The Post Pregnancy Recalibration

I’d made it!

Or so, I’d thought. It was a sunny but cool fall day in November. Looking back, those initial moments feel like a dream. I remember staring at myself in the mirror that morning and thinking, “is this really happening?” I went back to bed, and just lie there in silence. My husband, however, knows me well enough to detect even my silent emotions. “What is it?” he asked. I don’t believe my reply was at all what he expected, “I just took a pregnancy test and it’s positive!”

We both lie there in silence for a moment, probably a fraction of a second. Then he gave me the biggest hug, with the most care-free smile I’d perhaps ever seen on his face. We’d talked about having kids but were not yet in the “planning” stages. But here we were – quickly transitioning into the next phase of our lives! We couldn’t have been happier, more excited, or ready for this little angel to change our world!

My husband could not have been more supportive, excited or encouraging throughout my pregnancy. He has always been the cook in our house, making healthy meals for our family morning and night. While I was pregnant, however, he went out of his way to ensure we had relaxing music playing as we ate, that I got plenty of sleep, got to the gym on a regular basis, and took my nutritional supplements daily. He is my rock, and even before our daughter was born, he provided for her in such important ways. 

10 Months

No, not a typo! I felt amazing almost every day through those 43 weeks and 2 days. My step-sons couldn’t have been more excited, hoping they would be getting a little sister (“because brothers are annoying,” they both said). At the young and innocent ages of 5 and 7, I was thrilled to see their excitement, but expected it would fade as the weeks went on. Not the case! They kissed my belly, talked to their sibling, and told everyone they could about the baby that was on the way. We had a girl name picked out – but couldn’t decide on the name for a baby boy. Partly because I had a feeling this baby in my belly was my daughter. And partly, because them teasing me with boy names they knew I didn’t like was so much fun, I didn’t want it to end!

My 43 weeks and 2 days of pregnancy were wonderful. I’d truly never felt more energetic, beautiful, strong, or healthy in my life. I worked out at OrangeTheory (Fishers) up until the day I was 40 weeks, and continued to jog with my husband up to 3 miles a day until the day before Milah was born. It was truly amazing. I credit excellent chiropractic care, quality foods and nutritional supplements, and a happy and supportive environment to the ease of my pregnancy. If you’re a bit annoyed at how perfect this story seems, please keep reading.

The 11th Month

My home delivery (yes, intentional) went as well as one could expect. It was not the easy, peaceful or quiet experience I’d envisioned, however. Turns out birthing a baby is really hard work! Our daughter arrived safely, without intervention, into the hands of her very proud daddy after 12 hours of labor. She was perfect! My parents and mother-in-law were all at our home to help us the days before and after her arrival, giving my husband and I a chance to bond with our beautiful girl. My midwife advised I stay in bed for a few days, which was a surprise to me! I expected to be back at OrangeTheory within a week. The midwife was right, however, as I found myself needing help just to stand for those three days, and even a while beyond. Recovery is tough! After about 8 weeks, however, I finally made it back to the gym. “Now – to get my body back!” I thought!

Not So Fast

I think back and just shake my head, realizing how my optimism – while commendable – was absolutely not realistic. Getting “my body back” in the most common sense of the phrase really didn’t take long. Eating a healthy diet before, during and after my pregnancy helped me drop back to my pre-baby weight very quickly. My old clothes fit almost right away, but don’t get jealous. Clothes fitting or the scale reporting a certain number don’t mean much if you don’t have your health. Trust me; I didn’t have my body back – and I still don’t!

As a chiropractor, I’ve taught people of all ages how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives, and provided guidance that helped patients achieve extraordinary health goals. After my own baby was born, I can look back and now realize that after delivery, most attention is shifted to that new life. Especially the mom’s energy and attention! There is still a huge transition for mom ahead, one I’m now experiencing for myself, that needs to be addressed more directly.

We are all familiar with post-partum depression, and I’m thankful that’s not the case for me. I’ve never been a proponent of “named conditions” because no one really fits perfectly into those boxes created by the medical world anyway. But now, I find myself trying to define what I’m experiencing, not so I can complain about it – but overcome. Also, so I have a way of helping connect my experience to that of other moms. I’ve always been one to see the glass as half-full, talk about my wins more than my challenges, and find ways to help others by encouraging, never ascribing to the whole “misery loves company” mindset. It’s the same for this situation – and since I can’t find a traditional name for what I’m experiencing, I’ve decided to call it the “post pregnancy recalibration.”

“Good” Sweatpants

I was blessed to be able to take six months off work to be home with my daughter after she was born – and I treasured every minute. And while I’d made it back to the gym and into my old clothes – I didn’t feel like I had my body back.  Since having my daughter, my body aches. Everywhere.  I think I finally admitted this to myself the day my husband told me that a plumber would be stopping by that afternoon, and I responded – “that means I need to put on my good sweatpants!”  Good sweatpants. I’d never had “good” sweatpants before – and what was I doing wearing, what must be “bad” sweatpants?!  But that was the day I realized that something wasn’t quite right. It’s hard, though, to ask for help for a problem that you can’t define.

The Recalibration

Getting my body to move when my husband wakes me up in the morning is a huge, huge effort. I wake up in pain. I avoid going up even a single flight stairs because it kills my knees. Standing up from a seated position with my daughter in-arm hurts. High heels? Only when necessary, and I always carry a back-up pair of my favorite flats. I feel like I need assistance standing up from the bent over position from which I change her, even after 7 months!  I get to the gym regularly and make it through my work-outs, but I never feel like I can push myself, or lift what I used to – my body doesn’t feel strong. Sometimes, I take short-cuts to avoid making myself uncomfortable. And I don’t feel good about it. Other days, I feel like I can’t concentrate on anything, and while everything gets done, it’s not done efficiently or effectively. I’m wasting precious moments with my family with my body and mind feeling always a step behind!

I know I’m not the only one having this experience post-pregnancy. In fact, I’m confident that all moms go through a recalibration phase with this major life transition – some just experience it more easily than others.  I really think that most moms shift so much focus on to their child after baby is born, that they ignore what’s happening in their own body. And I described this amazing, optimal environment I had, because I know how rare it is – which means there are a lot of moms out there who must be struggling even more than I am.

The Best Medicine

I’ve always believed that the best medicine is no medicine at all. I am, after all, a chiropractor! My professional training has brought so many great connections into my life. I have abundant resources to recalibrate – I know some of the best natural health providers in the world. As a chiropractor – married to a chiropractor – I have no reason in the world not to return to 100%. But that should be true for every mom. There’s no reason that every mom shouldn’t feel informed and empowered when it comes to managing her own health and vitality.

My health routine has always been consistent. I get a chiropractic check-up weekly, massages on a monthly basis, exercise 4 or 5 times per week, eat healthy and take great supplements. And this hasn’t been enough, post-baby! I think that might be one of the biggest surprises and frustrations, because in my mind, I’ve been doing it all right! Change is inevitable, and my health needs obviously have changed now, too. “Average” isn’t good enough. I believe the biggest hurdle for most is simply feeling like they’re worth it.

Compassion in Action

I’m grateful for the experience I’m having post-baby, because now I realize first-hand what a lot of other moms really go through. It gives me the ability to relate more personally to moms who are going through a similar experience. Perhaps they also don’t know how to verbalize this odd “recalibration phase” of post-baby physical transition. The scary thought to me is, how many moms go through an experience like me, and NEVER “get their body back?”

I have always loved taking care of newborns, helping them start their life out with maximum health expression. Now, though, I have a completely new passion for making sure mothers remember their worth, and how vital it is for themselves and their families that they “get their body back.” I have a new focus on helping moms transition through the post-pregnancy recalibration to find themselves healthier, stronger and more “themselves” than ever before. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t have all the answers – but what I can guarantee you is that I won’t give up on making sure I’m the healthiest I can be – for myself and my family. I’ll be happy to share what I learn along the way.

The Greatest Gift

I’ve worked with expectant moms for nearly 10 years. My knowledge was helpful – but I realize that there were significant limitations in my ability to be most effective due to a blind spot. Quite simply – I didn’t know what I didn’t know! I worked with them based on information I’d read, not personal experiences. I’ve come to find that personal experience is going to go much further.

Moms tend to put themselves last on the list. That absolutely needs to change. We’ve all heard airline attendants do their safety talk reminding adults, “put on your oxygen mask first, before helping others.” Initially, this instruction can raise a few eyebrows as it seems selfish on the surface. It’s not. You can only help others if you, yourself, are in good enough condition to do so. That being said, mothers, please remember that taking care of yourself is noble. There is no better gift you can give your children than leading a healthy, happy life. Making sure you’re at your best will allow you to be a better wife, a better mom – a better everything.

Need a little motivation? What is your mother’s health like? Does it concern you? Do you ever want your children to have to worry about the health of their parents?

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