My daughter is admittedly no longer a baby (she's nearly 2!), but I still find myself drawn to posts, articles, podcasts, and people who are going through pregnancy, childbirth and life with a newborn.
As I look back on the story that I shared with 'you', I feel as though I didn't do many of the new moms justice. Somehow, without meaning to, I made it look 'easy'. Sure there was the odd 'help me get some sleep!' tweet. But mostly, it was all "Oh, I popped out this baby, now let's do an Ironman yahoo!"
Funny enough, that's never really the story that I wanted to share. However, I felt, at the time, that others were making it so 'easy' for me that it wasn't my right to complain about mastitis, or trying to cook dinner when you are so f*&cking tired from caring for a newborn and training that all you want to eat is a big bowl of sleep.
After all, I had recently left my full-time job to focus full time on being a professional athlete and being a mom. I had lots of family help and a supportive partner who encouraged me to get babysitters every day to ride my bike and be the best I could be. What did I have to complain about?
And so, I went about acting like it was all so easy. But in doing that, I feel as though I've sold all you other mothers out there short. Because even with the amount of support that I had, I still (2 years later!) cannot imagine ever trying to do that again. It was ludicrous, but in saying that, I wouldn't change a thing and I love the journey that I have been on with my family.
I think that part of the impetus for this post is that I recently read a blog post criticizing the "competition" for women to see who can get back in shape the quickest after having a baby. Ew, this a race now?
I want us to stop judging each other for how quickly we do or do not get "back in shape" post-baby. The most important thing after you have a child is to be their mother. Period. Forget about how everyone thinks you should parent or work out or not work out (except your doctor, of course.)
And guess what? Everyone's circumstances are different. Everyone's circumstances are different while they are baking that child as well! I continued to exercise 1.5 to 2.5 hours per day throughout pregnancy but guess what? I wasn't doing much else! I was coaching athletes from home, but other than that... free time to sleep as much as I wanted and exercise for fun. Not many other moms have that luxury during pregnancy. If I had been going to the office every day from 8-5, you can bet your bottom dollar that I wouldn't have been waking up at 5 every day to get a workout in. Because you know what? Pregnancy is TIRING!
For me, after I had Wynne, I was returning to my job as a professional athlete, and unfortunately, I had some really time-sensitive goals that I wanted to achieve to help with my long-term job security. I had one year from my daughter's birth to amass enough points to qualify for the Ironman World Championships with 35 other women in the world. Big goal. Stupid timeline. But you know what? It was important to me to try. And it was my job. I think it's ok for me to have "rushed" back to the start line a bit more than an age grouper with an office career or a stay-at-home mom. My job is different. And that should be ok.
As someone who has always been able to support myself, not creating an income from my new career as a pro triathlete was not an option for me in my mind. At 35, I also was facing potentially my best few years in the sport head-on. So, I resolved to get my ass back into the sport as quickly as possible after having my daughter. Not to prove anything to anyone or do something shock-worthy (or dumb) like completing an Ironman basically in the 4th trimester. I did it because I wanted to go back to work and I wanted to be good at my job. I wanted to put myself in a position where I could help support my family, help us buy a house, secure better long-term sponsor partnerships. And what I am most proud to say is that I did that.
But I sacrificed a lot for that. I didn't have too many lazy snuggles with my daughter. I was only able to breastfeed for 7 months before I didn't have any more milk (yes, probably due to training).
In fact, if I do it again (not planning on it at this point, though), I would do it differently! I wouldn't be racing back to a start line because although I have no regrets, I'd like to enjoy being a new mom a bit more and have that experience as well as the one that I already had. I think it can be really enjoyable, but I admittedly took some of the fun out of it with all of my rushing.
I guess this is all a long-winded way of saying that you should honor your own journey as a new parent, whatever that may be. I like that I've given (along with the likes of Sarah Haskins, Gina Crawford and many others) professional women another story about what is possible after having a baby. In fact, when I see other professional triathletes get pregnant, I like to hope that they think, "she came back, so can I." But I also want to say hey to all the other moms out there who should know that just because something is possible, doesn't make it right for you, or even something to strive for. I am honestly more in awe of moms who have a child, go back to work full-time, and then bust out a sprint or Olympic distance triathlon a year later.
They're the ones doing it all. I'm just doing my job.
And with that- here's a pretty cool documentation of that journey I took. Thanks to Gatorade Endurance for believing in me, being a part of my dream, and documenting it.