After my first child was born, it became very important that I get to the gym. It served a lot of purposes for me. Dealing with Postpartum Depression was taking its toll on my body and mind. Getting on an elliptical machine, no matter how much I hated it, gave me a distraction for 30 minutes where I absolutely had to take care of myself. It got me out of the house, which was another difficult thing for me to do when all I wanted to do was stay home and nest. The mountain of laundry could wait. The kitchen would stay dirty for a half hour. My son would be safe in the hands of my husband. I needed to get take care of myself. It really helped on so many levels.
After a while, I started to hate it less, and what started out as a single day a week commitment soon became more days a week than not. I began to feel stronger both inside and out, and the weight eventually came off. It gave me a purpose, because as the baby got heavier, I needed to be able to lift him and all his equipment. I wouldn’t always have another set of hands to assist me, and I needed to be independently strong.
With my second pregnancy, an overwhelming tiredness consumed me. My depression symptoms worsened. Lethargy was my middle name. All I could muster was the minimum daily activity before I collapsed on myself, sometimes as early as 7:30. I leaned heavily on my boys. Nights my husband was home, I had him put my son to bed while I rested, inexplicably wiped out from a tiny clump of cells stealing all my mana. Nights when he travelled, I became cranky and irritable to the point of tears when my son fought sleep. Often I’d curl up in his bed with him, waking up in the middle of the night, make up smeared and unaware of the hour. I’d stumble downstairs, haphazardly wash my face and take my vitamins and crawl back into bed, praying for the hours to pass slowly so I could recharge in this losing battle with my body.
Throughout this time, though, my gym routine pretty much dropped down to nothing. The idea of putting one extra ounce of effort into anything other than my expectations to basic functions was laughable. My weight gain staggered to almost ten pounds in less than a month as my food cravings became unreasonable and unyielding. I stepped on the scale each day and became instantly depressed at the damage I was doing to myself. All my hard work had gone out the window as I felt drained, weak, and heavy in every sense of the word.
The second trimester arrived, and while my energy level has improved somewhat, I could still crash early if given the chance. I fight with myself to slow the weight gain to something a bit more reasonable. I drag myself to the gym now, packing a bag and putting little encouraging notes in my phone to remind me. It’s tough though, and more often than I’d like to admit, quitting time arrives at work and I just decide to go home. It’s so easy to talk myself out of working out.
But even though I’m pregnant (about 4 months now), I’m in that lovely in between stage of gestation where I have a small bump, but one that couldn’t be easily determined as a baby bump. I notice people at the gym giving me the eye, and not in a good way. I’m heavier, and although I’m really hustling, people give me the look like I’ve committed a crime against myself and humanity. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but I got a few furrowed brows yesterday as I trudged away on the elliptical machine. A few days prior, I had the same reaction from strangers as I did my best to push the leg machine for my usual reps, albeit at a lower weight. I want to snap at them, “PREGNANT! NOT FAT!” but even if I were just heavy, it’s none of their business. I’m just trying to do me, and I’d prefer you not look at me at all, mmmkay?