Yesterday was a huge milestone! I made it to the 12 weeks pregnant mark! After week 12 your risk of a miscarriage goes down to something like 3% (as opposed to 25% until 12 weeks). Still, this mamma to be won’t feel totally assured until our next ultrasound on Thursday when I get to see the baby and hear the heartbeat and hopefully my doctor will tell us that he/she is growing just the way he/she should be.
Running this week I’ve noticed for the first time that my pace is slowing down. Its not been an intentional thing at all. Its dark out when I run so I rarely look at my watch until I’m finished. I haven’t felt any different, and the difference has not been huge by any means. Last week all my runs over the previous month had been an overall average pace of 7:30. Most of my runs this week have been between 7:38 and 7:48 per mile average. So again, not a HUGE difference, but still it somewhat surprised me today. I guess that’s all due to the fact that my circulatory system is working harder than I realize to pump nutrients and oxygen to the little one. Slowing of your pace can be hard for pregnant women, especially those that are perfectionists and ridiculously competitive like me. It can feel like a blow to the ego, even though you know there’s a GREAT reason for it to happen. Sometimes you read about these things in books but think “well, not for me, I’m much tougher than the average woman…” and it’s a dangerous path to go down. Then when it happens to these women, they feel like they are getting out of shape when in fact you are really improving your fitness. Because I try to stay educated and am really trying so hard not to be competitive in my pregnancy, I think its helped me be more accepting of these facts of life. I CHOSE this, so now I have to just let it happen. I’m going to get bigger and gain weight and get slower and more uncomfortable. That’s what’s supposed to happen.
I’ll explain a little more about being competitive in pregnancy. I’m a competitive person in general and was basically born that way. All through my life I’ve wanted to be the best at pretty much everything. More often than not, you’re not the best at even most things. So in life you tend to gravitate toward the things you do very well at and concentrate more on those things. Well, as a female athlete I can tell you that every time I go running, if I see someone running ahead of me I usually have to catch them. Fortunately, most of the time I do, but even last week when I was running this young girl passed me on the opposite side of the road and it ignited this fire in me and suddenly I was matching her pace. It bothered me that someone was faster than me and I wondered if she was going as far as I was or if she just saw me up ahead and sped up to pass me. All these angry thoughts racing through my head, getting angrier that I wasn’t catching her. Then I yelled at myself inside my head because it didn’t matter! I was running easy because I have a little baby growing inside of me. I slowed down and admitted defeat. It didn’t feel good, but it was the right move.
Besides just running, I think we all know someone or have worked with someone that’s gone through pregnancy seemingly perfectly. They have the perfect glow, don’t seem to gain any weight except for in their belly and weeks after delivery fit into those pre-pregnancy clothes. Its natural to want to compete with them. You look in the mirror and wonder if you’re showing too early or if you’ve gained too much, etc. Since I know myself so well and know I have tendencies to do this—I’ve tried to prevent it as much as possible. The most important thing about MY pregnancy is growing and developing a healthy little one. Its not really about me. I’ve been blessed with this incredible gift to grow a life from within my own body. Its truly remarkable and amazing. Its not going to help my baby for me to be thinking about my looks, my body, etc. That being said, I know that I’m doing all the things I possibly can to have a healthy pregnancy. I’m not just sitting around eating everything in sight. But I am eating when I’m hungry and what I’m craving. If I just ate an hour ago and my tummy starts rumbling, I’m going to listen. I’m doing my best to avoid sugary treats—like the doughnuts that were brought into the office today. But if I feel like 2 bowls of pasta instead of 1, I’m going to eat it! Pregnancy effects all women differently and some women carry lower, some higher, etc. The other thing to keep in mind…you never really know how easy another woman’s pregnancy was. Sure, on the outside it may look like she breezed through it and she may even tell you some heroic delivery story about how it “wasn’t that bad”, but unless you were there while it was going on…you’re never going to know the truth. Not that I think women are going around intentionally lying about these things. As anyone who’s ever run a great race knows though, sometimes in the midst of all the joy, you tend to block out remembering all the pain. There has probably not been a single great race I’ve ever run where I haven’t thought at one point that I was going to drop out because it was too hard. Yet when you reach that PR or that win, you’re so filled with euphoria that when remembering the experience, those are the only parts you want to remember.
Well, if running a PR can generate those type of memories think about what meeting your child and holding them in your arms for the first time can actually make you forget. After my first marathon I was in so much pain in my legs (I think in retrospect do to hypothermia) that I questioned why anyone in their right mind would do a 2nd marathon. Yet, less than a year later, there I was lining up at the start again.
So pregnancy can be hard sometimes, but I’m getting through it by focusing solely on that finish line. And you have to celebrate little victories along the way. When you’ve run the first 2 miles in a marathon you don’t think “I’ve got 24.2 more miles to go.” You think about making it through the first 5K, then 10K and each checkpoint you have to celebrate a little along the way. So Thursday is my next 5K. Seeing everything on the ultrasound will be just what I need to feel like I can make it to the end of the race.