappointed, and a little scared. I'm also hormonal and weepy so I need some extra help coping. Writing is that extra help.

At my 2-week incision check appointment today, I did not get a refill of my pain meds even though I wanted one. My doctor did not seem concerned that I'm still in a lot of pain, and so I chickened out and didn't ask for more meds rather than look like a wimp. I don't know why. I know I am a wimp when it comes to pain. It's part of who I am and I'm not ashamed of it. I believe in using medications to get rid of pain -- there is no point in enduring it if you don't HAVE to!!! But somehow this self-assurance just disappeared when I was in the presence of a doctor.

It went so much easier last time. At two weeks pp I was still in a lot of pain, just like I am now. The doctor (a different one in the same practice) asked me how I was doing and I admitted to the pain. She asked if the meds were working, and I told her they had worked well right up until I ran out. Then she asked if I wanted more and I said yes -- that simple! The second round of drugs really came in handy as I became more active and re-engaged in my life outside of my comfy recliner.

This time, I just don't know how my recovery will go from here. I'm still taking a bunch of ibuprofen, but it doesn't help so much when I try to be up and walking around for a while. I had hoped to start taking short walks outside this week, but right now I don't see that happening. I will probably spend most of the week sitting or lying down, trying to avoid as much pain as possible. Suddenly the goal of running again in a month is starting to look less attainable.

Another negative impact of pain is one of my favorite unhealthy coping mechanisms: EATING! And I'm not talking about just any eating...I'm talking about excessive desserts...especially my old favorite, CAKE! Pain makes me cranky, and cake makes me happy. Ice cream cheers me up too. If I can't take oxycodone, I'll just have lots of sugar instead.

Under other circumstances, I would want to try harder to overcome my tendencies toward emotional eating. But my post partum hormones are still all out of whack, and all I want to do is keep myself from crying. So I'll be indulging in the sugar, and watching my weight creep back up, leaving even more work for me to do when my recovery is finally complete.

On the bright side, maybe this is all a good thing, if a couple more weeks of misery serve as a reminder that I don't want to do this again!! You know, just in case the sweet baby snuggles start to erode my memory and make me think I could someday go for #5....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

1 Week PP - Turning Onto a New Road

Workouts this week: 0
Total walk mileage/time: 0
Weight: 207 lbs
Total pregnancy weight lost: 16 lbs

I feel like a contestant on The Biggest Loser, losing 16 lbs in one week! Of course, half of that was just the baby itself, and most of the rest was various fluids...but still, stepping onto the scale a few times and seeing the numbers drop like crazy was a lot of fun. :)

My first c-section recovery was a nightmare, because I have a pretty low pain tolerance and I was terrified to move because I didn't know exactly how bad the pain could get. The subsequent recoveries have been a lot better. I don't know if I've gotten tougher, or if it's just easier because I know what to expect. This time I was out of bed a little over 12 hours after surgery, and walking to the bathroom and back the next morning. I walked a lap around the maternity floor 2 days after my baby was born. Does that count as a workout? It sure hurt like one!

Since I've been home, I've mostly tried to rest, with short little walks around the house here and there. I don't want to overdo it in the first couple of weeks while the pain is at its worst. I will gradually get moving more and more when it feels reasonably comfortable to do so. I'm almost out of my pain medications and will probably ask for a refill at my 2-week incision check on Monday. I had to do that last time as well. I know some people prefer to get off pain meds as soon as possible, but I am a fan of dulling the pain while I can. Being mobile will help me heal more quickly, and pain inhibits my mobility. I'd rather take the drugs and get back to a normal life than skip the drugs and end up lying around longer because I hurt too much.

So the road to recovery has begun, and I'm moving right along on it. As of now, I still hope and plan to resume running at the 6-weeks-post-partum mark. While I can't really imagine what it will feel like to run again, I do believe that goal is attainable.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Baby, You Were Born to Run!

He has arrived! My running partner (whether he liked it or not) for my first 10K and my third 5K has made his entry into the world outside my body. He was born a week ago today, weighing 8 lbs 6.6 oz at 20.5 inches long. So far he is healthy and seems just about perfect to me. I am in love!!!

One last look at how huge I was during surgery prep:

Finally out of my belly and in my arms! Yay!

His first day at home: We chose a "going home outfit" that reflected what was important in my life when he came into existence, and what we hope will be important to our whole family on into the future!

My c-section recovery is going well so far, but I will write more about that tomorrow. For now I just wanted to introduce you to the latest love of my life. :)