I had a realization a few days after I gave birth to Anna. I was thinking about Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and I realized that, if I lived a mere 50 years ago, there's a good chance neither Anna nor I would have survived this pregnancy. That's really startling. It's hard to think that, even though I did everything right, even though everything prior to her delivery was well within normal, even though I was kind of awesome at the whole pregnancy thing, mere luck or fate meant Anna was an emergency C-section, and without modern medicine, there's a good chance we would not have survived. I even wonder how things would have turned out if I hadn't happened to have a doctor's appointment scheduled that morning. Hans would have gone to work. I would have stayed home. I would have told him I wasn't feeling well, but I'd call if I thought there was anything to be worried about. I don't know when I would have headed to the hospital. I can imagine I would have called the nurse around 10:00 a.m. Chances are I wouldn't have gotten to the hospital before 11:00. How might our story have ended if we'd had these delays? Would Anna have made it safely into this world?
This is really hard to face. I'm lucky that I have nothing to feel guilty about when it comes to her birth. I didn't eat poorly, I didn't gain a lot of weight, I stayed active, my blood pressure and blood sugar were beyond perfect, both her and my heart rate were normal the entire pregnancy (until that last day), and I followed the doctor's orders. But to think that things could have ended so differently is scary. When I first thought about this, I was in such new-mom bliss that it was just a passing thought. As the weeks passed, however, it really started to sink in.
I'd look into my newborn's eyes or I'd watch her sleeping, or I'd feel a twinge where my C-section scar is, and I couldn't help but think about how lucky we were. Then I'd start to think about all the years ahead and all the dangers we face. How sometimes you can't control anything. And then I'd start to panic. In the past, when I've panicked, I've gone for a run. That rush of endorphins and the feeling of sweat dripping down my face is one of the best feelings in the world for me. Not being able to run post-op, or do any sort of real physical activity, has been awful. The first few days I was still in enough pain I didn't care. Getting out of bed was a work out, and I had no desire to run. By the middle of the second week, though, that itch to lace up my running shoes had set in.
Yesterday, I had a very relaxing day. It was perfect in almost every way. I stayed in bed, I nursed, I ate well, Anna wasn't fussy. And yet, I still ended up crying by the end of the night. I felt overwhelmed by life. I felt flabby. I felt misunderstood. Call it postpartum blues or call it anxiety. Whatever you call it, it sucked. And then this morning, Anna woke at 5:00 a.m. for a feeding.
I nursed her, changed her diaper, and looked outside. It was a beautiful morning. The sun was just rising, and the morning had that grey, not-quite-awake feel. I couldn't take it anymore. I did a quick assessment of how I felt: Great. I told Hans to keep and ear out for Anna, I put on my running clothes, laced up my shoes, and headed out.
I told myself I'd keep it slow. I told myself I'd keep it short. I told myself I wouldn't be too upset if I wet myself after half a mile due to stress incontinence (although I made sure to empty my bladder before I went out). After a brief warm-up, I started my run.
A mile and a half. Actually, less than that. 1.34 miles to be exact. It wasn't even half the distance of my last run almost 5 weeks ago (two weeks before Anna was born). However, it was the most wonderful experience. It wasn't fast (an 11:15 min/mi pace if you must know), but it wasn't terrible. I was tired when I was done, but I was able to finish. And I didn't wet myself!
This morning, I feel refreshed. This may sound overly dramatic, but I kind of feel like I'm coming back from death. That panic I felt yesterday evening has dissipated, and I'm left with a euphoric, victorious feeling. I'm not even 3 weeks post-op (2 weeks, 6 days to be exact), and I know I'll need to take it a little easier the rest of the day, but I feel great. I may not be able to run a marathon or even a half marathon tomorrow, and it may take a lot of time to work back up to where I was, but I feel great. That first mile was wonderful