Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Recovery Road: The First Weeks

            I had several conversations with my doctor regarding recovery, both before and after delivering.  I wanted to know what restrictions I would be given, how soon I could get back out there, and what to expect so I could mentally prepare myself.  I also asked other women how quickly they were able to get back to running.  They talked about it being several weeks before they were back running.  That was disheartening to hear.  So I braced myself for a chunk of recovery time (that I did not desire) before even hearing what my doctor had to say.  My recovery conversations with him went something like this...

Me: "So... how long until I can do stuff again?"
Doc: "You can go out and run 5 miles the next day if you want. I don't think you'll feel like it, but you can. You probably won't want to bike for a while, just because it won't feel good to sit on the seat, but nothing is wrong with that. You have to wait at least one week for swimming though."

Best. Doctor. Ever. 

            He did expand as well.  He explained that when I started running again I would probably have an increase in post-delivery bleeding.  I had heard that from others as well, but he said that it would even back out again though.  He also talked about how back in the stone age days, a woman would have a baby, and then most likely strap her other two kids on her back and go out and gather food for the family.  Women do not need to feel so restricted afterwards!  He did say that you’re not supposed to lift more than the weight of your baby (and the car seat of course).
            I was released from the hospital two days after having Baya, and the following day I walked 4 miles while carrying her in an arm.  It was awesome.  I felt good, really good, like so good I wanted to try running already at that point.  I appeased my husband though, and did not.  Instead I waited until 5 days post-delivery before heading outdoors for my first run.  I didn’t know how it would feel, after all, I struggled with running the most during pregnancy.  I ran 3 miles that day.  It was grand!  I was already faster than I was at the end of my pregnancy (hooray!).   I’m not sure how to describe it, but I did feel a tightness with what seemed to be my uterus, for the first quarter mile, but that went away.  There was some lingering pelvic pain, but it was bearable.  I just took it at an easy pace.  I loved being back at it though! I ran again the next day, another 3 miles, and I hit my former easy pace.  It had been far too long since I was a sub-9 minute pace!
            I tested out the bike one week post-delivery.  I rode for an hour.  I discovered it was too soon.  I had to sit very upright to be able to ride with minimal pain.  I was left with additional discomfort for days afterwards.  I have no regrets for trying it out, but I did need more time.  I went back to running for the next two days, another 3 and then almost 4 miles.  I was a little slower again, and hurting from the ride.  The next couple of days it was cold and rainy, and I was also running a fever, so I took them off and tried not to feel guilty about it (I typically try to never take days completely off).  I then ran four miles, and it felt great!  I ran at a sub 8:30 pace, just because I wanted to feel what it was like to go faster!  I missed running, but I really missed being able to run fast.  An 8:30 pace is not fast, however, it is much faster than the 11 minute pace that I was doing at the end of my pregnancy.
            I hopped on the bike again 13 days post-delivery.  It was so much better this time!  I was interrupted by Baya waking up and wanting to be fed, so I went back and finished out the ride after her feeding.  I have my bike set up on a trainer down in the garage, so I just use the baby monitor while I try to ride during her naps.  The system is working out well, she just doesn’t always nap as long as I would like her to at times, unfortunately.  She is now the boss of my world.
            Two weeks post-delivery I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill at an 8:30 pace.  I was also already coaching for the track season (track practices started when Baya was six days old), and so it was sometime around here that I also just HAD to try pole vaulting again.  I was super slow on the runway and didn’t do anything impressive, but it was fun to have a pole in my hands again.  I wasn’t told I could NOT pole vault right after having a baby, so why not?  I was anxious to swim again, but at this point the bleeding was still too heavy.  I ended up having to wait 16 days before getting back in the pool, but oh was it glorious when I finally got back in and swim again!  I was truly fortunate in how quickly I was able to get back at it.  A huge factor I’m sure was how active I was leading up to delivery.  Being so active during pregnancy has certainly had its rewards!

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