I am a (former – pre baby) long distance runner. Let me be honest though, running or cardio in general is not my favorite thing to do. I played soccer as a kid, but I played the sweeper position. The least amount of running on the field (besides the goalie of course) is done by the sweeper. That was no accident.
I don’t get the #runnershigh and I don’t just love the feeling of the wind in my face as I pass mile 12. That’s not why I do it. I do it because I never thought I could and I wanted to prove myself wrong.
As I was getting ready for a half marathon one morning (at 430am because those things start so freaking early!) I told my husband “ugh I’m not looking forward to this.” And like any husband who doesn’t want to drive his wife down to her race at 5am he responded with “then why the hell are you doing it?”
I explained to him that I run because of the feeling I get when I’m done. When I cross the finish line I feel better than I ever have about myself. I pushed myself to my limits, didn’t give up, and did something I never thought I could do. It’s a feeling that’s very difficult to put into words. But I know it, and I continued to chase it. The end result is worth the sometimes crappy (no literally – long distance runners sometimes crap their pants) journey.
This was how I approached the birth of my son. I know, sounds not-so-motherly but hear me out.
Of course, I had to train physically for my races, but more than that I had to train mentally. When you’ve just completed 10 miles and still have a few more to go, your legs, heart, lungs, and feet are screaming NO! But it’s your head hat has to say yes. The body will do what the mind tells it. So I knew I had to be mentally strong enough to keep going. I knew that would be the case with giving birth.
I am what some would call a wimp when it comes to pain. My pain tolerance is quite low. So I figured labor and contractions weren’t going to go over so well with me. I wasn’t going to be one of those women who “didn’t know” they were in labor till the baby was practically out (but I am so jealous of them). So I figured I would do all that I could to increase the chances of an easier and faster labor.
Here’s what I did…(disclaimer there’s absolutely no proof these things actually work but in my crazy pregnant brain this made sense):
I stayed active – this one I think actually probably has some proof behind it but I’m so glad I did it either way. Pushing was super easy.
I made a “hype me up” playlist. Every time I would hear a song that had me feeling good and motivated I told my husband to add it to the birth playlist. Yup, my son was going to come into this world to some super hood music and I was not ashamed. (Note: we didn’t end up using the playlist because my labor went by pretty quickly).
I did my best to mentally prepare myself. When I would have Braxton Hicks (which I had a lot of) I would tell myself this pain is going to be over in a matter of seconds or minutes just get through and then you can deal with the next one when it comes. I kept telling myself the end result would be worth the pain.
I trained my husband. I told him exactly what I knew I was going to need from him. Don’t give me your opinion, don’t touch me unless I ask you to, control my family, and remind me our son is at the end of all of this. (Ladies, I highly suggest doing something like this with your partner or family member who will be there with you. I think a lot of times they want to help but don’t really know how. Everyone has different needs, express yours.)
With all that said, I felt pretty prepared when labor started. And when it started it came on quick. My water broke at around 5pm and within 15 minutes contractions were only about a minute and a half apart. Within 30 minutes of that we were in the hospital and I was 7 cm dilated. Maybe another 30 min and I got an epidural. At 10:05 pm with two sets of pushes my son was out. And there it was, that feeling I’m always chasing.
I haven’t done a race since having him. I don’t really feel the need anymore. Nine months of work was more than worth it and I’m lucky enough now to get that feeling every time I look at him. I’d do it all again if I could get the same result. He was worth all the pain and training in the world.